The Glory of Revenge
From the Wagon Train Diaries
The band of Opium traders did exactly as they said. Ten miles out they left the abducted children outside a small town called Union Pointe Pass. That small town consisted of one long street that ran parallel to the mountains. Both sides of the street were lined with buildings that looked like they were hugging each other. Some of those buildings were created from scrap lumber from old wagons.
There was a small shack that passed for a general store, and there were at least two dozen saloons. At the end of the street were four, oversized wagons hitched up together and without wheels used by the prostitutes while they practiced their calling.
The children were now safe and placed with Audrey Reynolds. She was a teacher on the wagon train. She was charged with finding homes and families for the orphaned children. Her job was going to be very difficult, but the Wagon Master Alastar Brown had all the confidence in her abilities to help the children.
When the wagon train scout White Deer came back to the train he had a disturbing conversation with an Indian Chief name Dark Bear. He was told by Dark Bear that they had intercepted the Opium traders right before the great mountains. He had heard of the strange medicine they carried called Opium and he wanted it. They put up a valiant effort, but were slaughtered in the end. He hadn’t realized that the Opium traders consisted of not only men, but women and children as well. They fought like true warriors. He also learned that the leader of these drug bandits had escaped to the mountains on foot. Chief Dark Bear did not give chase because of the big storm that was filling the sky.
“The old man, you think he’ll make it?” asked Alastar.
“This big storm heading our way will put and end to that old man,” White Deer replied. “However, if he found a decent cave to weather the storm, he may just live.”
“What I can’t understand is why that old man allowed children and women to fight against Dark Bear’s tribe. He knew they wouldn’t have a chance. Why couldn’t he just give up half of the Opium to save his clan?”
“Greed my friend, it’s called greed.”
“Well Alastar, his greed caused so many losses of lives,” said the scout somberly. “The priest, the children’s parents, his own clan, and still he remain alive.”
“I hate to wish death on anyone, but damn it, wouldn’t his death be sweet?”
The scout nodded slowly.
Hungry, lost and tired, he hung there in the shifting winds. Clouds writhing behind him like a monstrous shadow in terrible torment. The thunder rumbled and the wind howled and moaned. The moon would track his progress from its place up in the sky. Playing that hide and seek game with the dark clouds.
The old man would test his faith in the face of danger, as a hungry wolf came down from one of the mountain tops. It barked loudly as it reared and clawed at the air. The old man tried to avoid the beast; he tried to give the wolf all the space it needed. After all, cornered animals were always the most dangerous kind.
The wolf pawed the wet ground and there was a growl trapped deep in its throat. The old man eyed the beast as it rose up on hind legs for about fifteen seconds. He vowed that he will show no fear. He raised his right hand as if to strike, but that wasn’t necessary, because of a large crack in the sky and a lightning bolt struck a pile of rocks causing them to crumble on top of the wolf.
The wolf couldn’t move, but it was still very much alive. Its eyes were drawn to the old man instantly, like lighting drawn to an iron rod. The old man’s heart was beating like a drum, even harder and louder than the thunder that followed.
Even after the old man discovered that the wolf was incapacitated, he still smashed and stomped at the beast. He refused to let up, refused to stop pounding at the wolf. He was replacing savagery with even greater savagery.
The wolf was the only one who bled and fell after the lightning struck the rocks, but then to be crushed under the boots of its enemy was just overkill. The old man could smell the sweat and the scent of blood, feel the numbing impact on his foot as he kept stomping away. He kept picturing the face of Chief Dark Bear beneath every stomp. This was what it felt like to be invincible, to pit strength and fury against strength and fury.
The old man couldn’t just let the wolf be washed away by the rains. His kill would also be best served hot on a blazing flame. To the victor go the spoils. He dragged the wolf into a near by cave, with a smile on his face he nodded approvingly.
Only one would live, and the other would become a meal. While in the cave he found a sharp edged rock and used it to decapitate his kill. As the wolf’s head rolled away from the body, it became tangled briefly under the paws of a pack leader. The old man turned around and shock shook him to the core. Eleven hungry wolves surrounded him as the smell of blood invaded their noses.
The old man reflected on the uncanny accuracy of faith. An eye for and eye was the last thought that ran through his mind.
That night sky, packed tightly with low, brooding clouds, rumbled softly, as if to let the Wagon Master know that the Opium trader has been neutralized. The rains came harder as death echoed from cloud to cloud.
In White Deer’s ears, there could have been no more rewarding sound then the spirits wrapping themselves up in the glory of revenge.
© 2013 Frank Atanacio