|The Lonesome Wanderer
Author: The Fanfictioneer PM
The Lonesome Wanderer: the travels and adventures of a certain rider of the plains, and fortune-seeker roaming the American West, during which the Civil War of the first half of the 1860s tore apart the once unified country...Rated: Fiction T - English - Western/Adventure - The Man with No Name - Chapters: 2 - Words: 2,720 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 12-05-10 - Published: 08-16-10 - id: 6242770
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August 4, 1862
It must have been approximately 6:00 AM when he rose from his sleep, as rough as it had been out in the cold night of the Indian Territory. It was certainly an uncomfortable slumber, if at all. He knew that he had to be wary of hostile Natives. There were still rebellious tribes and bands of warriors, despite the Federal government allowing them land to settle in the region. Politics interested the traveler, but he was cynical and distrustful of the empty words that came out of rich, corpulent or rail-thin fops. People have a tendency to lie for their own gains. The game of politics, he knew, was very Machiavellian. The man may not have looked like it, but he actually received a decent education throughout his childhood years, and learned to read and write. This led to his foray into politics, history, and theology. Such knowledge was not very useful in the brutal frontier, though. Before the Civil War between the North and South, he had a job with a rancher herding and driving cattle along the Sedalia Trail to their destination. He had been a ranch-hand for two years, an experiences which had proved quite useful in shaping his ability to survive the almost-lawless, ruthless west. He respected the law, but was not afraid to take matters into his own hands; after all, plenty of bandits get away with a life of crime. What difference does it make to employ the use of less-than-legal methods in order to prolong one's life?
For what seemed to be ten minutes, he still lay on the ground. The sun had already begun to rise from the east. "Well, I'd better pack my things together and get moving. It'll do me no good, staying here..." he thought to himself. He was on the verge of shivering, as it was a particularly cold morning, but his wool poncho had worked well-enough to keep him warm. He had found it in the ruins of what appeared to be a chapel, alongside a dying soldier. In an act of mercy and pity, he ended up leaving his trench coat on the dying man to keep him warm for his last few minutes of life, and offered him a side of his cigarillo too, that short cigar. He carried a pack with him on the saddle-bag; they were usually imported from Mexico, although they weren't too hard to find around town either, especially in the southwest.
He rose from the dusty ground, put his saddle bags together, and mounted his horse. Before he really took off, he scouted the area, all-the-while searching for water, and letting his horse graze on the grass to eat. He reached for his pocket watch, and upon opening it, the familiar melody played while he was looking at the time. It was already 7:28 AM. He still had a whole day ahead of him, but if he wanted to cover any actual distance, he would have to make the effort to ride all throughout the day until dusk. His destination at this point was any well-to-do town in Texas that would accept his recently-found Confederate gold. He still had the sacks firmly placed on the saddle, although it was not too obvious as to what the contents were, to passersby, he would imagine. These sacks could just as easily be essentials to survival in the wilderness; food, water, a cup, plate, utensils, and maybe even a harmonica or flute. They were anonymous enough so as to not be suspecting to anybody but the more-determined bandit. Even so, he was skilled with a six-shooter. His Colt 1851 Navy revolver was one of his most prized possessions. It had a pattern of snakes engraved on the handle, and it was in good condition, despite having used it for several years. Whatever the case, he was calm, and self-assured that he could handle much of what may come his way, whether the circumstances were to be favorable, or troublesome.
After glancing at his compass, he rode towards the direction of the southwest. Riding hard, he adjusted his weathered brown hat, turned the brim down to cover the sun from his eyes, and stared at the plains ahead. From the way it looked, it would be a long while before he would reach civilization.
At 3:37 PM, he dismounted his horse, for there was another unsettling discovery. A charred "prairie schooner" wagon and three human remains lie on the ground. The man walked closer to inspect the carnage, and he had once again attributed this gruesome finding to be the work of Indian raiders. He looked at it with disapproval, at the same time readying himself for such advances. He knew he was handy with a gun, but likewise, the Natives were handy with their bows and arrows. Two of the remains he could identify as men, due to their ragged pants and shirts, while the other victim was a woman that wore a plain brown dress and white bonnet. All three of them were badly decomposed, charred from burns to the body, and must have been out in the elements for well over a week, not dissimilar to his first discovery of remains the other day. No money however, whether Union or Confederate, was to be found, and he had just decided it was time to move on.
He knew that a marauding band of Indians was active in this region recently, if not still in the vicinity. They must have been nomads, but they still did not cover wide distances as in, say, the Great Plains Natives did up north. For the purpose of mentally preparing himself, he had just assumed that they could be spotted around at any given moment. He prided himself in his ability to be determined against all odds, and essentially omitted the concept of impossibility from his mind since an early age. He attributed much of his current experience from his service during the United States' war with Mexico about fourteen years earlier; the year of 1848 was a rough, yet powerful one in his life. He had emerged from the conflict a new man, willing more than ever to survive against all odds, and take on the challenges that life may present him. One of the most memorable moments during that war was when he had to escape Mexican captivity, the aftermath of which was not without blood being shed for the sake of his own freedom, as he had stabbed, then fired upon a total of seven troops as he had struggled to escape. He ended up taking a mount for himself to ride northward, and rejoin the rest of the U.S. forces. After this incident, he was never captured again, and he never actually got to be dangerously close to the enemy either. He ended up leaving the service shortly after the war to take up work with the ranchers of the Midwest, and herding cattle. The rest that followed was opportunity seeking, and taking the law into his own hands, although he had a brief partnership with the bandit "El Tuco," freeing him after the beginning of his hangings, town after town. Ultimately, all of his past actions and experience were not without the rewarding benefits of a superior ability to use firearms and strategies for overcoming the hardships, so he was led to believe.
After what seemed to be three miles of a distance away from the burned wagon, towards the southwest, the rider came across a creek. He decided to take this opportunity to replenish his supply of water. He had two metal canteens inside of a saddle bag, and that was all that he could carry at any given moment. He had to ration his water, and food carefully. His food at this point consisted of berries, a bit of corn, and salted meat, salted so as to preserve the quality for later preparation. He looked around the plains. Absolutely nothing, it seemed. No trees, but a number of bushes and tall grass and weeds. Inside of the creek, he spotted many fish, although he had no method in which to catch them. He would have to invest in a fishing pole at the next American settlement, and that would not be for another hundred or so miles, potentially. He did not want to risk being seen at a fort, as both the Union and Confederate Armies were drafting whoever they could muster, of the right age and strength. He happened to be eligible, but that would be redundant. He felt that he did his part in the war, although with another motivation in mind; the Confederate gold of Sad Hill Cemetery. If he becomes careless, a guard could ask to inspect his saddle bags, and his gold will have been given away. The more he thought of this, he felt reminded of the passage in the Holy Bible upon which he was raised, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." So it seemed true... that one is born with nothing, and leaves the world with nothing. However, when one gains, particularly money, one may do well to make use of it, rather than squander and waste it.
At dusk, he hitched his horse to a strong, sturdy bush, and fortified it with large stones, so that his horse may remain for the next morning. He checked his pocket watch, the chimes let out their mournful, yet soulful melody, and it was 8:36 PM. The sun had just set by this time, as summer days are typically long, and he planned on waking up at just about the same time as the other morning, with the sunrise. Before his rest, he ate berries and some of his meat, preparing a bit over an open fire he had started half an hour before. He was quite sure of his survival abilities in the wilderness, and up to this point, they have served him well indeed.
To be continued.