After the showers, the sun will be shining.
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My dearest Yakov,

If you're reading this, it's too late for me.

A childhood in the concrete and wooden prisons of New York had taught Yakov quite a bit about the rest of his life. Firstly, that cold would strip the skin from a man almost as fast as the factories would break his bones. Secondly, that Yakov was less than a neighbor in the eyes of his gentile city dwellers. Thirdly, that Hashem was his shield, and the Smith & Wesson was his sword. And fourthly, that Death would elope with whoever she damn well pleased.

The recipe for happiness, therefore, must naturally have lain out in the frontier.

At least, that's what Yakov thought when he sold his house for a horse and blindly wandered towards the southwestern sunset. The breaking heat of an American day forces a man to rethink his ambitions entirely too late.

If America was the land of opportunity, Yakov's family might have come at the wrong time.

And even so, Yakov rode on.

Those Confederate bastards, that damned cavalry, they've broken through the Appalachian, and they're eating up every little town they find. Fields burnt to a crisp with the bluecoats inside, the remaining salted mush fed to the children. Livestock devoured alive, bone and all. Factories twisted into metal pretzels. Free negro and slave alike rounded up in chains, decimated, and sent on a death march down south.

They ain't looking to win a war. They're looking to make us suffer, and by the grace of the Almighty are they succeeding.

"Excuse me, sir."

The plump, blond mulatto looked up from his basket of tamales. "Mighty interestin'. I don't see your type here. Five cents a tamale, if your God lets you eat 'em."

"You got chicken?"

"If you got five cents."

Yakov flipped a dime into the vendor's basket, shooting him a weak grin. "Two chickens, then. Maybe more, if you got some to spare for Josie."

"You pickin' for two, father? I'dve thought you holy men were hitched to your God." The vendor was mighty particular about where his wares were at any one point, and took a bit long to hand Yakov his paper-wrapped tamales, but better clean food than fast food. "Come to think of it, you ain't lookin' to court a Christian, ain'tcha? Greycoats ain't gonna like that."

"Josie's my horse." Tamales were the prayers over grain and meat, right? "'suppose if I'm looking to romance a horse, came to the right land. So long's our skin's the same color."

At the very least, the joke got a snort out of this vendor. "Well, I don't sell horse feed, if that's what you're askin'. Check with the miller, and maybe ditch the shawl. I'd say you ain't white enough for her in that getup."

"What, town not big enough for this nose?" That seemed to be a rule in America: stab yourself before they stabbed you.

"Not on this side of the map." The vendor's face contorted, half a smirk and half a snarl. "I ain't an expert on politics, but you're lookin' for northwest of here. Long as the Greycoats get their way, you either wear a cross or die on one. If you're lookin' to settle, you're better off in Utah."

"Thank you kindly." Yakov nodded, and walked away.

Always the same process with those bastards. First it's the redleathers, digging through the land like rats, killing cattle and taking the kids. Then it's that cavalry, and all the hell that comes with it.

"You know, I ain't sure you can get there from here. Maybe geographically, but not spiritually." The burly woman before Yakov spat either jerky, tobacco, or driftwood into a nearby spittoon; Yakove wasn't sure which. "Frankly, I ain't about to take you to Fifth Saint lands."

Yakov tilted his head.

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