Freed From Her Fears
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From the Wagon Train Diaries
The Wagon Master Alastar Brown and the wagon scout White Deer had just released Jimmy O’Shea from lock-up. He forced himself on a young Indian woman that they stumbled upon while traveling west. Her village was small and they traded meats with the wagon train.
O’Shea was a hefty Irishman with a wife and seven little ones. They watched on while the make-shift jury came back with a not guilty verdict. The reason for the verdict was simple in the eyes of the wagon train passengers. Indians were not protected by white man laws, and the young Indian woman was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
A look of horror was frozen on Alastar’s face, but he couldn’t do anything about the verdict. He sat as judge of the proceedings and he was sworn to accept the verdict of O’Shea’s peers. Besides, the passengers paid him to take them safely to the west and they did their best to follow the letter of the law. Sadly, when it came to outsiders that simply wasn’t the case. Deep down inside he knew that O’Shea was guilty as hell and he must be punished, but it was God who would have to inflict the punishment.
The next morning the wagon train stopped by what was known as IndianSaltLake. The sun was visible above the mountain range, its rays was warm on the backs of the wagon train passengers. The sun also caused every ripple in the water of the lake to shimmer like a dazzling display of diamonds. It was part of the beauty that the savage land provided. It was similar to evil and good, night and day, black and white.
Little Red Dove looked around. She was alone. She knew cleansing the sin off her body that was created by O’Shea was virtually impossible. It stained her heart and her mind forever. She would have to live with that until her last day of life.
She remembered that his eyes were glazed, and his mouth set in a cruel, determined, violent and twisted smile. It was a man bent on terror with pure evil intent.
Little Red Dove took another look around before taking off her clothes. The sun’s increasing heat warmed every inch of her brown body, but it did nothing for her tortured soul. She walked across the few remaining yards of white pebbles and waded into the lake. The water was colder than she anticipated. She drew a deep breath and dived in. Her skin tingled from the density of the salt in the water.
Her own people did not understand her situation either. They told her that she would need to speak to the chief and that she would not be freed from her fears. The Indian Chief shifted his position in front of the fire and pulled the skins of buffalos closely around him. He looked into the flames and spoke to the fire gods. After a few minutes of humming, he turned to the young Indian woman and told her that she could no longer be a member of the tribe. Her flesh was violated by the dirty white men, and that she must bath in the lake of salt. She must then walk the earth without food and water until the fire gods would accept her soul.
She snapped back to reality to discover that she was floating in the lake for about an hour, and she drifted out quite far from the shore. She turned on her stomach and began long strokes toward land. She made it quickly to the shore and rose from the water only to hear the crack of a rifle cutting the air.
She thought her heart was riding low to the ground, but it wasn’t. It was blood pouring out of a hole from her chest. Then she heard another crack, and that was when she felt heat penetrating her skull. Freed from her fears was the last thing that went through her mind.
O’Shea’s wife went down to the lake and surveyed the area. It was empty except for a dead young Indian woman and two sea-gulls fighting over a small crab. She aimed the rifle and shot her again for good measures. The hot smoke from the rifle stung her nostrils and assaulted her empty stomach. She dropped the weapon and walked back toward the wagon train.
She knew killing was wrong, but she had to free her husband from the curse that woman put on him. Her Jimmy was never a man of violence. He would never mean to hurt anyone. She stopped in her tracks for a moment, turned to face the dead woman. She thought about her husband again, and also about the times he never meant to hurt her.
Every time he would drink he’d grab her throat with his left hand and pressed up against her chin until her neck might snap. With his other hand he grabbed the front part of her dress and tore it down to her navel, exposing her breasts. He would then begin to slap her continuously, and the louder she screamed the harder he’d slap. There was incredible anger in Jimmy’s face. He hit her again and again, until blood comes out of her nose and mouth. Then he would throw her down to the ground. She thought about how this would always happen, every time he drinks.
The ultimate insult to human life hung there. She didn’t know how and when she retrieved the rifle, but the barrel was cupped into her mouth, and her fingers barely reached the trigger. The sea-gulls made haunting sounds and everything fell on dead silence.
© 2013 Frank Atanacio
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