By Bryan Wein
Read by Shawn Robertson
Period: American West
In the last days of the Republic of Texas a man rode up out of the mesquite bluffs south of the Guadalupe River and stopped on a rise where nothing grew but maguey and ocotillo. He swung down off his horse and studied the trampled maguey and plucked a curved yellow flower. He held it to his nose. The bitter reek of sulfur and cinnabar cut the sweet fragrance of the maguey flower. The man smiled and climbed back on his horse and rode on.
His name was Javier Thompson, a mongrel name for a man of mongrel birth who’d spent all his life traversing those dubious borders north of the Rio Grande. He looked out on the red country as he rode and in the hard pinkish light of sunset he thought he saw a silhouette out in the horizon. Javier spat and rode down the wash after it. Red dust covered his clothes and anyone moving out in that waste might have mistaken him for some spirit conjured up by the sand and wind.