Disclaimer: I don’t own or make a profit from the use of the Magnificent Seven characters. But at least I keep them alive in our hearts and minds.
Thanks: To Heidi for her constant help at keeping my Muse in gear and Deb and Monica for their support and friendship.
Thanks to Deb and Brigitta for the pic of the seven for my collage above.
The lone horse and rider appeared as a dark silhouette against an evening sky painted in fiery shades of orange, red and yellow. The traveler halted his mount upon a rise overlooking a forlorn frontier town; the future fate of his life muddled his thoughts, created unease, and inspired excitement. The town was not much to look at; a dusty collection of weather worn buildings lined the central main avenue bounded by an equally dusty boardwalk. A remote collection of homes and businesses making an attempt at growth sprung out to form the start of smaller side streets and alleys. Upon closer inspection, one could see that many of the stores held heavy boards, either whole or broken, on their glass fronts and doors. Their owners abandoned them or sold them, finding the strain of frontier life too harsh, too untamed for their taste. They gave up their dreams and retreated to their pasts in their safer, more civilized homes in the East. The majority of the damaged boards remained as grim evidence of the carnage wrought during the numerous gunfights and rowdy brawls that plagued the struggling town. The owners long since gave up the unending fight and expense of constantly replacing expensive panes of hard found glass. What the eye could not see was the fortitude of those remaining to stand with the struggling, young town. The hopes and dreams of settling an untamed territory burned within their hearts and minds. They were the pioneers that moved the civilized boundaries of a growing country further west and brought the excitement and hope of better things to come with them.
The rider’s questioning gaze raked the weathered outpost, a sentinel in a lonesome vista, asking a simple question for which there was no simple answer. “Why am I here?”
They ran him out of more towns than he cared to remember. Shouts of “We don’t need your kind here!” constantly echoed through his mind. His kind. Just one man struggling like so many others to rebuild a life born oppressed by those who thought they were better than ‘his kind’. His wanderings lured him here, to a violent place where he found the skills learned from a harsh life could be useful. A place where he felt needed. He was more than willing to give what he could if others would accept what he offered. The idea of being welcome and of belonging to a community shimmered like an illusion he yearned to grasp and hold. The dream splintered apart so many times yet he willed himself to continue searching. Where would that search lead him?
For now, it was just another town, another place to hide. But there was no hiding from the dreams, the anguish that tormented the mind of the solitary, dark rider. The dark specter of revenge rode along as his only companion now, friends and family long forgotten or shoved away. Still, there was that spark of remembered love and laughter, thoughts of home that tormented him during waking moments and sleep. The cold killer that raged on the surface instilling fear in those around him mercilessly forced himself to keep those civilized musings buried deep within his soul. It was his way of surviving, until now, until here. Would he finally find peace from the harsh pain of his memories?
For most of his years he spent traveling this world alone. He became good at survival, he had to. The skills he learned were honed by the best, the tests he passed would break lesser men. He was a hunter and yet he was hunted. It was not an easy life he led, it was not an easy life he sought. It would be nice to rest, to ignore keeping the one diligent eye out for a past determined to catch him. To atone for sins he knew he committed against man and nature all in the name of survival. Still young for all his living, one only had to look into his eyes to see an old soul, a wanderer looking for a home and peace. Could he finally find them here?
He did not know what he was looking for; he just knew that his life had changed. Death often did that, changed things when you least expected it. He was drawn here though, to the adventure the excitement. To his young mind, it was naught but a dream beyond his grasp. Yet now here he stood ready to tackle whatever challenge came his way. There was much to learn and he was eager to begin the lessons. He considered himself ready to face life on his own now, a man in an unforgiving man’s world where mistakes could prove fatal. Would he be up to the challenge?
Responsibility remained a quality not well known to him. He tried it occasionally, being responsible, to settle down and quit his wild and wandering ways. It worked for a time but there was always that next new exiting challenge just around the corner or over the next rise. That next new love, another interest. A new friend to make or one he needed to help if he could. He counted his good qualities as he considered his choices. Boisterous, friendly, loving, and loyal, he could bring his own brand of excitement to this sometimes dark and dreary town. Would it in turn offer him enough to want to stay?
His demons stayed his own. They haunted him and gave him no peace constantly tormenting him and exacting their heavy price on his soul. He searched for answers to the way his life unfolded. The things that happened that tore a loving family apart. Did they anger God so in their arrogance, perhaps with their hypocrisy? Did he? His spirituality bolstered him all his life, but recently he felt himself doubting, wavering, questioning and because of this, he felt lost and unsettled. He traveled vainly in search of that missing part of himself. Could he find his balance here?
Taking a gamble served as his way of life. His fate always determined by the deal of the cards, the luck of the draw, the fall of the dice, the speed of his exit. What card did he draw now? What strange piece of luck drew him to this town, these people? The questions came at a furious pace, hammering his brain, demanding attention, but the answers eluded him as they did most of his life. Was this a part of the perfect con, the one that hid even his true make? A rogue or a hero? The latter he would never claim, nor would he consider it to describe himself. Would what he found here help him believe in miracles, in second chances, in himself?
The rider took off his hat and wiped a tired sleeve across his sweaty brow, raising his eyes for a moment to watch the dimming colors above. He gazed around at the approaching darkness in mild trepidation and yet acceptance. It was time. Time to meet his fate and find what his destiny held. He urged his mount forward, moving slowly down the rise toward the buildings in the distance. The questions did not quiet but continued to follow the lone specter as the growing shadows of the night surrounded his dark form. As the figure began to blend into the fading scenery he knew all answers would come . . . here in this town. He realized it was his fate, his future that drew him here. Moving ever closer to the town to seek those answers, the form slowly faded into the mist of the cooling landscape. Seven souls merged onward. Seven souls . . . one destiny.