“Ah, home, let me go home
Home is wherever I’m with you
Ah, home, let me go home
Home is where I’m alone with you
Ah, home, yes I am home”
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
The soft clopping of Arthur’s dun Mustang’s hooves soothes Arthur for the time being. The horse snorts and he bends across the saddle, patting its neck and whispering words of encouragement. The Mustangs fur was Corse but soft and he could hear his equipment rattle with every step the Mustang took. His bones jolting each stride.
He straightens back up to focus on the dirt path in front of him. Bright with the day’s light were he could see every living detail. It gets embedded into his mind, and everything in between.
The red dirt that covers the road and area is dry, making him sneeze. It gets into his eyes, throat, clothes and nose. He wishes it to rain or even sprinkle some but the weather is unpredictable and it will never grant his wish.
He urges his horse into a canter alongst the path. Heading for the town of Rhodes, for the gunsmith.
He is not welcomed there. Never was, never will be. The town knew who he was and who was on his side. That he was an outlaw, a savage, a killer, but they did nothing in return for his sinful acts. They completely ignored him every time he came trotting into their village.
He was only put up with because of their sheriff who was in truth, drunk off the walls. Yet the citizens respects for him and his gang rose even higher once they stole the liquor from the rich families and handed it out for free. They were so lively and gracious and Arthur had such a good time pouring out drinks and laughing with Hosea took that night. But it had to go wrong, everything always went south.
The people’s respect for him rose even higher after the Braithwaite incident, only a few days prior. Yet the Greys and Braithwaite themselves weren’t quite so happy. To that true.
Arthur chuckled at this to himself. Oh so lively were the folk at times. He didn’t want to see any of that family when he rides into the town. It might as well turn out to be a big shoot out. The Braithwaite family was done for. The Grays, not so much.
He grumbled at this. Mood changing. His mood had been very sourly lately. With all that shit that had been going down with the gang. Sean dying and little dear Jack being Kidnapped. That... that wasn’t right and it drove the whole gang to the ends of their minds and drove John and Abigail even further. Oh dear, he wished they could get him back now. But it was going to take more and more worrying to get there. This stress was not leveling out and it was exhausting him. Stress always did that but alas, he tried keeping his mood up and hoped this would keep his mind off of troubling circumstances.
In a few seconds he could see the village ahead. A horse and his rider passed by, taking no notice. Coming up to the village, it showed that few people lined the road. On the dirt ground, or porches. Walking and smoking to their delight. Others inside laughing or crying.
Rhodes was a small village but a little bigger than Valentine. Though much more beautiful and rustic. Slowing his horse to a trot he made his way to the gunsmith and dismounted. Feet landing into the dusty road he made his way to the front.
He was going to trade in one of his old guns that he never had used. One that he robbed off of someone and with that gun he would buy another prime weapon with a couple more bucks on hand.
Entering the store was a different reality. The clerk, a new man, only for a couple of days now had no clue who he was or what his dealings were which was even better.
The man politely greeted him.
“Hello Sir, What can I do for you today?”
“Trading in a Revolver.. Looking to to get a Lancaster” He grumbled heading over to the counter and laying out the Revolver. The clerk picked it up, flipping around in his hand. He kept a straight face.
“This is a good one! Why selling such a fine piece?” He inclined.
“Already have some” He didn’t feel like going on and laid out some money directly. Enough besides the Revolver to buy the Lancaster.
The clerk got the hint and didn’t say no more. Putting the Revolver to the side he went to the back and pulled out a Lancaster and showing it to Arthur who in return nodded his approval. The man graciously took the money as he traded over the weapon. Arthur took it happily and headed out of the store without much more of words.
Turning it around in his hands he viewed it with great respect and smoothly slid it into a pocket that his saddle had. His horse rubbed his head up against him and he dug into his satchel. Pulling out a treat he offered it to the Mustang who happily ate it. Grabbing the horn he swung himself up and with the reins and feet Arthur directed his horse to the right and began a walk.
Heading back to Clemens Point we’re the camp was, he had to talk with Hosea.
The people in the town gave him no glance as he passed in a trot, onto the beaten trail and back into the wild grass.
That Lancaster was much needed as he went forward with daily life and all the robberies they did. It would come in handy soon enough. Arthur would pride himself on it.
He is drifting off in his mind, letting his horse partly lead the way when he is snapped back into reality.
He swears he hears a voice call out to him but he ain’t sure. Turning in his saddle he sees a little ways away to his left that there was another traveler. Not any traveler but one of Albert Mason.
