Blog Post Shwôsk

With the thesis proposal fast approaching I thought I would look through relevant past material I have written to gain some inspiration. I have always had an affinity with creative writing and plan on incorporating elements of it within my academic writing over the next year. Here is an excerpt from a previously undeveloped thesis that I have gone back and retouched…

As the echo of gunfire trickles to an end and the yells of once angry men fade, I am left in silence save for the reassuring babble of the San Luis River. The air tastes foreign on this side of the river, almost threatening yet with a tinge of intrigue. Holstering a newly acquired Springfield rifle to my back, I notice that I’m down to my last clip; those bandits ate more lead than I would have liked. Damn Irish, that son of a bitch said the crossing into Mexico would be as easy as jumping on his raft and letting the current sweep us away to paradise. Who knew we would be greeted with such a warm welcome. Irish certainly didn’t. Although the locals seemed to know him surprisingly well. Speaking of my fair-weathered friend, it looks like he’s preparing to make tracks; leaving me once again to hunt down Bill Williamson alone and with only rumour and speculation for company. But was I really to expect anything less from the drunken, paddy bastard? I bid a hasty farewell to Irish, watching him stumble off into the setting sun before commandeering a horse grazing nearby and preparing for the uncomfortably long ride to Chuparosa. With any luck I should arrive at the settlement before nightfall, lest I be hunted by bandits or coyotes; both of which would revel in nabbing a gringo. I’ll take care of Bill in the morning after a well-earned sleep. As I spur my horse into a gallop alongside the banks lining the San Luis River, the wind picks up and brings with it an enchanting melody, breaking the deafening silence. The sound of nylon guitar strings being plucked with a sense of nonchalance consumes my ears and causes me to bring my horse to a slow trot; eventually coming to a complete standstill.

I instantaneously put down the PlayStation controller and look around the living room to ensure that what I am currently hearing isn’t my imagination playing tricks on me. The awestruck expressions on my cousin’s faces and their open mouths tell me all that I need to know. As the erringly enticing vocals of a man begin singing about solitude, tribulations and the great unknown, my attention is drawn back into the video game and towards the atmosphere in which this music has created. Intent on making the best out of this moment I lead my horse carefully, so as not to disturb the tranquillity, walking up onto a steep ridge where I am rewarded with a breath-taking sight made all the more magnificent by the accompanying serenade. To the west, the setting sun paints the sky shades of red and pink, casting shadows that dance off of the gnarled shrubs and giving the hills an incandescent glow. The man drifts delicately into a soft, doleful refrain: it’s so far, so far away. To the south, wild horses roam the plains and whinny to each other to find shelter from the approaching night. There is an instrumental interlude that weaves in and out of intensity, all the while keeping a mesmerising pulse. And to the North, leaves blow blissfully across the river and wisps of smoke rise longingly from the all-too-familiar fields of Hennigan’s Stead as if to say, farewell, remember us!

The man starts to sing again, this time with an expression of weariness as he recites only a few words over and over: aching chest and blurry sight. It suddenly dawns on me how far away I am from not only my friends and family, but my home; even if it is a brutal and lawless wilderness. An unexpected pang of despondency and a yearning for company, anybody’s company, overwhelms me as I gaze around at the barren, desolate landscape that is Nuevo Paraiso. Hell, I’d be happy to see even Irish’s flushed face right about now. I shudder, and it’s not because of the wind’s bite. The once beautiful and assuring tune has contorted into a haunting lament that sends tingles down my spine, almost as if it were written as a forewarning. A dwindling sunset reminds me of my maundering and the petrichor of an encroaching storm pulls me back to reality. I take one last glance across the river before turning my horse to ride off towards the ominous rainclouds lurking on the horizon. Not once do I look back. The music begins to fade just as gracefully as it swelled and with it go my hopes of solace. As the final chord rings out and the howl of the wind picks up once again, I am left solely with myself and my sombre thoughts; thoughts consumed by redemption. My mind races as I devise the most appropriate way to end the life of the man that stole mine. A scowl crosses my scarred, weather-beaten face. Redemption has come to shape me, to define me; it is what will bring me closer to redeeming my friends and family. Without it I would be nothing more than the insipid husk of a man. Yet with redemption so near, home has never felt so far away.

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