As the sun rose above the town of Curtis Wells, the bright light slowly filtered
its way through the muddy darkness of Newt Call’s consciousness. With a
great effort, he managed to open his eyes and raise his head. Through the haze
in his eyes, he slowly took in his surroundings. What he found there made his
head drop back into the mud in which he was lying.
After a few moments he raised himself into a sitting position and tried to
remember how he had come to be lying on the ground outside of the #10 saloon.
Try as he might, he could not retrieve the answer from his mind. The last clear
memory he had was of sitting alone, INSIDE the bar.
Shaking his head and deciding to leave it for a later debate, he ever so slowly
climbed to feet and began the journey to the hotel. After what seemed to him
like ages he eventually managed to stumble into his room, where he promptly
fell onto the bed.
Lying there, head pounding and world spinning, he tried to remember how many
times this had happened in recent weeks. He truly couldn’t remember, but the
number was higher than it should have been. He would wake, alone, just like he
had this very morning. No one ever bothered to help, or even check to ensure he
was still alive.
‘How did I ever end up like this?’ he asked himself.
Not liking the memories that came with that thought, he stood from the bed and
went to the basin. As he splashed the water onto his face he caught a glimpse of
himself in the mirror that was hanging nearby and instantly froze. He was
completely stunned by the fact that he did not recognize the face that stared
back at him.
Once more the memories flooded his mind. This time they were thoughts of the man
he had once been. Many were of the boy who had been raised by the Captain and
Gus, so innocent and trusting. Others were of the man who had first ridden into
Curtis Wells, the man he had been when he first met Hannah.
Everything had been so black and white for him back then. Right was right, wrong
was wrong, and those people who broke that law were to be punished. Now
everything seemed to be one dark shade of gray. He sometimes didn’t know the
difference anymore, and most times he didn’t know which side of the line he
The pain of loss had definitely taken its toll on him. He had lost so many
people, his mother, Jake, Deets, Gus, Hannah…everyone that he had ever loved.
Looking into the mirror once more, he thought that he would be embarrassed for
any of them to see him now. He knew that they would all have been so
disappointed in him. Eventually he would have driven them away, he drove
Mattie was a perfect example of that. A month had passed since he had returned
to find she had left town and was completely gone from his life.
She had been right about him that night in her gun shop. She had said that he
kept people away from him so that he could avoid getting hurt, and she had been
right. He did keep everyone away; he never wanted to feel the pain of loss
‘You’re probably the only person in town who’s more alone than I am,’
she had said. That was certainly true now. She had been the only person who had
dared to try and get close to him in recent years. Since her departure from his
life…he was utterly alone.
Josiah and Austin were still here of course, but the two people, who he had once
considered his family, were now mere strangers to him. Deep in his heart he knew
that he still cared for them, but he was no longer a part of their life. They
had also been affected and changed by Hannah’s death. Austin, the once
carefree and innocent man, had become bitter and cynical. Josiah, once so strong
and true, was now lost in a world known only in his mind. They, just like him,
were no longer the same men, just mere shadows of the men that they had once
Unable to be alone with his thoughts any longer, Call quickly made his way
outside. His mind was relieved of very little, though, because the sight of the
town just stirred up more memories.
Seeing the town was just like looking in the mirror. What once was so bright and
promising was now dark and foreboding. The people that were moving about were
the same. He knew all of the faces that he met, all different people, yet the
same person. All of them were struggling to get ahead in a town that was quickly
losing ground. Mosby was always talking about improvements, making the town
bigger and better, but there were no results to show for all his talk.
The people of the town all gave him a wide berth. He knew that it was a
well-deserved occurrence and he was usually quite happy at the fact, but today
it just further pointed out the differences between himself and everyone else.
In this present state of mind he couldn’t help but wish things were different.
He knew however that he would never be able to make any changes here because his
course was set. No real attempt at change would be taken seriously.
He knew that if he was truly going to change, he would have to leave.
That thought caught him off guard. Leave Curtis Wells? Where had that idea come
from? While he was surprised by the notion of leaving, he suddenly realized that
that was exactly what he wanted to do. As the thoughts and feelings threatened
to overtake him, the only thing he could think was that he just wanted it all
to go away. He just wanted to feel like himself once again.
He wanted some peace.
He never meant for any of this to happen. He had never intended to fade away
into the nothingness, never wanted this emptiness that he now found himself
living in. Somehow along the way, he had just gotten lost in all of the pain and
In a rare moment of clarity, everything suddenly fell into place. He had to get
out of this town now, before he lost himself forever. If he was ever going to be
whole again he was going to have to start over, go back to the beginning.
Home…The Hat Creek.
While for the last few years he had felt as if he had lost everyone, he knew
that wasn’t true. He still had one person that meant something to him left. He
may not be completely welcome at the ranch, but it was really the only place he
had left to go.
He quickly turned back to the hotel to gather his things before he could change
his mind. After placing his meager belongings into his saddlebags, he mounted the
Hellbitch and took one last look at the town that had once meant so much to
him…the town that he had thought would be home forever.
Shaking his head, he kicked the horse into a trot. He knew that he had to leave.
If he held on to the past any longer, he knew that it would kill him…soon.
Maybe one day down this road he was about to begin traveling, he would find a
way to forgive himself, but for now it was time for him to move on. He would
never again be the man he once was, he had seen and been through too much, but
it was his loved ones that had died, not him. He was still here and it was time
for him to start living again.
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