Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gift Art: Wash and Rosie by Amy M.

Here are a couple very cool pictures by Amy M. of Rosie Burgess and Wash Monahan. These two are particularly sweet, which really suits both the characters. I love the life she puts into the eyes!

I have a confession to make here. I didnt' realize it was Wednesday night until about midnight last night.  It was like waking up with the house on fire or something.

I swear I don't know what happened to the week.

Between the holiday and a variety of family things going on right now, I am simply not ready to finish this week's post up. Out of time and mental resources, I guess. Sometimes life catches up with you and can suck all the creativity right out of your head.   But I'm going to allow myself a few extra days on it and see if I can't get it out over the weekend. Sometimes it just helps if I just let myself take a mulligan every now and then, even though I dislike resorting to that. The husband's always saying "Just blow it off one week!" Well, I always feel like I've fallen on my face when I do that, so no. I have some airspace just ahead. Maybe. So I'm gonna try to use to get this week's post out. Watch this space. 

Did it just turn Friday?

Good Lord. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Prequel: God Rest You Merry

This is an extra extra long post for you this week. Sort of a little Christmas special for you. So Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Solstice, Kwanzaa, or whatever. Have a fun, peaceful, and safe Sunday however you choose to spend it. God rest you merry! 


Wash Monahan scowled at his trail partner, irritated.

Well, honestly, “irritated” was probably a more charitable word than either of them deserved. Truth be told, Wash Monahan had had just about enough of the man.

The air was dry and windy and cold, biting into their exposed skin as it whistled through the buttes and rock pillars lining the trail. It was the sort of day Wash hated, with the sun a glaring, painful spearpoint, stabbing into his blue eyes no matter where he looked. His face itched, dried by the cold air. And Saint, the Italian coach driver he found himself working with these days, wasn’t helping improve his mood. Fortunately, it was a short supply run in a mud coach, and they didn’t expect to be gone for more than a day or two.

“Wash...” Saint said, not even trying to disguise the contempt in his voice. “You’re sayin’ you don’t get why I might not want to spend Christmas Day out here on the trail, in the cold, on top of this damn wagon box. And with what is turning out to be really shitty company, no less. You’re honestly saying that?”

Wash turned in his seat, trying to settle his butt into a more comfortable position as the coach lurched along the trail. Jaysus, me poor arse...a Concord this is not...“I’m sayin’ what’s the difference, is all I’m sayin’. It isna like you’re going to Mass or even visiting with anyone that matters, does it?”

“That ain’t the point.” Saint spat.

“It’s just another sodding day, lad.” Wash pressed. “So what if we spend it here or back at the Green?”

“It ain’t just another day, Wash.” Saint’s face twisted in frustration and he turned to face him. “And anyways, what the hell? I thought you were Catholic...”

“Aye, I was at one time. Another time.” Wash’s mind was skirting around a place he didn’t want to go. He tried to haul it back, back to where it didn’t consume him, feeling his anger flare. Another life. I’m someone else now. Unbidden memories flitted through his mind. Fire, darkness, despair. The end of his old life in a rush of steel and agony and blood swirling over the filthy cobbles of the street. A black robed priest with a gun in his hand, bringing him back, casting him out, sending him to this life.

This life would do. God had forsaken the old one, and Wash could hardly blame him. In fact, Wash himself had forsaken it, so he could hardly blame God for turning his face away from that awful sodding mess. Wash could forgive Him that.

But he couldn’t forgive Him turning from Dorcas. So he and God would just have to go their separate ways from here on out.

“I’m not anymore.” He said finally. “And to me, it’s just another day. But we’re making good time, so we are, and not far from the Green. We’ll be back in plenty of time for you to not go to Mass.”

Saint grimaced, coughing and  turning his attention back to driving the coach. “Cazzone.” he muttered.


