Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sporadic Posts


Postings through February will be sporadic, if at all. Taking time off for personal crap that can't be delayed and I'll be working on my unpublished novels.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Amarilla Bound

"How far you reckon to Amarilla, Wuss?"

"Only 'bout eighty miles, two days of hard riding. We got to get across this Llano Estacado with our scalps intact and we'll be there. How's the girl holdin' up?" asked Wussy.

"I'm doin' just fine, Marshal. The sooner we get there, the better," she said from behind him. She was riding double with the Marshal, but he couldn't see much from his angle. He could feel her arms around his waist, though, as she gave him a squeeze that sent a quickening through his loins.

He turned his head and whispered, "Maybe we should stop awhiile, and I'll send Horse up ahead on a scout and we'll have some time alone." He gave her a wink and rested one hand on her arm.

"I told you, I'm not that kind of girl. I don't want to stop. I want to get to Amarilla."

Disappointed, he pulled alongside Horse, saying, "What's that up ahead, Horse? It looks like somebody's old camp from here. It don't look good with them vultures hanging around."

"That's what it is, all right. Look at those clumps on the ground, what is that?" replied Horse.

Drawing closer, they saw the clumps were bodies, five of them, and they looked like they had been there for a couple of days, all swollen up with blow flies hovering and landing on them. They had been scalped and mutilated, adding the smell of blood to the attraction for the insects, coyotes, and vultures.

"Whew! That smell is terrible," said Horse. "Who do you s'pose they are, our cow thieves?"

"Miss, I'm goin' to drop you off at that lone cedar tree over there," said Wussy. "This ain't no sight for a woman of your delicate nature."

"My husband's lying there. I'm not going anywhere," she said. She climbed off the horse and ran to each of the bodies. She had a hard time finding him, because of all the blood and gore and swelling. "This is him," she yelled and kneeled by one of them. She didn't yell and scream and cry or try to hug the body, but sat back on her feet and stared, a dainty white hanky held over her mouth and nose.

"Come, lass, there ain't nothing you can do for him, except give him a burial of some kind," said Wussy.

She looked up at the lawman, her eyes dry, and said, "I'll never miss this piece of dung. I don't care whether he's buried or not. He'll never lay another hand on me." She took a deep breath and let out a long sigh.

"Them's our rustlers, all right," said Horse, looking at each corpse and naming them off. "And there's two dead beef where they had their fire. The Comanche must have had a big party, five scalps and forty animals to steal," said Horse.

"Let's bury these bodies and take the girl to Amarilla," said Wuss. "Ain't no use chasing after the cattle. We'll report it to the Army and let them handle it. Horse, get all their personals out of their pockets and we'll take that, too. If you're keeping score, Horse, you can put down Comanche - 5, Texans -0."


HISTORICAL NOTE: Although the Comanche won the battle in this fiction, their numbers had dwindled from around 30,000-40,000 to less than half that by 1870 [to 8,000 per]. The white man's diseases decimaed the tribe with plagues of the measles, smallpox and cholera, not counting those killed outright by the white man. Their population has increased to over 14,000 at the present time. (Source: Wikipedia)

(I don't follow instructions very well. No deep canyons or agonizing protaganist, etc. Maybe I should read them again.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bert's Crossing, Re-did

{Picking up from where they spotted the lost girl, I'll start over.]

"Go see what she wants, Horse. One of us has to keep out of sight in case this is a trick of some kind."

Horse casually walked up to the girl and said something that I couldn't quite hear.

The girl gasped and hauled off and slapped Horse on the side of his cheek, knocking off his hat, saying, "Why you miserable little excuse for a lawman, I ain't that kind of girl. Besides, I ain't had nothin' to eat in three days, since them cowboys pulled out herding the beef like they wanted to get to Amarilla by noon. You got something to feed a young lady, Mister?" She blinked her eyes in a coquettish fashion and ran her pink tongue across her full reddish lips.

