Fresh Horses


A white sun beat down from a white sky onto the alkali landscape, where the only primary colors to be seen for miles were the dust-covered blue uniform and bright pink face of Lieutenant Barrow Bigbee.

“Think they’ll have fresh horses for us at this Gonzalez Station, Zeiter?” Bigbee asked Mule Zeiter, his scout and guide to his first posting here in Arizona Territory after graduating 80th in the West Point Class of 1872.

The alkali-coated Zeiter turned in his saddle, scanning 360 degrees of horizon, never taking his eyes off the bleached distance, and said, “They sure as hell better, Lieutenant Sonny Boy, or we’ll be hub-deep in the shit pile should some Cibecue Apache boys decide to have us for lunch with their afternoon tizwin.”

“Am I to believe your magical Apache warriors can stalk and hide in ambush for us behind this stuff?” Bigbee laughed, pointing at the barren white landscape, broken only by a wide scatter of scrub creosote bushes.

In that instant, the pure whiteness of the scene was marred by the blood spattered from Lt. Bigbee’s head after a .50 caliber bullet from an unseen Cibecue’s Spencer carbine passed through it and into the shoulder of Mule Zeiter, who spurred his spent gelding for all he was worth, hissing in answer, “Yes.”

Yeah, another five-sentence Western. This one inspired by Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word FRESH. Oh, and tizwin is a corn-based beer-like drink historically brewed by Native people in the American Southwest.


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