A gust of wind hit them hard, slamming against his chest and making the coach shudder beneath them. His hat blew back off his head, the lanyard beneath his chin biting into his throat. For the first time since he and Saint had started arguing, he realized the sun was no longer hurting his eyes. He jammed his hat back onto his head and ducked so his brim shielded his face from the hail of tiny, stinging bits of driven ice. The weather had been clear and dry all week, and they hadn’t counted on the sudden, razor-sharp wind bringing with it clouds the color of slate and air that sliced into the lungs like arrowheads made of ice.

“Ah, they don’t pay us enough for this shite.” He muttered, pulling his scarf up over his mouth more firmly, feeling snow cling to his stubbled face and bite into his cheeks.

“Merda.” Saint growled. “Where the hell did this come from?” He coughed again, doubling his scarf around his face and grimacing as the flying snow clung to his eyelashes and sifted into his hair. It was coming down nearly sideways, blowing underneath the brims of their hats.

“Dunno, lad, but it’ll slow us down, sure. How far are we from the station?”

“Not real far...but it’s comin’ down hard.” He clicked his tongue, quickening the pace of the team. Wash grabbed the seatback for balance as the coach jerked forward. “Shit.” Saint hissed, defeated. He was barely visible behind the sheets of stinging white that blasted them. The wheels of the coach had started to slow in the drifts of powder swirling over the trail.

“I’m thinkin’ to stop here, lad, against these buttes.” Wash looked around at the walls of stone that rose up along the trail. “This coach may be done if the snow gets deeper. at least it's sheltered over here.”
“I’m with you.” Saint said, slowing the coach and steering it close as he could to the leeward side of the sheltering rock walls. “We need to protect these horses. We may need to ride out of here on ‘em later.”

“Aye.” Wash swung himself onto the wagon box behind the seat and started pulling out canvas tarps and buffalo robes as Saint pulled the coach alongside the wall. The temperature had dropped like an anvil tossed out of a boat, and the wind howled as it scoured through the rocks.

“Wash, see if you can pull those tarps between the coach and the wall. We’ll put the horses in. Might be warmer.” Saint called as he jumped to the ground, his voice strained and tossed in the force of the blizzard. “Gonna unhitch.”

“Aye, lad, sure.” The rock wall offered considerable protection from the screaming wind. Wash bound the edges of the tarps into the railings at the top of the coach and wedged them against the rock wall with rocks and dead branches. It was sloppy and cramped, but it would be better than no protection at all. He dumped the robes in a pile out of the way.

Saint pulled the horses underneath, struggling as they protested entering the makeshift tent. “Glad we only got the two of ‘em.” He coughed violently, snow pouring off his hat and shoulders as he helped Wash pull the tarp back down over their rumps.  “, no.” he murmured, his hands gently playing over the horse’s coats, brushing the snow off as quickly as he could before it melted. He was breathing hard, his breath whistling softly as he worked.

“Might blow over, lad.”

Saint nodded, saying nothing. His shoulders heaved with exertion and he straightened, giving the horse he’d been soothing one more gentle caress before opening the door to the wagon and sitting down hard on the sill.

Wash felt a twinge of guilt. His new trail partner was homesick. The fact they were nearing Christmas had been eating at him, kicking the loose lid off the yawning chasm of his longing. He’d been distant of late, short tempered and irritable. And if he had to be honest with himself, so had he himself. The lad’s got something to go back to, people thinking about him. Sometimes I dun’ know what’s worse. Knowing someone’s there that misses you, or knowin’ there isn’t. It was all good sport to chide him about his sentiment and soft spots, to give him a hard time when it seemed they’d end up getting back on schedule anyways and no harm would be done. But now that it seemed they might actually end up stuck here instead, Wash genuinely felt a little remorse for picking on his trail mate.

I guess there’s something to be said for having nothing behind you but a smouldering ruin and buggers who want to kill you. He scowled unhappily beneath his scarf. Sod it. It’s not like I miss the Five Points. I fecking well don’t. Sod the whole nasty lot.

Wash stuck his hat back on his head and shivered. It was still cold, but at least they were out of the wind. “Y’all right?”

