Some souls never sleep in peace and John Wesley's soul was one of them. Most of his life, he slept with a Colt pistol beneath his pillow, causing him to sleep the shallow sleep of the hunted prey. Oh, now and then, weariness might tempt him to slip off into a dream, but even then, for John Wesley, the dreams would always lead to nightmares.
He reckoned it all started with the shouts and cries that filled his ears when he was a boy. His mama would try one drunk after another to become the man in her life. But they'd all get drunk and start the shouting and hitting. Then came the crying and the snatching him by the hand and running off. Drunks tend to reach their worst in the middle of the night. Maybe this is why John Wesley took to drinking and never took to marrying. He wanted the hell to stop with him.
For some reason, on this last night, John Wesley, horse thief, bank robber, murderer, and sometimes repentant sinner, felt the need to try dreaming one last time. Nothing much more to be fearing now. The rest of life was pretty much laid for him. So he tossed the tin plate off the cot, pulled down the frayed, grey blanket and laid himself down.
He counted twenty-nine blows of the hammer before the hammering stopped. Then the night itself seemed to decide to bed down for in the distance, a lone coyote howled. The doomed man found comfort in that far off howling spirit Granted his mind had long been riding the fence line of madness, but John Wesley sincerely believe that that lone coyote was crying for him. And maybe, she was. Just maybe, she was.