Red Eyed Sunday – Part 1
I’d say it was around seven that morning. It was a hot and sun-soaked morning, and it was through the heat waves over the hill where I first saw him. It was still early, and almost silent. I really didn’t think anything of it at first, thought I’d caught a crow out of the corner of my eye. The sun was searing. It was one of those mornings you could walk outside and almost imagine what it felt like to be in hell.
And there was nothing that made our town more special than any other small town in the middle of nowhere. We were stuck in a wide open valley with a river close by as a life line, and not a railroad for miles. On days like that, when you looked out on the town and saw it surrounded by nothing but the sun-scorched heat, you had to wonder if you were in hell.
As I stood there looking out at a new day, already wiping the sweat from my forehead, I started to gain a sense of mercy. It was undesired, unexpected, and uncomfortable. It wasn’t from the heat, I had been in the war and the closest thing I could relate it to was that feeling where you know what you’re about to do is not only dangerous, but it could very well be the end of you. And it was like that feeling right after you’ve succumbed to the risk, and embraced it, that anything and everything was possible.
I felt it in my stomach and through the soles of my boots. And for the life of me, for a moment, the helplessness of that strange feeling brought the fear of God to my heart. Sweat couldn’t help but fall, and I actually had to take a step back because I felt so faint. I wiped the sweat from my face once again and that’s when I noticed it wasn’t a bird.
Trotting…trotting… just trotting, almost as smooth as a bullet spinning out of a barrel. When I saw him riding in our direction with the hill and the desolate heat of the desert as a backdrop, the first thing I was able to distinguish was the head of his horse. Bobbing side to side with each step he took, it appeared as if the horse carried his own beat, and the pace that followed was lead by inexorable divinity. They were in no rush and the pace was so steady it drew all my focus away from the feeling I had before. But the thing that was most striking and clear about his appearance when I first saw him was the darkness. It was probably over a hundred degrees and he was in nothing but black, and his horse was just as black and dark as the boots on the rider accompanying him. Upon first gaze, it looked like death was riding toward us.
As he got closer, I noticed a pair of blinders the horse wore. Red thread was woven completely throughout them, the sight was mesmerizing. I can’t think of any other way to say it; I thought I was looking at some sort of demon. The man even wore a thin black mask over his eyes. I had never seen a man that looked like that.
Yeah… I was nervous. His pace was so easy in that heat. Closer, and closer, and closer he came, every yard more and more of his appearance being revealed. From saddle to stirrup, everything was black. All black leather, all black plated metal. Black boots. Black hat.
As the hill grew further away from him, and the gap closed in on us, his pace never altered. Like a bullet of drool rolling down a lip, their ride through that desert was spellbindingly smooth and so, so enticing.
I was terrified of his appearance and of the ominous presence I felt. I had no idea what to expect. I don’t know if my mind had much thought at the time at all. I was nervous, scared, and mesmerized all at once. I didn’t think of getting help or hollerin at all. I don’t know why. I normally would’ve under similar circumstances if I saw something strange or unfamiliar comin in.
I just kept looking. What was next? That was it.
Music: Budos Band – Budos Rising