Just a song for the day.
The trail wasn’t hard to find. If anything, the climb back up the hill caused more effort; at least physically. Daniel stared at the gaping hole of broken branches and flattened earth before him. It was if a road to hell had been paved specifically just for him and that certain death waited at its end. Shivering in the cold rain, Daniel hesitated. A flash of light, followed closely by the clap of thunder, forced his decision. Daniel hurried into the false shelter of the forest canopy.
“What are you doing?” A voice whispered inside his head.
Daniel ignored it as he trudged his way forward.
“It’s just the mail.” The voice continued.
“It’s my job.” Daniel said aloud.
“Your job?” Taunted the voice inside. “You saw the telegraph poles being installed along the trail. Your job won’t be here for long. Maybe six months, if that.”
Daniel’s foot slipped on a loose rock.
“Damn it!” He cursed aloud.
“Why go on?” The voice continued. “There’s nothing there. You know the bear ate all the mail.”
“No I don’t.” Daniel argued. “It’s my responsibility.”
The branches grew lower as the path broke left and up the hillside. Soft muddy soil slowly gave way to hard rocky ground.
The voice seemed to grow louder. “Your responsibility? You’re supposed to deliver the mail, not die for it.”
“There are important documents in there.” Daniel thought.
“Sure there are.” Said the voice. “Love letters from politicians to their mistresses no doubt.”
Daniel grabbed a broken sapling trunk for support as he climbed higher. “No. There are contracts, payments, and deeds that need to be delivered. People’s homesteads are at stake.”
Lightning flashed to reveal a cave roughly fifty yards away. The drag trail of the horse’s body led right to it. Daniel stood there and stared at the inky black abyss.
“Looks like you’re about to find out.” The voice teased.
Lightning lit up the sky followed by a loud clap of thunder. Daniel’s steed bucked in response.
“Easy! Easy.” Daniel soothed, trying to calm the beast. “Just some noise. Ain’t nothin’ to be scared of.”
Steady streams of water flowed down the muddy hillside in miniature rivers as they struggled against the flow. A second flash lit up the sky.
“Oh yeah. We are right in the heart of it!”
Thunder roared so closely that the ground shook. Daniel flew through the air as he felt the horse buck him off.
“God damn it!” He yelled picking himself out of the muddy trail.
A piercing cry grabbed his attention. Daniel’s eyes mirrored the horror of his horses as his mind relayed the true event.
His horse cried out again in a mix of pain and primal fear as it was dragged violently on its side.
“No!” Daniel screamed while yanking his Colt from its holster; firing three shots in rapid succession.
A roar from behind the horse echoed the roar of the shots as a large paw clawed across Daniel’s shoulder and chest. The force of the impact knocked him down the hill.
Daniel lay against the trunk of a large Pine, clutching at his shoulder as he heard his horses last muffled cry off in the distance. The pain held him hostage and he sat there as the rain pelted him mercilessly. Slowly, his mind and body reconnected. The feeling of hot lava ran down his shoulder as his blood mixed with the mud on the ground. Daniel’s good arm shook rapidly as he assessed the damage.
Five cuts dug deep into his shoulder, scraped his collar bone before continuing their journey diagonally across his chest fading to an end just above his belly.
With shallow breaths, Daniel struggled to take off the scraps of cloth that was his coat and shirt. Useless and heavy, he let the coat fall to the ground. His hand shook rapidly as unbuttoned the few buttons on his shirt. He screamed in agony as his body twisted while trying to take off the shirt. Failing at the effort, Daniel took out his knife and tore at the fabric until his injuries were free and exposed. Using his knees and teeth, he cut the fabric into smaller pieces and let the rain wash over them. He then bound his wounds as best as he could before trussing his left arm up with a mix of ticks and cloth. Daniel cried out again as he slid his arm into the sling. Sweating from the effort, he paused for a moment then struggled to his feet on wobbly legs. Slowly Daniel made his way back to where he last saw his horse. Nothing was left but a large mark where the bear had dragged the body away. Daniel walked around the area, looking at the muddy ground. After what seemed an eternity, he stopped near a large puddle. He dug his hand into the soft mud and pulled out his revolver. Wet and filthy, he pulled the hammer back until he heard two clicks. Spinning the cylinder, he counted the primer caps. One. Two. Three. Three rounds were left. His reloading powder was gone and the powder in the gun was questionable at best. Silently, Daniel set the gun back into its holster.
There was nothing for it. Daniel looked up at the sky and with a deep breath; he started his walk down the drag. He had to find his horse, or what was left of it.
