Big Bad John

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Westerns  |  House: Booksie Classic

To the close observer, even at a distance, there was a difference in the figures as they straggled through the sage-brush. The man who rode a big black stallion, leading two other was outfitted in all black. A horned toad startled by the intrusion darted across the trail from the shelter of one sage-brush to another—'In a country that raises sage-brush, horned toads, and hell,' and Big John laughed softly to himself.

He reined in his horse for a moment to take in the beauties of the view. His men had already descended from the mesa into the huge basin that opened out suddenly at their feet, disclosing a dreary waste that was beautiful and absolute, for not a dwarfed tree or a sage-brush or a twig lived there. The wind and rain had cut and carved the hills and mounds into strange and sometimes grotesque shapes, and merged and blended the colored sands, so that they presented versions of the spectrum, sand rainbows, giving brilliancy and color to this dead desolation.

The Bad Lands were buttressed by a ring of sandstone battlements, twisted, tortured, pock-marked, broken away here and there in huge masses, weird and fantastic.

He had crossed this trail many times, but never failed to pause on this brink to wonder and admire. It was lucky for the outlaw that just at that moment he raised his hat to wipe his dripping brow, for the report of a rifle rang out, and reverberated again and again among the hills, pockets, and gullies of the Bad Lands. Instantly everyone sat erect, unslung his rifle from the pommel of his saddle, but with unanimity that told of unusual discipline, they turned and waited for their leader's orders. Big John made a gesture which in the sign language meant 'Wait.' The men deployed and waited, their eyes sweeping the broken ground before them. Big John looked at his hat, and laughed as he replaced it on his head. 'By golly,' he muttered; 'he picked his place. What a mark I was on this sky-line! Don't know how they could have missed me!' When he had rejoined his men in the valley below, he called to Lefty Joe, 'check behind the boulders over on the other ridge to see if that shot came from there.' Lefty Joe paused for a second, then wiped his brow with painful deliberation, and they rode on.

Dakota slipped from the saddle and stood facing the roan, which pricked its ears forward and nosed his shoulder, then whinnied softly. Recone' Lefty will find out who fired that shot?' He asked Big John.

With a whoop and on the run, they dashed into the water, throwing the spray high into the air, and the weary animals buried their noses in the stream and drank so greedily that the water ran out of their nostrils, the men leaning over and drinking out of their hands, and throwing it over their heads and faces.


Submitted: November 10, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Intoxcy8me. All rights reserved.

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