The whole town slept outside on cots set up in their yards. They had to, with houses that baked all through the stifling day and remained hot ovens throughout the night. Everyone spied on each other’s nightshirts, cracked jokes, and asked about the latest telegrams delivered about the loved ones of that neighbor or this neighbor. Those loved ones who traveled overseas. Those neighbors still shut inside their dark houses, despite the unbearable temperature. Everyone called out their good nights, their sweet dreams, their don’t let the rattlesnakes bite. When a bull escaped from his pen one night, his hoofbeats and snorts roamed the narrow dirt streets. Nowadays everyone sleeps inside, setting their cots under swamp coolers mounted to their front room windows, oblivious to what wanders the pitch black beyond. But back then, everyone sat up on their cots, alert. Everyone called out to each other, “Here he comes. Here he comes!”

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Dan Crawley is the author of Straight Down the Road (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019) and The Wind, It Swirls (Cowboy Jamboree Press, 2021). His writing appears or is forthcoming in Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, JMWW, Atticus Review, and elsewhere.