Chris Scott Wilson Writer
The buzzard hung in the sky like an omen.
An omen of death.
With one eye half open Quantro watched the buzzard draw lazy circles above him, wingtips wide like splayed fingers stroking the rising air currents of the endless blue sky. He wondered how the hungry bird knew he lay in this hole in the ground, but then he understood buzzards had an instinct for that kind of thing. The second of his enemies up there was the sun, mercilessly charring the earth all around him into a vast wilderness of bleached sand strewn with a handful of scattered rocks. He had half crawled under a lip of rock that would provide a little shade at noon, but until then he would have to endure the glare. He began to wonder whether he would make it through until then, but his luck had held out this far so why should it desert him now?
He swallowed, a painful movement, for there was no saliva in his mouth to ease his parched throat. He feebly shook the canteen that lay by his side but it was empty. The strip of buckskin shirt that
plugged the hole in the soft metal had not done its work very well. The water had still evaporated, but it was better the bullet hole was
in the canteen rather than him. One bullet in him was more than enough.
He turned his attention to the Colt in an attempt to take his mind from the pain. The chambers were all full. He had made sure of that. He thumbed the cylinder. It wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. Sand had sneaked in. It would do. The only thing left was to get himself out of this hellhole.
Until the boy showed up he wasn’t going anyplace.
The sky had already been darkening when Quantro had made camp two nights before, just under the ledge of a shale outcrop that stood naked from the barren wasteland of the arid desert. The little fire he had built from the sparse brush had been enough to heat the coffee but not enough to keep away the chill of the night, and he had huddled into his blanket attempting to keep warm as he slept that half aware sleep of a man on the trail, ready to wake at the slightest sound alien to the desert night. Not that he could have slept deeply even if he had wanted to, the bitter cold saw to that. Several times he had woken, only to hear the sound of the buckskin stallion cropping disconsolately at the patches of bleached grass.
Sun-up revealed the horse’s breath cloudy in the first light while wisps of mist clung to the desert sands. Quantro squatted on
THE DEVIL’S PLATEAU
THE QUANTRO STORY