The Black Rain Almost BurnsMature

There comes a black rain in these parts and it comes at night.  The storm clouds kill of the moonlight and certainly the stars.  The rain itself swallows the prairie dust.  Thus the rain turns black, the rain turns heavy, and the rain, this heavy, black rain, why it almost burns. 

The dirt streets of Abilene quickly turn to mires of mud, the ruts left by the wagon wheels become rushing streams.  In a matter of minutes, the drought becomes deluge, and all things hunker down.  Even the cattle seek the shelter of herding up and the horses tied to hitching posts hang their heads in despair.

Yet these four horsemen stood unfazed by the rain and their horses looked dead on into the flashes of lightning as if they were listening for the sounds of home.  John Wesley, for the first time in many years, felt the feeling that most call fear.  He thought he knew hell and would swear that he had ridden by its gates many times, so many times he could smell the fire and brimstone.  But this was the first time, and he prayed the last time, that hell had come to him.

In silent gazes and occasional nods, the four horsemen carried on a voiceless conversation.  Then one by one they dismounted; one by one they hitched their horses.  And after one last look into the angry night, they made their somber strides.  John Wesley pulled away from the jailhouse window but he could hear the metal of their jingling spurs count out their steps as they crossed the wooden boards. 

With a frantic turn of his head, John Wesley looked for the presence of the young deputy who kept watch when company was being kept in this three cell Abilene jail.  But somehow, he had slipped away.  Maybe to visit one of the ladies in the saloon next door, the back stairs were often the entrance for those wanting to sneak in for some late night comfort.  John Wesley called, "Deputy, you there?  I said, You there?"  But his voice returned with nothing more than empty echoes.

"How could it be," John Wesley thought, "that they would leave a man ripe for hanging unguarded, unwatched?"  The only answer he could come up with was -- they wanted him, unwatched.

The footsteps of the four stopped outside the jailhouse door and for the first time, John Wesley knew that these ghostly riders had come for him.


The End

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