Saint nodded, trying to catch his breath. He braced his hands on the top of the open doorway. “Fine.” he whispered. “Gimme a minute...”

Wash frowned. The younger man’s skin was pale, gleaming with sweat, and Wash’s alarm grew at the gray tinge of Saint’s lips. “Lad...”

Saint frowned, his hand shooting up in a halting motion. “Fine...” he mouthed, “Just...”

“Sweating in this cold can kill you, so it can.” Wash pushed past the man’s defensive gesture, grasping his shoulders and laying a hand on his forehead. “Come here to me, lad. Jaysus, you look like shite. How long ha’ you been like this?” Saint’s skin was soaked, icy. How did this come on so fecking quick?

Saint was wheezing, his shoulders heaving with the effort of breathing. “It’ll pass.” he croaked, his teeth starting to chatter. He started to sag sideways in the doorway and Wash pushed him backwards, catching his head so it didn’t hit the floor of the coach as he eased him back.

Saint struggled to his elbows, trying to pull away, shaking his head.

“Let me help you, lad. Stop fighting me!” He hauled himself into the coach and helped Saint pull himself up against the seat. “Tell me what to do!”

Saint shook his head, his breath whistling in his throat. “Can’t.” He let his head fall back onto the seat,helpless and shivering in the throes of whatever had him in its grip.

A gust of wind hit the side of the coach, making it lurch on its thoroughbraces. Icy wind slipped through the canvas window covering on the windward side, sharp and threatening. Wash swung out of the wagon and hauled the robes up, wrestling their musty bulk through the doorway of the coach. He was glad for the heat of the horses. It helped take some of the bite out of the chill, but with his partner struggling to breathe in a cold sweat, he knew he still had a deadly situation on his hands. In this cold, that thin layer of cloying moisture might as well be a funeral shroud. It would suck the warmth right out of a man’s body, and with it his life. .I might be riding home alone, sure. This is bad.

Saint was clawing open his coat, trying to free himself from the constriction around his chest, gasping painfully. Wash shed his own coat and dropped down to sit on the floor beside him, leaning his back against the seat. He pulled the robes around them both, hauling Saint close to his side and wrapping an arm around him. He shook the flask out of his boot and grabbed it with his free hand.

“Got whiskey, lad.” Wash unscrewed the top. “Good for everything, so it is.” He raised it to Saint’s lips. “Easy does it, now. Just enough so you can feel it.”

Saint took a bracing gulp, then tried to push away. Wash held him firmly against his side. “Stop, Saint. You’re soaked and shivering, lad, and I’d rather not have to tell Lynch I let you freeze to death.” He raised the flask to Saint’s lips. “A wee drop, now.”

Saint gasped, grimacing, taking another pull from the flask. His teeth clicked against the metal top as he shook with cold, coughing.

“Are you in pain?” Wash released his grip a bit, giving Saint some air. “What...”

“No.” He drew in a ragged, wheezing breath. “It’s passing.”

Wash could feel Saint’s skin warming up beneath his arm, the violent shuddering in his chest subsiding. He shifted and let Saint’s head roll onto his shoulder. The thought of his younger brother Connor came unnbidden to his mind and he inwardly cringed. Connor, with his angry drunkenness, his disrespect. Connor, with his arrogant entitlement and his violence and his out of control aggression.

He’d failed Connor so completely. Despite his efforts, despite his trying so hard, he couldn’t change who Connor was. He couldn’t save him.

Big brothers are supposed to be the protective ones. Why wouldn’t he let me be there for him?
Why was I not someone he could look up to?  Jaysus, me only family left, so he was. Me own brother calls me enemy...

He pushed the thoughts back into the crowded, dark basement inside him, and composed his words, his voice unsteady and soft. “So. Laddie. what hideous pestilence can I look forward to catching from you?”

“Being beaten to death, if you ever tell anyone about this.”

Wash smirked, giving Saint’s arm a patronizing pat. “You’re hardly me type, lass. And there isna enough whiskey in that flask by half.”

