June, 2023

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

Issue #165

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!

Dodge City
by Lily Tierney
When a group of gunslingers meet up to rob a bank, whatever can go wrong does. There is no honor among thieves, and they all knew that too well.

* * *

Red Valley
by Erin Donoho
Seeking water on his way through the California desert, Ross soon finds himself, along with another traveler named Al, at the mercy of two mysterious women. But when Al hears of nearby gold, his friendly intentions seem to change, and Ross knows the women are in grave danger.

* * *

Prairie Rose
by Clay Gish
In a swirl of dust, three riders bore down on Mary's stagecoach. "Hellfire damnation!" With the bandits charging fast, Mary aimed her shotgun and blasted the closest rider. She had to protect the mining company's payroll and her precious cargo—the bishop of the newly minted state of Montana.

* * *

The Funeral Suit
by Bobby Mathews
Madge witnessed Cullen Grayson's ritual every year: On his birthday, the old man donned his best—and only—suit, and waited to be challenged to a gunfight by someone new. But this year the custom endangered Madge's one chance at love so it was time for the game to end—one way or another.

* * *

Wild Bill: Dead Man's Hand
by W. Wm. Mee
The notorious gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok was sitting with well known dime novelist Ned Buntline discussing the details of Bill's "latest book." Abruptly, the Slatter brothers burst through the door with their guns drawn. The crowd scattered as Bill slowly stood up to face his fierce-eyed attackers.

* * *

The Rememberer
by Ralph S. Souders
Ben Watson observes a cowboy standing at the other end of the bar and he looks familiar. Ben has seen him before, but where or when? Something about the man makes his hackles rise. Ben must try to remember who the man is.

* * *

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

All the Tales

Dodge City
by Lily Tierney

Bessie arrived in Dodge City a day late. The stage broke down, and the wheel had to be replaced. The driver asked all passengers to disembark while he rolled up his sleeves and went to work. Among the passengers was a man going by the name of James Hudson. His real name was Ellis Smith, and he was on wanted posters in several states. He grew a beard and mustache as a disguise. There was a young lady travelling with him. She was about sixteen years of age. Bessie introduced herself to them. She asked what brings the two of you to Dodge City. Spring introduced herself to Bessie, and said they were newlyweds and visiting family in Dodge. Bessie would find out later she was lying. The other passenger was an elderly man who was well dressed with impeccable manners. Bessie thought he was from some wealthy family back East. Then, there was Bessie. She wore her best travelling clothes. She wanted to present herself as a widow who was well off.

Bessie turned her attention to the elderly gentleman. His name was Mr. Rope. He told Bessie he was in the oil business. Well thought Bessie, she really has to get to know him. She introduced herself as a widow visiting relatives in Dodge. The driver fixed the wheel, and they were back on the road. Bessie was using her time wisely. She wanted Mr. Rope to be putty in her hands by the time they reached Dodge.

Ellis and Spring were very quiet. They sat and listened to Bessie going on and on chattering to Mr. Rope. If Mr. Rope was bored, he didn't show it. He politely acknowledged all her comments with a nod of his head. They were a few hours outside Dodge, when Mr. Rope became ill. The driver pulled over to let him rest a bit, but they were behind schedule. The driver thought he should get him to Dodge where he could see a doctor. Mr. Rope agreed, and got back on the stage. Bessie was getting anxious. It didn't look like she would be staying with Mr. Rope. Apparently, he was a man in poor health.

As the stage pulled into Dodge, Bessie was dumbfounded. She knew Dodge had a reputation, but when she finally saw it up close she was flabbergasted. On one corner, a crowd was gathering for a gunfight. Two women were fighting on the street while a man looked on laughing. The sheriff was busy talking to a cute blonde, and was oblivious to everything. Bessie stepped off the stage unsure of where to go and what to do. Mr. Rope was barely hanging on, his condition has worsened. A man was waiting for Ellis and Spring when they got off the stage. He greeted Ellis, and looked surprised to see Spring.

"Well, how was the trip?" he asked Ellis. "A lot of problems," replied Ellis.

Bessie overheard him say to get Mr. Rope to a doctor immediately. Ellis, Spring, and Mr. Rope left searching for a doctor. Bessie noticed this man was smiling at her.

"What is your name?" he asked. "Bessie," she said.

"I'm Earl, and so pleased to meet a pretty lady like yourself, " he said, smiling at Bessie.

"You got family visiting, miss?" Earl asked.

"No, I'm new here in Dodge," said Bessie.

"Well how about having dinner with me?" Earl asked.

"Sure," said Bessie.

He asked Bessie where she would like to eat, but he knew he was taking her to the dining room in the hotel he was staying at. It was real fancy, and he knew Bessie would be impressed. Bessie walked in the dining room and was stunned. It was like nothing she had seen before. The tablecloth and napkins were linen. The plates were fine china, and the glasses were crystal. She looked up and saw a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Earl pulled Bessie's chair out for her to sit in. Bessie felt like a queen. He told Bessie to order anything she wanted. She told Earl to order for her. He ordered a sirloin steak, potatoes with gravy, and collard greens.

"I'm a meat and potatoes guy," he said.

Bessie was so happy to be with him. She felt they clicked as they lifted their glasses for a toast.

"Here's to a beautiful lady," Earl said.

Bessie never drank champagne before, but she knew she could get used to the better things in life. She was hoping Earl was the answer to that.

Mr. Rope was now being looked at by a doctor. The doctor told Ellis your friend has a bullet in his right shoulder that has to come out. Mr. Rope was weak and running a fever. The bullet was lodged in his shoulder for over a week. Ellis handed him the money.

"All right doc, you better do a good job," he said. The doctor proceeded to remove the bullet from Mr. Rope's shoulder.

