When he saw the telegraph poles, Thomas knew that civilization was encroaching. It always happened, he knew, no matter how far he rode. He’d first left civilization when he was 20 and looking for an adventure. He ended up at Camargo and Vera Cruz, an American occupier in a Mexican wilderness. When the war was over, his enlistment was up and he came back home to Virginia, civilization, to pound nails and shovel dirt. That lasted for two years then he could no longer stand the stifling of people. He went back into the Army, back to the wilderness of what was now American land for the next ten years.
He was stationed in Los Lunas, The Moons, as far in the wild as he was allowed. It was hot, dry, dusty, nothing like the lush greenness of his home in Tidewater. Thomas loved it. Back in civilization, there was the rumbling of war again, but this time the enemy was their fellow American. On The Moons, Thomas was friends with Mexicans and Anglos, Pueblos and Navajos, Mormons and Catholics. The wild seemed conducive to harmony.
Then he met Manuelita and became her Tomas, a civilized husband. The Army was no place for a tamed husband and Tomas was just as happy. He could be a husband, a farmer, a father. When he heard the coyotes howl in the night, he was happy in his safe house and safe world. But when Manuelita died and their child with her, Tomas decided he’d had enough of civilization.
So he left again, finding solace in the wild that he gave up once. He rode for decades, leaving The Moons behind for the desolation of the desert. But no matter where he went, the civilization crept closer, first the telegraph poles, then the railroad. He could keep riding, he knew, but he was tired and civilization no longer seemed so daunting.