Western Legend Novel Excerpt
Pub. Date: 07/01/2011
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
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Written in a literary style known as “false document,” Western Legend tells of an amazing chance encounter in the autumn of 1899 — and the pulp-style high adventure that results from it.
On a bustling Sunday morning, four notorious men have arrived separately in the crowded metropolis of Nacogdoches, Texas. Former outlaw Frank James, lawman Virgil Earp, his brother and confidence artist James Earp, and the cattleman’s assassin, Tom Horn. Recognized instantly, the men ease discord among the populace by seeking respite in a local saloon — and unexpectedly find themselves entertaining adventurous children with two-fisted tales of the West.
Spiriting an honest, forthright effort to convince these impressionable young boys that being notorious isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, the men identify the truth behind “that fancy printed fiction” regarding their legendary exploits, and play down the controversy generally associated with their person.
But as the day wears on, and these western legends learn that a full company of sadistic cattle thieves is terrorizing local citizens, each man wastes no time in volunteering his services to the community. And the subsequent actions of each proves much of “that fancy fiction,” to be true.
EXCERPT: From Chapter 16: Invented for killin’ a man
J.D. rose to his feet and carefully approached the table, looking over the guns resting there.
“Can I hold one?” he asked.
The men around the table were taken aback and stared at him in shock.
“You’re creakin’ on a trestle bridge, boy,” Jim said.
“You wanna hold a six-shooter?” Frank asked. “Not a rifle, made for huntin’, but a pistol—which was invented for killing a man—that’s what you want?”
J.D. nodded, and without hesitation, Frank began unloading his pistol.
Virgil literally bit his lip, and moaned.
Jim said, “Hmmm…Frank, you know that’s not a proper thing—”
Tom’s response came right on top of him. “I’m not sure that’s such a wise idea, Frank. Boy could get the wrong idea from something like—”
“I know what I’m doing!” Frank’s voice boomed over them both.
Tom cleared his throat. “Yes, sir.”
The other men were watching with discomfort as Frank began to hand over the weapon to J.D., then held off for a brief moment. “Now, it’s heavy; supposed to be. Only a man should be holding it. Boy your age tries to fire one of these, and it’ll kick back into your head, and kill ya,” Frank said.
“Which is exactly what should happen if you’re stupid enough to point one at anybody,” Tom said. “You understand, J.D.?”
J.D. hid a smile. “Yes, Mr. Horn.”
Frank looked at J.D. and nodded to the gun as he placed it into the boy’s hands. “Hold it with both hands, so you won’t drop it. And hold it up, like a man. Go on.”
J.D. grasped the heavy instrument with both hands for a moment, before trying to hand it back.
Frank refused it.
“No. Hold it for a minute longer,” Frank said.
The other boys watched as J.D.’s skinny arms started to shake, and he began huffing his breaths instead of simply breathing them.
“I can’t—it’s heavy,” J.D. pleaded.
“I know,” Frank asserted.
J.D. continued to try to hand the weapon back to Frank. Then he tried to hand the weapon to Tom. Both men threw up their hands and waved him off. And J.D. was really shaking.
“Now. What if you could never give it back?” Frank asked.
Desperate, J.D. tried to lift the pistol up onto the table, but couldn’t quite reach the tabletop with the weight of it. Then he started to lower it to the floor, and Frank stopped him.
“Don’t put it down! You can never put it down! You do that, you’re a dead man!”
J.D.’s eyes began to tear up, and finally, Frank reached over and relieved the boy of the burden.
“Good,” Frank said. “Now don’t ever pick up one of these God-damned things again. They’re more trouble than you care to know. You can’t change a leopard’s spots once it’s grown them, boys. I left home, joined the Army, ended up an outlaw…now I can’t really ever go back home. This gun is the reason for that.”