(This is an original piece written for IndiesUnlimited.com‘s Weekly Flash Fiction Contest. The prompt was Riders.)
“Only fools need rely on the strength of beasts,” Rosser said vainly, denying any use for horses.
To say he earned respect from the town of Ardmore would be untrue; he commanded it, little though he was. Muscle was wasted on trigger-happy gun-slayers; Rosser was small-framed and composed. Shrewd yet kind eyes hooked his enemies; he reeled them in with riddle, and let reason slit their throats. Showdowns amused the brutes on Main Street, but he preferred the flickering darts of the candle at the dimmest booth of the Ardmore Parlor.
Horses were unpredictable, unnecessary, powerful and dangerous; he abhorred them. In fact, he was afraid, though he’d never admit it. But when he found himself stranded in the mountains from a shady deal, he was left vulnerable for lack of mobility and a poor knowledge of the wild. Gaunt and desperate, he trailed a wandering white stallion.
Reason claims a journey home — laziness, the same, he pondered, though a horse is simultaneously erratic and dominant, proving a risk. Truth, I’d rather die than on nature rely but perhaps nature can serve my need.
He watched his hand reach for the ashen beast and, feeling the coarse strands of hair run beneath his softened fingers, he recognized his foolish lean. The fervent horse calmed as if to meet him halfway. Indeed, when Rosser mounted, it was a moment he looked back on as the unexpected marriage between Faith and Reason.
Black on white, he rode, until both turned gray.