Friday, December 29, 2006

Due To OVERWHELMING Demand....

Well, an 'overwhelming number' of exactly four fellow Snarklings asked me to post this, the first page to the Long Rider.....

In the West, a 'long rider' is a man who has been outlawed, a man on a long ride; a ride that will last forever.





Three belows were necessary before the horseshoe drove the nail into the oak beam that bridged the doorless doorway. Age had yet to weaken the ancient beam any more than it had imparted any weakness to the man who gripped the rusted horseshoe.

Once a cattle ranch bunkhouse, all that remained was a decayed ruin, fit only to haunt those of knew of its past - or those cursed or blessed with imagination enough to see in sun-bleached wood what stories had once been told around campfires before they too receded into a past of their own.

Ten years had passed since the boots of Jed Matthews last trod that silent floor; ten years to the night his life had been felled as a cottonwood tree often was - only to have a shoot spring up from its roots and rise until the tree once more reached its full measure and overshadowed the dead and useless stump which existed then but as a mute reminder of what had been.

But not only for Jed Matthews did such reminders exist. For what had disrupted his life that night had also affected the lives of many other men in more ways than he had imagined. One of the most immediate of those consequences had been the altering of the lives of those in power as they had to reflect upon what they had done and then had to prevent any further disruptions.

Finally, there were those who could only spend sleepless nights wishing there had been something they could have done... and fearing that perhaps there had been.

But none of this could be changed.

What had happened, had happened forever. And what had been, existed then only in ruins such as those - and in the memories of the men who had taken part in the tragedy; men who lay in the safety of heir beds not knowing that Jed Matthews had returned.

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