Copyright© 2018 by Kraken
I fell into a deep sleep, while watching a kaleidoscope of shadows dance around the room. Flashes of lightning backlit the curtains on the window. For the third time in as many years, and the second time in as many weeks, Dream Laura visited my dreams that night.
She was getting stronger, as tonight’s visit had us sitting across from each other at the picnic table on the covered patio of our old house, the patio we had built together just after we’d bought the house. Everything seemed correct. The placement of the table, the barbeque grill we’d built into our outdoor kitchen, the Don Juan roses climbing up trellises on both sides of the patio were perfect. Our house sat at the southern end of the Robledo Mountains facing North and South. The top of Picacho Peak was just visible over the base of the mountains in the background highlighted by the glow of lights from Las Cruces in the early evening light.
Everything was perfect. Everything except the colors, which was what tipped me off that this was a dream. The picnic table looked burnt orange instead of fire engine red, the barbeque grill and outdoor kitchen area looked gray instead of midnight black, the Don Juan roses were pink instead of deep dark red. It was the sky that was the most obvious, though.
For over twenty-five years, Laura and I had enjoyed evening coffee on the back patio while watching the show Mother Nature put on as the sun sank over the western mesa. Not once in all those years, did we see the colors I was seeing now. The entire sky looked more like a landscape painting of a rainbow than the evening colors of the high desert. It was not only disconcerting, it was distracting.
The snap of Dream Laura’s fingers inches from my face refocused my attention. “I’m sorry, Laura, what did you say?”
“I said, my power’s much stronger, but it still has a way to go before I’m at full strength.” Taking a long look over her shoulder, she turned back to me. “I’ll admit that is the strangest group of colors I’ve ever seen at dusk,” she said with a laugh in her voice. “The next time I visit, I’ll have all my power back and the colors will be realistic.
Looking back over her shoulder, we both watched the bright vivid colors begin to fade to pastels.
“I don’t have much time left, Paul, so let’s get right to it,” she said turning back to me. “I apologize for being so blunt but you need to change your plans for the big reveal. You can’t wait until early November to ask Anna to marry you, or to tell her and the Mendozas about your plans.” Holding up her hands to stop my objection she continued. “You need to get engaged and tell them in the next few days, the earlier the better. You also need to show them that you have the money to make those plans a reality. They need to believe in you, Paul. They need to trust you. Plans, no matter how detailed, won’t mean anything without the money to back them up.”
“Laura, you take all the fun out of the surprises doing it your way!” I said with an exasperated frown. “I know, I know.” Holding up my hands to fend off her planned response. “I wasn’t thinking the emotional aspects through. You’re right of course, but damnit where’s the fun in that?”
“You’re still not thinking this through, Paul,” she said. Giving me a big grin, she waited.
Finally, I gave in, asking the question I knew she was waiting for. “What am I missing, here?”
“Paul, if you wait until just before you leave for El Paso in November to get engaged and tell them like you’re planning to do, you won’t be giving them enough time to go with you! If you do it in the next few days, you can also suggest they all three accompany you, to begin buying all the things you’re going to need for the new hacienda. Let’s face it, Paul. The one thing you do worse than making coffee is haggling over prices. Having Anna and the Mendozas with you is going to save you a ton of money, not to mention making the trip much more enjoyable.”
I’m sure I looked like a fool sitting there staring wide eyed at a giggling Laura with my jaw on the table.
Laura’s giggle broke into a full-blown laugh. The dream faded to black, but her laugh echoed for quite a while, before it too finally faded away.
The next morning while eating breakfast, I thought about the dream. Was Laura right? Did I need to formally ask Anna to marry me, and let the Mendozas in on what was going on, land and money wise, before the big reveal in November? Doing that today or tomorrow, would also give me the excuse to invite the Mendozas and Anna to go to El Paso with me.
