He was the last remaining soul in this barren place he called home. It had been at least a month since he’d been able to ride out to the nearest town for supplies and food. Anyways, his horse was too weak to make the ride in. He decided to wait it out…there was bound to be someone passing through who could send for help. He would never leave this place, not now. Too many memories here. He nodded his head as he remembered all the familiar faces in town- both family and friends. Gone now…moved out or dead. Only he remained now, and he took some pride in that. He was the town’s guardian.
The sun was unforgiving in this place. The dust blew in sporadic waves of tumbleweed and debris. The ramshackle shack creaked and groaned as it had 80 years before. The tin roof sat haphazardly on its rickety frame and threatened to blow off with each gust of wind. He’d grown up here amongst the false front stores and dusty streets of this old mining town. He took off his Stetson, dusty and sweat stained. He sat down on the steps of his family’s homestead, abandoned years ago when work dried up here. It was deathly quiet here with the exception of the wind whistling through the cracks in the buildings, but then he was accustomed to being alone. He loved this place…the quiet beauty of the surrounding hills and of the weathering buildings. His steel blue eyes looked far off into the distance and his wrinkled, leathery face relaxed a little and a smile came to his lips. His chest rose and fell one last time. The wind suddenly caught the Stetson, and lofted it into the air far beyond the town limits.
Days passed. A trail of dust followed the automobile that roared through the 200 mile stretch of desert and finally into the center of town. The vehicle stopped and a man dressed in a navy double-breasted pin stripe suit got out. He surveyed the town as he donned a Montecristi Panama. “How much for the town?” The driver mumbled something and the man said, “ It’s a deal then…I’ll have my crew out here to make way for the highway.” With that, the man got into the car but paused momentarily as his eye caught the figure sitting on the steps of the shack. The car turned and sped off into the twilight of the arid wasteland.