I swing down hard and split the log clean in two. The sound echoes back at me off the canyon walls seconds later and confirms that it was indeed a clean strike. The axe head shines a focused beam of sunlight on the ground to my left, and I notice movement in its uneven spotlight. Hundreds of ants are making short work of a dead field mouse. I adjust the angle of the axe head
and follow the spot as it glides across the canyon walls. When it reaches the top, I find it is lighting the face of a man on horseback. I should be shocked. I’m not.
He puts his hand up to block the glare from the axe and yells down to me.
“Afternoon Kinkade. You’re a hard man to find.”
“That was the intention, General. But you did it.”
“Only one way I know how to move Kinkade... Toward you. I ain’t interested in going backward. Hell, I ain’t got a family to go back to, no how. You should know that better than any man.”
“Yessir, I guess you’re right… You gonna shoot me from there General?”
It’s not often you can see and man thinking from 150 feet away, but I watched the general run the whole scenario in his head.
Him ripping his Winchester off his back and taking me down with a single shot.
He could do it, even with reflected sunlight in his eyes.
I took a deep breath, uncertain if it would be my last. The General shifted his weight in the saddle, and for the longest time all I could hear was the wind. I exhaled.
“No. I reckon I want to look into your eyes when you die.”
“Sounds fair. Best you come on down here then. Let’s get this done.”
“No funny business Kinkade. This time you ain’t got no place to go.”
He was right. I knew that when I built a house in this canyon. Just as I knew this day would come.
“You got my word General.”
He laughed. Yeah… I guess I had that comin’.
“Make your piece Kinkade.” With that, he spurred his horse and made his way into the canyon.
I walk behind the wood stack and place the axe down. I pull my pistol, drop my bullets in the dirt then I reholster it.
I deserve what’s comin’… No point tempting fate.