A Tale of the Wild West Part 8 Demon
Flaming Arrow stood still, his knife still held in front of him, staring at Tanner. He had just seen this man become another man. Or something. Tanners words rang in his ears “No Demon,,,Dream.” He silently thought long and deep about what he had seen the night before and what he had seen just now. Tanner watched him, silent as well. The Mare snorted and pawed her foreleg, but neither man looked. Silence returned. Flaming Arrow decided his course. He lowered his blade and approached Tanners pallet. He proudly stood straight and tall, crossing his arms. “Tell me your dream“ he boldly demanded. The challenge seemed not to Tanner, but to another, larger presence.
Tanner’s gut instinct was to refuse, but the long consideration by Flaming Arrow made him think things through as well. Flaming Arrow had shown nothing but friendship to him since they had met, but Tanner hated any thought of THAT NIGHT and the dream itself flat scared the hell out of him. He had never told anyone about the dream. Just a nightmare, he told the two other trail riders who were witness to one of his dreams. They had looked frazzled, but nothing like the pure terror Flaming Arrow had shown for an instant. “What did he see?” Tanner wanted to know. This need to know made Tanners mind up.
“I will tell you all that I can” he told Flaming Arrow softly “First, I must tell you a story, sit by me and have no fear, I am just a man. Your friend.”
Flaming Arrow still did not trust the being that sat before him, yet his courage had been called into question. He sat right down into a crossed leg position without placing his hands on the ground. His knife was tucked, out of sight, but close by.
Tanner nodded and proceeded to tell the Tale of THAT NIGHT in Pima. After being quiet about it for years he had told it twice within a week, once on the trail and just the other night to Matt. But this was different. He used simpler words and phrases so that Flaming Arrow would understand him better and as he did so, he saw with greater clarity. He recalled small details that he had missed before, such as the going ons at the bar before they heard the ruckus and how clear the night outside had been.
Tanner’s voice grew as he described the deputies approaching the house. Unembarrassed, he visibly shook when he told of the sudden outpouring of lead into Jose Guerena’s home. Tanner was lost in his recollection. He paused and his eyes grew large “After the blasting this deputy goes up to the door and says “might as well finish what we started” and fires three more shots with his hand gun” Tanner stared into nothing, feeling the old rage. “It got so quiet after that. Stone cold quiet. No one made a move or a sound, until,,,A shot?,,, no,,. Realization and astonishment spread over his face. “A bottle slipped from my fingers, I jumped like a jackrabbit, thought there was more shooting, this time at me. I remember looking down and wondering what in hell that was. The whiskey had pooled where the bottle fell and reflected the sky like a mirror, it was like looking at the sky on the ground. Bits of glass stuck up thru the pool and it was hard to tell the difference,,,”. A sudden image of the glass shards turning into stars from the bottle he had thrown last night grabbed hold of him. He stared at Flaming Arrow.
“Last night” Tanner ventured, “Did you hear the coyotes?”
Flaming Arrow was surprised at this detour in Tanner’s story. Last night, when Tanner was up on the dome rock was a main concern of his as well. He studied Tanner and nodded “I heard.”
Tanner nodded in return and resumed with the rest of the tale; the wife getting slapped down by the Sheriff, the small, suddenly fatherless child, wandering in the dark, the Doc coming out with the gun and ending up back at the bar. “At first everybody was talking real tuff, bout what a bad play it was and how that Sheriff was outta control, then folks started sliding on out. When the Doc told his side of things the place liked to clear out cept for a few hard core” Tanner shook his head and sighed.
Flaming Arrow knew Tanner’s story was over. He leaned forward “The Dream” he softly insisted.
Tanner wasn’t quite ready to go there “I never had it in the day time before” he preempted.
The Indian nodded his head “Take time, take all time you need”
Tanner looked around, no help there. He really did not want to do this. Grown man afeared by dreams. Childish. He looked at Flaming Arrow. Hard to tell that man’s age he thought. The Indian stared intently at Tanner. Well, I said I would and so I shall, he resolved. He sighed a second time.
“It always starts the same” he began “I am standing right where I was that night, I see the deputies gather by that fellers house, Then,,,” Tanner spoke to the ground in a monotone “Then I become one of them, all of them… I kick open the door, I see that fella with a gun in his hand, I know I got the drop on him. All this time it’s like I’m trapped in the deputy’s body, I have no control. Inside, me, I’m screaming “Don’t do this, stop, do not shoot this man”, but this other thing laughs at me. My body begins to fire the rifle over and over again. I try to stop but it is useless. I see each bullet enter his body. Again I try violently to stop, but I am powerless. The evil thing roars with laughter. I turn my head and look at the woman, her shock and horror are frozen on her face. Above her head is a mirror.” Tanner stops. He raises his head and speaks directly to Flaming Arrow. I see my face,,, but it is not me. My face is slack, no life, my eyes are dead, aware but not human, like a ghost, like a human animal. Tanner shook his head and looked down “That is how it ends, and then I wake up.
The two men sat silently for some time, each lost in his own thoughts.
Flaming Arrow stood “Me big think” he said. He slung his sack over his shoulder and scrambled up the dome rock.