August, 2021

Home | About | Brags | Submissions | Books | Writing Tips | Donate | Links

Issue #143

Welcome, Western Fans!

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!

Funeral of a Brave Man
by Martin Suppo
It was a warm morning in Travis, Arizona, in the summer of 1876. The body of Jack Woodward, killed in a duel against "Rocky" Jackson, was carried by his friends, his wife, and his only daughter to the local cemetery, where the gravedigger, shovel in hand, was waiting to do his work.

* * *

The Preacher
by Al Matlock
The short black jack scrubs helped slow his downward plunge on the rocky slope but also bruised his six- foot frame. Shot from ambush by the two Hatcher brothers. The Preacher had tracked them out of Kansas into the Indian Territory. The people they murdered were his friends.

* * *

White Feather
by Martin de Brouwer, MSc
Love strikes at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. To be together, the two lovers, a soldier and a young Indian woman, are forced to escape their colliding worlds. Will war catch up and tear them apart?

* * *

Medicine Girl
by Raymond Paltoo
A young Indian brave heads North looking for his Medicine, but is attacked and left for dead. A white girl is heading West for Oregon on a wagon train with her father. She finds the brave and rescues him. But he is a Comanche. How can this end well?

* * *

Blanchard County
by Robert Gilbert
Marshal Brothers discovers Doss Troyer in Clay River, shot in the back. Troyer and the nasty Tibbins brothers are feuding over land in a neighboring county, not a friendly place to live. In the middle of this county is Meredosia Springs, where the marshal finds answers and locates the ruthless brothers.

* * *

The Livery is Short a Horse
by Pamela Ryder
The lockup in Lincoln couldn't hold him, but the young desperado Billy Bonney needs a horse to get out of town. But the Choctaw pony that comes his way bears a history forever chronicled in the annals of hardship, heartbreak, and grief.

* * *

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

All the Tales

Funeral of a Brave Man
by Martin Suppo

It was a warm morning in Travis, Arizona in the summer of 1876. The body of Jack Woodward, killed in a duel against "Rocky" Jackson, was carried by his friends, his wife, and only daughter to the local cemetery, where the gravedigger, shovel in hand, was waiting to do his work. The parish priest was not present at the ceremony and did not allow the body to be laid to rest in the church, "Jack wouldn't have minded, he was never much interested in religion," said his wife as the coffin was lowered into the hole previously dug for the occasion.

The deceased's daughter, a blue-eyed, blonde-haired girl who clung to her mother's legs, however, did not cry. Her father was unknown to her for most of her short 5 years. It was very common for "the northerner" (as the villagers, including his murderer, called him) to be absent from town for several days, even months, and always return with a new scar, although that didn't matter to the owner of the land where Jack's ranch was located, as he always returned with enough money for rent. Among the friends who went to the funeral was the Sheriff, Kit O'Rourke and his deputies. The representative of the law was an old white-haired man with a short mustache. He once knew how to be muscular and quick with a gun, however, at 61 years of age Kit was already fatter and slower, although he still held a certain level of moral authority among the citizens of Travis. The story of how he befriended the dead man was a local legend. Back in '67, a younger Kit and a newly arrived Jack (still wearing his Yankee cavalry uniform) took on the dangerous Mendoza gang, a group of Mexicans terrorizing both sides of the Rio Grande. The Sheriff and the soldier followed them to the Texas border; the gang, unaware that they were being followed, decided to make camp and get drunk on alcohol stolen from Travis' saloon. Jack and Kit, hiding on a mountain near the bandits' hideout, waited for dawn to strike with their repeating rifles. The hangover-stricken Mexicans were unable to respond properly, and so a 12-man gang feared throughout the American Southwest was wiped out in a single morning. This was the first contract the former cavalryman cashed in as a bounty hunter. Upon his return to Travis and after collecting the money, Jack rented land from the local landowner, married one of the Can Can saloon dancers ("Blondie" Johnson) and had a daughter.

