I recently read “Philoctetes” by Sophocles, and wanted it to be a Western. So here’s a Western. Due to the fact that this story is longer than what I normally write I am splitting it into three parts to make it more digestible in a blog format. Of course, I may change my mind tomorrow and post the rest of it in one piece. Extra points if you can figure out what the corresponding characters in Sophocles’s version are named.
The Kid adjusted in his saddle, and scanned the horizon. As far as he could see there was nothing but prairie. Traveller led the way. He seemed like he knew where they were, but you never could tell with that fellow.
“We’re almost there.” Traveller broke the silence. The Kid had heard enough of Traveller over the past couple days, and kind of wished he had stayed quiet for a change.
“You see anything over to the west there?” asked Traveler.
The Kid Squinted towards the setting sun. There was a slight mound. At first he had mistaken it for a prairie dog house, but it was bigger than that. “Could be something there.” He pointed.
Traveller followed The Kid’s finger.
“Yeah, that’ll be it.”
They turned their horses, and started towards the mound. After a few minutes they reached it. The Kid was used to seeing prairie shanties, but this was pitiful even by those standards. Nothing but a hole in the ground. A few skins in one corner provided some sort of a bed. In another corner some charred buffalo chips remained from a fire. Bones littered the floor, the remains of many meals enjoyed in the rude dwelling.
“Good” said Traveler, “Shooter ain’t here.”
“I thought the whole point of this trip was to find him”, said The Kid.
“Nah,” said Traveler, “We just want his gun.”
“Well how we gonna get his gun if he ain’t here?”
“Listen, Kid. I don’t reckon Shooter’d take kindly to seeing me ’round these parts. I’ma slip off and let you do the talkin’ when he comes back ’round.”
“What am I ‘spose to say to ‘im?”
“Lie your ass off, Kid. He ain’t gonna give up his gun willingly.”
“I ain’t much for lyin”
“I get that, but it needs doin. And you’re the man for the job.”
The Kid knew better than to argue the point further. He sat down on the grass as Traveler mounted his horse, and rode off. The Kid waited. After a while he heard something really heavy moving through the grass. It made him a little nervous, he’d never heard something that loud on the prairie before. Normally the sound of the grasses swaying back and forth covered all of the other noises. Whatever it was was heading towards him. He put his hand on his revolver and eased back the hammer.
Whatever it was was very near now. He kept his eyes fixed where the noise was coming from. Suddenly a man emerged from the grass, pulling himself along with his hands. His left pant leg dragged behind him, empty. His clothes were in tatters, but across his back was slung a well cared for repeating rifle.
“Who you be?” Asked The Kid.
“They call me Shooter. How about you?”
“Call me Kid.”
“Brings you out here, Kid?”
“Been with them Audaz brothers, stakin’ out Redemption Ranch.”
“They still there, aye? That feud’s been goin’ on some time now.”
“Nigh ten years, I reckon.”
“You got me curious.” Said Shooter, “time was I was with those boys myself.”
“You don’t say?” Replied The Kid.
Shooter painfully moved towards the fire. Scooping up some buffalo chips he piled them up and brought out his flint and steel. The fire going, he placed a battered coffee pot above it.
“Yep.” Said Shooter. “I was with ’em when they first set to take down that place. They left me here on account of my leg.”
He nodded towards the stump of leg which protruded awkwardly in front of him.
“What happened to it?” Asked The Kid.
They were silent for a few moments.
“Speedy Clay still with ’em?” Shooter broke the silence.
The Kid shifted uneasily. “Dead. He was my Pa.”
“Mighty sorry to hear that, Kid. He was a fine man, Speedy was. Best friend I had.”
The Kid nodded.
“How about his cousin, Bull?” Asked Shooter.
“Dead too.” Replied The Kid.
“Damn it,” said Shooter. “Spose Patrick’s dead too?”
“Yep.” The Kid nodded glumly.
“Who’s left? I don’t spose Traveler ‘s kicked the bucket?
“No, Traveler ‘s still around.”
“Fuckin’ Traveler. He’s the reason I been stuck here all this time. Him and them Audaz boys dumped me here soon as that snake bit me. Wouldn’t have nothin’ to do with a one legged man. Even though I can still shoot better’n any of ’em. Well, Shaft’s pretty good, but I’m a sight better’n even him. Course, Shaft don’t have a gun made by Sam Winchester himself”
To be continued…
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