Ragtail Meets Lark

Reathway Williams AKA Lark

Ragtail Renames Reathway

Ragtail hid behind the juniper and steadied the long barrels of his shotgun against the tree.

He pointed toward movement on the ridge as a figure came into view waving a kerchief and singing: “HELLO hello, HELLO hello” his voice lilting up and down in rhythm with his steps. He broke out into a full nasal song, “I’m a fellow you want to know.”
His round shadow glided smoothly over the boulders and across the dirt even though his overhanging belly jiggled and sashayed with each step.

It wasn’t a pretty voice or much of a tune. Ragtail gritted his teeth. His shotgun held steady on the stranger who continued singing as he approached:
     I’ve got a song that’s pleasant to hear
     One that falls softly on your ear
     You’ll want to invite me in today
     My music will chase your cares away.
The stranger stopped, removed his hat and bowed. “Good day sir. I’m Reathway Williams: conservator, entrepreneur, prospector, and among other things I create music.” He slapped on his hat, spread his arms and hit his high notes: La La LAAAAAAA!
Damn Donkey went chin up again: Aaaah-EEK, Aaaah-EEK, Aaaah-EEK.
“Shuddup, shuddup, shuddup!” Ragtail yelled. “Dern fool. I should’a shot you but it would’a added to the noise. Then I’d had to clean and reload the gun.” He returned his weapons to the pack on Damn Donkey. “As it is, that’s one Tommy.”
The newcomer hooked his thumbs under his galluses. “Oh, no my fine fellow mineralogist, you misunderstood. My name is Reathway, not Tommy. Whoever Tommy is, I doubt he could sing like a lark.”
Ragtail spit, not bothering to wipe his chin whiskers nor concerned that it landed near Reathway’s boot. “A Tommy is a count agin you for messin’ up. A guy gets three and you already got one. I’d advise you to git on back over that ridge, Lark.”
Reathway’s face darkened as he pointed a finger at Ragtail. “Now see here Mist—”
Damn Donkey bit his finger causing Reathway to stomp and holler.
Ragtail laughed and slapped his leg. “I see you dance too, Lark. Ain’t no end to your talents, are they?”
Lark pressed his skinned finger in his other hand, pumping them while filling the air with deprecations and curses.
Ragtail clapped his hands. “Thanks for the entertainment, Lark. Your singing’s improved mightily thanks to Damn Donkey.”
He made a back-handed shoo-away wave. “Now how about leaving me in peace?”
“Okay, lookee here,” Lark said. “My burro drug up lame three days ago. I set him free.” He kicked a stone and shrugged. “Ain’t no one to talk to.”
A queasy hot flash went through Ragtail. He never considered being without his companion. The idea hit him for the first time how lost he’d be in the expanse of the southwest desert without Damn Donkey: a blind man in a rowboat in the middle of the ocean.
“Besides,” Lark continued, “if’n we team up for a while it’d save you from botherin’ where I’ve already been. Ain’t no color on t’other side of the ridge neither.”
Ragtail parceled out his visitor. “Where’s your poke?”
Lark hooked a thumb over his shoulder, “Back yonder. I can fetch it pronto.”
“Got any coffee?”
“Flour and beans. Got any bacon?”
“Jerky. Could you keep from caterwauling and setting off Damn Donkey?”
“I’ll gather my stuff.”
As Lark disappeared over the skyline, Ragtail asked Damn Donkey, “Should we wait for him or not?”
Should Ragtail and Damn Donkey wait for Lark? Leave a comment.

Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.
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