Another of those who went to the funeral was an old Apache Indian. He was tall, with long black hair; he was dressed like an army scout and on his back he carries a Winchester rifle. No one knew quite how they had been related, although Black Pete claimed that they had fought together against the Mezcaleros in '73, when Jack had served in the army because of his knowledge of the state of Arizona, although that could never be confirmed as the Indian left Travis as soon as the funeral was over without saying a word to anyone.

The wooden cross that had been placed there fell apart and due to the fire that the Travis Herald suffered in 1878, very little evidence of the existence of Jack Woodward remained. One of the only textual evidences was a book written in 1889 by a French anthropologist.

At his grave, the deceased had his two Peacemaker pistols placed in his hands, resting on his chest. On his forehead, to hide the hole left by "Rocky's" accurate shot, a $1 coin had been placed. The coin had a depression in the center; according to Jack, that was where the bullet that almost killed him in the battle of Yellow Tavern had hit him. He had been dressed in his old uniform; however, his saber was missing, his wife had sold it to pay for the cost of the ceremony. The widow would die in 1901 and their daughter left town in 1877 to be educated in the east supported by her paternal family, although she would make occasional visits to her mother until her death. The last record of her is that of her marriage to a prominent Boston lawyer in 1894 which was published in the Boston Review.

One of the deceased's war buddies, now a respected officer, learned two months after the funeral that "Crazy" Jack had died. His mind flashed back to the memory of his late friend charging Confederates in multiple battles, always coming away unscathed or with minor wounds. He had always considered him immortal. The death of his companion affected him so much that it was the only thing that occupied his mind for several months. The officer was thinking about it as he rode with his men through Lakota territory, ready to find the bulk of the rebel Indians and report back to the main force. He was so engrossed in his thoughts that he did not notice that a small group of Sioux natives had surrounded them, nor did he have time to realize that a tomahawk was aimed at his head and the last thing he thought as his body fell to the ground was "if Crazy Jack is dead, it means that no one is safe anymore".

The killer of the deceased was in the Can Can saloon drinking whiskey after whiskey. The bar was completely silent despite being full of parishioners. The only voice to be heard was that of Black Pete sitting in his usual corner telling the town kids how the confrontation between the bounty hunter and the ex-confederate had gone. Pete had not been present at the duel, although to be fair none of the townsfolk had seen the fight, most had seen Jack and Rocky leave the bar and others were napping when the sound of gunfire was heard. When they came out, they saw the body of the "Northerner" lying in a pool of blood and Jackson dropping his pistols and re-entering the "Saloon". However, this did not matter to the storyteller, who proposed the theory that Jack had been insulted by "Rocky" accusing him of being a murderer for his actions in the war and that the "Yankee" had merely pointed to the door and put his left hand on his revolver. Chet, the son of the bank owner and blessed with an intelligence that would enable him to get rich from oil in the century to come, asked the Negro why Jack lost to the Southerner. For the first time in his life, Pete had to say "I don't know." After that the boys lost interest in the storyteller and left him alone, allowing him to concentrate on finishing his beer without first toasting Jack Woodward "the bravest son of a bitch I ever met." A few weeks later, Rocky would leave town, never to return, and just like his duel with Jack, every resident of Travis had his own version of his ultimate fate.

The most interesting and the one that would be published in "Legends and Modern Folk Tales of The American Frontier" (1889) written by the French anthropologist Jaques Badeux, in chapter 5 the author interviewed "a Negro who went by the name of Pete" who told him that after leaving Travis the murderer had sold his services as a mercenary to various landowners in Mexico before being killed in a brothel in El Paso, "by a girl with white skin, blond hair and eyes as blue as the sky".

The End

Since he was very young, Martin Suppo always enjoyed westerns in any kind of medium, be it comics,films or books. One of his favourite tribes of the American West are the Apache so he tries to put them in every story he works on. He writes mostly for pleasure and his main objective is to entertain, while maintaining a certain degree of quality. His main inspirations are: the writing of Zane Grey, O'Henry, and Louise L'amour; the films of John Ford, Howard Hawks, Delmer Daves, Sergio Leone, and Sergio Corbucci; Italian-French comics such as Blueberry, Comanche, Storia Del West, Tex, Zagor, Jackaroe, etc.

Back to Top
Back to Home