Strangers

Staring out his kitchen window at daybreak, the rancher watched two silhouettes stagger forward through the desert scrub. One clutched the other, but they both seemed hurt. The porch light, the rancher thought, that’s the thing they been walking toward all night. See it for miles. All the way from the footpaths snaking through the mountains out of Mexico.

Rooster lurched at the end of his chain, hackles up, snarl in his bark, trying to warn the strangers off, but they just kept coming. Alright, then, he thought. Not like you wanted it to get like this. He set his coffee in the sink and went to the door leading out to the porch and collected the shotgun kept there, racked a shell into the chamber, stepped outside.

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