Ed slowed his stock horse as he approached the bleached cow’s skull. “Easy there, Chester. Let’s have a look.” The aging rancher stiffly swung a leg over his mount, planted it on the grassy field, and then slipped the other booted foot out of the stirrup. He squared himself on the ground, hitched up his gun belt, then looked into the cloudy autumn sky. “Looks like rain, don’t you think?” The horse was impassive.
He slowly walked toward the vacant stare on the ground. “How long have you been here, old girl?” He pulled his hat down tighter on his gray head. “Bet you’ve seen a lot in your time.” Ed looked over his shoulder. “The way of the world, Chester. It’s the way of the world.”
A cold wind blew across the plain, but Ed didn’t take any notice. For a reason he couldn’t explain, he was captivated by the worn remains at his feet. Then the first drops of rain began to fall, lightly kissing the brim of his hat, his boots, even the skull. He turned back toward Chester and froze. His companion was standing stoically, patiently next to the body on the ground, Ed’s body.