A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 62: Neighbors

Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran

I ventured forward to the cut line and just sat there in the saddle taking inventory of the situation. I was looking down a gentle slope at a small homestead with a cabin and small livestock shed with a small wooden corral next to it. The chimney on the cabin was smoking merrily and the entire homestead was neat and tidy. It was apparent that someone was actively plowing a field and preparing to plant.

It was late afternoon and I was feeling a bit reluctant to wander down and make acquaintance this late in the day, a stranger showing up at supper time is considered rude by most of the folk I grew up with. My other option was to double back a mile or so and set up camp next to one of the brooks I’d seen, I could then return in the morning and make a noisy approach to introduce myself.

I sat there considering what might be best and smoking a cigarette, Brin was out scouting somewhere and the afternoon weather simply called for a little relaxation. It was a pretty little scene down below and while I knew that whoever it was had just survived a harsh winter and was hard at work to prepare for the next one. Everywhere I looked was spring green, vibrant and reassuring in the sunshine; flowers were sprinkled everywhere throughout the stump field and the little splashes of color brought their little hollow to vibrant life.

The voice in my head was singing joy at the beauty, the gruff voice behind me was saying “Now Mister, you stop right there.”

I just sat there and took another drag off of my cigarette and wishing I had brought along cigars instead. I obviously wasn’t going anywhere and I knew better than to react, so I just sat and smoked.

“Mister, I told you not to move!”, disembodied voice exclaimed.

So I put out my cigarette, it was down to the butt anyway and decided to turn this into a conversation. “You told me to stop and here I sit stopped, I hadn’t been going anywhere anyway. I was just enjoying the scenery, someone down there has a pretty nice homestead setup, I was thinking that if I had any talent I’d love to paint a picture of that.”

“Mister, that someone would be me and I don’t recall sending out invitations for visitors.” Mr. Gruff replied.

“Well now,” I said as I started to gently ease the hammer back on the first barrel of my shotgun, “see that was what I was contemplating, it seemed rude to ride down to an introduce myself at supper time, I thought I might just backtrack and camp out until the morning.”

The deep rumbling growl from behind us told me that Brin had come back; I took that moment to click the hammer into the fully cocked position and thankfully it was almost silent. I heard shuffling behind me and took that moment to wheel my horse and drop off to the ground behind it. I looked back over my saddle and along the shotgun barrel to see what my new friend looked like.

Well, he was in a quandary and he knew it, he was caught between an angry dog and a shot gun, his musket swinging back and forth. I was in control now. I was looking at a large black man, well not really black but more of a half-breed, kind of like most Americans are in the modern day. Purity of race doesn’t truly exists, never has and never will, DNA typing proved that fact out pretty damn quickly in the modern age.

“I’m not looking for a fight”, I said, “but my dog Brin doesn’t take well to people threatening me and while I know you have one shot in that there musket, this here scatter-gun of mine has two and will definitely end you. What my shotgun doesn’t get my dog Brin definitely will, so it might be best if you just point that musket away from us and we can have a proper introduction.”

The panic in Mr. Gruff’s eyes was glaringly apparent, he had something he needed to protect and that protection need might be greater than his survival need; he was extremely dangerous at this point and I needed to defuse the situation quickly or there would be blood. Blood out here would lead to emotional agony and great hardship for many people and I needed to move us past that and get us past that quickly.

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