Into the valley and out. (Installment 2 of my dime novel)

Close to the overturned wagon, flies are buzzing, and the smell is rank.  Irvin knows that the arm under the wagon holds no hope of being attached to a living person.  Crows fly away with his footsteps, the sound of their wings loud in the breeze, “Bastards” he mumbles.  “Hell I sure did not want to find this.”  He scuffles his feet through the rough soil, holding back the dreary moment.  “I hate dead bodies” he growls.  “Hate everything about a dead body.”

At the wagon he reaches down to lift the bit of torn canvas covering the man’s face and startles back, “yep, dead.”  He stands, looking around, trying to understand what happened.  “Mules are gone, most likely a robbing”

He walks over to the broken storage boxes, and stooping down, picks up a child’s doll, head broken off from a boot step, and laying on the ground beside it is  a woman’s lacy shawl.  “Hell” he swears again.

He finds no more bodies while searching about the debris of the wagon, but he does see the tracks of small feet being pulled through the ground, woman’s feet, leading to the scratched up turmoil on the dirt from the hooves of nervous horses to the north of the wagon.

Four other sets of prints, three booted, one in flat leather, five sets of horse, and two mules leading away out of the valley.  Some of the prints filling in with blown dirt, and by the looks of the dead fella, it had been at nearly a day since they were made.

A kid and a lady stolen by, who knows by who, man dead.”  He kicks at the hoof prints with disgust.

Climbing back up the slope he takes his time, past the flat rock he laid on, and to his horses.  From the pack on his lead horse he pulls out a camp shovel, and goes back down to the wagon to dig a hole for the man.

The ground is hard, rocky, and the job takes some hot,long time.   He throws the last load of dirt over the hole, flattens it down with his shovel.  Stretching he wearily looks up at the sun.  Nearly sun down.  Hefting a broken wagon wheel from where it landed, he wrestles it over to the grave, and pounds it axle deep into the loose dirt.  “Not much of a marker.”

Once more back up the slope, he wipes the sweat from his face and takes a long pull of water from his canteen.  He is not sure where he is headed, or even if the travel will have purpose, but he figures he is at loose ends, and there is a little one, and a lady, out there somewhere, needing some help.

“Hell” he says, and heads out after them.


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