Sunday, November 11, 2012

Six-Guns and Slay Bells, Story 7

We only know him as Cobb. He’s a big man, and a Texas Ranger. And he’s a man who’s out in the snow on Christmas Eve and looking for a shelter. A gully, if it comes to that.

A wagon passes. Dark and bulky, crawling along, pulled by teams of horses . . . no, mules. Maybe it would lead to shelter. A place with a pot-bellied stove. And hot coffee.

Cobb closes with the wagon, and the driver fires a warning shot over his head, then trains the rifle on his middle. Still, he lets the ranger ride in, with his hands in the air.

An old duffer drove the wagon. Knitted red cap and checked flannel coat. He held an ancient Henry. The foot he held against the brake was enclosed ion a high-top black boot. The wagon held a full load. The man says his name is Pop Edmunds. Says he’s going to Antelope Springs, the only bit of civilization around. Edmunds finally agrees to let Cobb follow along.

Then the outlaws come after them. And Edmunds fesses up to having a wagon full of toys, “fur the kids, they should get presents, one and all. It’s Christmas, after all.”

Cobb finds out it’s no simple thing, delivering a load of toys to a bunch of tots. He hangs in there and makes his way to Antelope Springs. But what happens after that is what makes this a creepy Christmas story.

JAMES REASONER, a lifelong Texan, has been a professional writer for more than thirty years. In that time, he has authored several hundred novels and short stories in numerous genres. Best known for his Westerns, historical novels, and war novels, he is also the author of two mystery novels that have achieved cult classic status, Texas Wind and Dust Devils. Writing under his own name and various pseudonyms, his novels have garnered praise from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as appearing on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. He lives in a small town in Texas with his wife, award-winning fellow author Livia J. Washburn.