Saint closed his eyes, breathing. Wash was relieved to see that while he still looked pale and ill, the bluish tinge of his skin was fading. “It’s from rock dust.” He inhaled as if he’d just been plucked from the sea after nearly drowning. “You can’t catch it. I worked in mines since almost before I can remember.”

Wash furrowed his brow, images of wee boys covered in black dust reeling through his mind. “I see.”

“Hey, Wash?”


“Look...thanks. ain’t usually this bad. I don’t think I could have...well...” He paused, taking a few labored breaths. “You got me through it. Thanks. I’m glad you were here.”

Wash nodded, listening to the wind howling. Occasionally a gust would catch the coach and rattle it ominously. Hell of a place to spend Christmas Eve. He gave Saint’s shoulder a brotherly squeeze.“Lad... I’m sorry we’re stuck here and I’m sorry we’re probably not going to make it back by tomorrow. I was a right sodding tosser to you, and I’m sorry for that, too.”

Saint’s eyes were still closed, his voice sleepy. “We both were. I’m sorry, too. It’s not important,”

“It’s important to you.”

“It’s important to not be alone tomorrow. I just wanted some friends around, maybe a day off. Maybe a friendly card game.”

“There’s cards in the box, lad. I think we can manage it.”

Saint was quiet a moment. Wash wondered if he’d fallen asleep, but he shifted under the robes, relaxing. “We work together day in and day out. I should have got you something.”

A bittesweet pang turned inside of Wash’s chest and he listened with satisfaction and relief to the slowing of Saint’s breathing as it steadied. “You did, lad. Go on to sleep with you now. I’ll keep watch.”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gift Art: Fiona by Amy M.

Here is another great piece of artwork of Fiona by Amy M. I love the colors in this, they are so vivid, just like the Fiona I see in my head.

She definitely does not look like someone who would put up with a lot of crap from anyone in this picture. She looks determined and capable.

Thanks, Amy, I love this. And I so appreciate you taking the time to do these pics. It really does put a smile on my face. :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gift Art by Amy M.

Was having kind of a bad day Saturday and then someone really managed to salvage things for me.

Amy M. sent me a couple pieces of AWESOME arwork. There are few things that make a writer smile more than knowing someone is enjoying their stuff, much less  enjoying it enough to want to make something like this.

And it's thrilling to see how readers interpret what I've written.  I really do think the reading of it is the other half of writing. A person can write volumes, but until someone else is viewing it through the glass of  their own imagination, it's somehow not complete. Storytelling is a team effort. 

Well, anyways, this is just gorgeous and I love it. I'll be doling the rest of them out in the next couple weeks, so watch this space.

Thanks again, Amy M. For the artwork, the support, and the much needed boost!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thou Famished Grave

So, yeah, my head’s not been in the game this week. And here it is Wednesday night and I got nothing ready to go out. And I’m sorry about that. Next week I’ll be back in the saddle, I promise. 

But I want to talk about something else this week anyways. I can’t write what I ought to be writing, I got something else in the forefront of my mind so that’s what I’m gonna write about. 

My doctor’s office called me last week to tell me the delightful news that they’d found an ominous mass on my much-procrastinated mammogram last week. Probably a cyst, they said. Nothing I could feel in there that felt any different, but there it was on the film. So Thursday, I had to go down for an ultrasound. 

The Breast Center here in town is very nice. However, it’s interesting how that particular shade of pink, those pretty little curly pink ribbon motif stickers they use on the floor over there to show you the way down what feels like an impossibly long hallway do not, in the consciousness of a frightened woman, look cheerful. No, the color of those pink walls, the beautiful soft colors of the decor, the shiny, bubblegum pink shoes the nurse was wearing...that color hits your retinas and all the warmth sucks out of your body like you’re standing naked and wet in an arctic wind. 

That sweet, candyfloss color tells you one thing: The shit’s gotten real. Very damn real indeed.

