My second letter is below. I know the pony express took a long time to arrive. I don’t plan to go on another two week hiatus!
Dear Mister “Max” Marston,
It is always good to hear from you, sir. Remembering that your experience and mine oddly echo one another is always a relief, for I find myself so frequently alone. Be it on the high plains or in the desert, passing atop a bridge circumventing a great river or exiting a canyon littered with the dead, I am continually the only person present. The others I encounter move as if they are actors in a stage play, producing a program that proudly proclaims its own structured repetition. Only wild beasts and glimmering night skies are my companions. The seemingly random, motivated attacks of the former and the breadth of the latter remind me that not everything is predictable and that space exists outside of the physical boundaries I so frequently encounter, be these rivers, mountains, or bullets.
And yet I insist upon this solitary life. I refuse to take carriages or trains, and I absolutely disdain what I have come to term moving blackouts, when I enter the darkness of sleep at camp only to awake in a place nowhere close to where I had made my bed. Carriages or trains are expressions of a loss of control; I insist upon setting my own pace. Blackouts are worse; they make life unreasonable. How could I fall asleep in the desert and awake in Armadillo? How could a night on the plains deliver me to Thieves’ Landing? It makes no logical sense, and therefore I avoid it. No more magical cacti for me, only wolf meat and rabbit from now on.
And yet, I must continue. During moving blackouts, how am I to know what I have missed? What opportunities did I not take due to my unconsciousness between the hills and the city? Were I tallying my achievements, such lapses in memory would chalk up to a blank slate. Time and space are joined, yet traveling fast while producing and enacting nothing lends a unity to neither.
This disjointedness troubles me. I am a man existing seemingly outside of time. You mentioned this feeling. I refer to a past I cannot recall. I allude to friendships I did not know I had. More so, I am gone from the ranch for two nights and, upon my return, ranch hands and Ms. MacFarlane herself greet me as if a month had passed. These proclamations lend a hollowness to life, leading me to question my experiences and their reality.
Clearly, I have had a few too many drinks at the Armadillo pub. Before I head toward hopefully stationary dreams, let me mention a positive side effect of this timelessness I’m currently experiencing. Simply put, I allow my gaze to linger. Returning a prized horse to its owner, my focus remains on the horse a few beats longer than it should. Riding away from Ms. Bonnie MacFarlane, I observe her seemingly well after I am gone, noticing the subtleness of her movements and the contemplative look upon her face. I enjoy these moments, even though they may seem impossible and therefore off-putting. They remind me that this stage upon which I act exists beyond me. Though I may feel solitary and alone, the program continues unhindered.
John “Gish” Marston.