All Things Left Wild by James Wade
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics| ePUB | 2.8 MB
After an attempted horse theft goes tragically wrong, sixteen-year-old Caleb Bentley is on the run with his mean-spirited older brother across the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Caleb’s moral compass and inner courage will be tested as they travel the harsh terrain and encounter those who have carved out a life there, for good or ill.
Wealthy and bookish Randall Dawson, out of place in this rugged and violent country, is begrudgingly chasing after the Bentley brothers. With little sense of how to survive, much less how to take his revenge, Randall meets Charlotte, a woman experienced in the deadly ways of life in the West. Together they navigate the murky values of vigilante justice.
Powerful and atmospheric, lyrical and fast-paced, All Things Left Wild is a coming-of-age for one man, a midlife odyssey for the other, and an illustration of the violence and corruption prevalent in our fast-expanding country. It artfully sketches the magnificence of the American West as mirrored in the human soul.
The sky darkened and there were naught but bones and Randall felt them and saw them—his own bones aching and Harry’s resting in the box—and the rain was like a crawling shadow on the mountains beyond. The site was slanted and covered in desert spoons, which were Harry’s favorite, likely because of their name, and the gathering storm sent ahead its wind so that the tall plants might bow before it. Randall’s body mimicked their contortions. With the shovel he lurched toward the dirt, the blade piercing the earth again and again, and the wind carrying the sounds of his mother’s whimpers. He swore he heard the pounding of hooves, but when he looked up all was still and bracing. His mother’s head was lowered in grief and tears, but his wife stared straight ahead with no emotion to be discerned. Randall watched her until her eyes found his, and he saw there a hollowness to rival any canyon, and she turned away as the first drops of rain turned dark brown on the dust before him.
Some of the ranchmen had come, and others had stayed behind at the barracks. Randall had not required attendance, though he doubted the difference that would have made. As the rain began to fall in earnest, the men replaced their hats and started a staggered and premature dispersion. None offered their help, and Randall hated them all and drove the shovel down with a violence he was not accustomed to. His hands bled against the wooden end and his back and shoulders were afire. He saw in the distance several head of cattle making for a mesquite grove to wait out the storm. Above them the sky fractured and cracked and the herd called out to him or to one another or to God as the dirt went to mud, slick and unbalanced.
Among those gathered stood a boy Randall recognized. A boy, inexplicably called Tadpole, who had been a friend to Harry during the lonesome days on the ranch. He still held his hat across his chest and was the only one to do so, and his lips trembled so that he might not cry and show weakness to the older men around him.
The preacher had been delayed on account of the weather and so it was Randall, covered in mud and rain, who spoke the words of the Lord to the few souls who yet remained.
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Amen.”