Night Rider (by AC1830)

Broken Ballad

Summary – Adam is the Man in Black but he also is a Man of the Night. Many times we see him heading out for a ride after the sun has set. These vignettes explore some of the reasons he’s a Night Rider. 

WC – 2064, Rating – K

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Night Rider

 

Ride 1 

A Difficult Farewell

The blackness of night nearly steals away my sight to where I can just make out the darker shadows of small trees and large rocks that outline the edge of a cliff in front of me. I rein my horse to a stop and close my eyes. The blackness doesn’t change but my other senses increase, reaching out like invisible tendrils in the chilled night air. The crashing of waves below the precipice and the strong salty air remind me how close I am to the edge yet these sensations bring calm to my restless soul, allowing my mind to wander where it may. 

I’m not sure when this habit of riding at night truly started. All I know is that it brings me comfort, peace, and rest; things the daylight cannot provide. As a child I knew nothing of a home with a roof over my head. Sure, Pa and me, and later Hoss, stayed in the occasional boarding house or army barracks, but most of my young life was spent outdoors – sleeping in the wagon or under the stars with Pa. 

After our house was built, I was still drawn to the outside at night, whether it was sitting on the porch, leaning against the corral rail, or riding my faithful horse across the land. I guess it’s in my blood to desire the cool air after a hot sweaty day, or to see my familiar friends, the stars, watching over me. I guess that’s why I stay up so late at night despite having a dawn wake up call. The night and I are close companions. We understand each other in ways that no human can understand me. 

Tonight is one of those times that I find it difficult to understand my feelings let alone share them with anyone. My life at college has been exhilarating and exhausting. When I arrived I thought it would never end. And now the end is here. Living with my grandfather made all the difference to me, getting me through these different and difficult years. Through his stalwart support and hearty lust for life he taught me to stand firm in my values and to meet life head on. Sometimes I think I learned more from him than I did from my professors. 

It has been a glorious day with the graduation ceremony, a party with my friends, and a special dinner with Grandfather. I even felt the presence of Pa, Hoss, and Little Joe through the gifts they’d sent months before and which Grandfather had hidden away until this very day. 

After dinner, Grandfather and I indulged in a bit of brandy and quiet reflections. As the clock chimed ten he turned in with a smile and loving pat to my back. However, being too wound up to sleep, I saddled a horse a friend had loaned me and rode out to the coastline. Although I can hear the waves breaking over the rocks, I can’t see the water. It’s a moonless night, causing the sea to be blacker than the sky. Above me, the stars twinkle and blink as if they’re happy to see me. Taking a deep breath of the salt air brings a smile and I feel my furrowed brow softening. Stretching out on the soft grassy hillside, while my horse quietly nickers and grazes nearby, I seek out my constellation friends and allow the night air to caress my skin. 

My heart is full of joy for all I’ve accomplished and for all the people who have become stanchions in my life. Yet there is a sadness underneath. In a few days I will say farewell to Grandfather and my life here, and begin my long journey home. But isn’t this home too? I have made a few lifelong friends and I have my grandfather, the only link to my mother, but across the country my father and brothers await my return. 

A soft muzzle and snort of hot breath in my face reminds me it’s getting late. Mounting my horse I lift my gaze to the starry sky one last time, realizing I am not the same person I was when I arrived here. Now I am a man with two homes, two lives. I now belong to the world and it is spread before me as a delectable feast. Feeling the wind in my face as I ride through the countryside toward the city, I am free and joyful, filled with life and dreams. 

 

Ride 2 

A Defining Moment

The thundering hooves pound the gravel trail drowning out my clanging thoughts. My heart hammers out the same rhythm as I become lost to myself. Just before the sun disappears behind the mountains, I give my horse his head and in freedom, he chews up the miles with his long, graceful, powerful stride. Oh, if only I could be free like that. I lean into his neck to become one with him. His long mane whips my face as my body rocks to match his. Closing my eyes I sink into the sensation of pure joy and freedom. My faithful steed and I are one with each other and one with the land. Peace descends into my troubled soul until there is no more room for the pain. Peace, rest, calm, joy. Nothing else matters when I ride with abandon across the land. 

A jolt forces my eyes open. Heaving sides and slower steps tell me the wild run has ended. As I sit back into the saddle I pat my friend on his damp neck and walk him to a stream for a drink. As my feet hit the ground reality surges up through my body and seizes my heart. It was never meant to be. That’s what I keep telling myself. Over and over, each time ‘the one’ walks out of my life. But this time I walked, or rather rode, away. Why? Oh how I long for an answer. Did she really love me? Could I love her?  Our lives were completely different and there just wasn’t enough time to find out. I’d been gone too long from home and was needed there. I couldn’t make a snap decision to stay longer with ranch responsibilities pressing, and I couldn’t bring her along, what would my family say to learn she served drinks in a saloon? But that didn’t matter to me since she was so much more. She had a big heart for downtrodden souls, that’s how we met. But she also was intelligent, spunky, and oh so independent. She was a vivacious woman who lit a fire in me.  

Leaning against a tree I let my thoughts run away with the trickling stream as it gurgles its way through the land. What happened to my life, my dreams? What have the years done to me? Women drift in and out of my life yet none stay. This last one entered my head, and was working her way to my heart but I turned away. Squeezing my eyes shut, I lose myself to the breeze, the babbling brook, the nicker of my horse as he seeks the sweet grass. Other visions enter my head and swirl around like a windstorm, visions of her golden hair and gentle green eyes, her soft smile and seductive lips. I reach for her and… 

Warm breath tickles my face. Letting my eyes drift open, the vision vanishes and is replaced by my horse’s head. The sky beyond him has turned indigo. Rising with a sigh and a chill in my bones, a new thought from the maelstrom in my mind has settled into my heart. It’s time to go. Not just back home, but back out into the world. I have more dreams to seek out, and maybe one will be fulfilled. The ride home is slow and filled with planning. It’s time for me to find a new home and life, a new dream. I need to feel freedom once again. 

