The boy was born in Ohio at the start of the Civil War. When his father got back from fighting on the Union side he wanted to move to the Dakota Territory and start a new life far away from most other humans. The boy’s mother was very religious and usually hers was the last word in their household but when his dad came home, he made a declaration that no one in their family had to attend church if they didn’t want to. At first the boy’s mother was perturbed but his dad would not back down, and the boy thought he was very brave. And he was secretly very happy because he hated church and he was ashamed to confess it to anyone but the jesus pictures gave him nightmares. All the blood and eating his flesh and weird shit the people were always talking about. So while his mother and little sister went to service on Sundays, the boy and his father would go on walks in the woods, and it was easier to keep up with him because his father had a bum leg from the war where a musket ball had passed clean through but nicked some nerves and bone.
His father taught him how to shoot with a rifle but when he told the boy to aim at a deer the boy didn’t want to. He didn’t want to hurt him. The boy was friends with the creatures. The boy was afraid his father would call him a sissy but he didn’t. His father said now I know why none of them are afraid of you and the hens always give you their eggs without making a fuss. They recognize you as their kin. So the boy was never asked to go hunting with his father but he did still want his dad to teach him how to shoot. His father made sure the boy became proficient with his muzzleloader rifle once the boy was big enough to handle it. Then he learned him on a pistol, and this weapon remained the boy’s primary love.
The boy was fascinated the first time his father let him hold the sidearm weapon the Union cavalry had issued his dad- the Colt 1860 Army Revolver. It was a ball and cap black powder pistol. His father showed him how to place the hammer at half cock so that the cylinder rotated freely, then charge each chamber with powder with his 30 grain flask. Then he had to stick a little oiled piece of cotton on top of the powder. And then seat a lead ball in the chamber right on top of the cotton wad and the powder. The boy noticed a tiny bit of lead was shaved off the ball as it got shoved down the chamber for a tight fit. Next his dad showed him how to put some lard inside, just enough to seal the skinny space between where the lead ball curved away from the chamber wall. He explained this was to prevent chainfire, which is what happens when the weapon is fired but the powder in one chamber ignites the one next to it.
Finally, his dad showed him about caps. A cap made of copper and containing an explosive substance called fulminate of mercury is put on a little raised nipple that’s found on the back of each chamber. The hammer hits the cap and the force from its little explosion packs the gun powder with enough pressure that it explodes out the chamber. And this is what makes the lead ball eject, which is of course, a gunshot said his dad. His dad patiently showed him again and again how to load the revolver, and after target practice, how to take it apart it and clean and oil it. Then he made the boy do it again and again until the boy could do it with his eyes closed.
The boy moved with his family by covered wagon to Wyoming in 1868. The bad thing happened that year. Six months in after they had just built a little house and even constructed a working well on the property the man who sold the deed to the land came to see them. The man said he brought bad news from the land speculation company he worked for. The man said he was sorry but the deed was no longer valid as the government now owns this land. Since when the boys father asked. Since the Treaty of Fort Laramie said the man. The government is giving this land back to the Indians. The man said he had come to remove them off the property. His father told him to get the hell out of here and reached for his rifle which he always kept nearby but the man was quicker and shot him dead. The boy leapt on the man but the man hit him with the butt of his pistol so hard he should have killed him. His mother had run away into the grass to hide his sister to keep her from getting raped. Then the man lit fire to the house. And ran away with many of their possessions, their two horses, and their cow.
After the man left, the boy and his mother and sister had to live in their covered wagon. The boy even shot animals for his family so they could eat but his mother and sister were dead within two weeks from some kind of sickness. The boy eventually got taken in by a very religious Lutheran family at the base of the Big Horn Mountains. When he got old enough he learned that it was true, the treaty had closed the Powder River Territory off to whites. But his family’s homestead had been technically just outside of that area. The land speculator had lied. And he had also sold them a false deed. The land speculation company he claimed to represent had never heard of him and no one knew his name. The boy decided when he was grown he would find this man and kill him.
