Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Last Rike: The Red Convoy

The girl was mum. Except for soft tears and the shrill screams, she remained mum about the path that the Red Convoy had traveled and the fact that she wouldn’t speak, meant the covered wagons were moving ever further from him. He had suspicions that the herb shop owner might have been a loyal customer, despite his denials. He figured he’d just ditch the girl and attempt it again with another child. She didn’t trust him, he didn’t have time for her.
The Wanderer and the girl took camp at the base of a crumbling rock face a mile outside of the town. It jetted high into the blazing sky and cast a mile long shadow that spin with the sun like a giant sundial. At night, the girl sat silent, transfixed by the crackling firelight as the Wanderer fussed with his shooters. Though he had disassembled them, painstakingly cleaned the parts with gun oil and reassembled the guns, they only shot sporadically. He tested the guns while he went out for game. He’d draw one of the guns on a smoky gray rabbit, or a scaly sidewinder and say a little prayer that this time the gun would work dependably. When the gun fired, he had hope and when it didn’t, he said, “Fucking Pig shit.”
The night he had the mind to ditch the girl for whomever the herb shop owner might have been hiding, the guns hadn’t fired and he had to work that much hard to slaughter the fat hare that roasted on his makeshift spit. He stared at her as she stared at the dancing firelight. He was working on the guns again, working the cold metal with a oily rag.
“Did my daddy send you?” The girl asked and the Wanderer almost didn’t recognize what she asked as speech.
“Hmm?” The Wanderer asked, now working a brush through the gun’s chambers.
“My daddy. Is he paying you to bring me back home?”
“I don’t know your daddy.”
“Oh…” The only sound for a small while was that of fat sizzling in the fire.
“Are you going to kill me, then?”
“I wouldn’t waste time feeding you , if I aimed to kill you.”
“Oh…” She said softly. Her eyes turned back to the fire. The hare was near finished and the Wanderer cleaned his hands to carve the rabbit for eating. He pulled the smoking rabbit from the fire and began cutting into its meaty haunches.
“My daddy is a bad man. My mama made bad baby, but for me. He wanted me to make him one.” The Wanderer didn’t reply to this.
“I ran away before he could and they picked me up. I thought they were being nice, but…” She went silent for a while and the Wanderer was the same. The Wanderer finally offered her some meat on a greasy stained cloth. She picked at it shyly. The meat was dry and stringy and made them both wish for cold water to wash the taste away, though neither complained aloud.
“They kept me chained in a dark room.” She said, displaying a series of scars around his ankle. “They took my virginity and I thought I was going to die. They cut me.” She said, displaying ragged scars etched along her calves and lower thighs. She also bared her arms to him, showing the scars there. The Wanderer didn’t want to play ’Show Me Your Scars.’ His scars were apparent anyways. His shirt sleeves were rolled up to the elbows and just there was a road map of the hell he had seen.
“You growl in your sleep and your eyes get misty like you want to cry.” She told him. “Do I do that when I sleep?”
“No.” The Wanderer said, carving more of the rabbit.
“I thought I might have. I feel like I do.”
“What about that Convoy you came off of? You most have gleamed something while you were with them.” The Wanderer said.
“I don’t want to go there.”
“That’s where I need to be.”
“I can’t go there.”
“You don’t need to, I just need that location.”
“Would you leave me alone?”
“I’m finding that Convoy one way or the other. You don’t got to go.”
“They might pick me up like they did before. They might hurt me again.”
“That seems to be the situation.” There was another long pause where only the crackle of flames and the two of them working through the rabbit meat could be hear.
“They picked me up along ways away from here and they’re been traveling steady in the same directions. Once going that way…” She said pointing into the north.. “ And then the other.” She said, pointing into the south. “The think they’ll stay on that path, but I can’t be sure of that.”
“You know which they were last?”
“Going into the south.” She said. She stared down into the pale blue, muted sands of the south. The moon was high and clear, shedding light for miles and miles. The Wanderer had the thought that she might be lying. Sending him in the wrong direction would benefit her completely. She wouldn’t be alone and wouldn’t have to walk the path of her captors. The thought came and leave without much exploration. She was afraid of them, but she was afraid of him as well. The image of her dead body half buried in the sands was too easy to envision for the both of them.
“I don’t want to go there, though.” She added to her long past line of thought. By the time she had added this comment, the Wanderer was done with the rabbit and rolling a cigarette for himself.
“You said your name was Clod, right?” She asked, her arms wrapped tightly around her knees.
“Mmm” He grunted with the cigarette pursed between his lips. He struck a sulfur match on his thigh and lit the tightly rolled cigarette.
“My name is Macy.” The Wanderer blew smoke out his nostrils. Macy didn’t speak anymore that night.

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