Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Clouding: Day 15

Word Total: 90,006

Year to Date: 600,050

Summary of Events:
Theresa and Mama finished their discussion about her treatment of Bennett with Mama telling her she needed to apologise whether she liked it or not. Asher watched the Apache depart before running Ashley's gelding through his paces and riding him to Tucson instead of Nizhoni, which he hoped would help him go unnoticed. Theresa couldn't sleep because of morbid dreams, and so got dressed and went out to the cemetery. Asher got up before dawn to get out of town . . . 

Excerpt of the Day:
Untying the reins, he passed them over the gelding's head and swung into the saddle.
He reversed the gelding straight back from the rail and then turned southward, letting the horse walk and wake up. The town was even more silent than it'd been when he'd come in after dark.
The gait the gelding used, as it was his leisure to pick the speed, was slow and plodding, carrying them out of town at a snail's pace.
Asher scanned the quiet surroundings. The town seemed eerily empty, as if it was supposed to look empty when it actually wasn't so that someone could jump out and attack him. He felt on edge.
Spying a figure in the cemetery, his pulse accelerated and he was almost tempted to goad the gelding into a gallop, but he didn't dare, lest he attract the attention of the person, who could well raise the alarm.
The figure turned and looked at him. There seemed to be shock, fright on the face. They recognised who he was. There was no other reason for the reaction.
Quickly he swung out of the saddle, briskly walked over to the cemetery, hopped the fence, and strode up to the individual, whom he quickly discovered to be a woman. Women were more shill in their screams than men.
Drawing a gun swiftly, he cocked it and put it to the side of her head.
"You don't run, you don't make a sound," he warned.
Her eyes were wide as saucers as she stared at him. She looked petrified.
Switching hands on the gun, he stepped around behind her and wrapped his arm around her neck before guiding her toward the gate.
She lifted the latch rather quietly, and then opened the gate wide, prompting it to squeal. He kneed her in the back of the leg.
"Quiet!" he hissed when she uttered a whimper.
He guided he to the gelding, who'd stopped and appeared to have settled down to doze in the middle of the street.
For a moment he was at a loss as to what he should do to keep her from screaming or running away, but then he got an idea and took out his knife. He drew up her overskirt and cut a long strip off her petticoats that he bound her wrists with. He then cut a shorter, thicker piece and gagged her with it.
Holding one of her arms, he swung into the saddle, and then kicked his foot out of the stirrup and used his other hand to haul her skirts up so she could get her foot in.
She obediently swung on behind him and let her arms be fed over his head.
Driving his spurs into the gelding's sides, he took off at a gallop. Now to head for Mesilla, and fast.

Due to a summer commitment the next post will be on September 1. Have a good summer everyone!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Clouding: Day 14

Word Count: 84,004

Summary of Events:
Mama started to talk to Theresa about her treatment of Bennett, but they were interrupted by the arrival of a bounty hunter whom they convinced that Bullseye and Asher were different people and that he should look for Bullseye. Asher and the Apaches continued to ride in silence and Asher made plans to secretly stop in Tucson once he parted ways with the Apache later that day before mentally bemoaning the lack of rainclouds in the sky . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
It wasn't really surprising that there wasn't much of anything for rainclouds around them, though. The rain really only started to come in November, which was somewhere about a month away.
He might have to ask someone what date it was when he went into Tucson just to be sure that November was only a month away. It'd been days from September when he'd last left a town, and that was San Diego a long time ago. By this time September had to be practically over and October right on their doorstep.
Even thinking of the word made him twinge. He'd been able to keep track of time by occasionally seeing or hearing the date, and he couldn't deny that he felt uncomfortable thinking that it was already October.
Having the month of his birth come and go hadn't been the biggest deal to him until this last year. Based on his memories he had, this last October, turned the age Mama had never seen the end of. The age that Mama remained.
This October, thus, he would officially outlive Mama, and he wasn't sure what he thought of that.
In some ways, he felt it was wrong for him to outlive Mama, but yet, in other ways, he hoped that she was glad — if she could be — that he had been able to get so far as to outlive her; that he had not met a fate similar to her own, whether by the same hands or not.
Still, though, could she really be glad? Considering that he had honestly failed her? He'd sworn to her as he'd clutched her cold hand that he would avenge her. That he would bide his time, that he would grow strong enough to deliver punishment and retribution to the man who had taken her from him.
Here he was, twenty years on — how twenty years had flown — more than strong enough to do what needed to be done and yet not having done it.
Guilt clawed at his breastbone. He hadn't been able to bring himself to do what needed to be done, and what needed to be done far more than anything else could ever have needed to be done, well, at least for him personally.
By this time the man who had taken Mama from him was assuredly old and feeble, likely to have his life claimed by time sooner than later, and yet he still could not hasten the end. He felt incapable of overpowering a man who would unquestionably be weaker than him and give himself the peace he needed, for assuredly he would feel at fullest rest once he accomplished that task.
Asher sighed. He didn't know what to do at all, but he figured that it was more than time to make his way to Santa Fe once all this business with Bullseye was done. He'd put off long enough what needed to be done.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Clouding: Day 13

