"A Legend in His Own Mind" by Karen
Up until that brief visit to the Apache burial site, Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh had never given much thought to the afterlife.
He remembered something that his old buddy back in Silver Springs, Nevada had once told him, granted it was only after the had managed to pull off a dangerous, foolhardy and extremely glorious stunt.
"If you think you're going to live forever, you must be out of your damn mind."
"I do have my moments." Dave distinctly recalled answering his friend's, well-intentioned if exasperated outburst.
"Hell, Roger," Dave had gone on.
"I've heard tell, that one can't outrun Death." he laughed "But you can make the bastard work for it."
"Sometimes, Dave," Roger had replied shaking his head: "I think you're in a world that the rest of us just can't see. And I wish you happiness for it, but I think it's going to catch up with you one of these days."
Dave certainly had not been insane then, and he certainly did not feel like he was about to lose his marbles and go out running into the desert to howl out at the moon. All the same, he did seem to have a knack for getting into trouble, and proceeding to run head long to meet it, and still come out smelling like roses, in spite of everything.
Sure, maybe it had never been of the same caliber as the Billy the Kid; but he did try.
These days, when outlaws seemed to be a dime a dozen, and equally in demand for the powers that be to snatch them and hang them, or relieve them of their heads, it was important to stay one step or a dozen, ahead of the game.
Dave shook himself out his reverie and focused his attention back on keeping his seat in the saddle. His horse needed no encouragement, after all it was rough terrain. Chavez refused to meet his gaze, and he recalled the look on the other's face, stricken and somber at the same time.
"It was just a bunch of stupid old bones," Dave muttered under his breath. "I guess, to Chavez, it's more than that, and I guess I don't blame for reacting the way he did."
In the background he could hear the soughing of the wind across the broken flats and the few sparse trees that dotted the terrain here and there. Underneath him, Dave felt his horse pull at the reins and whinny.
Dave figured it was best to stop wool-gathering and catch up with the other gang members.
The detour to the burial ground certainly would not have thrown off their pursuers, no matter what Billy and Doc Scurlock might think. He kicked his booted feet into the horse's flanks and gave the animal it's head, letting up on the reins as he did so.
Doc glanced sideways at him, but Dave refused to be baited or respond to the questioning look in the older man's blue eyes. "Where to next?" he asked instead.
"North, we'll double back on our trail and lose them in the hills," Billy said.
The others nodded and finished redistributing the remaining baggage on their mounts, before they dropped into a single file and rode off in the direction that Billy had indicated.
In the back of his mind, Dave, decided: 'Some stars are brighter and hotter, even if they burn out fast, and I will be one of those stars, no matter how long and loudly the names of Billy the Kid and other famous outlaws are remembered by generations to come.' Dave smiled at both the image and thought, and kept his place in the line.
Night had come down in full and the bright pinpricks of stars dotted the inky blackness overhead.