by Mr. Schprock
The campfire burned low and the ponies were hobbled for the night. The two cowboys lay back on their bedrolls looking up at the unsettled sky, idly watching a fierce, bright moon strain hard against a cover of tight, curdled clouds.
“This night puts me to mind of when old Pete died,” said the older man.
“He shot hisself, didn’t he, Reb?” asked the other.
“It was his gun what done it, with his finger on the trigger.”
“Why do you suppose he done that?”
“I reckon that old moon told him to,” replied Reb.
“Shucks,” chuckled the younger man, but then he noticed Reb no longer lay there. He sat up straight as a plank and looked all around him.
“Reb!” he called out. “Where you gone off to, Reb?”
The night wore on and the moon traveled high, its brilliance barely contained by the imprisoning clouds. Buck grew more and more skittish not finding Reb anywhere, his frantic halloaing answered only by the insolent bark of coyotes.
Finally, past midnight, the moon broke through the clouds and bore right down on poor Buck. Durn thing is brighter than the sun! he thought. And bigger, too.
Two days later Reb rode into town with Buck, stiff as a new boot, draped over his pony’s back. Reb had tied Buck’s hat to one of the panniers. Buck’s spurs gleamed dully as his feet bounced in rhythm to the pony’s sway. In his right hand, Buck held his pistol tight.