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      Red rode on a for a few more hours keeping a look out for game, but didn't spot anything. That night he made camp on a mesa. As he sat near his fire, finishing off the rabbit from that morning, he heard a pack of coyotes howling in the distance. Then two shots rang out and there was silence. He knew who fired those two shots.

      Red knew it was the same two men who had been looking for him back in San Antonio. He had put some time between him and them by turning north and following the Pecos River to Albuquerque instead of continuing west to El Paso. They were closing in on him just as he was closing in on California. He wasn't sure why they were after him, but he wasn't going to wait around for them so he could ask them. He was troubled as he bedded down for the night until the twinkling stars grabbed his attention.

      Tonight, though, Red saw what the stars were trying to show him. The stars twinkled and this time he saw Elisa's face. His sweet Elisa. He had first met her three years ago, while he was still working around the docks. He was now working in the warehouses, making deliveries around St. Louis. He would make deliveries downtown nearly every day where he had noticed Elisa in one of the offices. After seeing her for weeks, he had finally gotten the nerve up one day and had stopped to introduce himself.

      Red had asked around and soon discovered that her father was one of the most important merchants in St. Louis. He still had decided to pursue her, so he made a point to greet her every time he saw her and made small talk. He always had behaved like a gentleman. She at first merely had tolerated him, but soon she seemed to enjoy his attention. He had asked if he could escort her to the opera one night and at first she had declined, but over the days, he continued to ask until she agreed.

      It had taken four months for that to happen, but to Red it had only seemed like days. He had been saving up for when she said yes and he went out and bought a new suit and got a haircut. When he went to pick her up for the opera that Saturday night, he had looked like a gentleman and he could tell that she had been surprised. He had treated her to dinner at one of the social clubs and they had a wonderful evening. She had consented to continuing to see him on one condition. She wanted to know his given name, because didn't Red as a nickname. After some coaxing, he had finally told her his given name of Thomas.

Absolut Paradigm

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