Where he was heading didn"t matter anymore, what was important was to keep moving. Why? he didn"t know "why" he just had to keep moving was all he knew. Maybe it had something to do with a terrible dread he felt deep down inside. He knew the Shadow Rider of death was following him, he"d seen him cross over the distant horizon, he"d seen him up on a ridge through a pass in the canyons, he"d even seen him sitting on the far side of a saloon once. Luckily the Rider wasn"t after him that day, he did however tip his hat to him...then he took a young cowboy that ended up on the wrong end of a bad game of cards and a 38".
He didn"t enjoy living anymore, but then again he wasn"t in a hurry to get busy dying. So he rode, on and on till one day as he rode across the endless desert he found an odd shape appear on the horizon. Something was out there, but what the hell it was he just couldn"t quite make out..it looked like it was moving from side to side and...damn...what the hell was that sound. As he drew nearer the thing before him grew clearer, as did the sound. Before him in the dry dust sat an old indian, gray hair in a bun and wrapped in a very tattered blanket. He had a pipe in his hand that he would take an occasional drag from, he was singing a song of some ancient variety but the strength of his voice was not what it was ages ago, everyonce in awhile he would stop say a couple words to the empty air before him, then he would either start to sing again or just silently sit...listening. Pretty soon he would laugh at some unheard of joke or perhaps shake his head gesturing with his arms in wide circles and shake his head yes. Several minutes passed between the cowboy and the indian before a word was spoken directly towards either. At last the old man made a gesture of farewell and then slowly turned towards his new visitor.
Howdy, spoke the old indian in greeting. Howdy ol" timer, spoke the cowboy. "So who were you talkin to just now if I might ask" asked the cowboy."I don"t know what your talking about" said the old man. Well he"d been around enough to know there ain"t no use askin some old persnikity indian about his buisness if he didn"t want to tell you, he"d just assume sit there in silence or change the subject of the conversation. "Well alright then", said the cowboy "you just go on ahead then...adios". As the old cowboy took his leave of the old man sitting there wrapped in his tattered blanket, the old indian started to say something...paused, and looked directly in the cowboy"s eyes. I"m waiting for the shadow rider, the one who follows you...your people call him death, said the old man. Ain"t you guys supposed to be all superstitious about them sort of things, asked the cowboy? The old man just sat there shaking his head.... I"m tired was all he"d say. After a few moments of regarding the old man the cowboy just spurred his horse on, driving himself further and further on away from the old man.
He made camp just before the sunset on a small rise above a dried up river, a small fire to keep the critters..or at least some of the critters away and a bit of his rations cooked in a small battered pot. It wasn"t much of a meal, but then lately he hadn"t been feeling all that hungry. He reflected on the old man and his comment about being tired. Yeah he knew tired too, knew it all to well but that wasn"t any reason just to stop. Then again these last few years had been brutally hard on the indian population, who knew what the old man had seen. The last thing that crossed his mind before sleep overtook him was... just who in the hell had he been talking to?
When he awoke he knew he wasn"t alone, he knew it before he opened his eyes. Do I just lie here and pretend I"m sleeping? do I dare to try to get a peek. Everything was answered for him in an instant as he heard a familiar voice call to him. I know your not sleeping there mr. you"ve been awake for at least five minutes now, you gonna lie there playing possum or you gonna eat breakfast. Opening his eyes to a mystery far stranger than any dream the cowboy found the indian sitting there with a flatbread and a pot of beans cooking on the fire.
The area around them bathed in the early morning light was beautiful, all the rich deep colors of the desert exposed, just enough light not to be overwhelming...not like the light is at high noon when everything is bathed in a white heat. Sunsets were beautiful too. Part of him wanted to know how the old man had gotten there, honestly... a million questions raced through his mind. It had been a long time since he could remember his mind being so...busy. He didn"t feel a threat from the old indian, but damn him just appearing right there...that made him nervous, real real nervous. He"d seen death himself sitting across from him in a crowded saloon, so could this be another one of those spirit things? he just didn"t know. So he finally got the nerve up to ask, what"s your name old timer? The old man regarded him with a squinted eye and a mouth full of warm flat bread. Chewing slowly he stared at the cowboy, then after a minute he swallowed his bite." They call me Coy-yo-te" spoke the old indian.
Funny I"ve been around your kind for a number of years and for the life of me I just can"t make you out, which tribe do you belong to anyway? You Zuni, or Navajo, maybe your Hopi or something? asked the cowboy. "yep" said the old man. The cowboy started to ask "well which one is it" then after seening a grin on the old mans face, he decided not to ask this crazy old man anymore questions.
Sitting there eating there breakfast they regarded each other in silence. Nary a word was spoken between them, it was in silence that the cowboy and the the old man broke camp loaded everything on the horse and stood staring at each other. I"m not sure about you old timer, you need a ride to somwhere? The old man just grinned an almost toothless grin at him and said "that way".