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"As The Tumble Weed Rolls," chapter 1.

Keith Rawkings's picture
Submission type:


A knock at the door to the bar… 


A massive headache. ..


Men in black suits and dark sunglasses…


There’s a job. What was the job? What the hell was the job?


The man in the white labcoat…


“LifeCycle program”


A tender kiss.. He rubs her swollen belly.“I’ll be back soon, honey,” the woman says to him as she smiles.


“I’ll be back soon..”


Water everywhere. Why is there water everywhere?  


“Empty bed contact time a minimum of five gallons per tank. System must achieve a minimum of ten gallons per tank. Feed water conductivity that exceeds 30ms is a cause for immediate system shutdown and emergency take off. “


Water everywhere. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.


Roses on the grave… Whiskey in the glass…


“LifeCycle program”


“I have information you need to tell the world.”


“Don’t let them get you. They will kill you when they’re done with you and I.”


“Water everywhere.”


“Percent rejection is the sum of feed water total dissolved solids minus permeate total dissolved solids, divided by…”


“You broke protocol. Your career is finished.”


“Water everywhere. She can’t breathe. She can’t breathe!”


Raindrops on the headstone…


“Lifecycle program”


Raindrops in the ditch…..


I’m drowning. I’m drowning.




Keith Rawkings wakes up howling in the muddied ditch. But no one hears him out on the lonely prairie tonight. He’s miles away from anything breathing on two legs.


It’s raining very hard now, unusually so for the desert. His clothing is soaked and muddied. His boots slosh with his stumbling. Somehow in his inebriation, he must have managed to leave the pup tent to try and relieve himself here.


He can’t grasp what just happened. He’s confused and upset, but he can’t put his finger on just why. These nightmares come in waves. It’s been a while since he remembered having one as intense as that.


He trudges back to the tent flap door.What does it all mean? He looks at his dog. “What does it mean Poopis?” he says to the mutt. The dog looks at him , salivates a little, cocks his head with a look of curiousity, and whines a little. “Why do you always do that when I ask you somethin’?,” he replies to the animal.


Keith’s head starts to hurt again. The head wound Deuce gave him a few days ago is healing alright, but it still aches like a sunva bitch. He looks around the tent for something to kill the pain in his skull. There’s half buried whiskey bottles strewn around the tent floor. He digs one out of the now wet, muddied floor, like a pirate digging for his buried booty. But after a little wiping of mud from the bottle's exterior, it’s clear there’s nothing left in this one. He gets down on his hands and knees and repeats the process, bottle after bottle. He’s clearly getting worked up now, as he ravenously digs each bottle out of the  mud as if his life depended on it.  But bottle after bottle, and no luck. He spots one more little brown bottle under the  cot. His eyes light up. “Oh thank you jesus,” he exclaims to the roof of the tent. He leans under the cot and with one hand yanks the bottle out from under it’s hidden spot. He smiles and says to the dirty bottle “thought ya could hide under there from me, did ya?”


But as he vigorously wipes the mud off of the exterior of the bottle, his worst suspicions are finally confirmed: he’s out of alcohol.


“Aw goddamnit!” he yells at the the tent wall, and he throws the bottle to the door. Poopis ducks out of the way of the flying bottle and with a scared whine, bolts out the front of the tent.


Rawkings  just stares at the weathered canvas wall in silence for a period of time. “Why, why, jist fuckin’ why?” He thinks to himself. Long moments pass. Eventually, he calms down a bit and snaps out of his state.  “Awright,” he says out loud to himself. Gathering his composure, he lifts himself off of the muddy floor and trudges back outside. The rain has subsided for now. But his ass is still wet. His cowboy boots slosh with every footstep.


He makes his way over to his horse, Old Overholt, and checks in on the animal. The horse is wet but Keith managed to remember to put the horse blanket over the animal before he got boozed up tonight.


He rubs the horse on the nose and whispers kind words to the old beast. This is his only true friend outside of Poopis, his dog. Looking around the camp site he realizes now that his dog is no where to be found.  “It’s Ok, Ol’ boy, he’ll be back in the morning. He always comes back.” Keith rummages through horse’s saddlebags and finds a couple of carrots and a brown paper bag. He offers a carrot to the horse, who gently grazes it from Keith’s hand.


After patting the horse on the nose he sits down on a log and proceeds to get another fire going again.


Moments later, and with a good fire stoked up, Keith opens up the brown paper bag and examines the contents. “Still dry. Good…” he mutters to himself. He takes a small handful of the green budded leaves out of the bag…


A few minutes later, and after the water has steeped it long enough, he puts the camp mug up to his lips and takes a long sip of the Chicory tea.


His head is a lot clearer then is has been in a long time.  As he stares into the fire, he thinks about the mess he saw go down at the Serenity Falls bar the other night. “None a ma business,” he thinks to himself. His eyes wander down to the cup he’s drinking from and he remembers who gave him that chicory tea. “Dickhead..” he says to the fire, as if someone was standing  there in it’s place.


But he starts to think about his first trip into that mining town. Walking into the Waffle House… Not getting shot on shot because of his looks…


Although, as he rubs the head wound which is hurting just a little bit less than before, he says to himself “maybe it was jist a bad day.”


As he ponders the situation Poopis scurries back into camp none the worse for wear. A loyal companion with a short attention span.  Thank god for that. Keith wouldn’t get as far tracking people down without a sniffer like that dog has.


The dog has a small dead animal in it’s mouth. Obviously he’s been busy. Keith Rawkings eyes the carcass in the dog’s mouth. It’s a small prairie rat. “Good , ya brought dinner. Bring it on over boy,” he says to the dog, and he pats the animal on the head and takes out his game knife.  As he starts to gut the small rat he starts to ponder whether or not to head back to Serenity Falls, and maybe break the news of the gunfight to Aerinn… Or maybe he should just ride out and find some town to get drunk in and hit on women.


Rawkings looks at Poopis, and says, “Well, Poopis, whadda ya think boy?”


The dog just looks at him, pants, cocks his head with a curious look, and groans.



Aerinn's picture

((A great read.  Loving the hidden depths to this character.))


Iniya's picture

((Hey...this one didn't make me laugh...what a ripoff....))

Hugs: There are far too many broken hearts.  Fortunately, anyone can be a mechanic!

Fox's picture

((the next installment might...*whistles innocently and wanders off* not cause it has me in it or anything..))



Muse's picture

((Hehe, last night was so much fun. Rawkings is great!))

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