I’d been on the frontier for some days before I saw another soul. At first I thought he was a doe or the like for I couldn’t make him out properly against the sun and at the distance I was from him. Besides that I was tired and saddle-sore and the light was strainin my vision some. When I got closer, I saw it was a man layin on a rock, babbling some foolishness. I thought he was dead till I heard the babble.
“Hey there, friend,” I called when I was close.
He kept a babblin, shinin with sweat, the big rock dark on top from it. He had little in the way a hair, black and spindly and plastered flat gainst his scalp. His beard a mess and a tangle, his teeth few and far between. And his clothes was wrinkled and torn and stained in the inbetween places where the arms and the legs met his skinny torso. He didn’t even have shoes on his burnt and sole-black feet, flesh peelin by and by. He smelled powerful bad, so I kept upwind and dismounted.
“What you doin out here in the sun, partner?” I asked, peerin down at him so the sun wasn’t in my eyes no more.
“Sir,” he said, “get clear a my sun, sir. I’m makin a plea and it’s a man’s private business.”
“Private is right,” I laughed, resting my hands on my hips. “Friend, there’s no one near for a hunnerd miles.”
“Yes, I know, sir,” spat the old cactus lizard. “I’m tryin to ask for help and you’re in the way. Please, sir—get.”
“I ain’t gettin, partner,” I said. “You’re gonna die out here. This ain’t no place for a man. You’re gonna die a raisin if you don’t get et by a cougar or set on by a Pox first. You want help, you can hop on my nag behind me, there’s a town some hours south and—”
“Don’t want your help,” the man replied. He was spread out flat like a starfish, eyes squeezed shut. “I’m askin the fates to save me.”
I had to laugh. That was a good one. “Listen, partner, the fates’ll kill ya if you don’t git up. Your fate is to die if you keep settin here.”
“The fates save folks all the time,” he grumbled. “In the books they comes down and save folks from death. The fates is supposed to be just—they’dn’t let a just man die on a rock.”
“Old timer, they’ve left hunnerds a just men to die on rocks,” I said. “Ain’t no difference tween a just man and a sinful man in the desert. Now come on and git up.”
“You’re no fate, sir,” yowled the man, jabbin a finger at me.
“No I damn well ain’t,” I sighed, “but they musta wanted to save your dumb ass for some reason I can’t conjure, ‘cause they sent me to help ya.”
He shook his head, lollin on the rock. “No no NO. There can’t be no ‘terpretation. If the fates is real, they gotta save me their own selves. Can’t send no man, if they even sent ya atall. They gotta come, they gotta raise me up offa this rock.”
I shook my head too. “I sure do hope the fates come down here and slap ya for bein a damn fool. That’s what you deserve. A slappin, not a savin.”
“Leave me be, sir,” said he.
I thought I’d give him one more chance. I was apparently more charitable than the fates. “Friend, you either git on my horse right now and ride with me to town or you can die a starvation and fever and get chewed up by yotees in the nighttime. Them’s your two options in this world, ‘cause no fates come down cept in books—not for you or nobody, and I say that as a devout and pious man.”
But it didn’t take. “Be gone, sir,” was all he said thereafter.
I could a hog tied him and I thought mighty long on the subject but decided twould be a folly initiative for such a man so in love with his own suicidal fiction. So I rode on out, condemin him to die while hopin against hope I’d read about the fates’ first visit to the world in a thousand year just so’s to save a tomfool on a rock.
Day 262’s three random prompt categories were, “In the wild west,” “The fool,” and, “The sun.”
Dang nabbed tomfools.