Night Falls for Elmer

       It was hard for Elmer to remember how many times he'd sat in front of a campfire on a night like this. So difficult that he really didn't want to spend the energy thinking about it. Dark, and almost moonless, with the wind a fortuneteller of a weather change. On a night like this even a grown and mostly sane man like Elmer would start to wonder what's really behind those shadows that came with every flicker of the windblown flames.
       Elmer was a type of newspaper man known as a stringer. Stringers didn’t have a regular job with one paper but covered for whatever paper had a need at the time. The two papers he contributed to mostly were The Daily Tribune and The National Register.
 Elmer enjoyed the freedom that his position gave him, and having spent time in the Signal Corps in the Spanish American War, photography and writing fit right in with his ability to meet deadlines and his eye for detail. Elmer also loved words, especially two syllable ones like shotgun,typewriter, saddlebag, or sidearm,and in both his paid and personal life he tried to give preference to those kind of words over other ones.
Barren Buttes
       He was in an area known as The Barrens, on his way to Rocky Hill. He had just left Russellville, or RK as it was know to the locals, after he had received a telegram from one of his editors to proceed to Rocky Hill. Several reports of the town burning had reached the main office. Barrens was a good description of the area that he was in, but it just as well have also been called the Buttes. 







Urgency aside,he had decided not to try and make the two day trip in one and had make camp next to an old Sycamore tree. While collecting firewood for his camp fire, he had spotted Bobcat tracks and decided to tie up his mare a little closer than usual.
Bobcat track
      Elmer had it heard said that night falls, but on a night like this it seemed to rise up like some dark fist that wanted to extend its fingers before it clutched him from the warm daylight. For some people it brings with it fear, and for others, relief. It is that time of the day when our bodies relax and our minds take uncertain twists and turns.
       Fear is what had brought him here. Not a fear of the usual variety, but more like the kind that could shut him down or it could wake him up, a fear of failure. Cut either way it doesn’t like to leave on it’s own. It’s a lot like finishing that cup of coffee and before you pour the next refill you notice coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup. The first thing you do is try and knock out the loose grounds and when that doesn’t do the job you give it a good rinse, and right now he was in the rinse cycle. Sometimes fear works hand in hand with imagination and comes at you like a sucker punch, other times it hits like a knuckle buster. As weary as his body was and as tired as his mind felt, night had come more like a one two punch.
Sycamore
      The darkness and the feverish flames fueled his imagination that powered the transmission of fear in his gut. First gear is named anxiety, second foreboding, third distress, and fourth gear was terror. He didn’t even want to think about fifth gear which labeled despair. Elm had to find out how to shift the mixing machine into reverse before it turned into a conveyor belt  complete with an assembly line of cold rocks , hot sweat, pounding heart, dry mouth, and gonging in the ears like that of a funeral bell that announced your real fear was that of failing.
    A low branch of the sycamore scratched at the dirt as the wind kicked up again and his mare snickered from a few feet away. So much for rest and quiet in the nowhere. The mare had been with him a long time and with her slowing going lame he allowed her snickers not to bother him, after all he had his eye set on an almost new 1908 Locomobile that would be his future mode of transportation.

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