Caleb cocked his gun and pointed it at the man with the bloodied nose who laid beneath his boot. The man flinched, and Caleb dug his spur into the man's navel.
"What do you want?" spat the man. He wriggled in the confines of his big city suit.
Caleb slowly moved the wad of chew from one side of his mouth to the other and sucked down on it's sourness.
"I ain't done nothing. I got no quarrel with you," said the man.
The man swallowed hard. Caleb put his weight on the man's rib cage by rolling his foot forward.
"What man? What?" screamed the man on the ground.
Caleb took his eyes off the man and looked across the frozen prairie. The cattle on the next rise were huddled together, their hot breath escaping in foggy plumes.
"You've been following me," said Caleb.
"No! I swear!"
He pulled the trigger. The man screamed. Caleb released his boot and walked back to his horse. The man sat up, clutching his shoulder.
"What in the name of hell did you do that for!?" squealed the man.
Caleb took the reigns of the man's horse then mounted his own. The man scrambled to his feet but he was stopped when Caleb pointed his gun at him again. The man raised his hands.
"You can't," begged the man. "I'm all alone out here."
"Can't?" asked Caleb. He spat out the old chew and wiped his mouth with his free hand. "I spared your life. I'm not going to do it again."
He kicked into his horse and started to gallop away with the other horse in tow.
"No!" screamed the man, throwing his hat down to the frozen scrub. He huffed in the frigid air. "Wait! I have your answer!"
Caleb slowed his horse and waited with his back to the man. A few moments later the man realized that this meant he should catch up to him. He ran with a lopsided gait but soon caught up.
"I am your shadow, I do admit it," said the man.
"Who do you work for?"
"No one but me," said the man.
"You're a liar," said Caleb. He prompted the horse to a slow amble. The man hopped along beside.
"Yes I am," said the man. "But that doesn't mean I can't sometimes speak the truth. I do not work for anyone."
"What do you want from me? You're a poorly cattle rustler. I haven't much else but that."
"I'm taking inventory of you."
"What does that mean?"
"I want to know if you have more virtues than you have vices."
Caleb stopped the horse and looked at the man full on.
"Are you some preacher man?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes, I guess that is true."
"More lies." Caleb moved the horse along again.
"Look, is that answer enough? Could I have my horse back? I won't survive more than two or three days in this cold."
"Maybe you should have thought about that before you decided to...take my inventory."
"I have the information I need now. I won't follow you again, but just, please, let me have my horse back."
"You think you know me from such a brief encounter?"
"I know enough."
Caleb rested his hands on his pommel and stared at where the land met the sky.
"No one knows me." Caleb paused again for silence was his way. "You want me to perform a job for you. Don't you?" asked Caleb.
"Well..." chuckled the man.
"It's something that you can't do yourself, or you find too senseless to do. Too beneath you."
"Let's just say I'd prefer steadier hands."
"Then I am the man for the job," said Caleb.
"Oh, excellent!" grinned the man. "Now since we'll be working together, may I have my horse back?"
"I'll give you your horse back," said Caleb.
He drew his gun at the horse's left eye and pulled the trigger. The horse instantly fell. The man screamed in pain and horror.
"Why? Why would you do such a thing? I am not you enemy!"
"I might be the kind of man who can do your job for you, but don't ever think I'm the kind of man who will do your job."
Caleb spurred his horse and set off at a gallop towards the cattle. The man threw himself onto the horse and cried.