Lucinda Rebecca Adams was out riding her old gelding Comanche King, she had needed to do a tour of the back of the ranch for some time now. The ranch was pretty big, just over 105,000 acres total, located in northern Texas not too far from the Texas - Oklahoma state line.
The ranch was home to over nine thousand longhorn cattle, most of them roaming where they willed across the ranch's broad expanse. There were over a dozen small to medium sized creeks on the ranch's land, so the cattle had plenty of places to go if they needed water.
Lucy was approaching the one place on the land she disliked more than any other, some folks said The Fickle Fall was a cursed slope. How else could the accidents that occurred there be explained, like a horse slipping, breaking both front legs and throwing its rider, who broke his leg?
Lucy sighed, then shrugged and dismounted from Comanche King, lightly grasping his reins as she walked toward the top of the slope. It wasn't a particularly high hill, perhaps 30 feet above the land at its base, but the whole slope was shattered shale rock, mixed scree and talus.
She began to lead the gelding down the slope, slowly picking her way in somewhat of a zigzag pattern.
Everything was fine until she reached the halfway point, then fate turned on her and a large piece of loose shale slipped under her left foot.
As soon as her foot began to slide out from underneath her, Lucy dropped the horse's reins, she didn't want to have the gelding be hurt as well.
It only took a second or two for her back to slam against the slope, then a whole bunch of pieces, large and small, started to shift under her. From that point on, she had no control over the slide down the slope, which ended in her right foot slamming into the trunk of the lone pine tree at the base of the slope, a pine tree that had been growing there since before her family claimed the land and built the initial ranch house.
How long had they lived here? Well, the earliest record for the ranch, an old diary, stated her ancestors had arrived in the late summer of 1831.
She clearly heard one or more of the bones in her foot shatter when she hit the tree, she screamed long and loud, but no one heard her. It wasn't the only injury from the fall and slide down the slope, she had broken at least one of the bones in her left forearm and scraped it badly.
Comanche King, her sturdy old roan gelding, stood a few feet away from her. The lucky git had escaped unscathed, just her luck!
With a broken foot plus a broken arm, she knew she wouldn't be able to reach the saddlebags which contained two large water bottles and other odds and ends that she might need while wandering around the ranch. She growled under her breath, then snarled several curse words in at least three different languages, English, Spanish and Polish. The Polish ones she had learned from two of the ranch hands many years ago.
She laid there, near that hoary old pine, staring up at the cloudless blue sky of high summer afternoon. It was already as hot as hell here, or it felt like it to her, especially with the thought that she wouldn't be able to stay hydrated even with Comanche King standing right there.
Then her world flipped over again, a large shadow fell across her, one that was on the side opposite to where Comanche King was standing.
A quick glance to her right, and she shook her head in shock, she had to be hallucinating, she had to be! That was an ANGEL standing there!
Well, it sure looked like angels were described to be in the Bible, tall, sturdy, strong but fierce. This one stood protectively over her!
Then the angel surprised her, walking around her and over to the horse, where he pulled a full water bottle from the nearest saddlebag. The angel brought the water to her, bending down so she could take it from his hand, then watched as she took a short drink from the bottle.
She stared up at him, bottle in hand, completely stunned. This angel was helping her, she knew no one else was close enough to assist her.
The angel smiled at her, then in a voice that seemed soft yet vibrant, spoke to her, "The ranch needs you, Lucy. Another comes to help."
Lucy shook her head, what in the world did he mean by another comes to help? She was several miles away from the ranch house, alone!
That was when she was shocked yet again, for out from behind that hoary old pine loped a coyote, old and grey, but still spry.
The coyote sat near her feet, looked into her eyes for a moment, then nodded in a rather human way and yipped at Comanche King. The gelding was startled when the coyote appeared, but settled down a bit when it was clear it wouldn't harm Lucy.
Then the coyote yipped, and even though he was a horse, he understood what the coyote said, "Run to the ranch, bring back help for her!"
Comanche King nickered, nodded to the old coyote, then trotted up the slope and broke into a gallop in the direction of the ranch house.
Lucy was reminded of the six impossible things before breakfast from Alice Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. How could any of this be happening? An angel appearing from nowhere, a coyote that also appears from nowhere and talks with her horse, sending him home?
Lucy looked up at the angel again, the angel had straightened up and had moved back to her right side, where he stood and spread his wings wide to protect her as much as possible from the sun. The wings were white, but she could see glints of other colours in various parts of the wing, a bit of pale blue here, some blue-green like running water there, gold like the bright sun in that spot, pink and rose and gold in another.
The wings were beautiful, no, beautiful wasn't sufficient to describe them; they were utterly gorgeous, yet they suited the angel perfectly.
From time to time, Lucy would sip from the bottle, then look at the angel, then at the coyote lying near her feet. It was a strange world today.
The angel's wings kept drawing her attention, she had never seen anything like them, not even the wings of eagles were that beautiful!
She supposed that she must have been lying there for about an hour when she heard the rumbling of an engine in the distance. Moments later, an old pickup truck came around the far end of the slope, then approached the pine tree, stopping about fifteen feet away.
Old George Carter and his son Peter were in the truck. They jumped out, Peter reaching into the back, then the two walked over to her. It was soon quite obvious as to why Peter had reached into the bed of the truck, he had grabbed the makings of splints and two ace bandages.
The next few minutes passed as Peter and George carefully splinted and wrapped her foot and her forearm, then the two men picked her up and carried her over to the back of the pickup truck. George held her off the hard, dusty ground as Peter opened the tailgate; the two men gently placed her in the bed of the truck, where she could lie on a pile of blankets, using one as a pillow for her head.
While the two men were binding her injuries, the angel that had been keeping her safe from the harsh sun vanished, as did the coyote.
The trip back to the ranch house took perhaps fifteen minutes, Peter was on a cell phone reporting the injuries to the nearest hospital. After a brief stop at the ranch house to let some of the hands know that Lucy would be all right, they continued driving, headed for the hospital.
The hospital was quiet, not much happening in there at the time, so it didn't take long for the injuries to be assessed and properly treated.
Lucy would recover, she would be using a wheelchair for the next six weeks, but she was still alive, thanks to an angel and an old coyote.
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