K.M. Weiland is a time-traveler whose destination is the past. She takes her readers back to a time long since, and then as in a documentary she brings events into the moment, this moment when you read her stories.
One More Ride in the Rain takes us up close and personal with four Confederate soldiers who, in current vernacular, have had it; they are war-weary. It is dark and raining. Enos, Triplett; Rob, their Sergeant, and Sam, the narrator, stumble upon a cabin that could serve as a refuge for the night if it is not guarded by someone with a weapon. Guarded or not, they must find sanctuary because their Sergeant is seriously wounded, having taken a mini ball in the chest at close range.
Cautiously, like soldiers do, they investigate and find a young woman, Mrs. Richard Davis, in the house. Frightened and alone, she reluctantly allows the men to come in. We find that she is a widow, her husband a casualty of the war.
She offers to fix them some hardtack from the bit of flour not taken by soldiers of General Sherman’s army that is marauding the South near the end of the war. She makes bandages from sheets for the Sergeant.
The story’s essence, however, is not their encounter with Mrs. Davis but their deep desire to rid themselves of the horrible war. Having lost their way while scouting for their unit, they are far away, now, and could easily desert, that unthinkable possibility for a any soldier. But, they feel they cannot abide another battle. Their Sergeant dies. They hear the enemy approach, and reflect a moment on who they are and what their duty is. They open the door to a life-changing confrontation.
Weiland is a skilled writer. She massages all our senses so that we are there with the four soldiers, sharing their physical misery and their mental torment. Weiland makes their decision to return to the fight our decision as well, because we are all one, gathered together like a snowball with its diversity of individual snow crystals squeezed together to make a whole.
This story is not necessarily remarkable for its premise, but its theme of honoring duty at all cost is palpable. She puts us there, and that is remarkable.