Word Count: 78,039

Summary of Events:
Theresa was visited by Bennett and was more than a little upset by statements suggesting that he seemed to believe Mr. Peck's assertion that Asher was Bullseye, which prompted her to terminate their relationship. Asher and the Apaches who'd survived had all regrouped and one of them quite vehemently argued that they should kill people from Tucson in retribution for their men who had been killed. Theresa's oldest brother had come by — as the posse had returned to town following the chase — for breakfast and Theresa mistook him for her father before they sat down to breakfast and discussed things . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"I'd be interested in riding out to their camp and telling them that it's only certain corrupt men who fired at their men," Patrice said. "Unfortunately I have my doubts that I'd be all that well received. It would probably be a better idea to see what we can do to rid this town of Bartholomew Peck. It's taken far too little time for him to ruin everything Papa had created. He'd established something of a peace with the Apache, he'd intimidated crime, and he'd stood up for justice. Now we've killed Apache men, done nothing about crime, and randomly accused whoever we want to think is guilty purely on some of the flimsiest circumstantial evidence I've ever seen."
"I can't believe he was named sheriff without all the proper protocol being followed," Mama said.
"I bet it was waived because of the circumstances," Patrice replied.
"Bartholomew had the authority he needed as acting sheriff to do what needed to be done," Mama said.
"He wanted the position so that he could kill without question," Theresa said.
Mama sighed. "It's certainly looking more and more like that was the case."
"I could see him forcing himself into power by backwoods routes," Patrice said. "I can't say that I ever liked him. There was something arrogant about him always. How did Papa stand him?"
"Well," Mama replied. "I think Jeremy had hopes of being able to mentor Bartholomew longer so that he would be a better lawman. Unfortunately such is not the case."
Theresa's eyes blurred with tears she furiously dabbed away with Mama's handkerchief.
Patrice sighed. "I doubt Mr. Traynor will even listen to us."
"I think he might," Mama said. "After all, Jeremy was sheriff here for a decently long time. I think he would respect that, not to mention if we explain to him that the safety that Tucson enjoyed under Jeremy is in jeopardy and that Bartholomew is doing a generally poor job of getting things done as they ought to be done, I'm sure he'll listen."
"I fear you underestimate Bartholomew's influence," Patrice said.
"I don't think it's influence all that much," Mama replied. "I think it's just that people have been frustrated with the elusiveness of Bullseye so much that they're willing to believe any theory that anyone presents as to who Bullseye might be."
"Even the people of Tucson?" Patrice asked.
"I wouldn't see why not," Mama replied. "He's been a terror in these parts for longer than we've lived here. The fact that even their sheriff who was so committed to justice couldn't catch him somehow has to be frustrating."
"But did he ever really put a concentrated effort into it?" Patrice asked.
"I don't think that would be a concern of all that many people, even though he never did," Mama replied. "It doesn't matter if Bullseye was looked for or not. It matters whether he was caught or not."
"I guess so," Patrice said.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Clouding: Day 12

Word Count: 72,019

Excerpt of the Day:
The chief of the Apaches made Asher upset by trying to tell Asher he was too violent and needed to try being peaceable, prompting Asher to tell him that if he wanted peace he ought to shut his mouth. Theresa was upset at Mama for comments Mama had made about the future that had made Theresa uncomfortable, but Mama apologised and said they didn't ever have to talk about it again, which made Theresa grateful. Asher and the Apaches — whose chief remained silent, which Asher appreciated — were come upon by the posse from Tucson and immediately split up to make themselves more difficult to track down; while fleeing, Asher worried about being tracked down, no matter where he went . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
In the end, Peck would probably be forced to track him down, and by that time the trail would probably be washed away by a winter rain; too bad there wasn't an autumn rain lurking somewhere that would help him right about now by washing away his tracks — especially the ones that led to the  Apache camp.
Asher glanced under his arm again. The posse seemed to have scattered in several directions, likely seeking the Apaches who'd fled off to the sides.
In fact, Asher saw one of the riders heading for town hot on the tail of one of the Apaches. He hoped the Apache would make it out alive.
A gunshot rang out that sounded closer in many respects than the gunshots before had sounded, and he saw that the leader — probably Peck — was riding his horse at top speed with both hands on a rifle.
Peck was intent to kill him.
Asher's heart started pounding faster than the rhythm of Nizhoni's rapid gallop, a gallop that was starting to flag a little bit as she came to be weary of maintaining the high speed. 
Several more shots rang out. Asher then glanced under his arm and saw that Peck was attempting to reload his firearm with his horse flat out in a gallop.
He was tempted to whip Nizhoni around on a dime and charge the diminished posse, except for the fact that he was towing Ashley and his horse. If he were riding alone he would've done it without question, snatching the rifle out of Peck's hands and maybe even killing him with it, or one of his own pistols.
Having Ashley in tow, however, he couldn't do such a thing, so the question was: what could he do then?
He could turn left and head for Tucson; after all, practically every man in town looked to have been a part of the posse on his tail, surely the women wouldn't arm themselves and seek to take him out, and it wasn't like Apache men weren't headed in that direction, which could prove to be something of a distraction.
It certainly seemed the best option, seeing as all he could see everywhere else was wide open desert spotted with the occasional cactus.
Releasing the pressure of his left spur and bringing the rein against the right side of Nizhoni's neck, Asher hauled on the left rein on Ashley's horse and turned them in a tight left for Tucson while Peck continued to fumble with his rifle, which Asher saw him nearly drop.
Asher fixed his gaze ahead and realised that Tucson seemed nearer than he'd thought, but then as he looked at the buildings a little closer he realised that he was on track to run straight through someone's farmyard. He hoped the farmer wasn't home.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Clouding: Day 11

