A Gothic western.
John Wesley figured that he had about a hundred steps of life left to be traveled on his journey. Striking how many miles a man can cover in thirty years of running and riding. And by the same token, it is striking how far one can travel and still not be all that far from where one started.
Maybe it was the cold November air that made the sound of the hammers striking iron so jarring to his ears. But all that day and now into the lantern lit night, the carpenters were building his gallows - timber by timber, each in their place, Each ringing blow of the carpenter's work felt like the nails of Jesus in the ears of John Wesley's soul. And he knew somewhere in the shadows, the nameless hangman was testing his ropes and tying his knots.
His life on the run, ten thousand nights spent either sleeping on his bed roll beneath these Kansas stars or sleeping in the arms of some rented woman who smelled of sweet gardenias and rye whiskey, now was corralled into this twelve by twelve foot jail cell and about ten hours of time. "God, life is short when you don't give a damn."
The remains of his last meal sat on a tin plate upon his cot. Just bone and gristle of a T-bone steak. Pretty much that was also about all that was left of John Wesley himself - bone and gristle and a few years of steak chewed up and devoured.
The moon, a harvest moon, was full and low slung that night, making the gallows all too visible to him as it loomed just outside his window. He figured the proximity of the gallows was done with some vengeful judicial intent, a bit of heaping on the justice upon those lost souls who couldn't get enough dying to make things right. And that same moon filled the main street of the cow town with shadows of all that was and even the shadows of some thing not there at all. John Wesley didn't like the night shadows when he was a boy, and he didn't much like them now.
Here in Abilene, Death seemed to arrive well before its appointed hour. It was as if the hangman's coach was in a bit of a hurry to bring Mr. John Albert Wesley home. John Albert Wesley, the blond haired son of a fairly decent mother, Abigail Wesley, a preacher's daughter, and the son of some unnamed drifter who rode through town one hot August night.