Friday, August 23, 2013


Been some time since the last post. Chaos at home in the form of one visiting daughter and two visiting hellions in the form of grandson and granddaughter. At least the final few days leading up to their departure for Los Angeles were chaos. They are fun and loud and colorful and dynamic (plus any other good words you writers can think up).

Hellion in form of angel
Then, as my deadline for a short story on gambling approached, I  started madly typing, seeking a story to put down before Bob Randisi sent the Gunsmith after me.

Do you remember this line?

Russ Taklin dug in his pocket and came up with a gold eagle. He tossed it to me. “Rent on your horse,” he said.

I tossed it right back. “Keep it. Or, if you want to double it, put it down on me and my filly. We’re set on winning the Fourth of July race in Holbrook this year.”

Russ smiled and raised an eyebrow. “You’re going to win that big race with your little filly?”

“She’s plenty big enough,” I said, “and so am I.” and we tore off down the valley at a dead run.

That's how the story of Big Enough ended. 

Now. The male pro/antagonist in Big Enough is a man named Russell Taklin. And as Kimberly challenged him to gamble on her filly at the big race in Holbrook, he was natural as the protagonist in the upcoming gambling story that will go into the upcoming anthology edited by Robert Randisi.

Just to give you a teaser about what may happen, here's where Russell Tacklin gets set up to take his first big gamble.

Me and big Sam Kilridge liked to sit under the overhang at the edge of the Big Muddy, only it wasn’t so big or muddy way up there in Montana. As we sat, we liked to trade swigs on some good corn whiskey that Sam got from relatives in Kentucky. He put it on the Benjamin Franklin with the cottonwood chunks we fed the furnaces. That corn whiskey sure made for a friendly gathering, even if it was only a gathering of two.

“I heared me a rumor,” Sam said. He lifted the jug up with his elbow and settled in for a good slug. He smacked his lips after a couple of swallows. “Damn fine corn likker,” he said.

“What kind of rumor, Big Sam?”

“I heared from the stoking crew over to the North Alabama that they Cap’n Hoover done threw down the glove at our own Old Jack.”

“Threw down the glove?”

“Thas right. Done challenged Poor Richard here to race down stream, all the way to St. Louie.”

“But that boat’s bigger’n us. How we gonna out run her?”

“Yo’right. She be bigger and she be deeper. She haul lots, but she have to creep around them Big Muddy bends else the snags is gonna rip the bottom right outta her. We kin beat her.”

Big Sam named the fire-stoking crew of the Poor Richard. “They’s you and they’s me and they’s Kin an’ Dave an’ Austin an’ Thumb. We’s the best on the Big Muddy, bar none, as Old Jack say, and I says we can beat the North Alabama. Yes, we can.”

Word got around Fort Benton quick as chained lightning. North Alabama, a steamboat 160 feet long and 32 feet wide, challenged the Benjamin Franklin, which was 154 feet long and 28 feet wide. Close, as riverboats ran, but the North Alabama drew three feet more water than Poor Richard, and her stern wheel was nearly two feet bigger in diameter. Some saw the size of the North Alabama an advantage, but Big Sam Kilridge figured it was a drawback. “You want to make some money, chile, you put ever half dime you got on the Benjamin Franklin to beat the North Alabama to St. Louis by no less than twelve hours. You do that.”

If you want to find out what gambling does to a good boy from Missouri, you'll have to pick up the anthology.

In a moment, back to the 30-day Western.