So they do the films and there it is, like an empty black shark’s eye looking back at me. So I’m waiting for the doctor to come in and  I’m just thinking. I’m thinking about my five year old daughter. I don’t care about anything else. I mean, of course I care about my husband, and my family, and my friends. But my daughter was what was killing me. I’m just sitting there thinking about what the hell she’s supposed to do without a mom? That’s hard, being a girl growing up without a mom. I was very lucky to have, and still have, a mother who loves me. I’m not young, but I still need my mom around. I think about my friend Ginger, who left a nine year old boy. That boy grew up to be a young man who is a good friend of mine, and he knows very sharply the hole she left in his life when breast cancer took her long ago years ago.  I look up and there’s one of those puke pans sitting on a shelf. I  understand immediately what it’s for and also realize I very well may end up using the thing myself any moment. 

The thing that weighs on me the most? That my cavalier attitude towards taking care of myself might be what ends up killing me. I know damn well I was overdue coming to get checked out. Who likes getting their tits crushed in a vice? Listen, I drink waaay too much coffee for that to be fun. I’m looking around at all this “early detection” literature and thinking how bad I ballsed this up. We do love to find ways to blame ourselves, don’t we? This time, I had really made it easy for myself to do just that. 

So the doctor tells me I have a seventy percent chance of it being benign. And if it wasn’t, it was likely Stage One, which has a pretty high cure rate. No swollen lymph nodes, so that’s a good sign. 

If that sounds like good odds to you, go for...what was it, four days or so... with them hanging over your head and see how you feel about it then. Make sure you have a lot of Tums handy. I’m just sayin’. Yeah, I know breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. That doesn’t mean I want to spin the chamber and put the gun to my head. 

So I had to go in for an ultrasound guided needle biopsy on Monday. If that sounds horrible, it’s not really. Scary, yeah, but it didn’t hurt. And it was kind of cool to watch on the screen. So if anyone ever has to have that done, God forbid, understand it’s not that big of a deal. It was over in an hour and I drove myself home, having taken nothing at all for pain other than an icepack in my bra. 

I walked around all day Tuesday with my phone in my hand. Every time it rang (and it rang a lot...the universe has a way of screwing with you sometimes), I literally jumped. They called me Tuesday at around three. It’s a benign fibroadenoma. Evidently I have managed to evade the Grim Reaper for yet another day. 

So, I guess what I have learned from all this is:

There’s a whole hell of a lot of lumps, bumps, gremlins, vermin, and shadows that get in your breasts. The huge, vast majority of them are harmless. Don’t not go to the doc’s because you think you’re immortal, or untouchable, or just scared of what you’ll see. I guess it seems like so many legions of women get breast cancer and die...and sadly, they do. But what it’s easy to lose sight of is the even more numerous legions who don’t. 

Don’t screw around. Get yourself checked out. Pay attention. Gents, you’re not immune to this. I’m talking to you, too. 

Don’t wait till you think you might be dying to live. We’re all dying. That you might find out when really doesn’t change much in the grand scheme of things. All it does is give you regrets. Live so you don’t have any. And when you do get to the end...well.. but bones and jewels on that day.

-’gina  (with a nod to Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Quick Sketch of Storm

One of the problems I get when I get a migraine is that my mind races and will not stop. The upside of that is that I tend to get very creative. The downside is I'm usually way too stove up to do much about it.

Last time it happened, it wasn't completely incapacitating. It just went on longer than normal. I had the urge to draw something, and for a change could see well enough to sit down and give it a shot.

I used to do sketches, but haven't done it something like twenty years. I'm out of practice and frankly, I think he looks a little too much like a chick.

But it was fun, and maybe I'll do another if the mood strikes.

By the way, I tried the Sinus Buster for Migraine stuff. Seems to work pretty well, it put a big dent in the migraine. It's like sucking napalm up your nose.

I kind of dug it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Painting of Luis

Here is a powerful piece of artwork by a reader, who asked me not to identify who did the painting.

While I don't prefer that, I will respect it. So the artist in question shall remain a mystery.