Horse reached down and picked up his hat, turned back to face her, looked into her blue eyes.

"My pard, the Marshal, has some prairie chicken he was goin' to cook up until we spied you comin' out of the brush. Maybe you'll change your mind after a good barbecued chicken breast," he said, eyeing her full bosom that was rising up and down under her flowery dress. "Come on out, Wussy! There ain't nothin' here by but this young woman. I promised her some chicken as soon as you can cook it up. She's awful hungry."

I was standing by his side by the time he had finished talking with the prairie bird in my hand. "I'm plumb out of barbecue sauce, Miss. Why don't you fix it the way you like it? Horse and I ain't too particular as long as it's cooked well."

"How'm I supposed to get the feathers off that thing, there ain't no water here since all the run-off from the rain has dried up? And I don't even have a pot to put it in, anyway," and she started crying, holding her hands up to her eyes.

Well, Horse and I got her calmed down and built a nice fire and singed off the feathers, telling her, "Now, see, that wasn't so difficult, was it? After you clean out the insides, you can run a green branch of mesquite tree through it and hold it over the fire, turning it over and over till it's cooked clear through, see. Horse, why don't you take a look around and make sure them rustlers cleared out. We don't want to be interrupted during our dinner."

While we were eating, I was keeping an eye on her, noticing the dainty way she held the leg in her fingers and opened her mouth just enough to take a nice-sized bite and closing her lips and chewing gently, savoring every little morsel. I was falling hard for her, she was such a pretty little thing, all alone with nobody to look our for her or protect from them bad elements that always found a way to take advantage of a pretty girl.

Horse returned from another of his rounds and interrupted my thoughts by saying, "We might be able to catch up with them cattle, if we can get out of here early enough in the morning. What are we going to do with this girl?"

"We'll have to take her along with us. Is that all right with you, Miss...Miss...?

"My name is Loretta, Loretta Taylor Lancaster, and I was forced to go along with my husband while they stole them cattle. They said I was holding them up when we reached here, and I got in an argument with my husband over it. They just rode off and left me here with no horse or food and didn't say when they would be back. I have friends in Amarilla, if that's where you're headed."

"Is that where they're takin' the cattle, Amarilla?"

"Of course. That's where the railroad is. They can sell them for a good price with no questions asked at the cattle yards."

They left camp as the sun was coming up and headed across the flat land in the direction of Amarilla. There was no sign that any cattle had been herded through the grass and brush. The rain had fixed that with the grass springing back to its natural state with the high water content sucked up from the wet earth.

[Next - Amarilla bound.]

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bert's Crossing

The rain finally let up and for two days we sweltered in the hot sun on a trail with no tracks looking for any trace that would lead us to the Crossing where the rustlers supposedly were. It was getting late and the sun hovered a few degrees above the horizon as we called it a day.

"It'll be easier tomorrow when we get down onto the flats, Horse," I reckoned. "I could see from that last hilltop that the lay of the land gets a might easier. We're almost out of the hills."

"And then all we gotta do is find Bert's," said Horse, like that was going to be hard to do.

We came riding down out of the hills the next morning not long after we broke camp, trailing our two jackasses loaded with our caboodle and headed for a small black dot on the far horizon barely distinguishable from the vegetation around it.

"By damn, Horse, see that tiny spot up ahead theer to the west? That's gotta be Bert's Crossing. I only been here one other instance and it looked the same then. It gets bigger as we get closer to it," I told my deputy.

"I don't see nothin' but greenery thataway, you know, creosote bushes, palo verdes, prickly pear, cholla, a few mesquites, lots of good hiding places for those rustlers we're after, Wuss."

"Well, I sure see it. Follow me quietly in case they're still around. We'll try to catch 'em unawares and knock 'em jawdiggety before they know what hit 'em,"

We dropped down into an arroyo, just deep enough to conceal the animals. We had to dismount and walk the rest of the way to a turn in the groove where we could get a clear look at what's left standing at this desolate spot in the high desert.