The boy turned 17 in 1875. He had been on his own now for three years; the first year he spent working as a farmhand. He assisted with harvests, and helping animals deliver their young and while he did this he was saving up money and asking people about the man. For two years he found employment working as a cowhand driving longhorn cattle up from Texas to Abilene, Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. He saw much of the country that way but a part of him felt like a hypocrite because he knew those animals were going to get slaughtered. He wasn’t sure if it had been from his mother or the Lutheran family but he felt kind of guilty all the time about everything. His mother had been very sweet and the religious family had took him in and fed him but they were so obsessed with the jesus and sexual relations and evil human behavior that it had mixed up the young man a little bit. The young man decided he did not believe in the Christian god but he still believed in something and worried that it whatever it was thought he was bad. This frightened him because he had a life goal that he did not want God to fuck up or punish him over in advance. The young man was also subconsciously afraid of ladies.
Eventually he saved up enough money to purchase an almost new .45 caliber Colt single action revolver, also know as the Peacemaker. At first he felt funny buying this weapon because it wasn’t a percussion revolver like the one his dad had trained him on. This Colt had a metallic cartridge- a bullet. You didn’t have to load powder or balls or caps into it, just one clean cartridge containing all of those items was loaded directly into each of the six chambers. His dad had told him that they first invented this back in 1854; it was a .22 caliber rimfire by Smith and Wesson. But his dad had always liked loading the individual components himself and didn’t think metallic cartridge loaders would ever really take off. The boy wished his dad could have lived to see the wonders of this modern and perfected technology. The Colt was incredible and the first night he owned it he couldn’t even sleep, he just kept cleaning it and cleaning it and holding it up to the firelight where it glimmered. This was the gun that would kill the scumbag who killed his family.
When he wasn’t practicing with his new pistol on old tin cans, the young man sat alone in the fields. Sometimes birds would land close to him and he would talk to them. He had a dream one night that one of the birds told him he was a loser for still being a virgin and that he should patronize a whorehouse. The young man woke up and decided that this was true. He picked a pretty black woman there who smiled at him and seemed the nicest. She was only about ten years older than him and had shapely shoulders, small breasts and a full bottom. When they got up to the room he gave her the money and she said put it on the dresser. Then she did some magical filthy things to him and let him do those things to her. Afterwards he was so shy and embarrassed and couldn’t look her in the eye. She teased him and said don’t worry you did real good. He cleared his throat and tried to say thank you but he started coughing violently instead. He tried to run out of the room but she blocked the door. She laughed at him goodnaturedly and handed him a cup of water. The woman became his friend.
One day he worked up the courage to ask her if she’d ever seen a man who stood about six feet tall and had large teeth. That was all he could remember of the criminal speculator. This of course did not narrow it down enough but the woman told him she had heard of someone who could help him. This person was a white woman and it was said she possessed special powers of sight. It was said she got them after almost dying. She was never seen in town anymore. She lived somewhere out on the prairie on Indian lands. “And her old man is an Indian!” said the woman, thinking it might shock him. The boy thanked her and she gave him a goodbye kiss. He set off to find the prairie woman.
The young man found the teepee on the sixth day of riding. He found it accidentally while he was searching for a stream and some young green grass for his horse. He dismounted and watered his horse and currycombed his coat. His horse was a strawberry roan paint with a pale face and a white rump with red spots. The young man would not have him gelded so he was very healthy and spirited. His dark strawberry flecked coat glowed in the light and he never lacked for the approval of young lady horses. Intelligence and cunning showed in his eyes that loomed out of his pale face. The young man fed him oats he kept in his saddlebags which he had to remove from the horse’s person in the evening because he had learnt how to twist his neck around and do a strange dance that hitched the bag close enough to his face and allowed him to pilfer all his food. After the young man had a lunch of corn bread and coffee beside the stream, he saddled up and then found the teepee after only ten minutes of riding. It was very small and sat alone on the prairie under the blue sky, the grass waving around it like a blue green ocean (something the young man had never seen for real).
