Monday, July 15, 2013

A Western in 30 Working Days--a national holiday

The town of Urayasu (where Disneyland is) from across the Bay.
July 15, a public holiday in Japan. A day when the western writer who built his own yacht and started out to sail solo around the world goes to his little 21-foot sloop and sails out onto Tokyo Bay for the first time in two months. Aaaaaaah.

Still, Stryker #3--Stryker's Bounty--pushes ahead. Word count 4332 words.

The view through his field glasses showed nothing hopeful. The station house had one wall standing. Molly’s Royal stove stood among the smoldering remains of the house. Stryker focused on the mounds in front of the station. Dead horses. Looked to be still in their traces. Steel rims showed where wheels once were. The body of the stagecoach was little more than a pile of ashes.

Nothing moved but the zopilote vultures tearing at the dead horses with hooked beaks. Stryker scanned along the path to the granary and tack room. Curls of smoke from the ashes said the barley was still smoldering. The barn and its hay loft also lay in ashes, but the pole corral still stood. Stryker studied it carefully. No tack hung from the top poles. No horses waited to be harnessed to the next stage. No movement of any kind, except for the buzzards.

A wash gouged through the land behind the corral. A man might could use it to get close without being seen—a man like Matt Stryker. He tethered Saif to a mesquite bush and made his way to the bottom of the wash. The sun was just about at its meridian. The heat burned into the land around Miller’s Well, only those with something bigger to do than just filling their bellies moved. A small striped lizard moved, else Stryker would have stepped on it. A redtailed hawk moved, his pinions spread to catch the thermal rising from the heat of the land. A man moved, Matt Stryker, as he worked his way up the wash to the granary that smoldered in the heat. Maybe he’d find something, maybe not.

He lay against the lip of the wash for a long time. Too much hurry can get a man killed. Little left standing. The corral. A wall of the house. The outhouse. Stryker came up and over the bank of the wash, keeping a paloverde between himself and the burned out buildings. Nothing moved. He couldn’t see the zopilote. He held his Winchester ’73 cocked and ready. The Roper, he left in its saddle scabbard on Saif. The redtail screeched.

Stryker slowly turned a full three-sixty as he walked carefully to the burnt-out station. Molly’s Royal stove still had a pot on it. The zopilote buzzards flapped away as Stryker approached, landed no more than ten yards away, and stood watching, wings held high and ready to carry them back to the dead horses. In the ashes of the house, Stryker found four bodies. Burned and shriveled, they showed teeth in macabre smiles through burnt away lips. Three men and a woman. Driver and shotgunner? Passengers? Molly? Dodge Miller? The bodies were so badly burned that Stryker couldn’t tell who they were.