November, 2021

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Issue #146

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!

Bullets Don't Lie
by Bill Epps
Posing as another man can have its advantages and payouts. But when do the risks outweigh the rewards?

* * *

by Red Charles
The woman walking along the coach road needed a ride into town, and there was space in Heel's buckboard. But what if the woman wasn't quite what she seemed to be? What if she was a wanted murderer?

* * *

Ham's Fork—1834
by James A. Tweedie
As the trappers and mountain men gathered for the last great Rocky Mountain rendezvous, two supply trains raced to be the first to arrive with goods to trade. ButHudson's Bay Company had plans of their own—plans that would turn the history of the West in a new direction.

* * *

Hay-Headed Dummy
by Alexander J. Richardson
A troubled young man brags to his captive mother about his exploits with a notorious gang, unaware of events unfolding around him.

* * *

The Crossbow Incident
by Tom Sheehan
A simple crossbow, a favored weapon of real native American warriors, becomes the instrument connecting two people to each other, a woman and a young boy.

* * *

by Gary Kadlec
Who knows scripture better than the Reverend Clancy Bent? Who brings a gun to a baptism? Lyle Plagg is the answer to both questions as the crooked minister faces off with the hell-bound outlaw. Which one will receive the ultimate comeuppance?

* * *

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

All the Tales

The Crossbow Incident
by Tom Sheehan

Kontiki Krill, now known as Anita Marie Coburn, wife of the General Store owner in Seven Hills, Colorado, saw the young boy, a transplanted Apache for sure, as she had been an Arapaho in her earlier time, while he studied some article in the window display and had not yet entered the store.

She suddenly remembered small bits of her beginning; in a scene of death and devastation, being scooped up by a soldier and hugged until blood rushed. out of his mouth and his eyes closed, at which time another soldier scooped her into his arms and rode a long way with her, at last swapping her for a crossbow with a woman who hugged her continuously and called her Anita Marie from that moment on, warmth eventually associated with the name and the hugs of the woman, evermore her mother, in exchange for a weapon.

Her memories fled quickly, leaving as fast as they had come upon her, seeing the young Apache still eyeing the crossbow in the window display, perhaps some kind or twist of memory coming to him involving a similar weapon of the long-standing war upon the natives of the land, him also brought out of death and devastation by a merciful soul long gone on his own journey elsewhere.

The two of them, thusly connected, gave them a beginning together, there at Seven Hills, the wars their connection from this time to a kind of forever, pals under the guns, in this case the conglomeration of a crossbow exciting the young Apache still caught up in wonder about himself, what he was doing here, called little Danny Kelly from the start by a man with stripes on his sleeves and a woman who stood beside him when day came or left them, now with a son to share it with them, also here at Seven Hills.

The crossbow was too heavy for the boy to handle with ease, but she let him hold it when nobody else was around them, her almost seeing what he might be imagining in the darkness of his mind, and one miner, Zeke Sattling, exclaiming, "Them two look like big sister and little brother if you ask me, which you won't, but I'm saying so anyway. Like big sister and little brother and now the twain has met. Best beware of what they cook up between them. It can't be ordinary, not if you ask me, which you won't anyhow you look at them, part of this ground before we ever got here and took it away from them, us knowing it wasn't no Seven Hills back before we come this way with all them guns firing away and all them shovels tossing the very earth aside in our hurries. That was in the 1830's Trail of Tears, covering over 5000 miles in 9 states or territories of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, forcefully moving the natives from their own historical lands to parks where us kind of folks could stare at them, then move on."

The fact was clear, few people listened to a word he said, even the "Trail of Tears" finding little sympathy among those who heard him, and so it was that Anita Marie and little Danny Kelly grew closer in belief, behavior, like small kindling promising a bigger fire, perhaps an inferno coming due.

So, it was, Anita Marie telling little Danny Kelly in his daily lessons, what was what, where they had come from. What other folks had done to them and their true people, escorting them off their long-held tribal properties, a sin of sins. She pulled no punches, blame falling at the feet of those in charge

She went so far back in time that he was mesmerized, including her views of Gungywamp an archaeological site in Connecticut, consisting of artifacts dating from 2000-770 BC, such as a stone circle, and the remains of both Native American and colonial structures. Among multiple structural remains of note is a stone chamber featuring an astronomical alignment during the equinoxes. Besides containing beehive chambers and petroglyphs, the Gungywamp site has a double circle of stones near its center, just north of two stone chambers. Two concentric circles of large quarried stones—21 large slabs laid end to end—are at the center of the site.

The origin and meaning of the name remain uncertain. Some researchers associate the name, 'Gungywamp' with Gaelic, Mohegan, Pequot, and Algonquin with meaning anything from the following; church of the people, place of ledges, swampy place; or all powerful and white, as proposed.

The boy wondered where and how she had learned such details that fell from her talks as if rehearsed in a long-established school of all the ages of man on the Earth, and maybe not on a star in the night sky.

She carried so much weight on others that recruits rushed to support her to do as summoned, commanded, and when the fiery night descended on them, they dispersed with oils and firesticks on a rainy and dark night and set fire to every structure in Seven Hills. The inferno spread rapidly in their first strike back at the enemies.

The flames went monumental, all across the skylines in each and every direction so that morning found nothing left of Seven Hills. Not a stick untouched by the native blazes that not even the army troops stationed at the reaches of Seven Hills dared rush to squash the many fires at total command of "supposed itinerants," but it was miner, Zeke Sattling, still with an audience, who carried on the argument the fire had started; "It's easy to see now that recourse has been made and Seven Hills, once our place of power, no longer exists and has earned its new place in history, being the last place to stand in our honor and is gone now and forever into history, like payback time I have spoken of over the years has come upon us from those hands and hearts that were hurt most by our interference, so help me by the powers that be.

He doffed his cap, and those looking on had to interpret the move as a salute to those who had made a statement, or a goodbye to the place that had been and no longer was.

The End

Sheehan, half-way through his 94th year, has published 53 books, has work in Rosebud, The Linnet's Wings (100), Copperfield Review, Literally Stories (150), Frontier Tales, Green Silk Journal. He's earned 18 Pushcart nominations, and 6 Best of Net nominations, with one winner. Last year he won Ageless Writers story contest with "The Tale of Trot and Dim Johnny," and has submitted other books including $20 Grand, In the Garden of Long Shadows, Jehrico's the Collector's Collection, and Murder Down Canada Way

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