As Dawn was resting, she all
at once caught sight of a rider on a horse. He was just a dot on the hill
across the road, looking to come from the town of Foraker. The town was two
and one half miles away. However, as the crow flies or on horseback it was
She was remembering her
childhood. Riders from town would take a short-cut through the pastures,
rather than using the road around. The rider was in a hurry and he was
closing the space between them rather rapidly. "Hell bent for leather" her
Dad would have said. He was a good rider with the appearance of one who had
ridden since he was a child. The way he set the horse was easy, flowing with
the movement of the animal, to make rider and horse one. It was a thing
learned naturally by these people who grew up in ranching communities.
Maybe her own great grandfather taught their fathers. The Jones's were
horsemen, jockeys, cutting horse trainers, training horses of pleasure
riding for ladies, or anything else particular to the science of the
This style of riding reminded
her of the Kings of England who rode like this. They took and stayed with
the leads of the horse. There was such a grace about it and it was, no
doubt, developed to accommodate battles when rider and horse must almost
think as one. She had not seen the thing so much lately. Usually, these
days, there was simply the play at rodeos and such in small spaces. As the
rider approached she at first thought he was coming toward her, but then it
was obvious he was going around the place. "Why would he? There were no
fences about here to stop him. Maybe he just didn't want to travel through
the thicket of trees on the place, " she thought to herself.
As he came closer she could
hear the snorting and heavy breathing of the horse. Under the man the
animal was laboring from being pushed this heavily. She could hear the slap
of the reins as he took them to one side and back again to the other side of
the horse's neck urging him on at this “breakneck” pace. The saddle squeaked
and complained in its own way at the rigorous push of the man's body against
it. His face she could now easily see, at this close up place, and he had a
determined look on it which showed no fatigue. He wasn't dressed in the
sharp cowboy appearances of the men in the small town where they lived. His
clothes were more of a softer appearance, lacking a dressy starched look. He
wore a dark leather jacket, but it was not like the jackets worn by the men
she knew. Their's was an expensive smooth look. This one was more like
fabric to show the leather had been well worked by steady wear. It was
obviously worn so that it was easily draping about his arms like the
material of a heavy shirt. The man disappeared behind the old rock wall and
she waited but she never saw his horse come out from behind it.
All at once she heard a
gunshot in the front bedroom. It was a little popping sound, almost like a
toy gun, which told her it was a small caliber pistol. She could hear
something drop and then she heard someone running through the house. There
was the moaning, the moaning, the endless moaning like the wind under the
eves of the roof. Dawn was listening, listening. The woman did not get up
from her chair. She could only explain it as the dreams of her childhood.
The girl would be running through the house, trying to get away from
something but only able to move in an extremely slow manner, not ever able
to cover the space of the floor from the living room to the dining area.
Something in her mind told her the man who had been on the horse was in the
middle bedroom in the closet. At that moment she decided to go look. "Why?
Why? Why would he be in there?”
Still, she did not move.
There was that shuffling, scuffling sound in the house to be heard at times,
like two men scuffling, fighting over something. There was no sound of a
voice though.. Nonetheless, there was a struggle, and this sound caused
people to speak of a haunting when they heard it. The noise came from the
back bedroom. This was the only place an intruder could get out of the house
without being observed. Maybe she should make some attempt to move, to get
up, to see.
She felt someone shaking her
shoulder, and when she looked up she realized it was Pete. "Wake up dear.
You have dozed and it's beginning to get late. I have everything loaded and
ready to go."
Dawn was awake now, and
rested. She was alert enough to look up and see hoards of crows descending
upon the old house. The birds were noisy in a coarse, overbearing way.
Insulting in their presence, growing louder, then as suddenly as the heavy
black things appeared; they were gone.
The chill of the highland's
prairie night was upon the place. She felt alone and anxious to go now that
everyone was gone. To avoid the pitch dark night was suddenly her wish. .
After all, the wind generator for lighting which her Dad had built so many
years ago was long gone-- vandalized and destroyed like everything else
Only on the ride home would
she speak to Pete of her dream while she rested there in front of the old
house'. I know one thing now, and I'm sure of it. My aunt did not commit
"How do you know?" Pete was
"I just know." Once more
Dawn drifted off to sleep.
A number of things had been
accomplished. There was a beginning of healing for the people around the old
house. Her heart was satisfied with answers to questions she had wanted to
ask throughout her lifetime.
Last but not least of all,
her sacrifices of time, unbelievable juggling of finances, resources, energy
worked, because Pete's mind had been distracted and freed from the grief of
having to close out his parents home.
Even after her father's
death the beauty of his work, even in its decay, had come to offer them
support and comfort-- as he would have if he were living.