May, 2017

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Issue #92

Looking for free, tantalizing Tales of the Old West?
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Read this month's Tales and vote for your favorite.
They'll appear in upcoming print volumes of The Best of Frontier Tales Anthologies!

The Fire
by Robert Collins
The man rolled over so fast the boy almost fell into the fire. He was pointing a small revolver at the youngster's face and his eyes grew wide in surprise. Neither moved and the man finally said angrily, "For the love of God, kid, don't ever do that again. I almost blew your head off."

* * *

Dr. Death, Part 1 of 2
by James R. Sheehan
A murderer on the loose arouses the interest of two tough cowboys from Charlie Goodnight's JA Ranch. With the help of the Pueblo Indian tracker Pecos Pete, Saber and Jack go after the killer, dragging a Dodge City physician along for a rough life lesson.

* * *

The Ruthless Outlaw Cullen Baker
by John Young
A look back in time to one of the most dangerous men the West ever spawned.

* * *

Gold Dream, Part 1 of 2
by Connie Cockrell
Tom Duffy's gang wants Zeke's gold claim and they aren't shy about it. Zeke's single shot Winchester is no match for the six-shooters Duffy's gang carries. Leaving the safety of the assay office to venture alone to the middle of the street, Zeke considers whether he'll live through the showdown.

* * *

The Deathwish Kid
by Walker McTimberwolf
Out on the prairie or up in the mountains, one thing is for sure: it's awful quiet and gets mighty lonesome. Some folk prefer it that way, men who weren't made to live within the confines society sets. Our man, in particular, has been living this way since he was eleven years old, but today there's someone he'd like to meet. A prince in fact. The Deathwish Kid.

* * *

Tall Spirits
by Kevin McGowan
A Sioux tribesman named Hanska must endure a harsh blizzard and an even harsher town on his pilgrimage to the Great River.

* * *

Want all of this month's Western stories at once? Click here –

All the Tales

The Fire
by Robert Collins

The boy sitting by the fire heard a horse scraping it shoes along the hard ground. He got up and backed into the shadows.

A voice in the darkness said, "I'm coming to the fire. Don't shoot."

The boy, holding a Colt forty-five watched a man on foot leading a horse, come into view. He stopped about fifteen feet from the fire.

"Is it alright if I come close to the fire?" the man said. "Once that sun went down, it surely got cold. The wind 'bout cut me in two."

The boy stepped out of the shadows with the pistol pointing at the man. "Tie the mount to the sapling. Then come to the fire."

"You don't have to point that cannon at me, son. I mean no harm. I'm just cold and hungry and I need somewhere to bunk down for the night."

The boy looked him over and then placed the gun into the holster tied to his right leg. He watched the man hobble his horse and remove the saddle from the tired animal. He walked towards the fire, dropped the saddle and blanket. He squatted down and held his gloved hands over the flame. On a make-shift grill sat a pot of coffee, steam coming from the spout.

"Do you mind if I have a taste of that coffee? The smell is making my belly rumble." The man said.

The boy tossed him a cup that clattered on the ground. The man picked it up, blew out the dust and poured himself a cup.

"That"s very tasty. I see you haven't yet cooked any supper. I got some venison in my saddle bag. How 'bout we cook it up." The man went through his gear and came out with a brown piece of meat and laid it on a stone in the fire.

The boy stood and watched as the man pulled a knife from his hip and turned the deer meat over. It sizzled and the aroma filled the fireside.

"You scared me walking in like that. I 'bout shot you dead." The boy said, breaking the silence. "What are you doing out in the dark like that?"

"The night came quick once I got into these hills. It got real cold so I headed for these rocks to get out of the wind. That's why I shouted when I saw the fire. You got a real good spot here; big rocks all around. I almost didn't see the fire"

"I mean. What are you doing here?" the boy said.