I really love how this painting tells a story. It's Luis, and the white dust on his pants and shoes are ashes. I like how it speculates on Luis' past. After all, we don't really know where Luis was before his employment by Mr. Lynch, nor what brought him to where he is.

Or I suppose it might be Luis after the fire in the kitchen. He was pretty disturbed by all that. 

Very striking and thought provoking. Isolating the figure and the rosary against the blank background, to me, is very powerful.

So, thank you for this. You know who you are.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Want to See the Cover Art Y'all Helped Shape?

This will be the cover artwork of the book once we're done laying it out (which we're already underway with). The plan is to include the story (san bugs...and there are many), the artwork, an entirely new run of art I am saving as an exclusive by Melissa from Three of Swords, and a stand alone Saint and Wash story, complete with new illustrations by Diego.

I think you'll like it.

Once again, Diego is a total genius. As you can see. He really go far beyond expectations on this one. I mean, I have come to expect excellence from him, but I am always thrilled and blown away every time he does a new piece for me anyways.  I just love it. Thanks again, Diego!

I really like what  he did with Bender. I hope you all do, too. The suggestions everyone gave were great and very helpful, and I very much appreciate all the feedback you all came up with. I hope this reflects what you all are seeing. Because that is what I desperately crave to know, and I never really, truly will because I'm not you.

Writing isn't really complete until someone comes along and reads it. The reader's imagination is what gives the story it's breath of life. It's like making a's just sticks and paper until a wind comes along and picks it up and turns it into a living, flying thing.

Thank you for giving my story a place to fly.  


Monday, June 6, 2011

Plug For My Favorite Soapmaker

 I don't normally plug products on here, but in this particular case, I thought it was relevant to the subject matter here. So here it is. A rare product plug from Yours Truly. makes amazing soaps and perfumes and whatnot. I discovered through their blog they had once made a scent a that was no longer available called "Quick Or Dead?"

Well, I had to try me some of that for the obvious reasons. So I expressed interest in wanting to get some.

I have no clue if my begging had anything to do with the return of the scent...probably not...but in any case, it's BACK! I just ordered some soap. If I like it, I'll order more. And since I have only found a single scent from this company (and I think I've managed to work my way through most of them) I didn't like, I suspect I'll like it A LOT.

They make another scent I always say is what Saint smells like. Well, Saint...and now my husband. Read the description of will give you a chuckle. And it really does smell like that, too.

This stuff is all bold and unexpected and incredibly evocative. The effect of scents on the memory and mood is very powerful. Sometimes things you don't normally find in perfume are the most evocative of all.

Check it out!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Okay, So...opinions?

Howdy, all!

Diego is working on a new Bender. This particular picture is part of a larger piece that will end up being the cover of the printed book. I actually asked him to hold off on finishing it till I let you all have a look.

I compiled a small collection of your suggestions and sent them along for references. 


Personally...I think he's kind of hot, myself.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We Three Loggerheads Be (Prequel)

“So, Hungerford.” Saint loaded the last sack of flour into the back of the wagon and mopped his brow with the back of his hand. The Autumn sky was a brilliant, impossible blue and while the crisp air warned of the chill to come, the sun was warm on his back. “Where you headed next?”

“Making my way up to Three Crossings.” Hellbender Hungerford, the farrier the company had hired on to service the relay stations, was dusting loose flour off his gloved hands. “May go as far as Fort Laramie, dunno yet exactly. Hoping that eventually, they’ll keep me in one place for a while.”

Saint nodded, straightening up and flexing his back. He raised an eyebrow and nodded towards the Silver Star. “I could go for a sarsaparilla about now.”

“Buggering fine idea, mate.” Hungerford fell into step beside him. “Gonna be a while before the chance comes up for one again, yeah?”

“‘Fraid so.” Ah, shit. He froze with one boot on the low step leading up to the porch of the saloon, the other in the dusty earthen street.  The day’s too nice for this.

