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Top Ten Western Short Stories For December
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Brock Clemons rides into the small town of Dry Springs simply looking for a place to grab a cigar and a good night’s sleep. Instead, he finds a town being strangled by a band of hardened outlaws, a young boy named Huck who is bravely facing challenges far beyond his years, and Sophie, a woman of captivating strength and beauty. Brock decides to stay beyond the one night he had planned, but will his intelligence, courage and unmatched skill with a gun be enough to save the town, help Huck and win Sophie’s heart?
Brock Clemons leaves Dry Springs — and the people he’s grown to love — in search of his father, but his plans are altered when a brutal and shocking discovery in a creek bed leads him to new adventures, new friends and more than one near-death experience. As Brock navigates a series of eventful encounters with Indians, gunfighters and wealthy landowners, it leads him to evaluate where his heart truly lies. What did Brock find in Coyote Creek, and will he survive where it leads him?
A lifelong Western enthusiast who traces his love of Western fiction back to his childhood days of reading Louis L’Amour novels, author Scott Harris is a published Western novelist who has contributed a Western series, Western anthology, and numerous Western short stories to the genre.
In 2017, Harris, who loves nothing more than settling into his hammock with a glass of bourbon, a cigar and great Western, released the first two books in his Western series — “Coyote Courage” and “Coyote Creek” — that follow the tale of Brock Clemons and his journey into the West accompanied by his horse, “Horse,” and wolf, “Wolf.” The Brock Clemons story, especially when he is joined by his new wife Sophie and his adopted son Huck, is one of bravery, adventure and romance, transporting readers back to a time when chivalry, courage and gun fights ruled the day in the West. Harris will release the third installment in the Brock Clemons’ series, “Coyote Canyon,” in early 2018.
Additionally in 2017, Harris also released a Western anthology, “52 Books * 52 Western Novels: Old Favorites and New Discoveries" — a look at 52 of the greatest Western novels of all-time, co-authored by Paul Bishop, and has been a contributor on numerous anthologies, such as “Six Bullets to Sundown,” (volumes 7 & 8), “Six Bullets to Sundown; A Christmas in Texas” and “Gifts from the Outlaws.”
Harris plans to continue writing and publishing a variety of Western-related works and looks forward to continuing to connect with fans and authors alike.
The stranger rode easily into Dry Springs. A couple of people looked up as he did, and one even waved a quick hello, but no one really paid any attention to the man. There was no reason to. Other than the fact that Dry Springs didn’t get a lot of visitors, the stranger didn’t stand out at all. And he didn’t want to. Read the full story HERE>>
One Winter Morning
Ken James woke reluctantly, which was unusual for him because he usually enjoyed mornings. But he was still feeling sick. He knew it was 4:30 in the morning because he woke up at 4:30 in the morning almost every day of his life. Read the full story HERE>>
The fishing has been good and the conversation even better. Huck and I are two easy riding days east of Dry Springs. We called this a hunting and fishing trip, but mostly, for the first time since Sophie and I adopted 14-year-old Huck, it is a chance to spend some time together, alone. Neither of us have been this far east of town before, so we were pleased to stumble across what turned out to be a great trout stream. Read the Full Story HERE>>
It was the first time Huck had been hunting by himself. He usually went with his dad, Brock, or with his best friend, Tom. But Brock’s duty as sheriff of Dry Springs was keeping him busy today, and Tom was feeling sick. It was time for some fresh meat for the family, and though Brock and Huck’s mom, Sophie, were a little nervous about letting him go alone, he was fourteen years old, good with a rifle and responsible beyond his years. Read the full story HERE>>
My canteen ran dry this morning, and I’m pretty sure I’m still bleeding. I haven’t eaten or moved in three days—not since my horse tripped in a squirrel hole, landed on top of me and busted up my leg, and his.
The nights have been getting colder, which makes being able to see my coat and bedroll, but not being able to reach them, that much harder. Read the full story HERE>>
It seems my luck is changing. With almost two months—long, cold, hard months—having passed since I last slept in a bed, I stumbled across a Harris Ranch line shack. The Harris Ranch was famous, almost legendary, for their line shacks. They always seemed to be stocked with canned goods, plenty of fresh water, firewood and even blankets. They were never locked, and it seemed that even the outlaws respected the Harris Ranch rules, which were known throughout the Montana Territory--- Read the full story HERE>>
Annabelle Parsons was sixty-eight years old and had lived her entire life in Tucson. More specifically, she had lived her entire life at the St. Joseph’s Orphanage.
She was born at St. Joseph’s in 1801, along with her twin sister, Abigail. They both lived there until their sixteenth birthday. They were usually fed, usually warm and usually happy. They received some education, though not very much, and certainly not formal, but they could read and write and do a little of their numbers.
