Paul and the Anvil and the Basin

The man in the saddle is angular and long-legged. The gun at his side is grey steel and rainbow mother-of-pearl. Men call them both the Six Shooter. –from ‘The Six Shooter’

Paul was dozing in the saddle as Destry picked her way up the hill. The leather saddle creaked in time to the plod of her hooves, and its cracked G threaded through his half-dreams. He was headed into Rock Falls for the payroll, but Destry knew the way as well as he did by this point and the reins were looped over the saddle horn.

She balked.

“Whoa, girl, easy, easy.” He blinked the sleep from his eyes. A massive black anvil sat among the sagebrush in the arroyo, weeds thick around its base. “Now what the devil?” He pushed his hat back on his neck and worried at his scalp with his nails. A large gold bowl hung on a chain over the anvil, filled nearly to the brim with a heavy, dark fluid. He tilted his head back and followed the chain up until he lost it in the mare’s tails. He leaned forward and pushed at the bowl, slightly. It swung slowly for a long hundredcount. A fat drop swelled over the edge and plashed onto the anvil.

Instant night. Afar off the crack of lightning. Destry shied and plunged down the arroyo. He bent over her neck and gave her head; floods came sudden and fast and the roar of water echoed off the rock walls.