"Why, it's jist a wooden pole with a sign on it, Wuss. What gives with that?"

"Don't stick your head up too high or you'll get an arrow through it, Horse. Them Comanche has concealed theerselves in all  that greenery you saw back theer. Here's what we're gonna do. I'm gonna walk out theer and build a little fire like I was gittin' ready to cook up a chicken. It's been my experience that them Comanche likes the chicken and they're always hungry, that's why there so scrawny and puny lookin'. When you see the first one come out of the brush, shoot 'im and make sure you kill him deader than a doornail. But, if he's carrying a white flag, don't shoot. That means they want to parley. You jist stay hidden and keep your eyes open and stay alert. Comanches are pretty sneaky and one or two or a dozen of 'em might sneak up on you and lift your scalp. Got that, Horse?"

"Yep, I got it, but I ain't plannin' to lose..... Hold on, just a minute! That ain't no Comanch' comin' out of the brush. By God, it's a girl! And a pretty little thing, too. She must be lost, out here all by herself."

They both raced to the lost soul, but Wussy won that one, grabbing the woman by the shoulders and looking deep into her blue eyes, not even noticing the color of her long hair or the color of her long dress that draped gracefully over her full chest.

"Are you hungry, Miss? I was just goin' to cook up a chicken, one of those prairie type that taste so delicious over a bonfire," said Wussy. "Better yet, why don't you cook it, and Horse and I'll keep a lookout for those cattle thieves we're after. They may sneak back and attack us."

"Hell, Wuss, no wonder you ain't never been married," said Horse. "The least you can do is ask her her name and offer to do the cookin' the first time."

[Shucks, this thing is getting out of hand. Short stories are the hardest thing to write. I'll have to straighten this out in the next part before I can make heads or tails of it.]

(By the way, we saw True Grit and everyhting that's been said about it is true, that is, it was a helluva movie, lots of good acting and actors and actresses and horses and guns and shooting and bad men and drunks and, and, and....well, you just better take your movie-mate to see it.}

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Now, Let's Try Out Those Instructions

We're going to compose a short story following the rules I set forth in my last post to demonstrate their wisdom and efficiency for writing westerns. Here goes.....

We woke up to a torrential downpour and had to wait it out in the gloomy, dampness of our small tent that was pitched on the side of a hill. My deputy looked at me in disgust.

 "How long ya think it'll last?"

I returned his gaze, taking in his sodden blue jacket, long brown hair under the black cowboy hat, his muddy boots, and answered with another question.

"Were the animals all right? Were they just standin' there, not movin' or shaking their tails?"

"Course they were. What are they supposed to do in this rain, run around and stand on their hind legs?"

I ignored his remark and asked him another question.

"What direction were they facing, or did you even notice?"

"Hell, you can't tell directions in this weather, but they was facin' downhill thataway," he raised an arm and pointed.

"The rain won't last long," I said.

He looked at me funny-like out of his brownish eyes, took off his hat, ran a forefinger across his upper lip smoothing down his black mustache.

"How far you think it is to Bert's Crossing?" he said. "We been on the trail for three days and all the tracks are going to be washed out in this rain. You said they'd be at Bert's Crossing. In fact, you said you'd stake your horse and boots on it "

"We should be comin' up on it any day now. It oughta be only a few miles north-by-northwest from here. They'll be there, Horse," I told him.

His name was Horace, but he didn't mind being called Horse. "It has a sound of power and speed, Wussy," he said.

"Yeah, my name is Wussy, all right. Wussy Warshaw. I liked it better than Winston," I told him back then. "Maybe, Horse, that's why we get along so good. Our names are contradictory to our reality. Just look at you, nothin' like a horse for Hell's sake. You're small and insignifcant and slow as the seven years' itch. And me, I'm tall, wide and handsome and strong as an ox, fast with my draw. Perfect opposites we are,"

"Mebbe so, mebbe so, but one of these days everybody'll know Horse as the brainiest lawman to ever come down the trail. Mark my words, Wussy."