His heart started beating fast. He dismounted and walked up to the teepee. A campfire with an iron pot hung over it sat smoking over doused coals nearby. He heard some noise in there but no one came out. He stood out there for a full while and didn’t know what to do. Finally he introduced himself to the doorflap and asked if he could see the woman with the sight. A small snakey brown arm pulled him in the door. His eyes adjusted to the gloom where the dust motes glittered in the tiny sun rays that came through the top of the teepee. There was a white woman in there about age 45 and an Indian man maybe five years older than her. And a young girl probably born a year or two after the young man. The young girl was tanned to a dark reddish hue almost as the same as the Indian man. The young man liked her looks. She had brown eyes full of light like creekwater in the sun and long skinny arms and legs that moved fast as a spider’s. The woman was blonde and grey. The Indian man motioned to the young man to come sit next to him. The young man did so. The woman smiled at him. She asked him what he wanted to know. He cleared his throat and asked how much it cost and was relieved when the sum she told him was something he could afford.
He gave her the money. Then no one said anything. The young man again felt embarrassed because his heart was rapidly beating and his stomach was making unseemly sounds and he was sure they could hear all of it. He was terrified. Some people from his past were in his head saying this was Satan’s work. A movement on the other side of the teepee caught his eye. It was a short haired mutt dog yawning. The dog had blended in with the skins and furs on the ground. The dog yawned again and then wormed himself closer to the young man, stretching his body out so that his back legs stuck out straight behind him and his forelegs straight out in front of him. The dog grinned at him, and burped. He rolled his eyes and looked like a tiny mangy bear skin rug with the head still alive. The girl laughed and crept over to the young man and put his hand on the dog’s back, indicating he should pet it. The young man did so and the dog fell asleep.
It helped calm the young man down. The Indian man chuckled. They sat there like that for a while. Then the white woman told him he would have a dream that night that would give him the information he sought. She leaned over to shake his hand and say goodbye and through the seam of her leather shirt he saw a giant scar on her belly. The young man thanked her, and shook the Indian man’s hand as well. Wait, he said, and he gave the woman more money, all that he had brought. He nodded shyly at the girl and exited the teepee. He was already on his horse when the young girl sprang out after him. She asked him if he would help her carry some water back from the stream first and he said alright. Before he could dismount to help her up she leapt up behind him and clenched her arms around his middle. Lightening fire shot up through his body. He was glad she couldn’t see his face turn bright red as he had suddenly become afflicted with an instant boner. They rode to the water and she told him how she came to live out there.
Her mother once had a white husband but she got very sick while pregnant with the girl. The white doctor said she and the baby would die. She asked her husband to drive her in a carriage onto the prairie to the band of Arapaho Indians who were wintering near their tiny settlers town, in hopes that she could ask to see their medicine man. Her husband refused and that night the woman took a horse and rode out into the grass, following the small fires she could see the Indians had built.
Their medicine man cut the baby out of her belly and had to remove the diseased womb as well. The woman went out of her body and was in the spirit world for a time and when she came back she was different. She did not want to go back home after that and the Indians initially allowed her to stay with them. But there were both Indians and whites who did not approve of this arrangement and she had to leave. Her new Arapaho husband elected to leave his tribe rather than let her go alone. So they lived alone on the prairie and he is girls true father she said. The young man helped fill her skins with water and then he rode her back to the teepee. On the way back much to his mortification he got another hard on. The girl kept pretending to accidentally brush her hand against it then she’d start giggling. He could feel her breathing into the back of his neck and doing something weird like sniffing him and rubbing her face on him. He very tentatively let his hand fall on her thigh for a moment. The girl chuckled at him. She sniffed him some more then relaxed against him and sighed. He let go of the reins with one hand and let his hand rest loose near her own. She put her hand in his. When they were back at the small teepee the girl thanked him and said she hoped he would come back. He blushed and said it was a real pleasure meeting her.
That night in his boarding house room he had some dreams. The girl was in the first one. They were having sex but he couldn’t see her face or her body. He could feel her and smell her though, and hear her low chuckle.