The wind tore through Daniel’s hair as his hat pulled violently at its stampede string around stretched around Daniel’s neck. No cries of joy escaped his mouth as his steed flew down the trail. The sting of heavy rain pelting his face and streaming down his collar drained any hint of happiness before his first whip of the reigns. The Mochilla he sat on repelled the rains onslaught with a mix of oil and beeswax rubbed heavily into its fabric. The hard leather pouches sewn fore and aft of the rider protected the treasures inside. Daniel squinted his eyes tighter, trying to squeeze the rain out as he charged his horse forward. The mail must go through.
Lightning flashed followed by the roar of thunder close by. The horse cried in protest.
“Keep goin’ you nag!” Daniel yelled to the horse. “I don’t want to be out here just as much as you!”
Daniel kicked his heels into the horse to emphasis the thought. The horse snorted its protest in response.
“Yeah. Yeah.” Daniel agreed as he tried to sink his head further into his coat. “Damn Desert!”
Spring in Utah brought with it not only the melt of the mountain snows, but the icy rains along with it. This combination along with the narrow path brought to Daniel’s mind the bad luck his fellow rider George had.
It was in this very stretch between Wheaton Springs and Mountain Dale where George had lost his horse. It had been winter and a storm came up so strong and heavy that George’s horse pulled up lame. George knew that breaking trail in those conditions would be tough, but he overestimated the strength of the mustang. He had been reduced to cutting the pouches open with his pocket knife and stuffing the mail in his coat before trudging his way through the deep snow to the station at Mountain Dale.
Daniel vowed not to make the same mistake.
Yes, I will be posting sometime tonight with the first installment of the story. Thank you for your patience with the process.
I don’t know about you, but it’s been a while since I’ve done a good piece of fiction. I’m going to stoke up the creative fires by working on a western.
This western will not be based on my work that I’m trying to get published. This is going to be a western set in the Utah Territory.
The focus will be on one of the Pony Express Riders who rode that route.
As always, I’ll try to keep in focus the era and the mindset of the people of that era. I will also keep an eye on the personal psychology of the main character.
What makes him the way he is?
What past experiences guide or misguide his choices?
What are his goals?
Why is he in the place he is?
How will he respond to the challenges that come to him?
And you will be along for the ride so dust off those boots and saddle up.
The trail’s callin’.
Say hello to my little friend. It’s a Kyocera something or other.
It replaces the dumb phone I used to have. You know, the one I raved about in an earlier post. I guess it didn’t like being called dumb because it decided to leave me somewhere in Georgia.
I was driving back to Florida in that ethereal timeline between late night and early morning when I made a stop for a bite to eat. That when my phone decided to ditch me and try to hitch a ride somewhere else.
Fifteen dollars down the drain.
I’m not too concerned about it. There were few phone numbers on it and it was set up for talk only. I had a pay as you go plan, so they couldn’t rack up long distance calls on it, nor could they even text on the thing! All in all, it was a pretty safe phone.
My new phone had the same account and phone number, so the old phone is now totally off-line. I have no concerns about it if it is ever found.
In according to tradition, this phone started out pretty cheap. Thirty bucks. I chose it so I could take pictures and download podcasts. The wife had other ideas. She insisted on a cover and protective screen film. I opted for the one year replacement plan. (It was $5 and who knows what’s going to happen to this thing in a year.)
So far I’ve downloaded a few free apps and love watching you tube on it.
I’ve found it takes ok but not great pictures.
What I haven’t figured out is how to post these directly onto my blog using WordPress. (Any help here would be immensely appreciated.) Right now I download them to my lap top and then go from there.
And as a bow to modern culture I bring to you my phone’s first “Selfy”.
Personally I don’t get it. Why would anyone want a picture of someone else’s phone is beyond me.
Earlier I had talked about wanting a new pocket knife and the process I went through in deciding which one would be best for me. Well Christmas came and not only did I get the knife I chose, I received two others! Can anyone say comparison test?
The challengers are the Ontario RAT Model 1, Ontario RAT Model 2, and Leatherman Sidekick.
The baseline I had chosen to compete against is the almost historic Buck 110 Hunter. (My wife’s favorite large folding knife.)
To be honest, when comparing these three tools against each other, it’s not a fair fight. Each one is a different size and has different strengths and weaknesses.
As you can see, they all fold nicely and will fit into a pocket no problem, and all have line locks to hold the blade in place. (More on this later.) What did surprise me is that the Leatherman Sidekick had the smallest blade. I expected it to be at least the size of the RAT Model 2.