He laid down on his bedding, yawned, and said, "Wake me up when the rain stops."

[You'll notice that we began the beginning at just about the right point and we're heading North-by-Northwest where we'll soon be on the outskirts of Bert's Crossing. And we also laid out a plot. Right on.]

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Write a Western

I'm certainly not an expert of any type, but if you don't mind, I will now publish my instructions for writing westerns.

 In the first place, you have to have a beginning. You can't just start off without a beginning, and to start your beginning you need a direction. I use North-by-Northwest (I know, it was a movie with Cary Grant and that pretty blonde chick), but you have to get away from the swamps and alligators of East Texas to get in the mood, so calibrate your compass and head north-by-northwest herding those longhorns to where the Real West is, just past Bert's Crossing. Once there, you can start your beginning, which usually comes first, and head for the middle. Every novel I ever read since I was a tyke had a middle which started after the beginning and ran for a long, long time. Sometimes, I didn't think I would ever get through it and I didn't half the time until I was about four, five, six, somewhere along in there and found out that if I kept reading I would e-ven-tu--al-ly reach the ending.

You have to put in a good middle, make it exciting, fantastic, overwhelming, twisty-turny, and deep. The deeper the gullies and canyons, the better. The more suspense, mystery, and romance you can throw in, the better. Add a wide-open cowtown and wide-open spaces and a wide-open saloon batwing door and a wide-open barrel of whiskey. Put six or seven gunfight episodes in each chapter and make the hero squirm and cry bloody murder, and you'll see you're on the right track to the heart of the Western. When you fin-al-ly reach near the ending, make it a great transition from all the blood and gore and dead cattle and horses and men and Indians, and muleskinners and buffalo, and approach it with a more direct tone and syllabication (syllabication?? what the heck is that?). Turn directly West 13-and-a-half miles across Dale's Crossing and throw in some trash talk about who's the better man in a final showdown with the cattle thieves, and have the hero gun down thirty-two outlaws with his Colt .44 Peacemaker and a Belgian-made double-barreled 10-guage. A bloody mess to be sure! Then have the hero blow the smoke away from the gun barrel, grab the pretty lass with the big bazooms and kiss her directly on the mouth.  How sweet it is! Another best seller!

Whew! I better get to work on it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Starting off the New Year

I will start off the New Year by welcoming all my followers and give them a hearty thanks for peeking at my blog and making comments.
Much obliged to the writers of romance who are followers, and here's hoping they find the Western genre as interesting as their own. There is nothing inherently wrong in including a little romance in a western along with all the bloody shootings and descriptions of the condition of the shot ones as they lie in the cactus and rocks or in the horse manure of the roads in the small towns with the blood spouting from some bullet hole in their chest or head. Nothing wrong with describing the romantic episodes of the bloody victims as their heart's desire bends over them and cries a bucket of tears while inadvertently exposing most of their bountiful chests to the hero standing nearby in the dust and smoke. And the hero, already in a state of excitement from the recent events, sneaks a peek and falls in love with the poor woman and vows to himself to get to know her better at all costs.

"Oh, my darlin'! If I had only known he was your husband, boyfriend, hanger-around, ogler, even true love, I would never have plugged him in the chest, head, torso, back, right leg, left boot, rear end, left calf, left ear, and left hand. No, honey, I would've only plugged him in the head, chest, back, and rear end. Can you ever forgive me for  bein' so cruel?"

"Yes, my sweet thing, I will forgive you. I know you didn't mean to shoot him that many times, honey. He was only the father of my six kids, anyway, honey dear. You are forgiven. Now, can we get married?"

Nothing wrong with a little romance in a western. Maybe I'll switch to romance after I get my next six westerns published or mix it up a little more in a new genre - westmance or romwestern or.... or....or...uh...uh...Hell, you know what I mean.

And don't forget to dodge over to and read, Butch Cassidy and the Thirsty Old Man.