Your present fears are less than your horrible imaginings. What you see now is what you get with, deal with, and live with. It’s no way around, and if you run away from it for an instant reprieve, you know it will come to you again sooner or later. This is it, thinks Judy. I must take it and bear it with a grin. These men, the trio looking like characters from a western movie, appearing from the wild high noon haze, she does not fear, but their impending intents of coming to her with mysterious questions she doubts. Surely, doubts are healthier than fears because fears can crush your strength, and the weakness emanating from within can double the strength of the foes. Judy is secretly asking God to come to aid her and make haste to help her as the images of the trio are entering her trembling irises of the big beautiful brown eyes and fill her eyes in entirety.
‘Howdy! Lass!’ Raphael, the talker, begins the talking. The two other men on the stead behind Raphael display the look of curiosity and amusement. They are pleased to see a pretty woman with a matching cute little dog in the middle of the wild. Quite an exotic kind of a bird, Rufus and Ben think in harmony. But the exoticness comes not from the demarcation of the race but from a uniqueness of beauty: innocence and sensuality are delicately concocted in her big brown expressive eyes decorated with long, thick Persian black eyelashes like black silk curtains. And the crown of her beauty seems to be bestowed on the tall slim figure that renders her graceful and respectful. There’s something about her, which sets her apart from the women they have seen in saloons, music halls, ballrooms, and any place where flowers of society gather and mingle to be wooed and wed. ‘The lucky bastard’, think Rufus and Ben, both of whom envy Raphael with admiration for his way with ladies. In terms of looks, Raphael is an epitome of your ordinary amigo: slightly chubby in a frame, a round smiley face that looks impossible to grimace decorated with a neatly trimmed mustache, all amicability personified that will save him from malicious gossips and wrongful accusations. Hence, Raphael is the talker of the trio and a sort of mother and father to Rufus and Ben with his practical sense of reality and survival skills.
‘We are headed west toward Doritos. Do you know where it is?’ Raphael asks the lass as friendly as possible. Judy incredulously looks up the mounted man with a mustache and a sombrero and thinks that he looks very convincingly like Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s faithful servant. There’s something about the man, thinks Judy. The diction, the ambiance, and the deportment are rather anachronistic or incongruous even to the social media era where people flag their selfies on the internet as if they were on a popularity contest and compete for likes and comments as emotional security and collateral for their forged so-called self-confidence. My Dear Reader, don’t misunderstand that it’s immoral of you to hang your beautiful pictures on a digital platform for popular admiration. It’s just that this act of self-promotion serves as a springboard for testing your marketability and your mobility as a result of winning the competition for likability based upon looks and frivolous comments that do not mean much, much at all. Amid this train of thought, Judy warms to this amiable man and decides to answer him. ‘This is Wildwood Park, sir. And I am sorry that I have never heard that there’s a place called Doritos, except for a brand of chips.’ Upon answering, Judy could not but burst into a peal of laughter. It is a sight to behold – the face of Raphael grimaced partly and bewildered partly, all in dazzling chemistry of emotions that is hard to describe. So much so that this display of indescribable human emotions on Raphael mollifies Nena’s agitation and puts the tempestuous waves of her emotions at ease. Now Judy feels refreshed and happy.
Rufus and Ben are within an earshot of this dialogue between the pretty lass and Raphael and cannot but be disappointed by the fact that they are once again on the wrong track, which seems to be forever chasing after a phantom of the dead Union soldier obfuscating them lest they should find where the buried treasure is. Where’s the Aztec gold? When can they find it? Maybe the miasma of frustration and agitation that hovered over Judy must have been transmitted to Rufus and Ben on the stead because now their faces mirror the symptoms of the malady of broken hearts. Then suddenly, Nena now recovered from the plague of uneasiness, springs forward and wags its chubby tail and bark toward the firmament as if it were looking at a thing invisible to your and my human eyes. Nena keeps barking and looking at the puzzled crowd behind as though it were trying to explain to them that there is something in the air that only Nena can see but we can’t see. ‘What is it, Nena? What do you see?’ Judy knows that dogs and cats can see supernatural things because their eyes can look through the souls of the living and ghosts of the dead. Judy tries to follow the direction where Nena is looking and barking and sees a gossamer trace of haze vanishing into the air like the vestige of a propeller plane soon to be effaced across the skies. The more Judy tries to scrutinize it, the faster it disappears. And Nena keeps barking, looking in front of the curious crowd. What is it that the dog is seeing? They all look at the barking dog and become curiouser and curiouser.