He galloped up to me on a white horse; he wore brown suede with fringe flying. I hadn't seen him in years, and I felt pangs of admiration stir. He told me about his time in the deserts of eastern California. It was all rattlesnakes and coffee made in a frying pan. He carried only what fit into his saddlebags and kept to himself. But there were no shiny pistols in holsters, he said, no bad guys other than the monsters he conjured by his campfire.
His Indian sidekick left him so he forgot his past and moved on to a new one. His new past was barren, spent riding across sand dunes with the sun hanging low in the sky, like in the movies. He told me he didn't feel useful, there was no damsel in distress and he saved nothing more than a can of beans for supper. He looked worn out and might have been a hard drinker. He slept outside every night on a threadbare bed roll.
'I've had an unusual life by most accounts,' he said and took a drag on his cigarette. 'But it's tough out here. Things used to be so black and white...'
'We need heroes like you,' I said. I knew I was pleading with him not to give up.
'Maybe,' he said, 'but I'm a lost soul in a full-color world. I just don't fit anymore.'
BIO: Carol Deminski's stories appear or are forthcoming in Word Riot, PANK, Metazen, Dogzplot, Foundling Review, Prick of the Spindle and elsewhere. Her blog is http://cdeminski.wordpress.com. She lives and writes in Jersey City, NJ, just not always in that order.