Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fronda of the Plains, Part 2

Once Lance had wrapped the tiny bones in sagebrush and sweetgrass, he carried the bundle inside and placed it in a cardboard box, a shoebox he’d emptied of screws, widgets, and razor blades. The bonnet that had come with Fronda he placed gently on the green mound in the center of the box, and he put the box on the windowsill. “Now you can look outside and watch the tumbleweeds,” he said. He stood there before the window, his hands holding either side of the box, head bowed. “Fronda, travel well into the deadlands,” he said. “May your journey be peaceful and your rest be sweet.” That much he remembered from some prayer he’d heard once, when an Indian girl had died over on the reservation. He wiped a last tear from his rugged cheek and lifted his head. He released the box, and lifted his arms – and, with a growl, turned on his heel away from the window and towards the cabin door.

Holding his arms, his hands, up to the light that blared in through that opening, he growled again, “And now I’m-a-gonna catch me the bastards that done this. And when I catch ‘em, they’re a-gonna wish they never had a taste for the sweetest flesh that ever graced a bushy-tailed baby. I’m a-gonna rip out their sinful, gluttonous tongues and then I’m a-gonna ignore their tongueless calls for mercy. I’m a-gonna kill them twelve ways dead! They won’t forget, even when they’re a-crossin’ the river Lethe into Hell. I’ll send them to a special Hell, where big strong men who eat delicate beauties such as Fronda go to suffer. Where they are ripped and ground up, over and over again, by nasty giant molars, in huge smelly mouths. They will suffer!”

And he took his head in his hands and crumpled to the floor, muttering. “Who could it be – who could have done it – who in all the lord’s creation could be so terrible? Who? Could it have been Old Patch-Britches what lives down near the crick? He likes him some squirrel flesh. But he would never cross me, no, he learned that way back. Elvira, the crazy cat lady? No, she don’t cook her food, just swallows it up all whole and sometimes still kickin’. Now think, Lance! Think…now… those feathers in the cinders, sticking up in the cinders, that’s a strange thing, some kinda creepy ritual thing. That’s like some kinda gang work. That gang, that gang what wears ‘em the funny headgear! Them guys where’n you cain’t see their faces! Who knows what they get up to out here in the country! That’s it! Musta been them! But how do you find ‘em, when they’re not a-wearin’ that funny headgear? Think, Lance, think!”

He sat there crumpled up on the dusty floor, rocking and holding his head, muttering to himself. The day turned hotter and brighter, light poured in through the door, he sweated where he sat and muttered, muttered, and rocked, and after awhile the light got less, and yellower, and oranger, and when at last the first streaks of pink entered the square of sky framed by the rough wood of the door, he stood, quietly. He gathered a few things – matches, a pan, a hunk of bread, his canteen, his bedroll, and a bottle of golden brown hooch – and stuffed them in his saddlebags. He picked up a cinder from inside the wood oven and wrote on the wall under the windowsill, where Fronda’s little box sat, “HERE LIES FRONDA. REST IN PEACE. SHE WAS LOVED BY A LAWMAN. HE HAS GONE TO AVENGE HER. BEWARE ANY WHO CROSS HIM.”

And saddlebags over his shoulder, he went through the rough wood frame door of the shadowy cabin, the door which had framed the violet and pink evening he now stepped into, whistling for his horse.

1 Comments:

Blogger Ellen said...

I'll be danged. This is a fun read. Hope there is a next installment. "Think, Lance, think"

7:28 PM  

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