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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)

TITLE: Buffalo Hunter
By stanley Bednarz


The Prairie can be a lonely place stretched out for miles where only solitary tufts of grass dwell like islands of a desert. On a good day when the sky is navy-blue, I can see the snow capped Rocky Mountains shaded in a purple hue, like a royal crown of jewels. She towers before me, and like sirens calling a sailor to the danger of the sea; she calls this old buffalo hunter to discover her foreboding bosom.

For now, I am satisfied. I have my pouch of wild berries, a canteen of fresh spring water, and my dearest friend, the Carbine rifle, who has been my constant companion. When I fix a plug of powder and light her fire to the sky across the endless prairie, she keeps me humble to know I will die without her. My bones might wax in the boiling sun. I would only be a nameless, faceless character of a soon forgotten frontier.

As I scan the horizon and lick my arid lips, I crawl on my belly like a salamander. I feel the dirt, caked to my buckskin. I must look the part of a fearsome spirit, as I steadily position myself to see the black hairy beast in the ravine below. The bulls guard their cows, and the young ones lurch forward to keep near the scarred breast of a weary mother. Bulls stomp and grunt, shaking the filthy mane of their overgrown hair. The dry soil stirs and spins into a formidable cloud. I slip my scarf over my mouth, but it is too late. An innocent cough sends them into an uproar.

The buffalo bolt! There is a stampede that no prairie dog would dare witness. Thunder rolls from the parched earth.

A cloud rises to the east, a dry storm, so thick and blackened it looks like a wall of rain gathering in the wilderness. I cross my legs Indian style, hugging my rifle, watching the herd turn into a dark speck on the horizon, until vanishing beyond the naked eye.

Knowing the buffalo are disappearing, being consumed for sport by trainloads of white men, I pay a silent tribute to the tribes who have hunted them for generations. I climb from the earth using my rifle for a cane, and disappear into the cloud, dreaming perhaps that my kind will not be forgotten. There was a day when men like us shared the bounty of the buffalo with our native friends. Perhaps this too, will soon be a history lost, swept away in a relentless cloud of progress.

As the soil returns to mother earth, I see my horse left tethered to a scrub brush. She is cloaked in dust. Together, like ghost, we are swallowed by the fiery sunset.

This side of paradise will be lost forever.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Brenda Shipman 07/28/11
This was a feast of delicious description. Such a tiny moment in history, but you made it huge and alive, placing me behind the eyes of the buffalo hunter.
Sydney Avey08/01/11
Love the descriptions and the "you are there" immediacy of the action. Nice line about using the rifle for a cane to indicate this is an aged cowboy. I think this submission would have worked better for last week's challenge -- this side of pardise? Of course, what happened to the Buffalo was a crime.
Linda Goergen08/03/11
It certainly is a crime how some of mankind has abused the earth and its living creatures and the punishment is being felt by all, as creatures and natural resources become scarce - the beauty of the earth as God created it being changed.(and not for the better!)
You show this with impressive word visuals and artistic detail! But I was a bit confused by your last line that incorporated last week’s challenge??? But enjoyable read!