My lips were cracking, burning, as I laid there in the hot sand in the middle of town. My head rested against the steps to the saloon, the plan had been to get something to drink, I prayed for water, but would have settled for whiskey, they didn’t have either. It hadn’t rained for months, the whole area was bone dry, even the reserves were tapped out. My horse, Delilah, who had already succumbed to dehydration, baked in the sun just a few feet away, she was starting the stink. I tried swatting the flies away from her, but there were dozens, and I was too weak to keep it up. Some of the little bastards crawled across her dry, vacant eyes, and I could feel my stomach starting to turn. I used every bit of energy I had to crawl up the steps and back into the saloon, I had to get away from that smell, the rapidly rotting corpse, and hers wasn’t the only one.. the whole town wreaked of mortality.
The bar was dead quiet aside from the creaking of the old floor boards as I crawled around looking for something, anything to quench my dyin’ man's thirst. Hell, I reckon I would’ve drank perfume if I’d found any.. I would have guzzled down my own piss if I could’ve squeezed out another drop, but that was one and done. Nah, I figured I’d die there on that old dusty floor, all alone, maybe I should have left with the rest of em’, looking for something they’d probably never find. They were all just gamblin’ with their lives the way I saw it, half of em’ were prolly baking like poor Delilah, the other half might have been luckier, but if that was gonna be my last breath I wasn’t holding it.
I must have been delirious cause’ I heard the piano come to life on the other side of the saloon, I just laughed, I thought it’d be trumpets I’d be hearin’, but St.Peter was playin’ piano for old Johnny Green. It was a familiar tune, maybe a hymnal, if my throat wasn’t so dry I’d have sang along, but I just laid there waitin’ to see that bright light I’d heard so much about, hell in that moment I welcomed it, I prayed for that bright light.
I shut my eyes, ready to drift off to sleep, for the last time I thought. The place went quiet again, and I laid there imaginin’ what them pearly gates were gonna be like, and all my family there waitin’. What a way to go, after a lifetime of fightin’ and runnin’ down outlaws it was gonna be thirst that got me.. It could have been worse though, at least it was peaceful.
I was sure I’d lost it, cause’ right then the doors swung open, and in walked a woman. She had long brown hair that matched her eyes, a beautiful dark complexion, and symbols marked across her face in blue paint. She was wearin’ a dress made out of deer hide, and around her neck hung a small glass bottle, filled with sparkling blue liquid. She unfastened a cantene from her hip, and kneeled down beside me. She took off the lid, pressed the canteen to my lips, and poured in that ice cold, live saving water. We stayed there like that for a minute, as she kept pourin’, like a mother feedin’ her newborn.
I could feel my strength returning, so she helped me to my feet, walked me over to the bar, and sat me down on an old rickety stool. “God bless ya’.” I told her, my own voice almost surprising me. She just smiled, replaced the top to the canteen, and started shaking it. I could hear water splashin’ around inside it, but I was sure I’d polished it off. She opened it back up, held it out to me, and asked: “More?” I took the canteen from her, looked inside it, and sure enough it was full again. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but I didn’t question it, I just choked it all down again. I felt rejuvenated, full of energy, full of life.
“How the hell did you do that?” I finally asked her. She just smiled again, and put the canteen back on her hip. “Better?” She asked. “Yes mam, much better.” I said, as I stood up from the stool, and stretched out my aching joints. The fog of delusion that had been clouding my mind lifted, and I knew for sure that she was real, and the bottle around her neck caught my attention once more. “What do you got there in that bottle?” I asked her. “Rain.” She responded. “Rain? What do you mean rain? Like rain water?” I asked her. “Rain.” She said again, motioning with her hands like she was trying to explain the concept. “Well I don’t know where you’re from, but it ain’t rained round’ here for a long time.” I told her.
She took the bottle from around her neck, and dangled it out to me by its thin gold chain. “You want me to take it?” I asked her. She nodded. I took the blue liquid from her, and admired it, it was more beautiful up close, like a sapphire. “What do you want me to do with it?” I asked her. “Sacrifice.” She responded, pointing at my chest. “Sacrifice? Sacrifice what?” I asked again, puzzled.”Sacrifice.” She said again, this time poking her finger into my chest. “Drink. Die. Rain.” She said. I thought over her words for a moment in confusion before responding. “If I drink this.. I’ll die?” I asked. She nodded with a slight frown. “And that’ll make it rain somehow?” I asked again. She nodded with a smile.
We stood in silence as I considered her ridiculous proposition. I’d always been a religious man, but not superstitious. There’s no way what she was tellin’ me could be true, but if she was to be believed, if sacrificing myself would somehow end that drought, and save countless lives, then I had to at least try. If it didn’t work, then at least I’d have the strength to keep on lookin’. “Alright.” I told her. “I’ll sacrifice myself.” She smiled, and clapped her hands together, cheering for my decision.
I uncorked the bottle with my teeth, and spit the cork onto the ground. “I’m comin’ Delilah.” I said as I pressed the bottle to my lips and drank. Again the water was ice cold, I felt it run down my throat, and then an icy grip wrapped around my heart, stealing away my strength once again. I finished off the bottle, and went to hand it back to the woman, but she was gone. I looked around the bar in confusion, before hearing the most beautiful sound, thunder clapping. I walked to the door in excitement, each step tougher than the last. I collapsed as I made my way out of the saloon, and struggled back down the steps to lay with my horse there in that hot sand, and it started pourin’ rain. I smiled a big toothy grin up at that stormy sky, and through them coal-black clouds I could see it, that bright light I’d heard so much about.