The advantage of the Sidekick is all the tools packed in it. You can do so much more with it than the Ontario folders.
But, of course, it is also heavier. I can put both Ontario knives in a pocket to offset the weight of the Leatherman which weighs in at 7oz. The blades are 420 high carbon (HC) stainless steel. That’s a big plus living in Florida with the high amounts of rain and salty air. I see the Sidekick coming along with me on bike rides, picnics, beach excursions, and possibly some shopping in other towns. The bottle opener will come in handy if I ever have that urge to buy Sprite in a glass bottle again. (They don’t twist open.)
The overall features of the two Ontario RAT knives are the same but the differences in size changes the character of them dramatically. Both are made in Taiwan, use AUS-8 steel, have stainless steel liners inside the handle, have “jimping” on back of the blades, and have black handles.
I should also mention here that the RAT in these knives stands for Randal’s Adventure Training. It’s a woodman/survival school, but I really don’t care about that. I just like the knives.
The RAT-2 is the Gentleman’s folder of the two. Lightest to carry and very discrete. Its three inch blade is very maneuverable for projects like trimming a picture or cutting down an oversized straw. Non-knife people won’t feel threatened if you use this to open boxes at work or cut string for a kite at a kid’s birthday party. My wife balked at me bringing my old Smith and Wesson knife to the movies, but has no concern when I bring this one. It is the best in a social setting.
Its big brother, the Ontario RAT Model 1 is the woodsman of the bunch. Its 3.5 inch long blade is the closest to the original Buck 110 Hunter as is its overall length.
The blade of the RAT 1 is also a tenth of a centimeter thicker than the Model 2 as well. (0.3 cm/0.12 in for the RAT 1 vs. 0.2cm/0.095in for the RAT 2)
The blade is definitely wider than the blade of the Buck and gives a good, solid feel to the blade as you carve with it. Chopping through branches is really easy with this knife.
The AUS-8 steel is nowhere near as rust resistant as Buck’s hard chrome stainless, so you need to keep the blades oiled to prevent rusting in high moisture areas. (I have a rule of oiling them once a month just to be sure.)
The blade is a flat grind which will make it easier for me to sharpen and while it does seep up to a point, it doesn’t have the hole punching point of the Buck 110.
There are a lot of differences between the Ontario RAT 1 and the Buck 110 Hunter, but two items were the most noticeable to my wife.
The first was the locking mechanism for the blade.
The Buck uses the lockback design. What this means is that a long piece of metal along the back of the handle pivots against the bottom of the blade to hold it in place. Pressing a part of it, levers it open to allow the blade to fold into the handle.
The Ontario uses a liner lock design. Here the metal on the liner of the handle pushes out against the bottom of the blade to hold it in. To close the blade, you must push this lock back towards the handle and hold it as you start folding the blade back into its handle.
My wife doesn’t like the liner lock design because she is concerned about cutting her finger while closing the blade. I know that once you start the process of closing the blade, you can move your finger out of the way and not worry about cutting yourself. My personal concern with the lockback design is that lint or dirt can get caught in the pivot point of the blade and locking piece of metal in the handle, preventing it from locking and allowing the blade to swing back into your hand as you are pushing down on the blade to cut. (In fact this has happened to me a number of times with other folding knives.)
The other difference is in how they open.
The Buck uses the original “pull with your thumbnail” method while the RAT uses a thumbstud to flip it open. The thumbstud is definitely faster and is easier to use. Could it get caught in your key ring and open if you shove your keys in your pocket with it? I guess it’s possible. I keep them in separate pockets, so that’s never happened to me. I will say that I personally prefer a knife that is easy to open one handed and takes more attention to close than one that takes attention to open and is easier to close.
So that’s my opinion of these great knives.
The Leatherman Sidekick is great for active days biking or picnicking.
The Ontario RAT 1 is a great camper/woodsman folder
And the Ontario RAT 2 is great for a night on the town.
You can’t go wrong with any of them.
What’s that? You want to know which one would I pick if I could have only one? “Sigh.” I knew you were going to ask that. Well, since I started this project by looking at my wife’s Buck 110 Hunter and wanting something comparable for me, I have to say I’d pick the Ontario Rat Model 1. It does all the hard chores with ease and I’m not afraid to work it. It is exactly what I was looking for. (I’m still keeping all three though.)
Trifecta had this great idea of boiling your goals for 2014 down to three words. I missed that challenge deadline, but love the idea, so here’s my thoughts on the subject.
Live life better!
What are your goals?