The Saga of Miles Forrest

I tried to get Molly to ride with Marta and Charlie, but she wanted to ride with me, bless her heart.  It was very cold and the time of year in which we could get some heavy snow.  I wasn’t riding back the same direction we had come, so we made sure we had ample supplies when we reached Chama, using the horses I had brought along for Marta and Charlie as pack horses, I cut across country.
    There was one small village about a half day’s ride from Chama and then nothing until we arrived in Durango.  There was some forest we had to travel through, but not the high peaks of the Divide.  From time to time we found trails, but mostly I just headed across country.  It was something that I used to like to do; just get out and travel in God’s creation.  Now it seems like I ride on the rails most anywhere I have to go.
    The second night out Molly was tending to making supper.  I found a spot along the San Juan.  The river was running fairly swiftly for this time of year.  We crossed it just before dusk.  I like to cross rivers when I come to them; camp on the other side.  A person never knows what might happen during the night and the water might rise.
    After a supper of bacon and beans and a surprise.  Molly made some fry bread and inside she stuffed some apricots.  Nice little sweet treat on the trail.  We were sitting together, blankets thrown around us, listening to the sounds of the night.  A few yards away we could hear the rippling water of the San Juan as it coursed its way down to where it would meet the Piedra.
    “We haven’t done this in a long, long time,” she sighed she sipped on her coffee.
    “Too long,” I replied.  “We’re, well I’m gettin’ too civilized.  Guess that’s what a woman and her finery does to a man.”
    She tried to punch me with her elbow.  “Complaining?” she asked.
    “No, but at times I miss the olden days.”
    “The days without me,” she goaded.
    “Not really, but there is somethin’ ’bout bein’ out in the wilderness.  Somethin’ ’bout gettin’ away from all the junk that society brings to a town,” I said, and immediately following came the sound of a howl vibrating through the trees.
    Molly huddled closer to me.  “Wolves,” she muttered.
    “Nah, just coyotes,” I replied.  “Listen, you can tell the difference.  Remember the wolves back at the wreck, and now pay attention when these coyotes begin their cacophony.”
    For several minutes we sat there.  Just listening and enjoying each other’s company while drinking the hot black coffee.  I chuckled, while shaking my head.
    “What’s so funny?” she asked putting her cup down on a rock.
    “Funny how thoughts all of a sudden go through your head,” I said and she looked at me.  “For some reason I could hear the water of the San Juan and thought about the time I almost drowned on a trail drive up to Abilene.”
    “You never told me that,” she remarked.  
    “We were crossin the Cimarron.  It’s a strange river.  It’s either in flood stage or dry as a bone.  Well, it was floodin’ and we were crossin’.  Horse went down and I went under and to top it all off a steer gored my leg.  I thought for sure I was seein’ ol’ St. Pete at the pearly gates wavin’ me in, when my pard, Elias Butler pulled me out.”
    “Are you being serious with me?” she questioned, her eyes wide in fear.  “You’re not funning me?”
    “You’ve seen the scar on my leg.  I’m surprised yuh haven’t asked ’bout it,” I paused then continued.  “Truly, he saved my life, I thought I was a gonner that time.”  I laughed a little, “Funny thing is, Elias was scared to death of crossin’ rivers and here he was savin’ my life.  The good Lord was sure with me that time.”
    I stood up, “I’m goin’ to refill my cup.  You just sit there.”
    However, I didn’t go to the fire, but picked up the shotgun that was next to me.  I went up to the fire, set my cup on a rock next to it, and then peered out into the night.  If took a few moments for my eyes to adjust.  The night had just gotten quieter.
    “Miles?” Molly whispered.
    “Shhh, I was wonderin’ when they were goin’ to show up…”