He didn’t know how old he was when he left home, or even what year it was. The fact he had no hair on his face was about all that marked his age. Riding along his thoughts kept seesawing back and forth. His entire family was dead. His Ma and Pa, and all of his brothers and sisters had lain strewn about the place. He don’t really know how it happened. All he knowed for sure was they was all dead.
Most all the livestock and supplies was no wheres to be found neither. Even the family dog had been shot dead. The only ones left were one mule, a horse, himself, and a calico cat. As a matter of fact he couldn’t remember much at all, not even his own name. All he knowed was he himself had woke up with a hole in his side and a gash in the back of his head, the cat was busy licking clean.
He had stayed around the place for a while after burying some of his family. He had passed out before he could get to the others. By the time he came to again, the buzzards and coyotes had taken care of the rest. Hell, it was a buzzard that woke him up the second time, picking at the hole in his side. He managed to grab that old buzzard by the neck and twist it till it broke. The other buzzards standing around were cackling so they seemed to be laughing, like I told you so. He was alive you dumb fool! The piece of meat torn from his side was still in the buzzard’s beak. He even thought about guttin the buzzard to see if the bird had already eaten part of him, but then he figured what good would that do. He just ripped the piece of his side from that old buzzard’s mouth, and pushed it down rubbing it in the dirt and yelling to the top of his one good lung, “Well I hope you got to have your fun Lucifer!”
Funny, he could remember the Devil’s name, but still had no recollection what his own name might be. That’s right, that bullet hole had gone clean through one of his lungs. He’d just try to heal himself best he could. There was a time or two he almost didn’t make it, but he figured for the continued pleasure of the Devil, he got to live. It couldn’t, of been God who put him through all that. It had to have been the Devil.
The piece of his own meat from his side he was holding between his fingers had slipped out and fell into a large crack in the ground. The land was so parched and barren, the whole place looked like a giant jigsaw puzzle someone had put together. He had reached down into the large crack in the ground to retrieve the piece of meat from his side, when he was met with a God-awful pain. Yanking his hand back out, he had rolled around in agony, cursing the Devil the whole time. Then the culprit crawled out of the crevice with the piece of his side in tow. It was a large black scorpion. He picked up a rock with his swelling fingers and crushed the serpent sent by the Devil just to cause him more pain.
As he lay there watching his hand swell up more, one of the buzzards hopped over with its wings spread wide and ate the scorpion, along with the piece of his flesh. Figures, he thought. He yelled out again at the Devil, I am still alive! He could just do nothing but lie there and watch, while his arm grew numb and swollen from the scorpion venom. Eventually the pain and swelling subsided, and he had been able to get to his feet. Then he’d got dizzy, fell to his knees and threw up filling one of those large cracks in the ground. So much for that day.
What little food he had, had started to run low, so he had decided to pack a mule with what was left and saddle the only horse and take off. About all he had knowed was he was somewhere in Oregon, and from what he understood not far from the coastlands, where he had once heard the land meets the ocean. So, he had decided he would go there just for the Hell of it. He didn’t really give much a damn about anything anyways. He had pretty much just spent his days existing as of late. Now he was strong enough to go somewhere. He hadn’t seen or talked to a soul since before he came to with that hole in his side and that gash in his head. And Lord knows how long that’s been. So now, he was riding West, for practically no reason at all, other than leaving behind what he knowed he wanted no part of. Just him, the mule, his horse, and that calico cat tagging along too.
While riding along he came up with the bright ideal to name everybody, so he commenced to doing so. His horse was a pretty Palomino. It was smart too. Who ever it was that bush-wacked his family took the other horses with them, but this one got away.
That was a true sign that this horse had a little something special, at least in his mind. After giving it some thought for a couple of miles or so, he said, “I think I’ll name you Bullet. I imagine you had to scadaddle as fast as a bullet to get away from those killers. Yep, Bullet is good! I like that.”
Then he turned his mind’s attention to picking a name for the pack mule. After about a half day of riding and thinking about it, he gave up on naming the mule, at least for now. He was looking at the cat weaving about the mule’s legs as they moved along. Occasionally the mule would stop for a second, giving the cat just enough time to rub up against one of the mule’s legs. The cat kind of had the same mix of colors his horse did. As he watched the cat continue to navigate the mules walk, he yelled out “Tripper, that’s what I’m gonna name you!” Just then the cat meowed in what seem to be a note of approval.
Now with two names down, and two still to go, he thought about givin his own self a name, especially since he couldn’t recall his birth name anyhow. It was a fleeting thought though. He was tired. It would be dark soon. It was time to make camp. He led his unlikely caravan over to a rock face that would give his troop some shelter from the wind that was kicking up. The sun was just barely peeking over the hills in the distance. He figured he’d get everyone bedded down, and see what tomorrow morning brings.