Very rough free writing but it felt good to get something down on Santiago and a possible second chapter to this:
The Open Llano
The next night as Steadfast maneuvered farther through snow and ice the storm doubled in intensity. The mountains and the surrounding pines turned slowly into white blankets, pure and deep, forcing Santiago to slow. The Charro worried and emptied bottle after bottle and his mind began to slow. He wept and cursed his ridiculous life and fortune along the open llano. He considered turning round but the snow covered the ground and created ghostly dark shadows and leaving the man directionless and tired. It was as if someone had carefully arranged the land against the man and his gelding or so the Charro cursed under his breath. His mind ached with crudo thoughts. Then the poor gelding kicked up new blends of earth and whiteness and then Steadfast began to trip throwing Santiago down to rock and sand. The move was violent and shook the man nearly breaking his leg and ankle on rock growing from the mountain. The gelding as brave and true as he was spooked and ran as if the mountainside had wanted the two separated. He cracked his head to the ground and he cried out. He spilled his bottle. His vision whitened out and hour after hour as he struggled to crawl and then walk onto his knees calling out the gelding’s name. The white grew bigger and bigger around the man.
A white horse stopped beside the Charro Santiago, and for a moment Santiago believed it to be more snow fallen from the great western sky. The horse grew larger and larger. The horse and the man studied one another until Santiago heard Two Bear’s great laugh and voice. Until the man felt Two Bear’s great arms around his waist and torso. The Abuelitos had taught the young man to be patient and days of war and hunger in North Africa had also taught the man patience but the drink and the freezing snow had softened his thoughts.
What are you doing sleeping in the snow, my boy? Two Bears said. I’ve been stalking you. Waiting for you, my boy. It seems you’ve crossed over.
The Charro said no words but only hung on Two Bear’s immense arms and strength.
The next morning Santiago found himself in Two Bear’s shelter—his tent and blankets enduring the snow through the night. Two Bears fed the man hot soup and scraps of White Bear’s tortallitas and bits of dried meat. Then he asked the weakened cowboy to explain why he would flee the village no matter the dreams and the advice given to him by the elders.
I tracked you through the snow, Two Bears said as he ate. I must admit I thought your ways with a horse would have left you in better condition. I forget how young you are, Charro. I forget how much you haven’t seen or experienced.
For Christ’s sake, Santiago said. The storm came in on me too damned fast—
I’m not talking of the storm. You ave to make you mind larger than that. It’s been coming for years. It simply caught up with you.
What the hell does that mean?
Sit up, Two Bears said. Let me have a look at you.
Two Bears began to examine the cowboy. Eyes, throat and the top of his head. His solar plexus and then the top of his head.
You are not pure, Cowboy, Two Bears repeated. You are not happy. That’s what brought you to me. Your problem is from the outside.
The large Two Bears pulled a crystal and held it in a make-shift manner to the morning light coming from the tent’s small opening. The hearts, he repeated. You have left this world in order to find the hearts that have been lost to you.
I lost my horse and took a fall, Santiago returned. What the hell are you talking about, Indian.
Santiago. Cowboy, Two Bears said. His immense hands took the man’s collar and shoulder. Then he said: Think of these days as a doorway out of the painful life you find yourself in. A world where nothing is hidden from you. The dead walk amongst us and where we must face our most fearsome outcomes. A spirit world that supports this world—holds this world. You don’t really believe you have nothing to hide from this world do you? You are not a foolish man. This I trust.
What the hell—
You will find what is lost to you in this world, Charro.
Living people. Ones lost to you. Family Friends. Those that are just dead meat and buried to you. Here they are not buried. They live and breathe. They tell secrets and know nothing of your world lost to them. They are at peace and travelling—always travelling on our thoughts and whispers. The see lies and truths. Truths forgotten and dead.
At times. My people say they are rebuilding what was lost to them. Searching for you. To them you are the lost one. That is why they came to you in the dream. Your sister and wife. They need you to find something lost from them. Some pain they are carrying brings them to you. It is hard for me to explain. They have all the answers.
This is crazy—
I believe. The way you believe in La Virgen. I believe in this world. And so will you. You will see. They;’ve chosen you. That much is certain. This world wouldn’t be the way it is without them.
My world. You mean my horse and my work. This world is harsh and cold—diseased and filled with struggle. Winters that out last wood piles. My sister’s lives were cut short from disease—
It would be worse without them supporting, Cowboy. Trust me. They hold this world support her. They hold the mountain up. The seasons blow in on their voices and breathe and work. The horses muscle comes from their muscle—the muscle of all dead mustangs and geldings your people have worked into the ground. Thoughtlessly worked or hurt during your Charro ceremonies. The children of this world laugh and sing their games and songs because of lost children. It all builds off one another. They are the hidden hands of this world.
I don’t know what you say—
Think of it this way. Winter kills for others to be reborn in the spring. You see that don’t you? The balance of season’s changing. It is like that to us. They pull it all into being The Otherworlds make it all so.
How many worlds are there Two Bears?
There are four that belong to my people. But there is one for each of us. This is your Otherworld. I am just a visitor.
What about your wife? You’re leaving her behind to follow me.
She lives for me. And I live for her. But she believes as I believe and she will wait. As I have waited for her. She knows it is important to convince those who do not believe. You could not do this alone.
You have the build. The holy men said so. Don’t you remember? They see and now so must you.
I am not your kind.
That doesn’t matter. You’ve seen so much as it is. You cannot deny. And we are all each other’s kind, Charro. Those constructions of differences are ours to give from this world. We can take them back if we decide. Do not look at where the world stops off. But where the next begins. You will see.