His horse seems to sense this and stops, waiting for directions and Arthur directs him to Mason. Trotting over he bows his head with his hat. In a greeting way
“How’s it goin Mr. Mason? I thought for sure yer left after the eagles” He chuckles and watched as Mason’s face which was alignt to see him go through a mix of emotions till it landed on a frown then to a laugh.
“Oh Mr. Morgan! I wouldn’t have just left this beautiful land because I nearly died! I still have much more to take in and to thanks to you” His voice was full of wamth as they both stopped their horses in the middle of the trail. Near the Grey’s land and the Scarlet Meadows.
“Ah, no need.” He waves his hand. “Saving you from yer death is the least I can do” Grinning Arthur alined his horse next to Mason’s. The man in return stuttered for a second.
“M—-Mr. Morgan! Please don’t act like that! What you have done is the most gracious and noblest deed!” The man seemed to get a bit flustered. To him it seemed like a serious matter and Arthur understood in a way. He watched as Mason waves his hands about. In this torrent his eyes were directed to the Ebony’s saddlebags. Full of equipment.
Resting his hands on the horn of his saddle and feeling the horse rest one of its legs he spoke.
“Whats ya doin all way down er?” Mason stopped in his fluster and looked back at him. Light brown eyes meeting sea blue.
“Oh! I was going over to this old battlefield I’ve heard about around here. Some folk told me white tailed deer like to roam there” He explained and Arthur could tell he was about to go on to a rant. He interrupted before he could.
“I’ll go with ya” He stated. In instant Mason straightened in his saddle.
“That... that’ll be delight full, Mr. Morgan! Thank you.....” Mason smiled joyfully. “Sometimes it gets quite boring sitting in the sun or rain all day waiting for an appearance of any animal” He sighed and for a second Arthur felt sorry for him.
“My pleasure Mr. Mason.” With that he urged his horse into a walk and Mason followed. Taking the lead he directed them to the battlefield and looked back to see Mason who was staring at him.
Obviously thinking about something to say. His hat balanced on his head yet it stayed put against the light wind and fog that hung over the ground. Nearly corrupting their view. His black hair was a bit wild and his clothes dusty. Mason’s green vest a bit wrinkled. The other’s skittish eyes averted Arthur’s own yet in a few seconds both their eyes met and Arthur huffed gaining back the attention of the other.
“You’d think this fog gunna mess with ur photo?” Arthur asked.
“Maybe, maybe not. I think it will work out beautifully and make the photograph marvelous” Relpied Mason in slight uplifting tone”
They were rounding a corner and were now coming up to the old civil war battlefield. Easing the horse into a stop, Arthur slid from the saddle. Patting his horse’s neck he went over to Mason and watched as the man clumsily slid from the saddle to the dirt. Holding onto his hat with one hand and nearly falling back. Arthur moved forward to help him and with a hand on Mason’s shoulder he steadied him.
Mason laughed and patted Arthur’s hand.
“You sir saved me from a dreadful fall” Arthur grinned and only laughed at this
At least he had some joke in him. Standing by Mason as he unpacked his tools, Arthur stuck out his hand.
“Need any help?”
“Ah yes! That will be delightful. Here you can carry the stand” Mason spoke and shoved the stand into Arthur’s hands. As Mason got his other things out Arthur Inspected the stand curiously. He had used cameras before but never one like this and it was nearly surreal to be holding one of Mason’s equipments. It must of been expensive.
The metal rods felt cold in his hands.
“How... how the hell did carry this on ur horse?” He looked up to meet Mason’s eyes. He guaffed.
“Simple. I have a clip that secures it into place. And it folds!” The man in turn gathering up his belongings and with that they began walking. Their horses fallowing them laszily. Arthur stayed a few steps behind Mason, letting him go where ever he pleased.
They were standing in the middle of the meadow’s grass with trees that were neither growing with lush leaves or bare. They were dead and some split. Scattered buildings were in the areas but they were all run down. Cannons littered the grass and Arthur squinted his eyes as he tried to see farther in the fog but to no avail.
He was snapped back to attention as Mason was pulling the tripod from his hands. Releasing it to Mason the man smiled greatly at him and turned. Oddly stumbling back a few feet in front of him and making sure the tripod was secure on the grass. Then he mounted the actual camera upon it and swiped at his forhead and at once Arthur grumbled. It was hot to the point of no comfort.
Mason swiveled on his feet, clapping his hands together.
“Now we wait Mr. Morgan!”” Arthur watched the man as he was about to turn around to his camera when his face frowned and his arm raised up. He let it fall back down and looked at Arthur. Their eyes met and Arthur knew something was biting at the man.
