“It seems to me that there jest ain't really anything out there,” he says.
“I guess not,” I reply. My wrists hurt.
“There ain't nothing out there for me or you or anyone, really.” He looks at the toes of his boots for a while and then west. The fire crackles restlessly. The air is still and heavy with ash.
“If you want to look at it that way.” I look west. There are mountains far away across the plains. I can't see them, but I know that they are there because they block out the stars just above the horizon.
“We're all alone here,” he says in an afterthought. He looks at me queerly. I stare back at him, face full of disgust. He laughs.
“No. In the world. We're all jest insignificant and purposeless and really, we're all aimless as a chicken without a head.” He rocks his body forward and then back, teetering over the old cobblestone embankment. He almost falls. I'm hoping someone will come soon.
“Yeah,” I say. I cough from the ash. He seems to vanish in the haze. Good, I think. I hate him.
He mutters. “There really ain't no point. If there is, I don't see one.”
I'm silent. I'm tired.
“Sure,” he adds. “There's some things. There's love, I guess. Beauty, purity, and jus...” He talks with a dumb southern accent and what he says doesn't seem to convince the either of us.
“What the hell do you know about love?” You don't know love, you cold-blooded bastard.
“I was in love once with a girl from Thistle. I reckon I was happy then.” He scratches his neck just underneath the chin.
“You guess some too much for a killer.” He spits his toxic breath into the fire and it spits back.
“Aw hell,” he says. “It's just pain anyway. Life is all pain.”
“Oh,” I say. My wrists and ankles burn from the leather and the fire. The sun won't be rising for a while. There isn't a moon but the sky could be darker.
“Aw hell, he says.”
I've not known pain and I've not known love but even through the smoke the anguish in his face is real. He puts his hand near the fire, in the fire but withdraws and looks betrayed.
“Is that really all there is?” He asks me.
“I don't know.” I don't know.
“Well,” he says as a westerly breeze pushes fire on its side and blows the ash away. “I'm going to take the easy way.”
“Okay.” I look down at the fire and up again as he stands.. He adjusts his hat, and clears his throat.
“I'll be seeing you around, I guess.” He chuckles at the last part, taking a step back and up onto the cobblestone embankment. The breeze stops. He pulls out the Colt and pulls the hammer back in one easy movement and pulls the trigger. I fall forward with my face on the ground, inches from the fire.
I tense from the pain in my chest and the heat on my face. Sweat pours into my eyes and smoke dribbles down into my nostrils. I feel the blood on the leather as I hold my chest with my two hands, choking, coughing, cursing him without breath.
“I do reckon I'll be seeing you then.” He takes shallow, congested breath through his nose. The fire drains the sweat and blood of my body, but before I fade into the cooler sky, I hear him take one step back.
A few seconds later I hear a thud.