Long Horn, Big shaggy
The bullet chewed into the meat of Jonah Walker’s dust gray horse long before he heard the shot. Jonah kicked free of the stirrups as the horse dropped. He tried his hardest to land on his feet, but didn’t quite manage the trick. He hit the ground like a sack full of busted bricks, smack dab in front of parched out buffalo skull. His ankle twisted and his knee sang out like a freshly skinned Siamese cat.
He stared down at the buffalo skull.
Big u**y thing.
He could have sworn the dead h**p bones were laughing at him.
“Shut up skull. You’re dead and I ain’t.”
If they were laughing, he was outnumbered. There was nothing out here but dead humps, as far as he could see.
Dead buffalo, blown down to nothing but shiny white bones.
Skulls and rib cages.
Whole d**n skeletons.
Yes sir, the buffalo hunters had picked this range clean a long time ago. They had ridden through this country like a herd of gun toting locusts. They took the skins, and some of the bones that were close enough to the railroad tracks to sell for fertilizer. But way out here, this far from nowhere, in the shadow of the distant mountain that men call the Devil’s Anvil, they just shot the big humps dead and left them right where they fell. Which was probably what the b****r that had just shot Jonah’s horse had in mind for him.
At least he was still alive.
The way he figured it, that put him way ahead of the h**p skull.
At least for now.
He touched his knee, g****r-like. It felt spongy and warm. It was already swelling up, soft under his fingers, like the bone was wet and rotting. He didn’t think anything was broken. At least he sure hoped not. That horse wasn’t going anywhere too fast, and civilization was one h**l of a long hobble-hop-walk away from where he was to.
The horse kicked at the air and snorted red foamy snot.
It wasn’t pretty.
Jonah touched it with a fingertip – a thick pink gumbo of tissue and blood and half breathed air.
It was a lung shot. That meant slow death and no coming back. He ought to finish the dang thing off, but he didn’t have that many bullets left.
“I may need these last couple of bullets,” Jonah told the horse.
The horse snorted.
More horse snot.
Maybe he could use his knife to open its throat. I could save on bullets. I wonder how long it’d take a horse to bleed out dry? D**n thing would probably kick him to death, halfway through dying.
The horse stared up at him with eyes as black and flat as Apache tears.
The d**n thing was begging to die.
S**t fire and save on matches.
The beast had been a d**n good horse. He’d stolen it three towns back. Horse stealing was pretty bad trouble, but need makes want when the devil rides for home, and at that time he’d needed a horse real bad.
This was all that fat old sheriff’s fault, d**n it.