“Stupid *prairie dog* holes,” Teaspoon muttered as he bent over once more to check his horse’s front right ankle.

The day before, in the middle of nowhere, Bess had stepped in one of those “stupid holes” so Teaspoon had been on foot ever since, taking it slow and easy for the horse.

“Seems to be holdin’ up girl, hopefully we’ll fine’ly get someplace and take better care of ya’.”

Teaspoon stood up, stretched his back to pop his backbone, and bounced from one foot to another. The last few miles of walking had just about killed him (he was sure Bess wasn’t faring much better) and as he took in their surroundings, he saw that he wasn’t any closer to a chair or a drink. In fact, they were still in the middle of nowhere, and all he saw to keep him and his horse company were the *saguaro*, which, oddly enough, were quite plentiful. One even looked like it was waving at him.

“Ya’ offerin’ me a drink?” Teaspoon asked, grinning broadly and touching his hat in greeting to the huge cactus. “If there’s a place to sit, I’m inclined to join ya’.” The laugh that burst forth verged on the hysterics and he knew the hold he had on his senses was *slim*.

Unable to keep a job, or his sanity, he’d been wandering for months. The only thing that helped him maintain his grip on life was whiskey. He couldn’t connect with anyone, men or women. There’d been women, but not a one that meant anything to him. It wasn’t what he wanted. Friends and family were important to him, what mattered most, but all that changed when…he shook his head, refusing to remember.

Sighing, he patted Bess on the neck and trudged forward. All that mattered now was a place to *lift* his spirits…with some spirits, as well as a place to bed Bess for the night so she could heal. Unfortunately, neither one appeared to be an option so Teaspoon prayed, something he hadn’t done in years, hoping someone would listen so that he and Bess didn’t have to sleep outside another night. And he wasn’t alone another night.

The sun was dipping in the sky, dusk settling in, and the beautiful colors – reds, yellows, oranges, and pinks – painted a majestic view. Unblinking, Teaspoon stared off in the distance, watching the natural fireworks, as he and Bess crested a small hill. Tears were streaming down his cheeks before he realized he hadn’t blinked in a while. Wiping his face, he blinked to restore his vision and saw a small building in the distance. His eyes widened and he blinked a few more times, thinking it was a mirage.

“Hot damn Bess!” he hollered, grabbing his hat off his head and throwing it in the air. “We’re gonna sleep good tonight!” Bess sidled away from her master; sure he’d truly gone mad this time.

Teaspoon chuckled, leaned over, and picked up his hat. A few swipes to get the dust off only seemed to cause the dust to drift onto his shirt, which was covered along with his pants. He glanced down but really didn’t care how he looked; just that he had enough money in his pocket to get drunk. How he’d been brought to this point, he refused to remember.

“Come on Bess, let’s get movin’,” he said sadly. He pulled gently on the reins and the two lonely figures headed for the structure that called like an oasis in the middle of all this vast, empty land.

After what seemed like miles to his feet, Teaspoon and Bess arrived at their destination. A quick glance around was all it took to see everything. To the right of the stucco building, there was a stable where a boy sat in the entrance; to the left was a small cottage. What made him smile was the word “cantina” in white over the door of the main structure. But then, his smile faltered and he felt a sense of awe rush over him at the appearance of a young woman in the entrance to the cantina. She was tossing out dirty water from a wash basin and the fading light shone off her skin, giving it the look of melted *copper*. He was mesmerized but was quickly brought from his reverie by a soft cough.

“You need a place for your horse?”

Teaspoon stood, dumbfounded, and grinning like a fool. Her voice was melodic and the accent was heaven. Bess nudged him. “Oh,” he stammered, “um, yes’am. She needs some salve. Stepped in a hole aways back.” He pointed clumsily over his shoulder, not taking his eyes off the beauty.

“Alejandro,” she called, holding the basin against her hip as she appraised Teaspoon, making him wish he’d brushed himself off better. The boy from the stable ran to her. “Take this man’s horse, give her good care.” Immediately, Alejandro ran over, gave Teaspoon a big grin, and took the reins. Slowly, he led Bess away, talking softly to the horse as she walked beside him. Occasionally, he patted her neck gently. Teaspoon smiled, knowing Bess was going to be well taken care of. Now, for him.

“You, filthy man,” she teased, the smile she flashed him was inviting. “Come you need a bath.” She turned, her skirt swirling as she did, and gave him one more beguiling smile before disappearing into the cantina.

Teaspoon grinned giddily, looked up to the heavens, and tipped his hat. “I guess someone is there.”

A/N: word list prompt from Raye

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