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Dedicated to the lives and times of the men and women of the Old West, and to the spirit of the era, 1860 through 1890
Writins of Weakeyes Cody
Talented and witty writings
The Hobo @2000
The clouds were hanging low and a thin mist hung in the air. It was hard to tell where the earth ended and the sky began. The dampness seemed to seep into my soul and my denim brush jumper wasn't stopping the chill on my shoulders.
I couldn't hear the baby crying anymore and the people had stopped praying. Maybe the baby had died, I thought. It had been sick for about three days now. No one knew exactly why the little guy was so sick. Everybody was whispering that it had something wrong deep inside. I had been banging around this old abandoned cotton gin for a week waiting along with the others for the broom corn harvest to open up. It was supposed to happen any day now. About four families were among the twenty or so broomcorn Johnny's camped here. I had been sleeping just down the track in a boxcar switched on the siding, which was warmer than this old gin, I figured.
The days were warm enough but the nights were getting cold. Some didn't have coats or blankets to cover themselves with. Still others had their cars parked nearby to sleep in. We all carried water from a windmill about three hundred yards away.
This one little family, the one with the sick baby, had three other small kids running around the gin. The woman looked the healthiest and she was no prime example. The man was skin and bones and had little movement in his eyes. I always look into people's eyes. Someone once wrote that the eyes are the windows to the soul. That being true, this man lacked something.
Awhile ago, nearly all the people gathered around the little family over in a corner of the old gin, and started to pray. The baby had cried for so long that everyone was worn and seemed desperate. I walked out and stood here near the railroad tracks, being uncomfortable among the praying people. I did pray though. I couldn't make words come when 1 stood among the others, but I could always pray when there was just me and God, I had been helping to mind the other kids while everyone was busy flying to do something positive for the baby, and had grown attached to them. I felt real sad because I knew the baby would probably die. Especially since the Doctor they had taken it to hadn't known what the trouble was. I wondered if he had examined it very closely since no fee was paid. These folks were all broke. Very little food was available among them and what was, was given to this suffering family, even though the baby hadn't eaten for a couple of days.
My gaze drifted south along the tracks. I couldn't see more than a hundred yards because the mist was heavier now and water was dripping off the old sheet iron roof. I stepped back under a portion of the building not wanting to get my clothes damp since I had to sleep in them. I could see the figure of a man walking toward me from away out there at the edge of the fog. He was coming slow and deliberate as if he was counting the ties as he passed over them, He walked between the rails. His clothes were gray as was the slouch hat pulled down over his eyes. I never took my eyes off him as he approached because something about him seemed peculiar.
Without looking up, he stepped over the rail and came straight for me. I straightened my stance a bit not knowing exactly what sort of character this was. I had met some real crazy one s on the road and I was always a little on guard. Stopping at about an arms length away, he lifted his head to speak. "Where is the sick child?" He asked. My mouth was open but I couldn't summon my voice just yet. I had never seen such sadness in a face. He was young but his eyes grieved all the funerals of the ages. "Over yonder, in the northwest corner of the gin." finally managed to reply.
Nodding and giving a slight smile, he trudged on into the open door of the barn like structure. I followed out of curiosity, figuring he was maybe a relative. People were standing around in small groups talking very low. I could hear the sobs of the young woman whose baby was sick and I knew it must be dead. A hush fell on them as the man walked directly to where the tormented mother sat holding her child. The man knelt and extended his hands, palms upward and with only a slight hesitation the woman gave him her baby. I pushed my way closer to sec what was happening. Then, the man laid his weathered hand across the tiny brow and sat for a long moment weeping. At last, he returned the small bundle to the arms of its mother and slowly rose to look around the uneasy crowd. Then, looking straight at me with those terribly sad eyes, he said, "It will be alright. now."
Again, people parted giving way as he walked slowly from the old building and out onto the tracks. No one except me followed him, but I jogged a few yards until I caught him and walked along beside him. "Are you kin to that family?" I asked, bending to look up into his face. "Yes." He said, in a very low tone. "I'm kin to that family."
I was suddenly aware of an oncoming train. It came roaring from out of the foggy mist and I stepped to the right while the man went to his left, the train passed between us for a minute then was gone. And so was the mysterious man. I was standing alone on the wet Colorado, plains, and the stranger was nowhere in sight. At the gait he normally walked. he should still be somewhere within view, but he wasn't. And that train was northbound and doing sixty when it went by. He sure didn't jump it.
It was getting near dusk as I returned to the interior of the old gin. I heard laughter and happy conversation. Going over to where the stricken baby had been, I saw the mother smiling in the kerosene lamplight as the baby clung to her breast. They were beautiful. ~He's nursing. he's nursing!" She kept saying. "Everything is going to be alright." Everything will be alright That's what the man had said Just then, a truck pulled up to the building and a man shouted, "All you broomcorn Johnny's be down on the highway tomorrow morning, we're gonna cut some broomcorn!"
I leaned against the frame of the big open door and gazed north along the foggy railroad. I took a deep breath and it was ragged as if I had been Crying. Then I was conscious of the warm tears that ran down my face. Some things are hard to figure