Mastodon Stew

Prickly Pear

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The following excerpt (in very rough draft) is from my novel in-progress The Book of Ten. Please note my love for creating new words and squishing together old ones (and my disdain for commas).

They were watching me as I came down from the hill and I made no effort to disguise my approach. The last of the sun’s light winked from multiple points and I knew that at least two of their guns were turned on me though they stowed them away by the time I breached the camp. They were a bearded, unkempt lot of hard looking men, very much in appearance like the group who had brought the pox to my village the spring earlier. The leader was a brute named Elder Meggs, a big man who towered above the rest of his fellows, his beard falling in a frothing ginger colored mat and grown indistinguishable from the tangle bursting forth from his checked shirt open to the waist and wet up to the elbows. The cookfire blazed in a ring of blackened stones and the backstrap twisted from a spit arranged over that flame. To one side a mound of ivory foundered under its own disordered bulk, glowing with butter soft luminescence and adorned with a slathering of fly larvae. A remuda of stocky squarefaced horses watched me carefully within the confines of a paddock arranged downslope from the collection of men and their tents, muttering their disapproval and twitching their tufted ears upon catching my foreign scent.

  The hunters ushered me inside the main pavilion, a central space occupied by a number of hard plastic benches and a rack for stowing coats, saddlery and a collection of shooting iron and I rested my clutch of luras against this support. A series of cots lined the walls and a boxiron stove squatted at the foot of one of them and upon its glowing top simmered a full pot of resinous liquid redolent of chicory root, wild cranberry and prickly pear. Elder Meggs guided me into one of the chairs and seated himself on a stool opposite while one of his men lighted candles and a single oil lamp with a soot stained glass chimney and a copper bell for holding fuel. The camp cook was a stocky fellow with bulging forearms and a scar curving from the point of his chin to his brow and his nails were caked with crusted blood and other dark matter and he brought the mastodon meat to us on tin plates seared and dripping sweet juices. We set upon this meat and there was no effort to talk by any member of the company and after the meat was consumed and the plates cleared a jar of murky liquor was passed about and when I took a slug from the neck it burned like poison going down…

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One Response to “Mastodon Stew”

  1. I can literally feel the tension…

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