Commence With The Science Fiction…

I’m spared a second day of dominatrix torture when I wake up under a huge cactus in a bedroll. Beside me is a pistol in a holster and a shotgun, sitting atop a saddle.

Luckily I studied horsemanship in college as a physical ed elective. I saddle the horse tied to the tree beside me and try to figure out which way to go on the trail. I find a coin in my pocket. It’s gold with a silhouette of Lady Liberty on one side and an eagle on the other, dated 1879. That explains my clothing and boots. I flip the coin and head out.

There’s a collection of wooden buildings I come to that I find is considered to be a town. I drag myself into the only place obviously available, a modest “saloon.” I’m in a western! I tie my horse to the post and go through the swinging doors. I take a stool at the bar.

“What’s your firewater?” the bartender asks.

“Uh, beer?”

“All outta beer.”

“Um, what do you recommend?”

“White Eye’s mighty popular these days.”

I put my coin on the counter. “Will this cover it?”

“Depends on how much White Eye you’re a-gonna guzzle.”

“Let’s try one and see what happens,” I decide.The other fellow at the bar seems pretty drunk. He looks at me wearily.

“Better take it slow on that White Eye lessen you’re a white liner!” the stranger chuckles. I have no idea. I smile. “Where you headed?” he asks.

“I…ain’t sure,” I say, trying to fit in. “Kind of been driftin’ lately. Truth to tell, I’m not even sure where I am right now.”

“Arizona territory, ya damned mumper.” Mumper? Is that good or bad?

“Well…where you goin’?” I ask.

Turns out his name is Rory Ploughnek and he’s on his way to Utah, heading to meet up with some “business partners” at a place called the Hole In The Wall. He happens to be looking for someone to ride with him to help carry and protect a special cargo he’s in charge of. Would I be interested?

The White Eye loosens up the conversation and we move to a private table with our booze where Rory drills me until he decides it’s okay to fill me in. It seems that this Hole In The Wall is a natural formation of defensible cliffs and boulders unknown to the law or the army. If any undesirables were to appear, they’d be shot on approach by the men camped out there.

It’s the 1880s. Arizona is wild country, a sprawling territory with great stretches of peace given to moments of absolute terror. Rory Ploughnek is the cause of some of those moments. I buy him some White Eye and he tells me his story.

When the Rebs were driven out of Arizona by the Yankees, Rory managed to “disappear” and stay behind. It was a tough life working as a ranch hand from place to place, peppered with Indians, Mexicans, freed blacks, farmers, deserters, bandits and all degree of wild and strange critters. Avoiding notoriety actually caused him some, and Rory became known as “Longrider.” It was a term applied to those suspected of avoiding prosecution for misdeeds of the past.

Shortly after abandoning the military, Longrider had his first dream of a future incident that was to come true.

In the dream three men from Utah recruited him for a stagecoach robbery, after which they would split up and head for a safe meeting place. The dream was so vivid it haunted him for years before he crossed paths with three men out of Utah named Curry, Cassidy and Longabough. They convinced him over drinks to join their plot for a good payout and safe refuge afterward.

Having no idea how the dream ended gave Longrider pause at this juncture. He finally considered it a foretelling of great opportunity and agreed to help relieve Major Joseph W. Wham and his band of Buffalo Soldiers of $28,000 in silver and gold payroll on the road to Fort Thomas.

But on the night after the robbery, just last night, another dream was experienced that stuck strongly with Longrider upon awakening. This time it wouldn’t be years before the reality of a dream forecast came true; it would be hours.

“This morning in this small camping town, I passed a woman, a woman I’d never met before, but the woman I had found in my dream. The dream told me that she was the mother of three sons I would have…

…I have to keep riding. But how can I go without finding out…? Is this all some part of one big dream that I was meant to fulfill? Or am I about to get ruined by acting a fool?”

If the me I am today hadn’t been on his own since he was 12 I might have a better idea of what a grown up man should do. I’m troubled by these visionary dreams…

…And my suspicious nature tells me that once I help deliver the loot to this Hole In The Wall I’m likely to be shot.

But I’m still commencin’ to leave when…

“Horse thief!” a man yells, pointing at me. “There he is!”

I don’t want to die hangin’.

I ain’t a-gonna die hangin’!

I’ll go down guns blazin’ instead…

…unless I can hide out in yonder hills for a spell. “Giddeeyap!”