“You are staying, right?” He asked, Mason’s eyes searching his. He might of been still confused. He needed to reassure him once again and he blindly went forward and agreeded.
He hummed in response and went to sit down in the soft flowered grass next to the camera. Pulling his hat over his head, blocking the sun out.
“As long as it takes Mr. Mason” As Mr. Mason went back to his camera, eagerly awaiting the arival of a certain animal in the midst of all the flowers and fog without a sound, Arthur grew tired. Tired from the warm sun and soft plush grass. Yet he did not let himself fall asleep.
Instead he moved a little more back, away from Mason and dug into his satchel. Taking out his journal and one of his pencils he opened onto a new page and began writing and drawing. This went on for some time, the sweeping mad dipping of his pencil. When he was done he had a couple of drawings, some marvrlous in his way and others not. He wrote little about what he did, though not much.
Shutting the journal he groaned. From the position he sat in for that amount of time was taking a toll on him. Neck and back in pain, he slowly made his way back to Mason. Covering the few feet between them instantly. The man in turn was still in the same position as when he first encountered him and Arthur wondered if he ever got bored doing this on hours for an end.
“Any luck” He drawled and Mason shot up. Clearly startled. He laughed awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck.
“No. I suppose not, but something has to appear soon” The man’s awkward self went back to the camera and Arthur watched him with curiosity and interest.
The first time he met him was by accident, pure dumb luck. Riding by with his horse and he looked to his left. Oh how much of a fool Mason was yet he envied him in ways he couldn’t understand.
Maybe it was because the man was so carefree at times. Not worrying about what the nature of things would do with him. He didn’t have to worry about Pinkertons and boutymen, horrific bloody stagecoach robberies and feuds with families. Or even taking care of a large family by himself.
Or maybe it was because he loved nature, that he was an artist in a way and he so desperately wanted to capture it no matter the cost.
When Arthur first walked up to him he nearly scared the man half to death and he felt deeply sorry about it. Yet he had introduced himself with his actual name. Not some dumbass sounding name that was an alias but his true real name and maybe that was because the slim awkward clumsy man with the instinct to go out into the heart of the dangerous wilderness with not some much of a raindrop of courage to face the beats when they ran at him alightened Arthur. This man radiated unharmful vibes around him, he wanted the best for everyone and Arthur appreciated it.
Introducing himself with his real name was a big pleasure and he could finally not worry for once in his life. Worry about what someone might do if they heard his name. Oh the terror that would cause. Yet Arthur’s eyebrows furrowed and he questioned this.
Did Mason really know who he was? What he had done? How dangerous he really was and who he worked with? Did he really not care? Did he even know that being within his very boundaries was treason nonetheless than talking to him?
Arthur could only shake his head. But he knew that day forward when the man’s bag had gotten stolen from the coyote and he ran after the animal and returned it, that it was a different feeling from other folk who he had done a favor for. He felt no need to ask for money for that and he warmed at the thought of what Mason had called him. ‘A gentleman’ but no, he would never be one’.
He sighed and rubbed at his eyes. Dirt getting into them. He blinked it away.
“Everything alright Mr. Morgan?”
He looked up from the grass to Mason’s brown eyes.
“Yeah. Just thinkin” he was laying on his back, hat on his head lopsided. The grass tickled his nose as he still stared up at Mason. He decided to get up. Pushing himself off the grass he grunted as he nearly stumbled back from the rush of blood to his brain and straightened his hat. He dusted himself off.
Standing beside Mason he squinted and shifted to rest his numb leg. He saw nothing. Turning to Mason he raised an eyebrow.
“Yer sure deer are here?” Mason continues to stare into his camera lenses.
“I’m quite sure” Mason replied and Arthur chuckled.
“We’ve been here for some time. I ain’t seen one flick of a tail or a scent trial” He scratched at his head and Mason stood. Knocking his head agaist the camera. His hat fell off revealing flowing ebony hair that was swept back.
As Mason’s hat fell off to Arthur’s side he bent down. Picking it up and reaching out. Placing it back onto Mason’s head. Setting it gently on his head to try not to mess up his alluring hair, it still seemed slanted sideways as always. Arthur’s hand feel back to his side.
Arthur continued to watch Mason who in a second after that smiled awkwardly and shuffled. Hand going up to fiddle with his vest and for a second Arthur thought he saw Mason’s face redden or perhaps it was got temperature in the field. The man instantly began talking and fast.
“It’s the set of nature Mr. Morgan. The animals and everything takes their time. We humans have no patience and we need to learn to take our time for..., for we might spoil what we’re after” Mason indicated the camera by taking hold of it and revealing a photo he took once before.
