|Young Damn Donkey|
Searching For Lost Gold
Ragtail deliberately worked his way down an arroyo, picking at each piece of quartz, but the only color he found was in a dollar-sized fire agate that went in his pocket.
Where the gulch opened up to a valley, Ragtail led Damn Donkey to the shade of a juniper.
His lunch-time ritual, which was lunch only because it could happen between sunrise and sunset, was to loosen Damn Donkey’s pack cinch, give him some water, and share a piece of jerky. It kept the animal occupied over the break trying to chew the tough string of meat with flat teeth meant for grazing.
Why the critter would even eat the staple of all desert travelers was a mystery, but Ragtail once saw Damn Donkey chewing on a Spanish Dagger. The thought came to him that the plant was pretty much Nature’s jerky. Ragtail got a kick out of his companion eating the meat and apparently so did Damn Donkey.
They both heard the sound.
It wasn’t the breeze through the branches. Damn Donkey’s ears were up and twisting, a sure sign that something or someone was close. Ragtail decided it was human and tensed up. He crouched behind the tree trunk for secrecy when Damn Donkey raised his long nose, widened his eyes, and spread his jaws.
Ragtail had wondered where the term “braying” come from. A word like that could almost be whispered. It sure didn’t pertain to donkeys. They get a belly full of air and blow it out hard through a windpipe lined with cactus. It’s about as smooth a sound on the ears as a washboard is to skinned knuckles.
Aaaah-EEK, Aaaah-EEK, Aaaah-EEK.
Ragtail pulled Damn Donkey’s head down. “Shut yer fool mouth and listen.”
Damn Donkey turned toward the ridge and locked his ears forward. That was enough warning for Ragtail. He pulled a .36 caliber Colt Navy Revolver out of the pack and stuck it in his waistband. He followed that by unsheathing a Greener side-by-side 12 bore muzzle-loading shotgun.
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