(A good follow-up story to The Hat by Scott Harris)
The steady snow blocks out most of the light the moon might have given us, so we ride slowly, our horses unsure of their footing. We’ve only ridden for about an hour, driven by a need to get away from what we left behind and to get closer to home. I don’t know how long it will take, but an hour certainly hasn’t been long enough to shake the image of Frank lying lifeless in the snow. By now, the coyotes have almost certainly started their work on the four men left unburied, and if there’s anything left in the morning, the vultures will make sure those men will soon be nothing more than a memory—and a bad one at that. Read the full story HERE>>
The calendar says it’s early spring, but the weather hasn’t quite let go of winter. The sun is falling quickly—along with the temperature—and it’s starting to feel like this might be the coldest night of an already cold trip. Supper, a fire and especially a hot cup of coffee sound even better than they usually do as I button up my jacket against the first few flakes of snow.
We’ve been on the trail for a week, which is the longest I’ve been gone since making Dry Springs my home. I must be getting a little soft, since before last fall I’d spent more than two years on the trail and usually felt pretty good, and now, after only a week—and not a hard week at that—I’m a little sore, and tired. Read the full story HERE>>
New to Town
Nolan Cauthen wanted to live in a place where he and his family could have a fresh start. Nolan had left Pennsylvania months ago with his wife, Nerissa, and their two children, Oscar, age four, and Hattie, just over a year. Their home, their jobs, and their family and friends were all left behind, and both Nolan and Nerissa knew it was likely they would never see any of them again.
While the decision to leave had been shared by Nerissa and Nolan and had, in fact, originally been Nerissa’s idea, the actual leaving had still been hard, and more than once on the trip, Nerissa had fallen asleep on Nolan’s chest, quiet tears streaming down her face.
Cisco Hinojosa worked his way slowly down the creek bed. His Steeldust mare was well-rested, in large part because Cisco had been moving so slowly since leaving Denver more than two weeks ago. But a man tends to move cautiously when he’s being hunted.
I woke with a start, sitting fully upright with a gun in my hand before I even really knew I was awake. I look quickly around camp as I slip my boots on, but there are no obvious, or even subtle, signs of what woke me. Horse is calmly eating her breakfast, nibbling away at the grass just outside of camp. If a wild-born mustang isn’t worried that someone is out there and possibly represents a danger, then there’s nothing dangerous out there.
So that means I woke myself up with a dream, or a nagging thought, which is unusual for me. I prefer to wake up slowly, allowing each of my senses to start working and enjoying the first few minutes of the day by simply absorbing what nature presents by way of sound, sight and smell. Throw in the taste of bacon, the smell of coffee and a refreshing cold-water bath, and one has awakened properly. But none of that happened this morning.
I’d been in town for less than an hour and had only met two people, Huck, the boy who worked at the livery and Ray, who owned the town’s general store, when three men with attitudes decided they didn’t like me and wanted me to leave the town saloon, the Dusty Rose. These had to be the same three men who hit Huck.
It seems odd that in twenty years of traveling the Southwest—trapping, scouting or simply riding through the territory wondering what’s around the next bend—I’ve never been to Santa Fe before today. I’m tired after a long trip and happy to find what looks to be a quality livery. The owner, a man named Skip, promises to take good care of my horse, and I believe him. He also directs me to a hotel he assures me is the nicest in Santa Fe, and an easy walk from the livery, which is no small thing the way I’m feeling. The De Vargas does seem like a very nice hotel, and whether or not it’s the nicest in Santa Fe, if the rest of Santa Fe follows suit, it promises to be an enjoyable, restful—and hopefully profitable—visit. Read the full story HERE>>
Once I reached the trail, it turned out to be a fairly short, uneventful ride into town. There was a decent-sized hill, some might say a small mountain, between my sleeping spot and town, so that’s what blocked the light and probably any sound. Or maybe it’s just a quiet town.
The little spot where I’m sitting now and watching is perfect for doing just that. Or for a picnic. I’m high enough to be able to look into town and close enough to see most of what’s happening on the street, and this little grove of trees offers good protection until I’m ready to be seen. I’m not expecting any trouble, and there’s no reason to think there will be any. But, on the other hand, I don’t know many western travelers who live to see the other side of thirty years old that don’t show caution when they can. Read the full story HERE>>
The Perfect Gift
Reverend Matt was excited as he jumped up on top of the bar of the Dusty Rose Saloon. The Rev loved every day and he certainly looked forward to Sundays, but this was Christmas and so it was special. Last night, Matt’s wife, Stacy, had thought he was more excited about this morning and giving his sermon than she and her brothers had been on Christmas Eve when they were little and looking forward to their presents the next morning.
Willy pulled up a box and took a seat next to one of the two upstairs windows at the Dusty Rose saloon. He set his rifle against the wall and took a sip of his coffee. The rifle was a Springfield Model 1861 that he took with him when the war ended, and he’d just never seen a reason to get a different one. Other than the memories, it was the only thing he had kept from the wars he’d fought in.
The shot explodes into her chest, killing the mustang instantly and barely allowing me the moment necessary to jump clear before she collapses on the trail. Startled, but not injured, I quickly crawl behind the horse, using all of her eight hundred pounds for protection from whoever is trying to kill me. I’m lucky she fell scabbard side up, so I’m able to grab my Winchester 1866. A quick check shows it’s fully loaded, as is my 1858 Army revolver, which I set next to me. As quietly as possible, I lever one of the fifteen shells into the chamber of the 1866. I loosen the cinch on the saddle and create enough space to slip the rifle through and still be able to look down the trail, hopefully, without being seen.