Word Count: 66,039

Summary of Events:
Theresa attended the funeral for the Hanington family and was distressed by the pastor's insinuation that there had been good in the death of her father and the Haningtons. Asher was unsure of whether he should take Ashley — who seemed to be getting sicker — to the doctor or not, and eventually decided against doing so. Theresa discussed her growing suspicions and dislike of Mr. Peck with Mama over tea, with Mama suggesting heritage had a role to play . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Do you think Mr. Peck dislikes Papa as well?" Theresa asked. "Then he could have killed everyone whether he wanted to frame the Hunter or not."
"I don't know that he knew Jeremy's mixed heritage," Mama replied.
"How could he not?" Theresa asked. "No one else I've met, especially since we've come to Arizona, has Papa's fine, delicate facial features other than Patrice and myself."
"No one here is prejudiced against the French blood," Mama replied. "There is too little of it, and I assure you, Asher does not look French."
"But I thought Papa was French and English," Theresa said.
"Don't you remember the other word Theresa?" Mama asked.
Theresa thought hard. It had been something other than French. She distinctly recalled asking about it, and Papa had told her it was a French word that denoted him to be partially French and partially not.
"Métis," Theresia said when it finally came to her.
"And did not Jeremy explain that word to you?" Mama asked.
"He said it meant partially French," Theresa replied. "That Grandpapa was partially French."
"He did not tell you what the other part was?" Mama asked.
"Is that of significance?" Theresa asked.
"Yes, Métis are specifically people who are half French and half Native," Mama replied. "In the fur trading days Frenchmen known as courer du bois — runners of the wood — collected furs from the Native tribes in return for goods at forts across the continent, and some found themselves in love with young women from the tribes they interacted with, and so they married those women. Their children were the first Métis."
"You mean that the Hunter is partially Native?" Theresa asked.
"Jeremy suspected as much," Mama replied. "He didn't know for sure, but he could see some Native features that suggested it to be possible."
"Papa's are more hidden in the French then," Theresa said.
"Somewhat, yes," Mama replied. "Not to mention it was your great grandmother who was Native, and Grandpapa didn't marry a Native woman, nor did Jeremy."
"So effectively you're saying it's been diluted, making it harder to appear as a dominant feature," Theresa said.
"Yes," Mama replied.
"Wouldn't it be the same with the French?" Theresa asked.
"Obviously not," Mama replied. "Unless maybe the French dominated the Native. But I do believe Grandmama had a little French in her, which might help the French show through better."
"I haven't noticed Mr. Peck to be the sort to be cruel to Natives," Theresa said. "Not that I can say I've seen him with any either, I guess."
"Even if he hasn't interacted with them a lot, Bartholomew has kept an eye on any and all information regarding attacks of white settlers by Natives, especially the Apache around here," Mama replied. "And Jeremy many a time told me that he was troubled by Bartholomew's statements on those attacks, not just because Natives are a part of Jeremy's heritage, but because they, like all men, are created in the image of God."

Pronunciations:
Métis: mehtee
Courer: kohruhr
Bois: bwah

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Clouding: Day 10

Word Count: 60,001

Summary of Events:
Asher was ordered by the Apache chief to take on sole care of Ashley, who was falling ill; Asher wasn't pleased with the idea, but acquiesced. Theresa and her mother watched with mild disdain as Mr. Peck — now officially sheriff of Tucson — led a larger posse in search of Asher. Asher and the Apache men were camped for the night when Asher got the sensation he was being watched; thankfully it was just Nizhoni . . . 

