Here is a story written by a young author you’re sure to hear more from. His first novel, Clearton City Tales, is being shopped to an agent. Generation X’s answer to Sherlock Holmes with a twist of Lou Reed.
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She shivered awake from a chill. She knew the land by heart and that which she did not know she discovered for herself. An ambassador of hostile Comanche territory, a red-tailed hawk roamed. Against a cloudless blue sky, she would float, innocent to the impending violence. Her plumage fluttered like piano keys played by gusts of warm wind. Dust that stuck to her coal colored breast during her last brush against the earth trickled off like glitter and left her spotless. From afar her backside appeared black but intimately she sported a color scheme consistent with her habitat. Burnt blackness at the base of each feather leaked into smoke gray and ashen-white. From her fist-thick neck down her spine a hazy sunset red tail existed, which threatened to go pink in her youth but bled instead. Hence her name.
Glazed by sunlight, her brown eyes searched for oblivious rodents dug into the prairie while her talons expanded and contracted, snatching at the empty air. Her stone solid bill hung like a hook on its end and she licked it, savoring the idea of consuming the next victim.
That early morning, a particularly taxing wind blew. A large murmuration of tiny starling crossed her airspace weaving shapes unique in their swarms, oscillating as they blew southward to warmth. To survive. Squawking, thousand-like in their echoes, hover for minutes afterward. Winter would breathe itself into the environment and the animals took notice.
The hungry, bothered red-tailed hawk settled into a nose dive the instant she locked on to a burrowing, ‘oh, shit, she’s coming for me,’ rabbit. Before the mature, and thicker than average, beige hip-hopper could regret its decision to ponder the nearby dust-ridden creosote; it’s gutted by a strike of the hawk’s bill. Her hook cut a mortal tear across the rabbit’s small, beating heart and blood gushed out to confirm her kill. With her twitching talons she reached into the rabbit’s backside, piercing its skin and fat and she then dragged it across the ground enough to clobber his insides to mush. She released the body and it smacked the ground as she made one more swoop above ground to show off, and settled by her grub shortly afterward to pick at and swallow. A raw strip of meat dangled from her clasped bill before she slurped it up.
Then the floor rattled. Not tectonic, but invasive nonetheless. An orchestra of incoming violence. Rocks would hop up in the air, sometimes catching each other on the way down. Insects would sprint into invisible crevices. A heavy cloud of sand rose from behind a distant hill. Commotion didn’t normally interrupt her feast, but she’s alert in case she has to protect it.
Then, louder, like a growing applause, the roaring began. For a moment everything watched the western horizon as figures mounted on equine beasts appeared out of the wet desert blur. Swallowing what guts remained, she paid no attention. The deceased rabbit’s eyes locked into an unsettling stare, fixated by death.
These beings, they appeared like phantasms materialized from dust. Their adobo red skin thick as bark, tough like leather. Their faces expanded by their furious expression into masks of Spartan ferocity. Muscles pronounced, worn by use, lived in and tough. And the eyes, daunting to stare into, black as their hair, providing them unblinking focus.
She launched into the sky to avoid the stomping; she watched and waited for the hunt to end.
Representatives of these Prairie plains, residents of the Comancheria, a group of ten Comanche hunters chased a desperate herd of bison.
A hard-faced warrior with his face painted half green and half black sat atop a copper stallion. He led a small chestnut horse where two naked teenaged white men laid on their stomachs. Their asses burned in the sun and their dazed minds could only make sense of the ruckus by the noise. This warrior held his position as the rest bore on.
Dozens of bison pounded away, some scattered, some resigned, and the hysteric hunters that rode among them had their arrows ready and released by the dozen, and spears at the ready, locked awaiting thrusts. Hooves everywhere. Shrouded by bedlam. The wooden, stone tipped weapons flew against the rising sun, sorting the buffalo into ruts of land where they finished, dead. Helpless grunts emanated from the growing cape of insanity of the hunting ground. The Comanche hollered, chanted, screamed amidst their thrusting and killing and claiming. Their rabid hunt cut down half the herd.
One buffalo rose higher than the rest, a spear dug into its back and arrows protruded from its body. It wouldn’t succumb to the fatal commands of human instruments. A young, slender, pale, almost pink, warrior with an unpainted face dropped off his horse and ran to the hardened buffalo. The arrows ceased. The sky cleared. This warrior, whose name was Hakan, breathed as if still in battle, his chest expanded and his ribs breaking out from his skin. He circled the animal. His dark eyes oozed determination. The buffalo calmed with his presence. Hakan approached the animal. The buffalo sniffed, inspecting and approving the earth into which he’d descend. The young warrior laid his head against a clean spot on the bison’s neck and threaded his hand through the animal’s warm, dry, thumping mane, speaking to the disappearing buffalo in a prayer designed for the two of them. The sun rose and waited. Bunches of shapeless clouds stood still, watchful not to interrupt the spectacle. The hawk hovered and watched, too.
The warrior’s prayer grew quieter, softer. The warrior blew into the bison’s ear, soothing, calming, his hand caressing, still, softer, numbing. And it took one slit, a scalping knife to the underside of the buffalo’s neck. It tore through hair and flesh and muscle and cartilage and spilled like a wet rag, squeezed of its moisture. A tough cut for anyone, but this warrior ceremoniously vanished his prey.
Jose Monroy was born and raised in Guatemala, moved to the United States for college to get a degree in Film/TV/Digital Media and currently live in Los Angeles working as a worldwide sales manager for New Films International.
A Comanche Indian named Hakan escapes his tribe with a prisoner, a half dead bandit whose brother was killed in a sacrifice. Both of them meet up with Esther, an exceptional cartographer who plans to map the west until she can’t anymore. The three travelers encounter crazed Spanish priests, heartless Texas rangers, an alchemist with an interest in gunpowder and the Devil himself, a real estate agent who steals land, and many other eccentric characters. Their violent trek from Houston to the Pacific ends the only way a trailblazing adventure like this can: with one big question. Is that all there is?