The wind was blowing eastward in the field, and the sun was stopping in the sky amid the moving herd of clouds. The susurrus of the trees was softly caressing her ears harassed by the cacophony of reality in which she could not help but endure under the pretext of fulfilling her existential duties to earn her sustenance. A nature’s medicinal touch of her malady of heart seemed to work for the moment, and she felt cared and loved in the arms of Mother Nature whom she likened to Mother Mary. Judy was sitting like a resting Artemis, the goddess of hunting, with her loyal canine company Nena on the crest alongside San Marcello Path in the Santa Maria Mountains. Judy and Nena were different species united in the polyphony of nature’s orchestral music and the panoply of the scenes that nature’s cinema was presenting before their very big brown beautiful eyes that seemed to look into the depths of souls and to find wonders in them no matter how diminutive they might be. It’s the moment of retreat from the world that constantly threatened Judy’s faith in humanity against the strife of existential life. Every Sunday was the time to bathe herself in the Spring of Nature, and she loved every minute of it.
A noonday haze was springing over the hill with iridescent beams of sunshine, which were a feast to the eye. Nena was yawning as a gossamer of the eastward wind becoming a sweet breeze was pleasingly teasing a tip of its nose. Smiling at the playful scene, Judy was thinking about the legend of restless ghosts of nineteenth century outlaws still roaming in the deep region of the mountain, not knowing they were dead in search of a great escape from a forest maze to their El Dorado. Reader, you may think it’s only a fiction imbued with Hollywood-generated machismo of lawless gunslingers in the Wild West, but to Judy the legend became factoid that couldn’t be abruptly dismissed as a preposterous ballyhoo fit for a campfire story to scare kids and gullible puerile adults. Call it superstitious or benighted, but then do people not believe in the power of the greatest man above even though they have not seen him? The difference between religion and belief is a matter of hierarchy, a structural form of rite and indoctrination. Anything else is quintessentially same as we human beings are spiritual by nature. Thus, even the wickedest, the vilest, the cruelest convict has the tainted and perverted soul warped in a wrong modus vivendi that it chose by the will or by the play of Goddess Fortuna. In that regard, the souls of the escaped convicts, drifting gunslingers, highwaymen, or luckless lost travelers might still be roaming the paths of the mountain day and night, doing their penance on earth without awareness of it, till a sympathetic living soul hears their sorrows and angers to purge them out to escape to the beyond.
As Judy was wending her way to the mountain, the images of the wild west ghosts sprang in her vista as though to be screened in a phantasmagorical display of the swashbuckling bravado of their once proud prime days. What’s more, she wanted to validate her belief in life after death by witnessing the souls of the dead, which would quell her vexing doubts on the existence of God and ultimately, the meaning of life. Nena also seemed to give a nod to Judy’s determination to figure it all out by walking beside her into the mountain. The leaves of the trees were rustling in the wind, and the eagles were flying high above as if they were welcoming the curious duo. The rustling sound now became phantasmal susurrus of trees, reciting “Curiouser, curiouser!”