Grayfox by Michael Phillips Read Free Book Online

Book: Grayfox by Michael Phillips Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael Phillips
Tags: FIC042000, FIC042030, FIC026000
mind—how they’d looked at me after I’d hurt them.
    Seeing all their faces and remembering things we’d done together and hearing their voices in my head—it all made me realize how far away and alone I was.
    There sure wasn’t nothing I could do about it, though! There I was, riding in the middle of nowhere!
    And I had to keep going!
    Getting to Flat Bluff and getting started with my new job had kept me occupied, so I could mostly push my thoughts about my family and what I’d done to them down and away from me. The feelings were there, I reckon, because there was a kind of continual gnawing in the pit of my stomach. But I didn’t open the door so my feelings could come up into my head and become actual thoughts that I’d have to look at.
    I could already tell that the Pony Express was the kind of place where no one asked too many questions or got too personal. I always thought men and boys weren’t supposed to get personal like women did, anyway, but it was even more like that in this kind of a place. Everyone out here was running away from something or someone, just like Hammerhead said, or else was trying to provesomething—mostly, I reckon, to themselves. I figured that everyone here, just like me, had a story to tell about people they’d left and pains they were suffering inside without telling no one about it. Except maybe the orphans, and I reckon they were looking for something to belong to more than something to get away from.
    Once I was out there on that first ride, it all began to come into my mind, kind of like water that finally rises up so high it breaks over the dam, and I couldn’t stop the thoughts from coming anymore.
    Especially I thought about Pa and what I’d said to him the day I left.
    It wasn’t easy to think about, and I kept doing my best to shove the memory of that day out of my mind.
    By the time I rode into Stephens’ Canyon station a couple of hours later, I was glad to have something to distract me from my thinking.
    I met a few new people there, took a short rest, had some water and ate part of my lunch, and was off again on a fresh horse in less than fifteen minutes.
    The next two stretches were fourteen and then twenty-three miles, and there was nothing to see along the way. It was the most boring land I could imagine. I don’t think there was a single thing living out there. I couldn’t imagine how the Indians survived in such country.
    When I bedded down that night in the middle of the Utah-Nevada territory, I was plumb tuckered out!

Chapter 10 Thoughts on the Trail
    For the rest of the summer and through the fall, I rode mostly on the same stretch I rode that first day—the fifty-five miles between Flat Bluff and the other stations, with two changes of horses along the way. But there were times when I’d ride on further east and times I had to ride west into what was usually Mason’s territory too.
    Things would come up, like somebody’d get sick or there’d be a change in schedule or one of the riders would quit—there were all kinds of things that happened that meant you’d have to ride a different run than you thought. That was part of what being an Express rider was all about!
    The Pony Express wasn’t exactly the kind of place you met people you’d call “good friends.” You met interesting people, that’s for sure, but they were all like Billy Barnes and Hammerhead Jackson—a tough breed, and not somebody you’d necessarily trust or talk to.
    It made me think sometimes, when I was out alone on the trail, about how different men and girls were. Corrie and I talked about it later, but I noticed it out there too—how men like Hammerhead and Billy seemed to wear a thick crust all around themselves. That crust never cracked. They talked enough to go about the business of life, but they didn’t ever show what they were thinking or feeling inside.

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