Hell on Wheels
A New Birth of Freedom

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Tippi Blevins: B- | Grade It Now!
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In the church tent, the Reverend is hammering together pine boxes. Bodies lie on the floor, covered by sheets. Joseph walks in, raising his hand to his mouth at the smell. "I prayed you would stay away, my son," the Reverend says. "This is my home," Joseph says. He can't take his eyes off those bodies. The Reverend tells him it's not safe for him to be here. Joseph, still not quite getting it, reminds him he's baptized now. In turn, the Reverend reminds him that that doesn't necessarily sway the prejudices of others. Joseph bows his head and looks close to weeping. "It's not your fault," the Reverend says. "But it is!" Joseph insists. "They were from my band. Our dog soldiers, they're the ones that did this!" Flies buzz. The Reverend tries to convince Joseph that his family wasn't responsible, but Joseph recognized the arrows. He knows it was his brother. The Reverend warns him not to tell anyone else, but Joseph is aghast at the thought of not telling the truth. So now Joseph gets to have one of those transformational hair-cutting scenes most commonly reserved for women as a symbol of letting go of one's past. With only a tiny, warped mirror as his guide, he takes a pair of shears to his shoulder-length locks and hacks away until he has something resembling a white man's haircut.

The next morning, Lily conscientiously kicks dirt over the remains of the campfire. She's still bloody and disheveled, but the color is back in her cheeks and she doesn't look like she's going to keel over at any moment. Cullen is nowhere to be seen with three men ride up on horseback. It's Weasel and two others. "Well, there you are, kitty cat," he says. "We been searching over hill and dale for the fair-haired maiden of the West." Lily looks nervous but stands her ground. Nearby, Cullen is finishing up answering nature's call when he hears what's going on. Weasel says he's there to rescue her, as she's been "sullied by the heathen" and all. Lily bristles and tells him, in her own polite way, to shut the fuck up. Weasel wants that bounty, though, so he makes a move toward her. She whips out that knife she was sensible enough to grab after her husband was killed. One of the men advances on her with a gun. "Stay back," she warns him.

Cullen walks into the fray and fires a few shots. Damn. I was looking forward to seeing Lily gut all those guys. Instead, she ducks behind a tree to avoid stray bullets. Cullen takes down two men and aims the next shot at Weasel. The bullet grazes his head and he falls off his horse. Lily takes one of the horses and rides the hell out of there. Cullen gets his horse and rides after her, leaving Weasel rolling around on the ground, going, "My ear! My ear! Where is it?" Heh. Cullen catches up to her soon enough and takes her horse's reins. Lily dismounts, staggers a few steps away, and then falls to her knees, sobbing. It's been one damned thing after another and she's been too busy trying to survive to cry. Cullen gives Lily her space, either out of respect or because he's at a loss as to what to do.

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Hell on Wheels

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