Read this month's Tales and vote for your favorite.
They'll appear in upcoming print volumes of
The Best of Frontier Tales Anthologies!
Mitchell and the Killing at Safford
by Dick Derham
Can an unfaded circle of flannel give ex-con-turned-Wells-Fargo-agent Dave Mitchell and his partner the clue they need to run the killer to ground?
* * *
The Reverend Had a Few Words To Say
* * *
by Grant Guy
The Reverend was a man of God, and he lived the Lord's Word. But when the outlaws came
to his cabin and threatened his wife and children, which God would he follow? The kind
and loving God or the Hell and damnation God?
To Marry a Gunfighter: A Western Romance, Part 2 of 2
* * *
by Buck Immov
Annawest had found her soul mate—she was sure. But this loving man had been a bounty hunter.
She had seen men try to kill him. If she let herself love him, could she stand to watch him die?
Did she dare take that risk?
* * *
by Keith 'Doc' Raymond, MD
Tallahassee Tim, a nickname for John Golden, was raised by gaudy women in Montana. In
San Fransisco, trouble found him and he ended up with a pistol jammed into the back of
his neck. He was sure there was no way out for him—was he right?
The Raid at Nikninisht-ta Peak
* * *
by Tom Sheehan
Greed in any range comes back to find the hungriest of all souls, often at the ultimate
meeting of a hero and his antagonists, with an alarming twist of time, treasure or the
heart of a mountain.
The High Line Incident
* * *
by Mickey Bellman
The High Line shack was a lonely place on the Montana prairie. Bert was not expecting any
company, but a single rider was coming. He reached for his Winchester just in case the
stranger wanted to "remind" him of the fatal saloon fight a year ago.
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All the Tales
The Reverend Had a Few Words To Say
by Grant Guy
Dry Valley was not big on God. The townsfolk had nothing against God but He served little purpose in the day-to-day struggle in their lives. Often they had to commit unbelievable sins just to survive and did not want to be reminded on how wretched they were. But the hard-working folks of Dry Valley were big on preachers. In the western desert town of two hundred and thirty-two people there were one more preacher than there were a sheriff, teacher and undertaker combined. The preachers were the center of entertainment with grand sweeping stories of heroism, blood baths and sex without moralizing.
Once a preacher died he was buried in Final Rest Cemetery and quickly forgotten. Within days a new preacher would arrive in town with a dog-eared Bible in their hands.
Dry Valley was far off the beaten path of travelling theatre troupes of bombastic orators and scantily clad actresses and lectures of erudition. A few years back Mark Twain lectured and regaled at Cimarron but no earnest persuasion would convince him to come to Dry Valley. Being inventive and desperate sort for entertainment to wash the dry sand off existence of their sweaty lives the citizens of Dry Valley offered a five percent tithe from each citizen to each preacher who hung up a shingle. A church and a home were provided to each. The number of preachers at any one time was set a four. The folks of Dry Valley were desperate but not willing to waste hard earned money. The preachers provided weekly entertainment.
If they could sing the Vivaldis, all the better.
The most revered preacher in Dry Valley was Reverend Ron Jenkins. He was a fierce proponent of the law "He who lives by the sword will die by the sword." His sermons overflowed with shootouts, lynchings, sexy women fornicating, and brave heroes. His language was crisp and graphic describing in detail the rotting bodies hanging from a lone tree. In his sermons the parishioner could almost hear an ear or moustache fall off the body and plop on the ground.
On the morning of July 26, 1875, the Reverend set out on Sunday morning from his ranch, a five miles west of town, for his simple church situated next to the funeral home. The Reverend loved the irony. Dry Valley appeared a speck in the far distance as he looked out from the bench of his buckboard. He whipped the reins, and the horses neighed and jerked forward. A taupe plume of dry dust spit out from under the rear wheels. On Sundays he set aside enough time to reach church to finalize his sermon. The two hours before the service were the most thoughtful and meditative of the week. What he did not expect on this Sunday was for his past to catch up to him.
He had only steered his buckboard a half mile when he heard the distinctive pop of gunfire. He turned his around to look back and saw five saddled horses standing outside his ranch house. He could match the horses with their riders. Something in his body told him what was happening was bad. He quickly spun his buckboard in a half circle and raced back toward the ranch house. As he pulled his buckboard up he saw two men dragging his wife out of the ranch house and another two dragging his son and daughter out by their legs. Their cries of help cut the air like a knife. His wife and children were flung onto the ground. A tall man stepped out the front door, removed his Colt from his holster, and fired two bullets each into the wife and children. The man laughed.
Without clearly seeing the face of the killer the Reverend knew him. It was Ace McBurton, a rustler and outlaw the Reverend rode with over a decade ago. Fourteen years earlier McBurton and his gang of badmen stole and killed across the southwest. Other outlaws avoided McBurton's barbarous heart. The day Reverend slipped away from the gang of cursing outlaws was a starless night. When McBurton discovered the Reverend had vamoosed he added two and two together and got three. The sacks of gold stolen from the mining camp were gone. He pointed his stubby finger at the Reverend. His rash accusation failed to notice Phil Seymour was also gone.
For the next twelve years, between rustling and holdups, McBurton kept an ear to the ground, and his heart forged with acid revenge honed to sniff out the Reverend and have him pay the ultimate price for the betrayal.
McBurton and his men, being the men they were, stood in front of the ranch house, killing the Reverend's wife and children, did not notice the Reverend 's arrival. The Reverend was a man of the Logos, he found his six-shooter, a tool of his previous life, useful in welding the Logos with fire and brimstone. The revengeful god earned more applause from his congregation than the namby-pamby words of a merciful god.
And the tools would come in handy now.
The Reverend pulled his widow maker from under his morning coat and moved as quiet as a revenging ghost.
When only a few feet away the Reverend called out,
As McBurton swung around he was hit with a bullet to the heart. His lifeless body crumpled to the ground. Four more shots tore from the Reverend's gun. McBurton's men fell, one by one.
The Reverend thought there was some poetry in what he had done.
He paused briefly, after killing the five men before he looked up at the sun.
"I better hurry or I'll be late for the service."
The scavengers smiled, thankful of their plenty.
Grant Guy is a Winnipeg, Canada, poet, writer and playwright. Former artistic director of Adhere + Deny. His
poems, short stories, essays and art criticism have been published in Canada, the United States, Nigeria,
Wales, India and England. He has three books published: Open Fragments (Lives of Dogs), On the Bright Side
of Down and Bus Stop Bus Stop (Red Dashboard). His plays include A.J. Loves B.B., Song for Simone and an
adaptation of Paradise Lost and the Grand Inquisitor. He was the 2004 recipient of the MAC's 2004 Award of
Distinction and the 2017 recipient of the WAC's Making A Difference Award.
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