Joanne Faries

Thadeus Marshall hacked at brush. Sweat soaked his linen shirt. He sneezed at the dust churned up by his fine snakeskin boots. 1849 Texas territory proved brutal. “Surely there’s some water on this God-forsaken land,” he muttered to himself. “Now I understand why there were so few takers back in New York.” He stopped and talked to his dejected sweaty horse as it resisted the pull of the reins.  “I didn’t want to work in Father’s bank. Signed papers based on tales of wide open lands containing a given promise of adventure – that’s why I’m here.”  

He plopped down in the slim shade of a twisted mesquite tree and took a swig from his canteen. “Don’t gulp,” he reminded himself. No need to choke. He tallied other errors. Lack of ammunition – Injuns raided his small lean-to and cleaned him out. Dallied too long in France during his year abroad and never visited Spain. Now, marauding Mexican rebels rattled off Spanish and Thadeus remained ignorant. The final insult was insects. Damned if he didn’t itch all the time.   

“Sweet Elizabeth will ne’er deign to marry a chigger infested wanderer. So tired. I shall nap briefly, dream of my darling, then struggle forth to make my fortune.”   

“Hey mister, wake up.” The grizzled cowboy kicked at Thadeus’ foot and grunted. “He ain’t alive, poor bastard.”   

“Damn fool greenhorn. Missed the Rio Grande by a squirt and should’ve never sat down in this heat. Say Pa, can I have his boots?”   

First published: Aug, 2008
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