The Lord Hath MercyMature

He came upon him in the garden outside the house. Slowly, he dismounted and began walking toward the short rabbit fence. “Sir?” He asked, a quiver in his voice. “Sir?” again, this time a little louder. “Could I speak with you briefly sir?” He yelled; no response. The old man simply continued his work on the garden. As he took another step forward his boot sunk into a pile of manure. Gallagher grunted in frustration. “God damn it.”

“Hey.” Came a soft voice. “Don't say the Lord's name in vain.”

“Uh, yes sir. Sorry sir. I meant no disrespect.”

“I know.”

Gallagher frowned, looking back down the path to the Mounty, who was but a small red pinprick in the distance.

“What are you here for?”

“Well sir. I'm here to … call on a favor.”

“Ah? Do I owe you something?”

“Well, not me directly sir. You owe the United States government.”

“Do I?”

Gallagher was sweating, the cool breeze did nothing for it. He could have been on a snow capped mountain top with this man and he'd still be sweating. “I believe you do. Though we appreciate what you did in the old days, it still didn't make up for all the felonies we let you off on.”

“I see. What if I refuse your request?”

“Then, sir, I'm afraid I'll have to apprehend you on account of those crimes.”

The old man took in a deep breath. “You know, being out here I've learned a lot. Take this tomato for example. All I do is tap it with my finger and it drops from the vine, red as blood. It knows when its time has come. As do I, and I think I'd rather rot in a jail cell then do your dirty work. I will go with you to be hung, or whatever it is you do to my kind.”

Gallagher shook his head. “You don't even know what I'm asking of you yet.”

“It doesn't matter.”

“I think it does. It's about your son.”

The man looked up at Gallagher. “What about my son?”

“We need you.”

“I've vowed never to kill again. I'm even less inclined to visit harm onto my own child.”

“We don't need you to kill him Eddy. We just need you to bring him in.”

“Why can't you do it yourself? He's only one man.”

“You too, were only one man.”

“I still am.”

Gallagher sighed. “I'll be along with you.”

The man returned to his garden, and for a time Gallagher simply stood there and watched him work. Then, as the sun rose in the sky, Eddy finally turned around and stared Gallagher in the eyes.

“I'll do it under one condition.”

“What condition is that.”

“Make it two.”

“Alright.” Gallagher said uneasily. “What are the two conditions?”

“Firstly, you and that Mounty are going to stay the night here, there's a storm coming over and this valley's well known for its rainfall.”

“It may take some convincing, but I can agree to that. What's the second condition?”

“My son is not to be harmed. Not before, and not after he is captured.”

“That's very reasonable sir. I think we've come to an understanding.”

“No, we haven't. We've come to an agreement. You will never understand, and I don't resent you for it. My boy had a rough life; a life I wish I had not exposed him to. I brought him up with the idea that the law was hanging on his hip and that he owed no man respect. In hindsight, I truly wish I had shown him a better world; one where he could understand the mercy and love that comes with knowing the Lord. I failed him, and I suppose it's my responsibility to seek him out and try to rectify what has come to pass. Perhaps in doing so, I may be able to redeem his eternal soul.”

Gallagher nodded. “I truly hope so. I truly do.”

“Now, get that man off his horse. I have wine and whiskey and you're welcome to it so long as you can keep a handle of yourself.”

“Thank you sir but I don't drink.”

Eddy looked at him with a glare. “Ten years ago I'd have said that I didn't trust a man who didn't drink.”

“And now?”

“I suppose I still don't. I just won't shoot you for it.” He said, turning away and walking up the stairs to the ranch house. “Come on, hurry it up, those clouds will be pouring out in no time.”

Gallagher looked up, through the lifting haze, he saw nothing but blue skies. He shook his head. “Crazy old man.” Mounting up, he made his way to the gate to try and coax Shaw into staying the night. He'd have to argue no doubt, but getting Eddy's help was top priority, if it meant spending one night in his home because his senility feared a phantom storm, so be it.

The End

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