Rob Yarl was stalking across the street towards them, his meaty, sunburned face fixed in an unpleasant scowl. Yarl had mixed it up with the crew before, and, in particular, had mixed it up with Saint. He saw the two of them standing on the stoop and his scowl deepened as he approached.

Saint exchanged a glance with Hungerford, then fixed his eyes back on Yarl.

“Heinrich Claus in there?” Yarl stopped at in front of the stoop and jerked his chin towards the saloon doors.

“Why?” Saint said, keeping his voice neutral.

“Because I got something to say to that chickenshit German son of a bitch.” Yarl muttered, shoving  past. His big forearm impatiently glancing across Saint’s chest as he shouldered his way through the swinging doors.

The doors creaked, flapping in his wake like shutters banging on a house right before a tornado rips them off. What the...? Saint, mouth dropped open. “Let’s go.” He shrugged, starting for the doors.


Saint was surprised by the startled, wary look on Hungerford’s face. “Because Claus is in there,” he said, gesturing at the doorway. “I saw him go in while we were loading. And Yarl likes to pick fights with immigrants...and with pretty much everyone.”

The mere sight of either of the Yarl brothers was enough to put Saint in a fighting mood. They had caused enough trouble for the crew, the Old Man, and for Saint himself that his patience for them was at absolute zero. Anyone else doing the exact thing Yarl had just done would probably have gotten a scowl and shrug. At the very most, a hard shove in return. But the very fact that it had been Rob Yarl, and him on his way to rough up yet another person who happened to have a heavy accent, made his vision go hot and red.

Hungerford was shaking his head. “Leave it, mate.”

“What do you mean, ‘leave it, mate?’ Are you joking?”

“I mean don’t go in there. Don’t get in the middle of that.”

Saint’s mouth dropped open, fresh anger flaring through him. What the hell, Hungerford? It’s not our problem so let it happen in front of us? “I can’t believe what I’m hearing, you just expect me stand down while Henry Claus gets a beating from someone like Yarl?”

Hungerford mopped his face with his hand, clearly at war with himself. He shook his head, looking like he was having a conversation in his head Saint wasn’t privy to. “Mate...I know what you’re thinkin’, and I don’t blame you. But...”

“If you knew what I was thinkin’, you’d have taken a swing at me already.” Saint spat, disgusted. “I didn’t have you pegged for a coward, grow some balls!”

Hungerford exhaled through pursed lips, raising his eyebrows. He chose his words carefully, evenly. “I can’t talk to you about this now, mate. You’re gonna have to trust me on this one, yeah?”

“I got no reason to trust you. You’re makin’ a call I can’t stand by.”

“And you’re bent on ending up on the wrong buggering side of a bad cock up.”

Saint felt downright betrayed. He’d liked the quirkly stocktender well enough, but now, hearing his flat refusal to go to Claus’ aid against Yarl , his regard and respect for the man was quickly evaporating. Claus owned the best restaurant in over a hundred miles, and didn’t seem to mind when the crew...any of the crew...decided to eat there. There was no way he was going to stand here and let Yarl go into the Silver Star and throw the man around.

“You’re just gonna stand down and let Yarl...”

“I am. Yeah.” The farrier nodded, stepping between Saint and the saloon doors, blocking his path. “Come on, mate...” he said firmly, nodding back at the wagon, his eyes straying briefly over to the homey little house that housed Abigail’s at the other end of the street. “Why don’t we go down to...”

Saint’s temper boiled over and he planted a hand in the center of Hungerford’s chest, giving him a rough shove as he tried to pass. “Well, I ain’t.”

The farrier’s hand shot out, grasping Saint’s forearm and jerking him back with surprising strength.

Enough. We got to put up with enough shit from some of these jackasses in town, I sure as hell ain’t puttin’ up with more of it from our own people. Saint spun around, launching himself into Hungerford, shoving him back into the porch rails. Hungerford brought up a knee as he fell backwards, jamming it hard into Saint’s ribcage and throwing him off.

