Lee Pope looked across the expanse.
Sand scratched at the land. A golden sun beat him about his neck where the rim of his hat didn’t protect. Shrubs and cacti stood lost all about the place, sparsely situated, lonely. In the distance, he could see mountains of red clay and rock, goliaths, monstrous in size, distantly imposing. A butte was settled to his right.
The sun battered everything.
He wondered how close Lowell was. It shouldn’t be far now. The rancher had told him it was only about five miles across the desert to the town. He told Lee he did trading in Lowell. Lee hoped the man was right. He didn’t know how long he’d last in the relentless heat. The horse was doing fine, though, as if she hailed from the desert. He didn’t think she had though. He had stolen her back east.
He traveled west from Georgia, a fugitive. He had no other choice but to run. No one was going to listen to his story it was too far fetched. Too strange to be true, but just believable enough to be a lie. They accused him of killing his wife, Emily. Beautiful, sweet Emily. He loved her and they knew that, but they also knew about the recent trouble they’d had.
The full story, and simple story, was his brother, being in love with her, had killed Emily and set Lee up. Everyone was confused about the situation because they had seen Lee arguing with Emily after catching his brother trying to steal her honor. He thought she was having an affair. He was wrong.
He apologized to Emily; they had made up, her pale blue eyes full of trust and understanding. She was kind, she would accept his apology even though she had every right not to. Her kindness, great capacity to love, and pure character is what triggered his brash actions. He couldn’t believe she had done such a thing to him, so he grabbed her too roughly. He yelled at her because he thought she had worked with his brother to destroy everything he thought was right with the world.
She hadn’t, it was only Harvey. Lee’s so called family. Though he wasn’t his real brother. Harvey was his good-for-nothing father’s, the mayor of Atlanta, bastard son from a trollop. He hated that he was illegitimate and Lee hated it right along with him. For their whole life Harvey resented Lee because of this, even though he did his best to make Harvey feel accepted. He thought Harvey had changed some when he started coming around the house, softened to his kindness. He was wrong about that, too. He showed him kindness and in the end he got served less than goose egg for his trouble. No more and never again.
Harvey had fled west after they locked Lee up. When he got out of jail, Lee had only one purpose, to catch and kill his wife’s murderer. He learned from questioning the women in brothels and saloons his brother visited that he planned to move out west to a new settlement.
He had business to take care of in the town of Lowell.
The town drew up in the distance. He could see the land turn greener as he rode closer to the town. Silos, a farm, cattle, and a water tower that gleamed under the sun’s rays. As he moved closer still, he could see the town was a hub of activity. People walking to and fro. People hauling material in wagon carts. It was strange seeing so much activity after hours of none. Somewhere in the midst of all the activity was his brother.
“Harvey, it’s time for a long over due family reunion.”
He followed the well traveled path into town to meet his brother.