Excerpt of the Day:
Asher beckoned to her and stroked her soft chin. The idea of being watched — and watched from the west too — reminded him that there was the likelihood that it wasn't just all the fit and able men of Tucson that were after him.
Butler hadn't exactly sounded pleased when he'd taken off with Ashley, and he was pretty sure that Butler would've rallied his whole gang to go after them in an effort to get his son back, if not possibly kill Asher for having dared to take someone he hadn't offered for the taking — especially if Butler were to find him now, being down two of his fingers.
The fact that he'd heard nothing about Butler's men, especially at this point, was actually something Asher had forgotten about. He'd thought that Butler would have set out after them on the day that he'd taken Ashley, but when they'd not caught up with him, they'd slipped his mind. 
After all, Ashley was Butler's oldest son if he wasn't mistaken; therefore, Ashley was heir to Butler's entire fortune, and probably Butler's most beloved son — although Asher was pretty sure Butler had more than one son, he had something like six kids counting Ashley.
Although Butler was a crook, Asher could see him being dedicated to his children, or, at least, to his sons, whom he would want to carry on robbing banks after him and hopefully succeeding in evading capture.
Too, Butler might be suspicious that Asher would lead people bent on bringing in his outfit to their hideout and prevent him from ever robbing again — on top of taking all of his illicitly-acquired money from his possession.
It was something Asher planned on doing when he'd succeeded in catching Bullseye, especially if he were allowed by the people he brought to round up the Butler Whitney outfit to take the five thousand dollar reward Butler had promised to him out of the money they would likely return to banks across the west if they were able to.
Butler wasn't necessarily the best tracker, though, and the deluge of rain would have washed away any and all hope Butler might've had of tracking them down that way, not to mention Butler wasn't exactly going to walk right into a place like Tucson looking for people. He knew he was wanted, he'd likely go to Mesilla like any other crook would.
In fact, Butler could well be at Mesilla now, maybe even rallying up a posse of crooks and criminals to hunt Asher down and get Ashley back.
Asher sighed. It sure hadn't taken all that much for the Hunter to turn into the Hunted. He only hoped that he could evade all those hunting him and succeed in hunting down and catching his own prey, which he could then show to everyone and prompt them to back off — or, at least a man could hope, but with how convinced Peck was, he didn't know if that would work.

Pronunciation:
Mesilla: mehseeah

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Clouding: Day 9

Word Count: 54,020

Summary of Events:
Asher decided to get the Apaches who helped him with his arm in on the plan to draw out Bullseye and informed them of his plan, which they readily agreed to. Theresa attended her father's funeral and grieved even more than she'd grieved before. Asher and the Apaches set out to canvass the area for signs of Bullseye as the first part of putting their plan into action. Theresa's struggle with the possible good in her father's death renewed, she and her mother discussed it further, with Theresa wishing God could give her an answer . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Can't He explain it out of courtesy?" Theresa asked.
"It wouldn't grow your faith," Mama replied. "It wouldn't grow your trust to have all the answers now, to have an explanation."
"Why do I have to grow in faith?" Theresa asked.
"You know a child must grow," Mama replied. "An infant, for example, they must be able to accept that there are times when their parents will not help them get something they desire, forcing them to either do without it, or work on developing the skills they need to get there on their own. If a parent carries their child everywhere and gives their child everything, when will that child learn to walk? When will that child learn to fend for themselves?"
"Never," Theresa replied.
"Not likely, no," Mama agreed. "God is our heavenly Father. He does not always give us the answers because He knows that we will be better off not knowing, because not knowing the answers will prompt us to trust that He's doing the right thing, and to make the changes we may need to make that having the answers would prevent us from making. It's not a perfect analogy, but it's a decent one. We are to walk by faith, not by sight."
"I don't need to see the answers," Theresa said. "I just need to know them."
"You do not need to Theresa," Mama said. "Although I could postulate that you are getting an answer."
"How?" Theresa asked.
"Maybe one of the reasons that Jeremy has been taken from us is so that you would learn to trust God more," Mama replied. "That's not to say it was only for the sake of your trust's growth that Jeremy died and that if you would've already trusted God more he wouldn't have been killed, but maybe that is something that God intends to bring out of this for you personally."
Theresa didn't know what to say. How could she possibly trust God more when He'd taken her father away from her? It certainly seemed like He'd taken away all the reasons why she ought to trust in Him by taking Papa away, and now trust was what He wanted?
"It is an idea at least," Mama said. "And I think it is a meritorious idea. It is easy to trust God when things are going well and good, and that is almost always what you've known."
"He took away our house in Wisconsin," Theresa said.
"Yes," Mama agreed. "He did, and we lost many precious things. But things are not quite the same as people. You have never lost a dearly beloved one, much less a dearly beloved one who certainly seemed to have much more left in their life to see and do. There may be something in the future yet which prompted God to give you this test, that you might be strengthened and prepared possibly for a worse trial yet to come."