Saint’s shoulder slammed into the rough timber of the stair riser, and he rolled, gasping in pain as Hungerford shoved himself free of the porchrail and slammed a fist into his jaw.  His head hammered back into the hard packed dirt of the street. Light and dark shuttered across his vision and he grabbed Hungerford’s shoulder, torquing him sideways and throwing him off balance before driving a hard elbow into the side of his head. Hungerford went down with a satisfying grunt.

Saint rolled to his knees, his head throbbing and his shoulder and rib cage sending fireworks of pain through him. He tasted blood and didn’t know if it was from his nose or his lip. Son of a...

Hungerford’s boot caught him in the kidney, just over his hip, toppling him into the dirt again. He writhed, his midsection convulsing, and rolled over, Hungerford all over him. Gonna be pissing blood after this. He jammed a fist into the farrier’s solar plexus, hearing him cry out through the ringing in his own ears. Hungerford doubled over, unable to breathe, and Saint grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him hard into the porch riser.

He drew up a leg, trying to pull himself to his knees, but only succeeded in rolling backwards and lying flat in the dusty street, his head throbbing and his body seemingly full of broken dishware, burning coals, and bags of angry badgers. He opened his mouth to swear at Hungerford and managed a faint groan before abandoning the project.

He detected a shadow falling over him, the light through his eyelids dimming. He peered through them, squinting up at Deputy Blackie Shannon, standing over him with his arms crossed. He groaned again, his eyelids dropping back down over his eyes. The ringing and buzzing in his ears was loud, and he could barely hear Blackie’s disgusted voice above the din. “You stupid sons of bitches” was the last thing he heard before everything went quiet and dark. 

© 2010 Regina Shelley

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Alias Smith and Jones

Guest Post by Gina's Husband Jim

Today as Gina is temporarily out of commission with a weird back pain. We think it's Coccydynia. She's gone to see a doctor, who referred her to an ultrasound exam, but right in the middle of the ultrasound exam, the durn machine broke, so she has to go back again today to see if they can figure out what is wrong with her. On the sage advice of some good friends, she's been taking Motrin, which has releived the pain a great deal. (Thank you C!)

In the meantime, Gina hasn't been able to sit too much because the angle tends to cause pressure on her tailbone, so she's been more or less reclining on a hard futon mattress, which tends to relieve a lot of the pain. While stuck in that position, we've been watching one of our new favorite shows on Hulu, Alias Smith and Jones.

For those of you not familiar with this vintage 1973 western, I would quickly describe it as Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid meets The Fugitive. Wikipedia describes thusly...

Operating primarily in Wyoming Territory, Hannibal Heyes (played by Pete Duel) and Jedediah 'Kid' Curry (Ben Murphy) are the two most successful outlaws in the history of the west. However, the west is starting to catch up with the modern world: safes are becoming harder to crack, trains more difficult to stop, and posses more skilled at tracking them down.

Heyes, the leader of the Devil's Hole Gang, falls out with the other members and he and Curry decide to get one thing: "out of this business!" Since they have never killed anyone, they qualify for pardons. Through an old acquaintance, Sheriff Lom Trevors, they manage to contact the territorial governor. He agrees to grant them amnesty, but cannot do so openly without angering the public. He therefore makes a deal with them: if they can stay out of trouble for a considerable but unspecified period of time ("until the governor feels we deserve it") and not tell anyone about their arrangement, they will be cleared of all charges. Until then, they will still be wanted. The two are skeptical and ask, "That's a good deal?"

Heyes's and Curry's skepticism proves very well justified indeed; the straight and narrow path is not easily traveled. Heyes and Curry (now calling themselves Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones) often find themselves tangling with lawmen, bounty hunters and operatives of the Bannerman Detective Agency (a satire of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency), not to mention other outlaws. To get out of these sticky situations, they are forced to rely on Heyes's silver tongue, Curry's fast draw, and occasionally a little help from their friends from both sides of the law.

It's a fun show, but as much as she enjoys it, she would rather be here, working on her story, so hopefully she'll be back in the saddle as it were next week.

Have a great weekend!

- Jim