Off the Wagon, Into Trouble...
The wagon travelled on without them and there was no turning back now, even if they changed their mind ('cos that's all they seemed to have between the two of 'em).
They hopped out of the back of the wagon about 5 miles back, while their Ma was sleeping. They'd been planning on this since they heard about a trip to the city to get more supplies for the farming season. The loved the city so much. Theaters, carnivals and all kinds of things that you couldn't find out on the farm just appealed to them!
They knew they finally had a chance to run away on the return trip from the city and when their Ma fell asleep, they quietly fell out onto the desert highway! Freedom at last! However, they still had to make it back to the city and they had no idea where they were. So they began to walk along the desert highway on their adventure.
As the sun began to set, the two boys wandered the desert highway in hopes of finding a better life, away from what they considered an abusive set of parents. After all, why should they have to do chores every morning and every night, or have to clean up after themselves and go to school for learnin' and such? The city had so much to offer and they needed to see if they could handle life on their own.
When the sun finally shed the last bit of light on the desert highway, the boys became very frightened. They had been travelling for quite some time and they still could not see the lights of the city. The slightest chirp of a cricket sent the two kids into a panic, as they jumped into each others' arms and cried. They were so frightened that they did not even hear the sound of something sneaking up behind them.
The two boys froze to a complete stop, as they acknowledged the trouble they had gotten themselves into. Still snarling, the cougar stood ready to attack! It seemed to be toying with them; creeping toward them in small pounces, like a rabid squirrel on a Sunday.
Suddenly the cougar pounced and the next thing the kids heard was the whiz of an arrow passing in between them. The sound of the arrow burrowing into the heart of the cougar seemed to stick in their minds as they looked at each other in amazement.
They knew that the cougar was dead and realized what had happened. They realized that this time, maybe, they had really gotten themselves into trouble. As the lightening flashed, the shadow of the Indian man and his horse seemed to stick in their minds. As fright took over both children, everything turned to black.
A Terrible Fate, Indeed...
When the boys awoke from their little fear nap, they were totally unaware of their surroundings and felt completely disoriented. They wondered how they had gotten to this unknown location, as they carefully took-in the room which they had awoke in. There was a small fire burning in a circle of carefully laid out stones and the smell of venison drifted past there noses, taunting their empty and grumbling bellies.
Another fire was burning outside of where they had awoken and the boys could hear the sound of some wind instrument playing a familiar tune. Then they remembered what had happened before they awoke and fear once again struck them.
The image of the Indian man who had saved them from being a cougar's evening meal, flashed through the windows when the light of the fire flickered from the wind. As they crept through the room towards the window, to catch a peek of the Indian man, the boys jumped as they heard a deep voice say, "There is no need to be afraid young ones. Come sit near the fire and we will eat. Then you will tell me why you were alone on the cruel desert highway".
The boys were reluctant to come to the fire. The Indian man played his tune softly and it seemed to the boys that their fear and troubles floated away with each note he played. Walking towards the fire, the boys started to dance with excitement for the succulent taste of the deer meat.
They were ravaged with hunger and the deer meat sank to the bottom of their stomachs as they ate. The gamy taste lingered, as did the natural spice and salts the Indian man had flavored it with. They were extremely satisfied with the succulent venison and thanked the Indian man for saving their lives and also for such a splendid meal. The boys then began to explain what brought them to where he had rescued them and why.
The Indian man nodded as the boys stuttered out their story of despair on the home front. When they rattled off track and complained about homework, and everyday tasks such as fetching water for the bath or even having to bathe, the Indian man laughed. He laughed so hard, he fell off of the log he had been sitting on resulting in a nasty cut.
The boys rushed to his aid and even though the Indian man was bleeding from his wound, he continued to laugh until a few minutes later when he regained his composure and tended to the freshly received injury.
The Indian man referred to the laws of the desert highway as he told the boys that the fate of having to deal with necessary everyday bothers like bathing, chores and schooling seemed like a terrible fate indeed, but nowhere near the fate they would suffer when breaking the laws of the cruel desert highway.
The only thing bad that could happen from schooling is that they may some day become rich and forget what is important to them before money and end up taking advantage of many people, ruining their lives and eventually having the spirits capture their greedy souls. But if they did not know the laws of the desert highway, the desert and its dangers have no mercy for ignorance either.
This made the boys remember why they had left home in the first place and they started to consider the wise Indian man's words as truth. They thanked him for his bravery and courtesy and begged for him to take them back to their home. The Indian man agreed he would help them, but first they would get some rest.
When the boys awoke, the Indian man had reheated the venison from their meal the night before and had already packed his painted horse for the journey to take the boys to their home. They rubbed the cobwebs out of their eyes and ate slowly, waiting patiently for the Indian man to speak.
The Indian man finally broke his silence and began his words, "We will leave to your home soon, young ones, but first you must prove your knowledge of the desert and you must also learn the law of the cruel desert highway."
© 2017 Matthew Hotaling