We all started our writing careers somewhere. We all had help from someone along the way. The Bullpen section of Rope and Wire is where unpublished writers have a chance to start their writing career by showing the rest of us what they can do. And you have the chance to pay it forward.
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William Henry McCarty walked slowly down the dusty street, while mentally preparing for his gun battle. He kept the sun at his back, so its rays would be in his opponent’s eyes. The blazing sunlight cast a long shadow and his short five-foot three height threw an elongated figure. But his skinny body still wasn’t bulked up in umbrage form. Read the full story HERE>
Itchin’ for Trouble
The day they hanged Pete Lawson, Samuel Black sat in front of the barkeep, his second whiskey in hand.
“Christopher Hunt’s a no-good sonuvagun. You hear me? A no-good sonuvagun.”
The barkeep nodded. A couple fellas were playing cards a few tables away, and one of them–wearing a red bandanna–looked over. Near the door, Harvey banged at the piano, supplementing his lack of skill with enthusiasm. Read the full story HERE>>
Welcome to the West
By David Brynjolfson
John Foster always wanted to be a self-made man. A fire burned within him, under the rib cage, demanding more and absorbing everything. Opportunity was out there, and if he put in the work, he could make it, like Benjamin Franklin, or Abraham Lincoln, or his own father who had become a lumber baron. As he confronted the challenges of adolescence, he would seek relief in feeling better than others because, like the heroes he read about, he would turn out to have a great future. Read the full story HERE>>
Eddy was thirty-nine years of age. He had fought in the War, had witnessed people he considered brothers die before his eyes. He had watched his wife and son die of cholera, had lost everything, and had faced the hardships of traveling west alone. Yet despite everything he had faced, the agony and suffering, the trials and tribulations, he had never questioned destiny… Read the full story HERE>>
The Crimson Rider
Pa said there was an art to this dance. But while he could do the pirouette, I’m not sure he ever threw a punch in his life.
The oaf rushes me with a shout; I juke to the side, then deck him in the face. My knuckles sting – a little – but he crumbles and I have to grin. He struggles to get to his knees, grunting like an old sow with her feet hobbled for the butcher.
“Get up!” Hiram screams. “Get up!” Read the full story HERE>>
The badge felt heavy on Tommy’s shirt as he saddled his horse. His four younger brothers gathered around him, staring at the badge, taking in what it meant. Max stood close enough to be nearly interfering with the saddling. Robert was feeling poorly, so he was sitting on a bale of hay and Eugene stood next to him, one hand absently patting his leg in childish comfort. Delsin stood close but out of the way, holding Tommy’s saddlebags. Outside the barn, dawn had barely begun. Read the full story HERE>>
Biscuits and Honey
M. Brandon Robbins
Logan found Rhett Sauls and his boys playing cards at a saloon in a town so small it offered nothing else but a general store and blacksmith shop. There were some coins, a few small bills, and several empty shot glasses on their table. Save for the red-faced and fidgeting barkeep, nobody else was in the establishment. When Logan called Rhett’s name, the outlaw looked up at him with a broad sneer on his face. “Well, snakes afire,” he said. “If it ain't Logan Cooper.” Read the full story HERE>>
He’s Gonna Pay
As the sun rose on another desolate day, Judd Granger rode his horse through the Texas wilderness, staring straight ahead, knowing that at the age of twenty-seven he was already a dead man. Read the full story HERE>>
To the lovely Mrs. E. Van Kirk,
Twentieth of April, 1881
I have never been much for writing, but you already knew that. You always told me how writing things down helped you clear your head, to make sense of things, but I never did understand how putting words on a piece of paper could help with anything. I am going to try, however, and I hope I can make you proud. I have been thinking a lot, as of late, about when we parted ways; how unfair it was, how unexpected. It was something that I could never have foreseen, and that I will need to learn to live with, though I would never have elected such a circumstance. Read the full story HERE>>
TIN CANS AND JACKRABBITS
Chris Jay Becker
When Dale Eggers rode into Silver Creek to meet his brother Danny, he was surprised to learn that Danny was not at the hotel.
“Yes, sir, he was checked in here, but he’s gone.”
Dale stepped back, surprised. “Gone? Did he leave a message?”
“No, sir. But here’s a key to his room, it’s Room 207, if you’d like to wait.”