 

Ride 3 

A Delightful Return 

Clop-clop, clop-clop. The rhythm is comforting and peaceful. I know this trail so well I could drive it blind, and in the dark that’s about what I’m doing. The small lamps on either side of the carriage offer little help. Although there’s a nip in the air, I left the top down so I could peek at the stars through the tall pines. Those riding with me have gone silent. I assume they are dozing after our long travels. While I find the horses’ gait and the sway of the carriage relaxing, my mind is too keyed up to be sleepy. It has been a long time since I’ve ridden this trail, too long in fact. So much has changed in my life and I have to wonder how much has changed with my family and home. 

Home. A place where one lives as a member of a family. In that sense I’ve had many homes, but this place is my first real home, and I am returning to it as my roots are here. At least that’s what my middle brother said to me when I left. I’ve traveled many places these last few years yet from time to time felt the call of the pines and the mountains. Seeing the vast ocean, other lakes and rivers, my eyes yearned to see the blueness of the lake behind my first home. I’ve met many supportive people and made many friends, yet none could compare to my father and two brothers. Actually, that’s three brothers now as there is one I have yet to meet. 

A third brother, the youngest of them all. What will it be like to have another brother in his teens? And my youngest brother is a big brother. I have to laugh at that vision. But hey, he has grown into a resourceful and dependable man. I’m sure he can handle it quite well. I’m flummoxed by all the changes since I’ve been gone. I can’t help wondering what if anything has stayed the same. Who am I kidding? If I’ve changed so much it would make sense that my family and home have too. 

The reins tug at my hands and I realize we are climbing. Up ahead the trees part and I can see moonlight spilling onto the trail. Slowing the horses to a stop at the crest of the hill, I have to take a moment to behold the view. The stars are twinkling in the chilled autumn air and the moon smiles down on the house with its lighted windows and a lamp on the porch. The scene is inviting and makes my heart thump against my chest. Beyond the log home, I can barely make out the shimmering lake, sparkling in the moonlight. All the sights I hoped to see again and they are welcoming me home. 

I lift my arms to flick the reins and feel movement to my left. “Is everything alright, Adam? Why did we stop?”

I lean over to kiss the top of my wife’s head. “Everything is just fine, my love. We stopped because we are home.”

Home. I’ve had so many dreams in my lifetime and many homes, but now I am complete. My final dream came true with my wife and children, and now I am bringing them home. My life is not over – there are more adventures to be had, I’m sure – but I am free and joyful. I am complete. As I draw my wife into a warm embrace, I feel an embrace from the night as well. Looking up, I smile at the stars shining down upon this night rider, my friends forever guiding me through life. 

An owl hoots nearby and I hear stirrings from the back seat. It’s time to complete this journey. Home and family await. I snap the reins and the horses sense my enthusiasm to approach the house. Pulling into the yard, the front door swings open as I exit the carriage. 

“Who’s out there?”

“Hi, Pa. I’m home.”

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Author: AC1830

Like many, I grew up with Bonanza. I'm an Adam gal from the beginning but I love all the Cartwrights, Candy and Jamie. In 2015 I reconnected with Bonanza through forums and also found my love of reading and writing fan fiction.

16 thoughts on “Night Rider (by AC1830)

  1. Abel and Ben both provided an anchor for the wanderer and helped him to find his moorings at last. Lovely story, well told.

  2. I love stories that aim to get inside Adam’s head and you did this very creatively. Nice one and a surprise in the last 👏🏼💕

    1. Thank you so much, Adamsgal for your kind words. Adam is a multifaceted character, and I enjoy looking a bit closer into why he does certain things, like night riding. Thanks for reading and letting me know you enjoyed this little peek into his thoughts. Glad you liked the surprise at the end.

    1. Thank you Monette. I enjoy getting into Adam’s head when he lets me. I hope you’ll give it a try. Thanks for reading and letting me know you enjoyed the story.

  3. Thank you for this beautiful story. When reading you can really feel the emotions. It’s so well written, I really like.

    1. Thank you so much Christiane. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I always appreciate your comments. Thanks for reading.

  4. Lovely story of how while things may change in life, other things will always be there to continue providing comfort.

    1. That’s a lovely and true thought, wx. Thanks for sharing it and for reading. Yes, when things change in life, as they are wont to do, it is nice to have the comforting constants to help us through.

  5. Si beau !!! La grande ourse veille sur Adam, l’étoile polaire lui montre le chemin, de retour à la maison, comblé par Vénus, des oursons dans le wagon, nouvelle vie sous la voie lactée.

    1. Merci beaucoup Monika. Votre description crée une belle scène en soi. Quelle belle façon de le décrire. Merci d’avoir lu et partagé vos pensées.

      (In case my French translation didn’t work right) Thank you so much, Monika. Your description creates a beautiful scene in itself. What a lovely way to describe it. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  6. Wonderful how you carried one mood throughout but brought in a bit of a twist that changed it in the third part which was just right.

    1. Thank you Betty. I hoped to bring the ‘mood’ full circle and it sounds like I succeeded. Glad you enjoyed this story.

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