The Blessed Makers of Peace

by Gerald Monsman

At “Big Dutch,” Eastern Cape Province. The Present.

KRUGER AND JOUBERT raised the alarm with paroxysms of barking. I thumbed back the hammer, tightened my finger on the trigger, and prayed to any appropriate deity that the powder in the cartridge had kept its kick these last thirty years. For sheer horror, nothing can match the smoldering craziness behind the glassy eyes of a Cape cobra. The snake hung in the noon sun in a thorn tree barely fifty yards from the house where the yellow weaverbirds nest, the light in its hypnotic, unblinking eyes coming and going. As sweat stung my vision, I steadied the front sight of the flamboyant silver-plated Colt on those copper-red pools of fire blazing at me. The blast stunned my eardrums, tore at my wrists, arms, and neck. The snake, airborne, slammed backwards, pink bits flying out. As the dogs circled, I caught a whiff of “Colt ozone,” black-powder smoke–thick, hard, and masculine–that conjured up a forgotten Sunday morning a half-century ago.

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