What is this about?

Cemetery Heads West

Samuel Hornblow Jones rolled to his right away from the dying embers of the campfire even before he’d come full awake. Coming up crouched in the sand on one knee, lightning reflexes led his left hand to skin his Colt .44 even before his eyes had opened onto the darkness surrounding him. But as he quickly surveyed the moonlit landscape beneath the Eastern Sierras, he realized the danger was not real. Listening hard and hearing nothing but the steady sound of the wind as it raced down from the mountains and through the sage-covered plains, he knew it had been imagined.

He’d been dreaming, which was a strange thing for Jones, who was rarely given to moments of subconscious activity. Stranger still was that it was a dream so real Jones had come up out of it ready to exchange gunfire. Strangest of all was that he would’ve been shooting at old ghosts that he thought he had long since buried.

Given the name of “Cemetery” long ago attached to him, it should come as no surprise that Jones has left behind a list of departeds in his wake. Wherever he travels, it seems his reputation always precedes him, and the sobriquet always follows close behind his back, usually in the form of hushed whispers from the lips of fathers and sheriffs to the ears of sons and deputies. Then there are those whiskey-filled souls who foolishly yell it to his face: “Cemetery! I been waitin’ f’you all my life!” Those usually don’t end well for the yeller.

And in the realm of note ending well, Jones’d long thought he had gotten over that tragedy.

Shaking himself hard as if the 14-year-old memory was an itchy shirt he was too anxious to get off, Jones stood up tall and lean and looked westward, where he could just make out the 14,000-foot granite peaks of the Sierra Nevadas facing the early dawn.

Sun’d be up in an hour, he thought, with something close to concern registering on his face. Deep sleep of a kind like he’d just come from rarely paid him a visit – especially while he was traveling through strange territory.

Sleep like that can get you killed.