“Such as this. In time, Mother Nature will reveal itself and we will be able to bask in its beauty” Mason smiled at this, eyes crinkling and Arthur knew this was his passion. Nothing would ever change Mason from what he did and the man was right in what he said. That humans are impateint and nature is beautiful if you only wait. He shouldn’t have the right to be judging Mason in his works. He knew what he was doing as much as Arthur knew how to wait for game and such.
Taking the photo from Mason’s outstretched hand he inspected it.
It was black and white of course but it was that of the heartlands, the praire side and he already loved it even before he saw the animals within the photo and his mouth turned up to a small smile.
In the photo among the flowing grass of fields galore stood three horses. A mother and her foal twins. The mother was a short sleek white Mustang. Her two foals, one laying down at her feet with a beautiful brown and white coat and the other standing under her neck. Had a white coat and multicolored mane and tail. His attention then was directed to the background which contrasted the horses with a bird but not any bird, but a bald eagle.
Swiping his fingers over the texture of the photo he looked back up to Mason’s eyes. They were warm and welcoming and made him immediately smile.
“This is beautifully Mr. Mason! The best I’ve ever seen and look, you’ve finally gotten your eagles” Arthur cracked a even bigger smile at this. Remembering the daring exclusion Mason went on to get a photo of Bald Eagles. It nearly cost him his life if Arthur hadn’t been there to save him.
Mason only scoffed at Arthur’s remark.
Arthur went to hand back the photo but was denied the chance as Mason pushed his hand away, shaking his head.
“No no. I already have many like this yet this one...” He looked back at the photo that rested in Arthur’s hand. “This one is special. You deserve it for what you have done. For savjng my foolish self all those times. I know i have you one befor but I don’t think that can do enough. I wish I could do more but there ain’t much I can” Mason’s emotions had gone from complete joy to sadness and Arthur who which was smiling frowned. He stepped forward.
Placing a comforting hand on Mason’s shoulder he patted the spot and leand a bit closer.
“You might be a fool but your a damn good artist” Arthur spoke and Mason looked back up to him.
Eyes wide opened with light as the day and flickering with the changing light. Mason opened his mouth to say a word perhaps when both of their attentions snapped to the scene before them, onto the old battlefield. To the noise that came from there, unlike anything still that could do.
A wild buck with two does were beginning to wander a fro in the meadow like place. Alongst with their looping smooth moments, were crows sitting upon their backs and on the buck’s antlers and Mason gasped next to him and quickly but quietly crept back to his camera. Shushing Arthur he focused on his task and Arthur obediently became silent.
The snap of the camera attracted the attention of the deer and crows and Arthur heard Mason muttered. A mutter of a positive gesture and he watched straight faced as the animals did nothing. He cocked his head to the side, now amazed as they didn’t bound away at the flash and sounds of the camera. They stared in their direction, instrestead and Mason took more photos but not many. The deer went back to grazing.
Odd that was.
Mr. Mason stood up, the most delighted grin of joy plastered on his face.
“Oh Mr. Morgan! Theses are going to be excellent, astounding, note worthy!” He exclaimed and the man he was became sidetracked as the deer caught his eye once more.
“Handsome creatures they are. A product of nature’s kindness” He swept back to his camera and began breaking the mechanics down and in no time was done packing. He handed Arthur the tripod stand once again and the cowboy took it with stride.
Walking side by side they reached Mason’s chestnut mare who was grazing near Arthur’s Mustang and Arthur watched silently as Mason packed away his luggage. Then taking the tripod from Arthur’s hands he clipped it to the saddle like he said and patted his horse’s neck. Combing his fingers through it.
“Hope those photos come out good.”
Arthur breathes and began back tracking. Steeping in the direction of his horse. He was down with what he needed to do with Mason.
“Oh, uh, Mr. Morgan!” Mason calmed our and Arthur turned. Curious.
”Yes?” Mason approached him till they were standing down feet apart.
”I don’t want to encroach but I don’t think it’s fitting to be referring to each other in formal. You saved me enough times as it is” Mason went on and Arthur looked at him with jumbled thoughts.
”Sure” He coughed and once again began walking.
“See you around Arthur!”
Flicking his wrist to Albert he did too.
The way the name slid off his tongue was like a prayer, a idol and Arthur loved it.
It fit perfectly
His horse snorted as they set off into the fog towards Clemens Point.
He would be seeing Albert again and again and again, he was sure of it.
Now for the time being, he had things to worry about yet he pulled out the new photograph the ebony man had given to him and stared into its depths in amazement.