A lonely cowboy, riding through the desert, has an encounter that changes his life. WIP
Cowboy Narrating: It's funny what a person can and can't get used to. You can get used to death. You can get used to killin'. You can get used to the terrible things people do to eachother. But for some reason, you just can't get used to bein alone all the time. Which is why, ridin through a stretch of desert called The Basin, when I saw a pretty girl, about the age of twenty-five, wavin me down, I didn't waste no time seein what she needed.
Cowboy: You look mighty out of place, ma'am. Ain't no other living thing for miles around, seems like.
Girl: You don't know how right you are, Cowboy. Mind giving me a ride just a short jaunt to the next town to where my family lives? I walked out here this morning to the church, but...well, it don't look like the church is here no more. And now I'm afraid it's a bit too hot to walk back.
Cowboy: hop on the back.
(she climbs on the back of the horse behind him and they begin riding, he notices her head has no protection from the sun, he takes off his hat and offers it back)
Cowboy: You better put that on ma'am. That sun ain't gonna be as friendly to you as I am.
Girl: I thought it was disgraceful for a man to go wanderin around without a hat.
Cowboy: well ma'am, I do believe it would be more disgraceful to send a pretty young girl like yerself home to her parents exhausted and sunburnt.
(she puts the hat on)
Girl: much obliged, Cowboy.
Cowboy: I don't put much stock in graces and disgraces anyhow. The thoughts of other folk don't enter into the picture all that much when you spend as much time alone as I do. When you spend as much time as me wonderin' if you're even alive, if you even exist, or if you're just a shade, slidin' through the world, barely noticed by people.
Girl: I do reckon I know exactly what you're talkin' about, Cowboy. You got a name, or should I just keep calling you "Cowboy"?
Cowboy: I ain't heard my own name in so long, I don't rightly remember it.
Girl: Then I guess you'll just be Cowboy, Cowboy. My name's Mary.
Cowboy: So, Mary, you walked out to that church in the morning, when it was cool...when you found out it was burnt down, why didn't you walk back right then?
Girl: (pause) Truth is, I didn't walk out to where you found me, and that church has been burnt down since a long time before you ever found me there.
Cowboy: That's alright, I didn't really believe that story anyhow.
Girl: I don't look trustworthy to you?
Cowboy: Oh it ain't that, ma'am. I just basically don't believe anything anybody says.
Girl: That's another thing we have in common, Cowboy.
Cowboy: So do you want to tell me why you were really out there, or should I just keep my big ol' nose out of your business?
Girl: I have a problem. And when I saw you, and when I saw that hangin from your belt, I reckoned you might be the kinda man who could help me solve that problem.
Cowboy Narr: my mind goes to the six-shooter on my hip. Not many things in this world surprise me anymore, but it seemed mighty unusual to me that a pretty young lady like this would have that kind of a problem.
Cowboy: well ma'am, if you've got the kinda problem that can be solved with one of those, I reckon I'm exactly the man you want. If that's really the kinda help you want, after all. (they are now entering the town, buildings and houses are appearing) Once you commit a man to his death, ain't no livin the same way you did before.
Girl: (faraway) There ain't no livin for me at all. Not anymore. I need your help, Cowboy. I won't ask you to promise, cause other people have promised before, but here I am, the same story over again. I won't ask you to promise. I'll just tell you: I need your help. I need your help to get where I need to be.
Cowboy: well then, I suppose you oughta go ahead and tell me your problem, then.
Girl: This is my house. Thanks for the ride, Cowboy.
(she dismounts and starts walking up to the house)
Cowboy: What about that problem?
(She ignores him and instead of walking in the front door, walks around back. He sits there for a moment, watching, then rides away. After a few seconds, he wipes his brow. realizing he forgot his hat, he rides back to the house, walks up to the house, and knocks. A man answers the door.)
Cowboy: 'Afternoon, sir. I'm the man that just brought your daughter Mary home, and I believe she still has my hat, and I was wonderin if I might get it back.
(A woman now comes to the door. they both appear angry.)
Man: You'll get no goods to steal here, sir. I happen to know you did not bring my daughter home, because my daughter has been dead for five years, today.
Cowboy: I beg your pardon, sir?
Woman: Our daughter was murdered five years ago today. Trapped in a burning church. If you don't believe us, go check the graveyard around back.
Cowboy: I am sorry to have disturbed you folks. And my apologies for your loss.
(They shut the door. He stands for a moment, then turns around and walks off the porch.)
Cowboy Narr: You get used to a lot of things (he starts toward his horse, stops, looks back). You get to a point where nothing really surprises you anymore (he turns around and starts in the direction of the graveyard around back. He strolls among the graves.). You see things. You hear things. A mirage out in the desert, a howl in the middle of the night that sounds an awful lot like your mama cryin (he comes to a stop at a gravestone...with his hat perched on top. He picks up the hat, and finds a piece of paper tucked into the band). It all kinda blends together, so that when a girl you've never met, who's been dead for five years, climbs on the back of your horse and asks for your help, you don't question whether or not it happened (he pulls the paper out and reads it. We do not yet see what it says). The only question is whether or not you're going to help.
(we see that the note says "John Armstrong. Silver Town. Ten miles into the sunset. Help me, Cowboy. Help me get where I need to be." He puts the hat on his head, slides the paper into his pocket, and walks back to his horse. He climbs on and sits for a second.)
Cowboy Narr: John Armstrong. Silver Town. Ten miles into the sunset. I had been traveling northeast.
(The sun is setting. He looks in the direction he had been traveling, then looks in the direction of the setting sun. He ponders for a moment, then turns his horse to the west, and rides off into the sunset.)
Cowboy Narr: Hell...I ain't got nothin better to do anyhow.
Author's Note: I do eventually intend to write more onto this. Although it may be a while.