The Saga of Miles Forrest

Moses Vexler was just shaking his head when I asked to borrow a horse.  “Fool younguns!” he exclaimed, then proceeded to ask, “Are you payin’ fer this or the government?  That’s a good horse, made for endurance.  Don’t yuh be tryin’ to run it against that thoroughbred of yurs though.”
    Star could beat almost any horse around, I said most, because I haven’t seen all the horses, for a short distance.  However, Hawk would beat this horse hands down, anytime.  If I could get close enough to see them, I could get them to me.  Two-Bits, well, I haven’t trained him to be a law officer’s horse.
    After saying goodbye to Molly, and picking up the horse, I went to get my gear from the house.  I was half-hoping that the horses would be there and that the boys just took them out for a joy ride.  The weather was nice right now, jacket weather during the day, but it would be cold at night and there was a chance of spring snow.
    Mort Cooper said that he had seen them riding to the south.  There was only one road out of Durango to the south and it was traveled fairly well, but I knew the tracks of those horses, and reckoned I’d pick them up out on the road somewhere; that is, if they traveled the road.  I’d try that way first and if I didn’t come upon the tracks I’d take off cross country.
    Farmington was the only community of any size, but there were a small number of Indian or Mexican settlements in the area.  I’d head in that direction as there was a trading post in a place they were calling Aztec located near some ancient Indian ruins that were claimed to be built by the Aztecs of Mexico.  The boys might be there, or at least passed by.
    It was on top of the hill that came out of Durango that I first saw the tracks of Hawk.  I would keep close watch to make sure they didn’t turn off the road.  The land was covered with shrubs, mostly sagebrush, and sparse grass.  Here and there I could see patches of pinon pines and juniper.  I camped the first night in a grove of cottonwoods growing along the Animas River.
    After making camp I was sitting in camp drinking the last of the coffee.  The sky was clear and slowly stars began to emerge filling a vast canopy over me.  I guess I began getting nostalgic for a bit for to my mind came many other such nights around a lonely campfire, only at the time I didn’t realize I was lonely.  Molly surely had brought many changes to my life.  
    Sipping my coffee I remembered times I was visited by the Pale Rider.  Fear did not come to my mind, only disgust.  Looking at him, smelling him when he was near would make me nauseous.  I also remembered the times when  I had the heavenly Visitor in camp.  Strange times, mystical times, however, since I had more or less settled down some I had few of those visits.  I surely didn’t miss those by the Pale Rider.
    Looking up after I finished my coffee, the stars were bright and the coals from the fire were glowing.  Surely, I thought, no one could deny there was a Creator.  I whispered out loud, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Sobering, magnificent, awe-inspiring were emotions that went through my mind.  My last thoughts before sleep overtook my was that the great-God, the Creator, was at this point in time looking down at me.
    Back on the trail the next morning after a breakfast of day-old biscuits filled with bacon, and a pot of coffee I followed the tracks to where they turned off the road.  I could see the tracks clearly now of all three horses as they moved along the trail.  As I came up on a small rise, off in the distance I could see the ruins and the tracks seem to run in that direction.
    It was mid-afternoon when I came to a stand of pinons.  I was about a hundred yards from the ruins and figured that I might walk up to them in case the boys were in the ruins.  Dismounting I loosely tied the horse I was riding to a branch and began to move slowly trying to stay under cover as much as possible.  I’m not sure how much cover sagebrush gives, but it was all I had along with patches of cactus.
    I easily found the boys and standing behind a broken down wall I listened.  Lucas began to complain, “I’m hungry.  We should have taken the time to get some food.”
    “You are such a babee,” mocked one of the boys.  “We brought these fine horses to my brother, and all you’ve done is cry about it.  You want to be part of our gang you have to turn your back on that old life, right Nando?”
    Stepping out from behind the wall I spoke, “That’s right, and be ready to live in old ruins or worse in your new one.”
    One of the boys went for a gun he had stuck in his pants.  I drew and fired hitting the dirt in front of him.  “Not a good idea.  Now get those horses saddled up.  At least the jail in Durango serves better food.”
    “Jail!” exclaimed Lucas.
    “What did you think?” I responded.  “Horse-stealing is a hangin’ offense in Colorado.  But I’m sure Sheriff Gold will make sure you’re well fed before you’re hung.”
    “My brother, he weel keel you!” sneered the one that I figured was Ramon.  “You will never get away from the Scorpion.”
    I had heard of the Scorpion only in sketchy terms.  “And who is the Scorpion?” I asked.
    “Rafael Garcia,” he said then spitting at me.
    “Son, you do that again and I reckon I’ll have to spank you.”
    He laughed, then sneered answering me, “Come and try it.”
    I took a step toward him when I heard a voice, “Not another step, Gringo…”