Reverend Gunderson Short Story

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Reverend Gunderson never heard William as he entered the parsonage. He was in one of his dark moods, holding his wife’s framed picture in his loose fingers. He had no strength to hold it tight. The mood had drained it from him. All he felt was numbing despair. She had been gone for twelve years. He remembered the morning she passed from this earth. She was only twenty-three, a slight built woman, too tiny for such a big baby.

The baby had cried, briefly, before she took her last breath. Her last words to her husband still burned in his ears, “Call him William after my dad”, she said as she passed. Why William? Why not name him after him, her husband? But, he loved her, and so the baby was christened William James Gunderson.
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It was decided that young William should be sent back to his mother’s family in Chicago. William waited outside the building, listening to the elders and some of their wives. He was aware of their decision before they had time to come out and let him know. He was not going to let strangers tell him where he should go, or what he should do. So, he ran back to the parsonage horse barn, and saddled up his speckled pony.

“Come on, little Mo. We are cowboys now.”

By the time the elders and their wives came out to meet with him, he was gone.

“Well, where did he go?” One of the women said. “He was just here a minute ago. I saw him, myself, sitting here looking so forlorn.”

“We must search for him. It is our duty to make sure he gets back to his people.” One of the elders stated.


William rode hard and fast toward the rising dust of the herd. He didn’t care if the cowboys thought he was too young. He would work hard, and stay out of the way. He was done with that little town, its sad people, and all the sorrow that had plagued his life. He relished the idea of being free. He could do nothing about the aching pain of how his dad died…in a self imposed sleep from too much of the sleeping salts, and a fallen candle that set off the fire. What was done was done, and he had learned early on to not hang on to things you had no control of, so he rode away from his childhood and toward the life of a
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