I thought about it all morning and well into the afternoon, before finally deciding Dream Laura was right, as always. I let Anna know I was going back home first thing in the morning to pick up some things before coming back the next day. At her pout, I assured her I was only spending the night and coming right back.
I made it back home the next day, despite the still slightly swollen river. I gathered up my bank books from Santa Fe and El Paso, the Homestead Claim Deed, the Land Deed, as well as the drawing of the ring Mr. Greenburg senior had given me and the receipt. I put it all into the leather wallet Hiram had given me. I took my M4, A700, and shotgun and wrapped them in a bundle with canvas cloth to carry behind my saddle in the morning. I also added spare magazines and shells to the saddlebags.
With everything set to go in the morning I turned my attention to dinner. After dinner, I spent a few hours working on melting the backlog of nuggets into bars.
I was up early, had breakfast, and after I’d cleaned up I went down and brought the horse up to the house to finish loading. I was carrying the saddlebags in my left hand and the bundle of rifles in my left when I opened the door to walk outside. Standing there facing me in the half light of daybreak was tall man from the stable fight. Groaning to myself, all I could think of was that I really didn’t need this right now.
Walking just out of the doorway I stopped. “What do think you’re doing here? As I remember the last thing I told you was that if I ever saw you again I’d kill you.”
“You’ve led me on quite a chase kid. The boss was really angry after you killed those boys outside Santa Fe. It’s a pity he wasn’t in town when it happened, or you’d have never left town. As it was, he was really angry when he found out a few days later. He sent me and Shorty down here to find out where you lived; and, if possible, find out where you’re getting all that gold from. We hunted for you for over four months in Las Cruces, Mesilla, and El Paso, and had almost given up when you waltzed into El Paso a few weeks back. We followed you from El Paso an hour after you left but it took us a while to figure out you were in Las Cruces, instead of Mesilla. Then you walked right into our arms at the stable. You killed Shorty, took his horse, and hurt me. After I kill you, I have to go back and tell the boss that Shorty is dead and we never did find out where you’re getting all that gold. The boss isn’t going to like that. Shorty was one of his favorites. The way I figure it, this house, your land, and livestock will make it easier for the boss to accept. You left everything to him in your Will as your only close personal friend, after all. Killing you myself just makes it better for me.”
This was the second time someone tried to kill me on the orders of a boss in Santa Fe. I didn’t have time to ponder this though because as he finished talking he brought up his right hand holding an old flintlock horse pistol. Dropping the bundle of rifles, I took a half step to the left while drawing my pistol, and fired two shots just as he fired. My two shots hit him in the chest and he went down.
I knew I wasn’t going to get away unscathed from this encounter. He was too close to me to miss with that big pistol he was using. His shot hit me low on my right side below my waist and just above my hip spinning me around into the door frame.
Holding on to the door frame I looked over at tall man. He wasn’t going to be a problem to anyone else ever again. I dropped the saddle bags and staggered into the house struggling to open the cave door. When I finally got it open, I got my EMT kit out of the trailer before pulling off my coat and shirt. Looking down at the two holes in my side I knew I was going to be needing help getting it cleaned out and closed up. If I’d stepped two inches further to my left or shot quicker he would have missed me altogether. From the blood, it looked to have missed anything important so I was mostly concerned with getting it cleaned out and fighting infections. I took some penicillin and a couple of Motrin before pouring isopropyl alcohol over both the entry and exit wounds. It took a few minutes between pours to catch my breath from the raw pain each pour generated. Finally, I bandaged up both holes with gauze pads and wrapped them up with a field bandage making sure to tie it off tight. I poured half a bottle of penicillin into a handkerchief and knotted it up sticking it in my pocket certain that I was going to need them later.
Putting my shirt and coat back on, I managed to close the cave door, pick up the saddlebags and stagger out to the horse. Lifting the bundle of rifles, putting them and the saddlebags on the horse, and mounting was a real struggle. As I headed down the slope, I glanced at tall man. He was just going to have to lay there till I got back as I was in no shape to move him.