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Flash Shepherd

“The rain was coming down so hard I couldn’t see past my horse’s nose!” Old Abe Paulson rocked back and forth in his saddle, waving his arms as he spoke.

Tad Dodson stood with his hands on his hips, disbelieving. Abe always had some cockamamie story when he bungled a roundup. This time, ten head of cattle had disappeared.

The other ranch hands stood on either side of their boss, snickering at Abe.

“And then, all of the sudden, an arroyo cut right in front of us, and I thought Lilly was going to slide right into abyss!” Abe went on. “Just when it seemed like all was lost, a huge lightning bolt split the sky … and an Indian chief rode a shining white horse out of breach!”

“Here we go again!” Tad exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air.

The ranch hands burst into laughter, and Tad started walking away. “Take Lilly into the stable, Abe, then hit the trail. That’s the last time you’re going to lose any of my cattle.”

Abe just kept right on telling his tale, not stopping to acknowledge that Tad had just fired him.

“And that chief, why he and his horse rode beside me all the way back here to the ranch, guiding me through the darkness and the floods.”

“It’s all bull, Abe,” Tad said over his shoulder.

One of his men grabbed him by the sleeve. “You might want to have a look over there, boss.”

Tad followed the man’s pointing finger into the desert behind Abe, where two sets of hoof prints led from the horizon all the way up to where Lilly stood.

The blood drained from Tad’s face. “Alright, Abe. Stable your horse, then get some sleep. Tomorrow’s another day.”

Published inFlash Fiction

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