This day's sun slips through the thornapple branches in jagged cuts of light and night. I rise with its pain, and listen, but Courage does not call out commands, or curse from atop the porch step to the chattel below; he will not wait for reinforcements. Courage whispers, and walks toward the plank road where the work will be done. He does not ask to be Courage, as I do; he takes the task at hand and handles it now, so I walk behind him awhile, in the early morning, as the fog lifts beyond the tree line.
I wear my father’s butternut overcoat, and deep inside the left pocket is the Colt pistol that he turned on himself, in the war before this war. I carry the weight of that Colt, the weight of that coat, the wet wool heavy of my scars and shoulders, and every morning, I reach into its worn pocket, moving my fingers across the blood and oil polished pistol grip, knowing that I am on his path; knowing that his way is thick with thorns and tangled honeysuckle vines, with deep mud, and deeper madness, and I ask to be Courage for this one day.
Courage is quiet, and walks with a steady step through the tall grass, even as the grade steepens near the slip rail, a full furlong before the plank road, where the work will be done. I fall behind in the high noon sun, my heavy boots caked with the drying mud of years lost, trudging the circling path of thorn and vine. By late afternoon, Courage is a shrinking silhouette on the west ridge, and I am remembering the cool shade of the hawthorn and the thick sweet scent of honeysuckle, its taste on my lips, so I sit for awhile to consider my direction for tomorrow, and move the pistol to my right pocket.