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Solitary Creatures by Melanie Clark - Part 3

Buck Bleibtreu was in his truck when he got the call about a disturbance on the far corner of his uncle's property. Buck was always mobile, tracing the patterns of the back roads across the cracked skin of the desert. The passenger side was merely a resting place for his Stetson as he traversed the terrain alone.

He was always alone.

Buck grew up in the desert, and understood its defiant beauty. A kiss from the sun god could either bless or burn; every creature and plant of the desert is born into this truth. Though the days could bring a scorching wrath, the frigid nights could make just about anyone clamor for Apollo's burning presence. The desert, quite simply, is a place of absence. Absence of rain, of shade, of softness. The desert lived on in spite of this, just as Buck did. Yet he yearned for the softness which would allow his heart to blossom, and his tears to drop on the parched limestone.

There were encounters over the years when Buck rested briefly in the splendor of said softness. He gave his love away without fear or shame, feeling the tension in his back and the push of his breath, until the moment of excruciating joy arrived to remind him: I am alive. Then, the irresistible fall into a dreamless sleep beneath cool sheets, only to be startled into consciousness by a bright square of sunlight on his face. Sometimes, he would reach out to caress a naked back and the cascade of hair that covered it, only to be rebuffed with a kiss on the cheek and a polite goodbye. Other times, there was nothing more than a dismissive note on the beside table. No one ever stayed long enough to critique or commend his lovemaking; it was an exchange that could never again be duplicated with the same fervor and magic as the first time.

In spite of the melancholy ache of his existential solitude, he continued in this life, as he had in all lives prior. In every life, there was an epiphany, a moment where he remembered what his soul was made to do. His purpose was usually revealed to him in the midst of impending peril. While mere men waged war, shed blood and spread a crushing cruelty everywhere they marched, Buck was ushering the vulnerable away from danger and certain death. He had fought at Glorieta Pass, pushing the Confederates away from the treasures of the West. He later testified to the horrors he witnessed, but refused to participate in, at Sand Creek. For his bravery, he was called back to eternity at the hands of an assassin.

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