002: For those were WINDSWEPT days, where fear ceded every step to buoyancy, leaving nothing still.


Let me tell you about this place, Mr. Snyder.

At night moonlight breaks the hills of Oh Josephine apart into a jigsaw of geometric silver and black—and I mean breaks—jagged lines divide land from sky, and each and every rock is cut in half by light and shadow. This ain't the soft moonlight of most other places, no. It’s like to cut you if you so much as look at it the wrong way. The days are hot, and the sunlight is scattered every which way by those miraculous mirages, the hap of heat and dust and spirits. People don’t settle here as much as they’re baked into place like wet clay in a kiln.

That’s how I came to Oh Josephine, passed through on my way out west, horse dropped dead in the salt pan. You know, I’ve been a lot of places, and this basin is the only spot I’ve ever seen people using hot salt to cook food. Old Rory’s skin sizzled when he hit the ground, smelled so damn good I would have eaten him right there if I wasn’t the sentimental type. Like gravy. But you don’t eat your friends, I’ve always said, just your enemies and your in-laws.

So don’t get me wrong, the days out here are something else—rocks glowing cherry red, halos drifting in and out of place—but I’ve always preferred the night. It’s cooler, sharper. Oh Josephine is the only town I know of with no ghosts or ghouls walking around in the dark. Every city I’ve been to is all alleys and antiques, nooks and crannies and hidey holes for the kinds of things we all have nightmares about. Most of the time the wilderness is worse, nothing familiar to keep out the darker types of monster. People die here, sure, but they stay dead.

And maybe that’s some comfort to you, Mr. Snyder. I hate having to put a bullet in your head, but at least you know it will be quick. No lingering. The express line to the hereafter.

Why?

You know why Mr. Snyder. The second you build your rail through this basin, Oh Josephine stops being what it is. This town don’t sit well on a map; it’s a place for those lost in the desert. No one seeks out Oh Josephine, they just find it. And we like it that way. The road to the basin is dusty, yeah, but that’s what keeps out the undesirables. The moguls. The moochers. The ghosts. Josephine ain’t for them, and it sure as hell ain’t for you either.

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