December, 2019

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Issue #123

Looking for free, tantalizing Tales of the Old West?
You're at the right place.


Read this month's Tales and vote for your favorite.
They'll appear in upcoming print volumes of The Best of Frontier Tales Anthologies!

Rescue from Indian Caverns
by Will Oliver
Days after Sam Houston wins his victory at San Jacinto, the Comanche take advantage of the men's absence and raid San Antonio. Capturing young Muriel Hill, they flee north to Indian Caverns. Logan Sterling, just returned from the battle at San Jacinto, sets out to get her back and win her love.

* * *

Train to Damnation
by Willy Whiskers, Constable of Calliope NV
A train ride. One car full of some of the most famous lawmen in history, another filled with the most vicious outlaws ever heard of. Where could such a group be headed, and what might they do when they arrive in the train to Damnation?

* * *

The Getaway
by Gordon Gilbert
There's a posse on his trail. He's too far from the canyons to make it and he'll hang for sure if he surrenders. There are too many of them for him to make a stand. He figures he's got three hours. Whatever he's gonna do, he better act fast.

* * *

The Preacher of Dry Gulch
by Grant Guy
It was difficult to determine the white hats from the black hats in the Old West. Even the town preacher was inclined to delivery his sermon from his Colt. Jesus's "I came not to send peace, but a sword," was interpreted literally and not symbolically. Ron Jenkins was one such preacher.

* * *

Bullet-Hole Boot
by Brian J. Buchanan
T.L. rose from New Mexico horse thief to wealthy member of San Francisco society, but the price of his success haunted him—finally to the breaking point.

* * *

Revenge for Garret Byrnes
by Tom Sheehan
Most of the information appearing in this chronicle was delivered to me in one hand-written document through an intermediary—a former comrade in the 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, Korea, 1951—Sgt. Stan Kujawski.

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Something New:
A novella, serialized!

Mixed Blood, part 5 of 6
by Abe Dancer
Mel Cody, a Cree half-breed, journeys more than a thousand miles to visit his father's Arizona homeland. After intervening in a cruel street fight, he meets a young woman and learns of a mutual enemy. With odds stacked against them, they decide to fight together for their land and each other.

* * *

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

All the Tales

The Preacher of Dry Gulch
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 a source 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 fifteen percent tithe from each citizen to the preacher who hung up a shingle. A church and a home were provided. The number of preachers at any one time was four. Preaching hours were eleven, twelve thirty, two o'clock and three thirty. The preachers were weekly entertainment, and 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, fornicating women and brave heroes. His language was crisp and graphic describing in detail the rotting bodies hanging from a 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 hard 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 his 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 bad men 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 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 mourning 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 his 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.

The End

Grant Guy is a Winnipeg, Canada, poet, writer and playwright. 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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