Taking the dirt tracks through the delta, I could tell he was nearby. I could smell him in the foetid marsh gases, hear his breath below the mosquitoes’ incessant whining, see his shadow behind the corpse-lights that danced in the twilight over stagnant wayside pools.
I stopped off at a cabin to ask directions one evening, just after sunset, and a pair of frightened, bloodshot eyes peered out at me over a shaking rifle.
I stayed with the old man there for the few hours he had left. The fever had swept through the neighbourhood leaving nothing alive except the rats and alligators. He had buried a daughter and three grandchildren before succumbing himself. As he breathed his last, I slipped into the shadows and waited.
The horse whinnied softly in the darkness and I could see its hooded rider silhouetted against the stars. I raised my shotgun and let him have both barrels, but he had vanished by the time I ran out of the house.
Standing over the old man’s grave, I felt satisfied with the previous night’s work. The rider knew I was after him, perhaps was even afraid. All I needed now was the right weapon.