“I’ll do that, thank you.” Read the full story HERE>>
Poor Aim and Welcome Distractions
Late afternoon shadows fell across the rickety wagon as it made its methodical way down the rough incline that served as a road in this part of Clear Creek Canyon, four days outside of Idaho Springs. Leland Gordon, his streaked hair more gray than black these days and worn a little over the ears and parted near the middle, shaded his eyes with one hand while holding the reins to the two mules with the other. He grunted to himself, satisfied at what he saw. Read the full story HERE>>
The Civil War had ended, and Luke returned home to his wife and son. He and his brother Lonnie enlisted in the army, but fought on different sides. It was a long hard road back from the war. Some knew they would never find the home they once knew. Back home, with his wife Martha and their son Chester; Luke was feeling the weight of war. He took to drinking heavily something he had never done before. Read the full story HERE>>
Summer lived with her dad on a farmhouse just outside of Virginia. Her mother had passed away during childbirth. The baby boy was stillborn. She was only five years old, and still remembers how afraid and alone she felt. Her dad methodically did his work, and never showed any emotion after his wife died. He never laughed or smiled. As she got older, Summer started to take over the chores around the house. She cleaned, cooked, did laundry, and tended to the animals. Vern, her dad, occasionally dated, but never got serious about another woman. Read the full story HERE>>
The 21 Foot Rule
Flint Erikson pushed his way through the rickety saloon doors. The doors continued to creak behind him as they eventually settled back in place. Dust that had been migrating on the stained and splintered tables wafted into the air as he moseyed inside. When his deep brown leather boots weren’t crunching on the discarded pistachio shells they were sticking to the dried-up beer that layered most of the establishment’s wooden floor boards. You can read the full story HERE>>
Cow-Boys and Calf Fries
I have been told the ‘calf fries’ are very tasty. I’ve never been hungry enough to put that to the test. And that leads my overly curious mind down a twisted and convoluted path to the brave man who was the first to look at a calf’s testicles and say, “I bet there’s some good eatin’ on that calf nut.”
Arizona Territory 1880
Spring round up was a hot and dusty job under the best of circumstances, but the overly warm winter and lack of precipitation of any kind had left the washes and arroyos drier and dustier than usual. The mild winter must have put every cow on the range in the mood for love, resulting in a bumper crop of calves, making the job of rounding the stubborn little critters up take twice as long as it usually did. Read the full story HERE>>
The Lee Creek Howler
Ezra Bullock whistled loudly and a bit off key as he announced to no particular tree, "Yes sir I am gonna ask her."
He pictured Marie Boyd with her long wavy dark hair as he moved over the first rocky ridge that separated his families’ homestead from hers. These same two thickly wooded hills and the hollow along Lee Creek had separated their farms for three generations now. Read the full story HERE>>
The Cottonwood Incident
Bert just wanted to get past Great Falls without being noticed. But Comach noticed, and so did four night riders. Read the full story HERE>>
The High Line Incident
The High Line shack was a lonely place on the Montana prairie. Bert was not expecting any company, but a single rider was coming. He reached for is Winchester just in case the stranger wanted to “remind” him of the fatal saloon fight a year ago. Read the full story HERE>>
The sounds of thunder rolling down the canyon hid the sound of the shot. Lighting pierced the dark black ominous clouds, outlining a lone solitary figure of a saddled horse standing as if holding a vigil for some obscure reason, while the rain continued coming down in sheets.
The storm had raged for two hours and a deluge of water filled the stream bed that roared into life. The lighting continued to light the night sky illuminating the steep rocky slope lined with blackjack oak and a black object appearing to be a man’s body, unmoving and without life. Read the full story HERE>>
The 8:10 to Chicago
“Call the next case bailiff,” shouted Judge Jackson Davis of Jeff Davis County Texas.
“State of Texas versus Nels Albright,” bellowed the bailiff.
“What do we have here Mr. Bean?” Judge Jackson asked the County Prosecutor as he drew his coat up over his shoulders trying to keep warm in his unheated west Texas courtroom this wintry blustery cold March morning 1893. Read the full story HERE>>
The Badlands Incident
“It says here there’s a fellow by the name of Jack Ripper on the loose over in England. Evidently, he’s already butchered half a dozen folks with a knife. It goes on to say….”
“Why Cleve, where did you pick up such a habit like reading—some girl’s school back East?” Uncle Eli continued stroking his skinning knife on the whetstone he held in his lap. The nearby campfire didn’t offer much light or heat, but Uncle Eli could sharpen a blade to a razor’s edge on a moonless night inside a cave. He had skinned buffalo for thirty years and a sharp knife had been an essential tool of his trade. Eli wetted the stone with a brown wad of spit and continued drawing the blade slowly across the stone. Read the full story HERE>>
THE DEATH RACE
Seth stared nervously at the boiling cloudbank marching toward him across the western horizon. Living beneath open skies for 38 years had taught the wrangler to predict what was coming. He spurred Dramm into a trot as he hurried across the high desert. A rider sitting on his horse was the tallest thing on the flat range, just inviting a lightening bolt from any passing storm. Read the full story HERE>>