He came in the dream. He woke up from the force of the orgasm. He had to wipe himself off with a sock. Then he fell asleep again. The second dream was in bright vivid color. He could see a man and his facial features were very clear. The young man marveled at this because he had not been able to see the man’s face as clearly in his head for some years now. But he immediately recognized him. The man was tall and he had big stained teeth. He had a perverted smile on his face. The boy was in a canoe floating down a river and the man was standing on the shore. He could see the man’s shit eating eyes and how he was smiling lewdly at the young man. At the man’s feet were three decapitated rabbit heads, their neck stumps still bright and bloody. And the man was standing over them pulling his pud!
The young man woke up again with a start. He was affronted. That dream was lewd. He was angry for a moment that he paid that woman to send him a filthy medicine dream. But then he remembered what else he saw. The man had been standing on a shore, and the shoreline had been unnaturally covered with dark trees. The boy’s childhood house was also there, crowded in by the trees. And there had been a sign behind it, the letters glowing with a strange electricity. They said Deadwood. The young man suddenly laughed and wondered if the woman always sent such literal dreams.
Well Deadwood is where I am going then said the young man and he began making preparations for that day. His ride was uneventful for the first week. It was slow going for a time as his horse had a bruised foreleg and the young man had to walk beside him to give him a rest. He was about two days outside of Deadwood, a town in the Dakota Territory. It was 30 miles east of the Wyoming border in South Dakota, in the Black Hills. When his horse was tired he found a place to make a fire and camp for the night. One evening two men approached him after the sun went down. They looked thin and asked if they could have some of his beans and sleep by the fire. They had two very skinny horses. The young man’s horse whickered at them.
The young man said alright and shared his dinner with them. He shared some oats with their horses as well. The men didn’t say much and quickly went to sleep. The young man lay back under his wool blanket with one hand on his Colt and the other on the small Derringer he kept wedged in his boot. After forty five minutes of pretend sleep the men motioned to each other and approached the young man’s bedroll. One had a knife and the other had a beat up old pistol. The young man told them to stop moving and they did. He asked them why they wanted to fuck him over after he had been decent to them. He saw that the one with the gun was taking aim so he shot him first. He got him in the gut. The one with the knife threw it very badly and missed. The young man shot him in the chest. Then he shot them both in the head with the colt. Didn’t have to use the Derringer. He was surprised he made the first two shots because he’d had to raise his arm and discharge the firearm from under his blanket. No shootist actually fires from the hip, it is grossly inaccurate. They have to bring the pistol up to where their arms are perpendicular to their body and take aim like anyone else.
The young man went through the pockets of both the men and unearthed a few moldy dollars. He dragged their bodies into the brush. Then he and his horse and the two skinny horses commenced the journey into Deadwood. When the young man arrived he was shocked at how it in some way resembled his dream. It was dark with trees. Deadwood was built in a large ravine that had been filled with dead trees, hence dead wood. Live trees crowded the steep sides of the ravine on both sides. It was late fall and early snow covered the mountain sides that came down around the town. It was very cold for late fall. There were a lot of people in the frozen mud street but there was an ominous vibe in the town that reminded him of his dream. He found a stable that rented stalls and supplied feed and he paid to put the three horses up. He found a boarding house for himself and realized he would have to find the man soon because he was almost out of money.
It didn’t take long. There was an expensive looking lodge house built higher than the other structures, up in the forest. He could see lights burning in the windows between the freezing trees in the dusk. He asked a child who lived there and the child said it was the gold man’s house. The young man bought a meal and asked a diner seated next to him who the gold man was and they said he was someone who owned a mine in the area and had been known to force prospectors to sell their stakes under suspicious circumstances. The young man knew he’d found the right one.
That evening the young man hiked far up into the hills, skirting around the town proper and coming back down behind the large lodge house. He had to be careful because of the cold snap that followed him into town. The snow was crunching like bones. He looked into a window of the house and couldn’t see anything beyond some rich type furniture, some had white sheets covering them like the house’s occupant was still moving in. Large wooden crates pushed against the wall confirmed this. A woman in a strange costume of black and white and showing a lot of leg came into the room once to bank the fire and blow out the lamps. The she went away. The house was silent, the young man knew the man was not there.