The man stood up from his squat, took off his hat and slapped it against his leg. A dust cloud billowed out and disappeared into the night. Even in the firelight, the boy could see his features. He had black wavy hair, brown eyes and a drooping mustache. His face was clean shaven that day but weathered. He was wearing an unbuttoned black canvass duster that came to his knees. The boy could see he wasn't wearing a gun and thought he was very brave for walking in on him like that or very stupid.

"Yeah, I see what you're asking. I'm headed for Silver City. There's a job waiting for me there. Do you know how long of a ride it is from here?" He looked at the boy across the fire. He was around sixteen or seventeen, medium height and lean. He was several inches shorter than the man and had dark hair and blue eyes; the kind that jumped out at you when you met him for the first time. He thought the boy looked too small for carrying such a large gun.

"Silver City's a good day's ride west of here. The trail is easy so you should make it by dark if you leave at first light."

"Good. I've been ridin' for four days and I'm 'bout spent. Do you mind if I bunk here for the night?"

He could come back in the night and ambush him the boy thought. "You're welcome to stay mister. Let's eat that venison. It sure smells good."

"Much obliged." The man said.

They split the meat and ate it with their fingers and the boy shared a tin of peaches and they feasted on the juice.

They sat by the fire and were quiet for some time. Then the man stood up.

"I've 'bout had it. I'm turning in." He got his saddle and pitched it closer to the fire and laid his horse blanket on the cold ground. The boy watching began the same exercise and set-up on the other side of the fire.

"I think we should keep watch tonight." The boy said. "There hasn't been no trouble with Indians lately but you never know. I'll take first watch."

"I thank you for that." The man said. "I don't think I could keep my eyes open another minute."

The boy kept the fire hot with goals and tried not to make the fire too bright.

After several hours he tried to shake the man awake. "Hey mister, it's your turn to watch." The man was on his side, facing away from the boy and didn't budge so the boy gave him a hard shove to the shoulder. The man rolled over so fast the boy almost fell into the fire. He was pointing a small revolver at the boys face. His eyes were wide in surprise. Neither moved and the man finally said angrily, "For the love of God, kid, don't ever do that again. I almost blew your head off."

The man dropped the pistol to his side and said. "Sorry 'bout that. You scared me silly."

The boy gathered himself and said. "It's your turn to watch." He thought that the man wasn't so stupid after all. He was the stupid one for not considering the possibility of the man having a hidden gun.

"How long was I out?"

"For a long time, it's only a couple hours till daybreak."

"You should have waked me earlier." The man said.

"You looked worn, so I let you rest." The boy said.

"That was kind of you."

The man was awake and tended to the fire and the boy fell fast asleep in his roll.

The boy woke with the sun in his eyes and the smell of bacon on the fire. The man was turning a chunk of bacon on a stick and coffee was boiling on the rocks. He woke famished.

"That smells good." The boy said.

"Have some coffee. It's leftover from last night but it's hot." The man said.

They ate in silence and cleaned up the site. The man poured the remains of the coffee on the fire and kicked dirt on top of it. They saddled their horses and walked them out of the rocky enclosure. They stood looking at the mountains in the distance.

"Well, kid, I'm headed west. Which way are you going?"

"I'm headed for Hurley. It's just south of here."

"I appreciate you letting me share your fire." The man said.

"I enjoyed the company." The boy said.

"We shared some food and a fire and I don't even know your name." the man said. "I'm Pat Garrett."

"Nice to meet you Mr. Garrett, I'm Billy Bonney".

They shook hands and exchanged warm smiles.

"Nice to meet you Billy, call me Pat." The man said. "Maybe our paths will cross again some time."

"Maybe?" Billy said.

They both mounted their horses, waved and rode off in different directions.

The End

Robert Collins is an avid writer who dabbles in different types of fiction. Espionage and Westerns are his favorites. He's been inspired by such writers as Owen Wister and Louis L'Amour. The growth of the western frontier and the hard men and women who shaped it is the center points of his stories. He has been published in other Western sites but this is his first for Frontier Tales. Mr. Collins lives with his wife Rose in Connecticut.

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