Top Ten Western Short Stories For December
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Left Fer the Buzzards
Allan R. Bosworth
The young mule driver trudged painfully along at the side of the long-eared wheel animals. Suddenly he stubbed a boot toe and pitched headlong into the dirt. The mules halted, breathing hard. Up in the brassy bowl of the breathless sky, a gaunt buzzard swooped lower, watching, waiting for the end. Read the full story HERE>>
Frank Richardson Pierce
One of those “we must reduce taxes” elections swept Skinner and Watson into office as two of the three county commissioners of Mesquite County. Skinner owned a fair share of the county and Watson had spent twenty years saying yes to everything Skinner said; thus it was Skinner found he could run things.
When the word reached the county farm, otherwise the poor farm, a number of old fellows who had had a big hand in winning the West, but small reward in return, felt an icy hand grip their ancient hearts for several moments. Read the full story HERE>>
Christmas Comes to Brady's Flat
Reginald C. Barker
Seated in his cabin on Brady’s Flat, old Cal Inglis puffed at his pipe and gazed at the snow-covered summit of Tamarack Mountain, which was fully twenty miles away.
“Soon be Christmas again,” muttered the old man into his gray beard; “down in the city folks will be runnin’ around buyin’ presents; kids will be laughin’ and shoutin’ in glee. Me, I’ll be settin’ here alone in my cabin same as I’ve done for fifty years. Christmas never comes to Brady’s Flat. No, by Sam! Christmas never comes to Brady’s Flat.” Read the full story HERE>
Boot Hill Recruits
Slim Noble's eyes were as blue as the heat-blistered wallpaper in the sheriff’s office, his bare head carrot-colored in the desert sun streaming in through the window. He crushed his battered sombrero in his hand and squinted in the morning light.
“But, sheriff,” he choked, “Dal Perry never killed anybody, let alone Old Smoky, Read the full story HERE>>
The Trail Trap
T. W. Ford
Two shots rattled out on the sharp frosty night so fast it sounded as if a man were fanning the hammer. After a brief pause, there was another, a single one, and a man’s paintorn curse floating after it. The sounds came from down beyond the bridge at the bottom of the hill from Lusker. The boot heels of a staggering man thudded on the bridge itself. Then there were two more gun reports, the second muffled as if by distance. The quiet of the night flowed back over the wounds the explosions had made in it.
The last echo died out, and the wind chased a piece of brown paper down the hill. Read the full story HERE>>
The Avalanche Maker
W. Ryerson Johnson
Old Dad Summers never fell down no mine shaft. He got pushed!”
“That’s what you say,” White Horse Hanson’s level voice retorted. “Take it easy, Apples—easy. For yor size and weight, ‘Apples’ Appleby Jones, you’re the excitablest gazop in this whole Yukon backstretch. Yeah, and the plumb wildest guesser.”
“Says you!” Apples squawked.
White Horse shrugged his ponderous shoulders and let his glance drift out of the cabin window. Read the full story HERE>>
The Black Cat's Eyes
Benjamin F. Ferrill
Two drops of blood. Surely there was nothing in that to warrant the start he’d felt upon noting them, Bob Barlow thought. Yet he felt an eery, uncomfortable sensation creep over him as he continued to regard the two little cherryred spots in the path before him.
Such nerve antics were unusual for Bob Barlow. For several weeks since quitting a salaried mining job that had grown too tame for his inclinations, he had been prospecting on his own the gold country of the surrounding mountains. “There’s gold up there that hasn’t never been found,” he’d said grinningly when questioned by his ex-boss as to future plans But even as he replied he knew that it was the lure of the out-trails that was calling—not gold alone. Read the full story HERE>>
John R. Phillips
Big Jim Farnol leaned his hundred and ninety pounds of bronc-toughened sinew slightly forward. His fists knotted at his sides. The lines around his wide mouth were cut deep, and there was a cold, hard anger that set lights flickering in his blue eyes.
Standing where he was, he couldn’t have helped hearing the voices of the men on the other side of the empty mounting-chute in the Jackson Hole rodeo park. It was dark, but he didn’t need light to know who those men were—one of them, anyway. Read the rest of Rodeo Fool HERE>>
Sit in the Shade
Although they had been married two years, it remained a source of wonder to Phil Thornton that his career seemed of more concern to his intense young wife than to himself. He recognized the protective symptoms. Her voice rose in pitch and her words became more clipped as befitted an eastern educated girl in the Texas cow country. But even as the banker steeled himself against his wife’s anger, he could not help noting that the added color in her cheeks made her downright lovely. Read the rest of Sit in the Shade HERE>>
Killer, Watch Your Back
A burley, powerful man with dark hawkish features and hooded black eyes, Marshal Kirby Jance leaned suddenly forward in his chair and stared through the window of his office in Caribou Bend. A rider, mounted on a blaze-faced roan, was coming slowly along the street.
Kirby Jance missed little that went on in Caribou Bend. Read the rest of Killer, Watch Your Back HERE>>
The Red Devil from Blue Wells
By J. R. JOHNSTON
Sheriff Jim Tolliver raised himself on one elbow and searched the faces of the rangemen with faded blue eyes. His night-shirt fell open, revealing the crimson-stained bandages on his chest, where the bullet of an assassin had pierced it two days before.
“Well, how about it, boys?” he queried anxiously. “Did they vote for or against me?”
Red Jarvis, manager of the sheriff’s Blue Lake ranch and his staunchest friend, closed the door and came slowly to the bedside. His right hand gripped Tolliver’s. The rest of the men leaned against the walls and fidgeted nervously.
Trap for a Bandit
Paul S. Powers
The explosion came a quarter of a minute after the partners, dazzled by the daylight, had stumbled from the portal of their tunnel. It was a weak blast. The ground jarred slightly, and there was a muffled sound, as if a door had been slammed somewhere within the mountain. Read the rest of Trap For A Bandit HERE>>
It wasn't because silent, unhappy old Mac McNeil, owner of the Riffle Creek spread, had a grudge against him that Wedge Wilson fell heir to most of the heavy work around the outfit. It was just because the big brown-haired lad with massive shoulders tapering wedgelike down to a narrow waist could do the heavy work more easily, thoroughly—and without beefing about it.
Having been reared in the poverty of that unfurtile piece of range known as Gumbo Flats, where families were large, grub scarce and overalls usually patched, Wedge wasn’t one to rise in his wrath and say, “Get somebody else to shoe work horses and haul rock salt, or pitch hay or haul logs. I hired out to punch cows!”
Of course, this agreeableness had its penalties. Read the rest of Range Rookers HERE>>