One-Horse Town: Nigger John (Chapter 3)

He knew he couldn’t move her, Rosa’s injuries were too severe. “Getting you on my horse alone, could kill you.”

As she slept he gathered all the supplies he could from where Rosa’s horse had met its fate. Brady even considered climbing down to where the horse lay to retrieve what remained in Rosa’s saddle bags.

When awake, he shared his plan to get her help. “I must get you help and the only way that’ll happen is if I leave you here and find your family.”

On the early morning before the sun rose, he checked his saddle and lead his horse around the boulder and along the wall. Brady felt a sense of dread as he hopped in the saddle and knowingly left the injured Rosa alone.

By noon, Brady was guiding his horse off the far side of the mountain and back onto the flat, sandy desert. He willed the horse into a light gallop, heading in the general direction Rosa had instructed him to follow.

As he crested a rise and slipped down into the gully, a group of fifteen riders surprised Brady. Before he could even think of escaping they had surrounded, lassoed and dragged him from his mount.

“Where is she?” one man said from somewhere in the group.

“Who?” Brady responded.


“I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

Without warning the butt-end of a rifle slammed into the back of Brady’s head and the world grew black.

Brady awaken to a severe headache and then found himself chained to the wall of a darkened room. He touched the back of his head and withdrew his hand covered in drying-blood.

Isolated and in near-darkness, Brady sat on the hard-packed earth and listened for what sound he might hear. There was very little, but every once in a while he could make out voices talking and arguing among one another.

Having dosed off, he jolted awake at the sound of keys rattling in a lock. Suddenly a stab of bright light flooded the dungeon where he was being held.

“Food,” a man stated as he slid a tin between the bars.

With hunger gnawing his insides, Brady took the plate and greedily scooped it into his mouth with his fingers. He handed the tin back to the man, noticing his jailer was a Black man from the color of his skin.

“So, where is she?” George Keene demanded.

“Don’t know,” Brady answered.

Obviously, Keene owned the town and could do as he pleased, including beat his captive and leave him imprisoned for God-only knows how many days. Day-in and day-out, the torture continued until Brady broke.

“She’s back with her family,” he lied. “And they’re planning to kill you.”

While the torment stopped, Brady still found himself a prisoner of Keene.

“How many days has it been?” he asked himself as he felt the notches he’d scratched in the wall after each time Nigger John brought him food.

For a month and a day, all Brady could think about was Rosa, alone, injured and in need of help. A quiet desperateness fell over him as each day passed.

Then one day, as his food arrived, John acted out of character. Not only did he unlock the bar doors, he unlocked the chain holding him prisoner to the wall, whispering, “They’re planning to kill you. There’s a door over there that leads up and next to the livery.”

As usual, Brady ate what food was given to him, then said, “Thank you, John.”

He started planning his escape for when it was dark. And still, the thought of Rosa weighed heavily on his mind.