“What did he say?” Theresa said, “I couldn’t hear from the barn! Oh, my, darling, I thought for sure he was going to find me when that horse of yours almost gave me away down at the corral.”

“It’s alright,” the stranger said putting his arms around the woman who was already clinging to him as if her life depended on it, “but, you had better go or he’ll know you were back.”

“I don’t care. I really don’t care. I have never known anyone could be like you!” she cried, trembling as she did. “I have to have you, and I have to have you, now?” she pleaded with him. Then seeing he had made his mind up not to indulge one more time with her, she became angry, her dark Mexican eyes snapped in the lamplight and began to move rapidly, so rapidly he could not track them, forcing him to look away. When he looked back his eyes were cold and indifferent and she sensed the rising futility in her desires. He didn’t love her. He hadn’t loved her all along. He had used her to satisfy some strange craving to conquer, to have another man’s wife, perhaps. It wasn’t her beauty, her charm, nor even the fact she was married. She refuted her own perception in her mind as her eyes continued to dance, bright with tears, and black with fear and anger at what she perceived as his dishonesty, and at the futile desire to make him love her, whom she knew also knew every inch of her and every action she would make then and now. She suddenly felt used, so used, she was beyond forgiving it, ever, and she reared back and swung at him, who knew it was coming and stopped it as if it were a cup about to fall from a table, quickly but with a surety born of practice.

Holding her wrists when she then attempted to strike him with the right hand also, he said, “I know how you feel. Don’t you dare think; I do not. Everywhere I go women hunger after me, and I am not a strong man, so I oblige them. Then when they have had their fill or I have, they think I have used them, but who’s used whom? Don’t you think I feel used too? It was so beautiful, Theresa, until you came back putting my life in danger that you might taste a little more of the present with me. What a horrible hateful woman you are, what a beast of a broad I have made of you, but Mrs. Lee you have put my life in danger and perhaps set the hounds of hell on my trail. Already this town threatens to lynch me, and now even Owen Lee the sheriff, your husband will be on my back until hell freezes over or a little after. My God, woman, why do you hate me so? What I have done with you was beautiful, why have you turned it profane and ugly? Get the hell out of here!
Get the hell out of my life! But for God’s sakes woman, don’t breathe a word of this to your husband. Raise my son as your own, after a while you will forget about me. Be happy you hateful b***h. Leave me! Leave me now, while I can still let you go.”

Puzzled, bewildered and guilty, Theresa turned and ran away now, hoping to get home on the far side of town before her husband if he was even going home, but before he did, to save the life of the poor creature she felt she had so wronged with her lusts.

Then the stranger smiled and walked the short distance to the barn and said,
“Davey? Are you in there? You can come out now and go to your own bed. I’ll be there a in a while. I should like to rest a while before my next visitor anyway, and the haymow will do just as well for what I have planned for this one.”

“Sure thing, stranger,” Davey said, happy not to have to sleep in the barn. “Man!” he said as if in afterthought, “Where can a guy get this present you talk of?”

“You heard, did ya?”

“Yeah, where did you get it, and who’d it come from?”

“I thought at first it was from the Lord. I even went to seminary because God was so gracious to me of all men, but I’m not really a saint and I ain’t ever been one either I know now. It’s not a curse but it was given to me, and I am certainly cursed with it, and not blessed. You see, it’s too easy for me. Any woman I want is mine, but that’s not enough for me. I have this damnable appetite. I’ve got to have every girl, woman, or old maid I see, or I feel cheated.” Then he paused before he said, “They are right you know. I use them. But they use me too, in a way. It’s all a vanity thing, and no one profits. It is heaven while it lasts and hell when it’s over. That’s why I can’t stop! I am as much a victim of my lusts as they are, except it’s also their lusts that burry them, and that my friend, Davey is all that keeps my a** from being in a sling many, many times over what it should be.”

Davey walked away toward the bunkhouse in silence and it looked like he would go in and not say a word about it, but just as he reached the door he looked back at the stranger and said, “What a way to go, though! Yep, what a way to go,” shook his head, took his hat off and headed for bed, for tomorrow was sure to come early with all the horses in the stable, and all the men in town.

Minutes later he stood in the yard in his night shirt, and yelled at the stranger whom he assumed was resting in the barn, “Stranger, you in there?” before waiting a moment and yelling, “You busy?” knowing he must be, then he shook his head and went back to bed.