The young man had to wait until Sunday. That’s when the man came back from some trip he’d made back east on a train. He overheard this in the small breakfast room of the boarding house. The young man thought about how he’d never gotten to take passage on a train himself. It was early Sunday morning when he hiked up behind the lodge again. He found the best window to look through, into a room with a large fire going and that adjoined the kitchen. An expensive green billiards table was in that room, next to a vein-blood colored velvet couch with buttons sewn in the back of it so that it had ass dimples in it. The young man crouched by the window and waited. He overheard a cook and the sexy maid he’d seen the week prior discuss that they were going to see some famous minister preach that morning in an outlying mining camp. The cook left first to town. The maid, who had curly blonde hair and was very pretty, stayed behind. The young man swallowed hard when he saw the tall man come down the stairs. He was the same man who had killed his family.
The tall man walked over to the blonde maid and pulled down her dress so her pink nipples bounced into view. He parted her legs. He unbuttoned his fancy trousers and fucked her on the couch unknowingly, right in front of the young man. The man finished quickly and then maid got up and wiped her crotch with the tall man’s shirttail. He slapped her in the face and she left the room. The young man could hear the front door open and close and the cook and the maid arguing. They left down the tall steep driveway that led from the lodge house onto the main road into town.
The tall man went back upstairs. The young man walked right through the front door, they had forgotten to lock it. Two large animals that actually looked like wolves or wolf dogs greeted the young man. One growled for a second, the other just sneezed at him. He said something comforting to them and they let him pat them on their heads. He put them outside and locked the door from the inside. He brought out his Colt and had the Derringer in his waist.
The tall man came back down the stairs and stopped when he saw the young man. He asked who the fuck are you and the young man asked him if he remembered the man he shot back by the Powder River. The tall man snorted and started to say Son but the young man had already shot him. Twice in the chest and once in the head. It happened so fast it was almost in reverse. The young man was perplexed. He stared at the body for a while. He remembered again the man standing over his body with the pistol after he’d hit him with it, thinking he’d killed him. Then the young man felt a great peace.
He walked around the house. The new floorboards made a good sound. He sat on top of the billiard table and aimlessly picked up the eight ball and let it drop back down on the table from about two feet. The table made a strange noise, too hollow for one that expensive. The young man picked up the fire tongs by the fireplace and smashed the top in. There was a compartment inside and lying at the bottom were piles of silver and gold coins, some foreign some from home. He found a sack in the kitchen and filled it up. Then he poured the gas lamps all over the floor and lit the house on fire. He hiked up behind the snowy hills as the house really got to smoking. The wolf dogs followed him. He told them to wait out in the woods for a couple more hours.
He went back to the boarding house and packed up. He walked up the street to see what the other bystanders were looking at. The house was hugely burning but it was so cold it didn’t make any noise. The trees next to it were still frozen with ice. The fire burned quiet like an explosion in deep space. A woman standing next to the young man said “It’s kinda beautiful.”
“Yes ma’am” said the young man. Then he collected his horses and got out of town.
The young man made a quick detour into the forest to get the wolf dogs. They followed him but stayed hidden in the hills until they were four days out of South Dakota. That night while he was petting one of them by the campfire the young man felt a void. He saw blackness in front of his face and he felt his chest tighten. He couldn’t breathe; he was going into the blackness.
From far away he heard a wolf whining. Then he felt something licking his face. He opened his eyes. He was back at the campfire.
He got up and went for a short walk under the moon. He realized the immense fear which had struck him was because he wasn’t sure what do next or where to go. He realized he would have to find another purpose in life. He decided he would give a lot of money to his friend who’d helped him. And to the Lutheran family.
And that he wanted to see the ocean. He decided he was going to go back to the teepee and ask that girl to come with him. Hell he had enough money for her family to go too if they wanted. He could buy a ranch on a cliff overlooking the sea and they all could live there. The young man chewed on some freshly fallen snow thoughtfully. He gathered some more in a bucket and brought it back to campfire, melting it so the animals had some fresh water to drink before bed. Then he stretched out beside the fire again. This time he fell asleep, and he slept real good.
Copyright © 2013 by Kim Campion