by Travis Perry
Jax knelt down beside Ernsto, who was flat on his back on a sandy patch at the bottom of a rocky gully, wincing in pain. “I’m so sorry about last night—I guess I’ve been regulating how much I drink by how much I bring in…I usually run out of cash before I can put down that much ale.”
Ernsto snorted, “So it’s my fault for helpin’ you bring in too big a haul?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying. The fault was mine. I’m sorry I led her to you, that Zana lady.”
“Well, don’t expect much from me. I never used to forgive anything from anyone.”
“Used to? Does that mean you forgive now?”
“Well—that angel sure would want me to…” Ernsto’s voice trailed off and his eyes watered.
Jax stared at his new friend and didn’t know what to think. He’d heard Ernsto cry out before, as in for help or in pain—but he’d never seen him cry, not a single tear, not even when he’d set the bone in his arm. There was so much he didn’t know about this guy. What in the world could have affected him so much?
“What angel?” Jax finally asked in a soft voice.
“Never mind about her…I forgive you. God knows I done a lot worse than what you did. To someone a lot better’n me.” A single tear streaked down the side of his face, past his ear into the sand. Ernsto wiped at his face absently, as if he didn’t really care.
“Changing subjects, er…I don’t think I set your bone quite right. Your left arm is shorter than the other.”
“Hmmm. Don’ blame yourself. I think it’s because the bone is shattered in that spot.”
“Ah…doesn’t that mean it will never heal right? I’m not a doctor or anything, but I think that’s the case.”
“Oh, I’m pretty sure you are correct.”
“Shouldn’t we, ah…do something about that?”
“Got any suggestions? Remember I’m wanted everywhere. And believe me, the man that’s after me is sure to make me disappear forever. If they catch me.”
Jax rubbed his chin, looking upward, Sheba visible low over the east mountain ridge in the dust-orange hued sky. “You know, I think I’ve got an idea…”