Bessie had another glass of champagne. Her head was spinning. She never felt so happy in her life.

"Do you have a place to stay?" asked Earl.

Bessie lied and said she would be staying with friends. Earl knew she had no friends here in Dodge. It was the last place you would find a friend.

After the doctor finished with Mr. Rope, he told Ellis he would need plenty of rest if he was going to make it. Ellis and Spring helped him up and out the door. They headed over to the hotel where Earl was staying to get Mr. Rope a room. They entered the lobby and headed to the registration desk, and booked a room for Mr. Rope. As they were heading toward the stairs, they noticed Earl and Bessie in the dining room. Spring and Ellis both helped Mr. Rope up the stairs to his room. Once inside, they put him in bed. Ellis asked him if he was hungry. Mr. Rope said no. Ellis told him to just rest, and he would be up later to check on him.

Mr. Rope fell off to sleep. He was in his late fifties, and too old for this lifestyle. When he was young, he rode with the toughest gunslingers in the West. He never lost a gunfight. Folks knew him when he rode into town. His reputation was saddled up ahead of him. He also knew dozens of women like Bessie. He even married one. Today he was lying in a bed clinging to life in Dodge. All he knew for sure, was he was too old for this type of living. His draw wasn't fast enough anymore.

Just a few days ago, the three men were in the bank, everything was going according to plan. Earl told the bank manager to open the safe, and out of nowhere the bank manager drew his gun and shot Mr. Rope. He was hit in the shoulder. Ellis then returned fire and shot the bank manager he dropped to the ground and drew his last breath. Earl stepped over his body and emptied the teller's draw. He couldn't open the safe because only the bank manager knew the combination and he was dead. They all ran out of the bank and rode out of town. Once a safe distance away, they agreed to separate and meet up in Dodge City. Mr. Rope didn't realize how badly he was injured. He tried riding out alone, but fell off his horse. Ellis went to his aid. Earl was already gone. Ellis knew Mr. Rope was too ill to travel. He looked around for a farmhouse. He spotted one down the hill. He decided to chance it. They might be neighborly folks.

Spring opened the door to two strangers. One was very handsome, and the other looked very ill. Her father was in the next room when he heard the knock on the door. He saw both Ellis and Mr. Rope standing in his front parlor. He noticed one was ill, and could hardly stand. He helped Mr. Rope into a chair to sit down. He got some bandages for his wound.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Well, we were riding and someone just took a shot at us, " said Ellis.

Spring's father was suspicious about the two of them. He told them he would take them into town to the doctor. They both said no, they would tend to it themselves. The only luck they had was his farm was a stop off point for the stage. They would rest their horses for the evening. The following morning they would continue their journey. This sounded good to Ellis. He asked if they could spend the night in the barn, and catch the stage in the morning. Spring's father said sure, but you better leave Mr. Rope in here on the sofa. Ellis said he was much obliged. The next morning the stage came, and Mr. Rope, Ellis, and Spring were on it. Spring wrote her father a note which said. Dear Dad, I am leaving with Mr. Hudson. I want to start my own life. I am old enough. Love, Spring. Her father read the note and went to the sheriff in town.

Spring and Ellis went into the dining room to join Earl and Bessie. Spring never drank champagne before. She was excited when Earl offered her some. When Earl saw Spring getting off the stage with Ellis he thought trouble. Spring looked like a young innocent girl, and she had no business travelling with Ellis and Mr. Rope. He was a little annoyed with Ellis's judgment. He thought he had none.

"Wait a toast," said Ellis.

They all lifted their glasses and Ellis proceeded to make a toast.

"Here's to a long and happy life," he said.

They all clicked their glasses and drank. The champagne went straight to Spring's head. She started talking about the note she left her dad. She was crying and said she should go home and explain it to him. Bessie was listening and realized Spring was a runaway. Her father was going to be looking for her. Bessie knew the type Earl and Ellis were. The law would be here in no time. Bessie told Spring that going home might be just what she needed. Bessie looked at Ellis and shook her head. Ellis knew Bessie was right. Spring had to be gone by morning.

The morning brought about a lot of changes. Spring was put on the first coach heading back home. Mr. Rope was getting worse. Ellis decided to get the doctor. The doctor came and said there was nothing he could do. He said Mr. Rope was too far gone. Bessie woke up before Earl had, and she rummaged through his pants pockets, and found his wallet. She stole one hundred dollars, and put the wallet back in his pants. She then tiptoed out the door. Earl was still fast asleep until he heard some banging on his door. It was Ellis. He told him the word was out about the bank job and Spring.

"We gotta get out of here," he said.

Earl was still half asleep and didn't understand Ellis.

"What are you talking about?" he asked.

Ellis told him again what was happening. Earl found his pants and discovered his wallet was in the wrong pocket minus one hundred dollars. Bessie mumbled to himself. Ellis told him Mr. Rope is dying.

"He can't testify then," said Earl. They both left the hotel and headed out of town.

Earl waited until Ellis had his back turned when he shot him. Ellis tried to go for his gun, but just fell off of his horse. Earl took his horse, and rode off with it. Bessie was waiting for the next stage to arrive when she thought she heard a shot ring out. She wondered if she would ever see Earl again. She knew Ellis and Mr. Rope would never be heard from again. Earl would not bury them, nor have the decency to contact their kin. Earl and Bessie were too much alike. The end always justified the means. They will meet up again, folks like them always do.

The End

Lily Tierney's work has appeared in Harbinger Asylum, Veil: Journal of Darker Musings, The Stray Branch, Illumen Magazine, Polu Texni, The Big Windows Review, Space and Time Magazine, The Writing Disorder, and many others. She enjoys reading and writing poetry.

Back to Top
Back to Home