Dec 15, 2020

Oct 30, 2020





Stories of Sex and Love and the Lives that Followed

Walter Piwicket and Kelli Netherlander begin their marriage, after five years of dating with an adventure of a lifetime, an all paid vacation to Kathmandu, Nepal one of the highest places in the world. The question the couple face is will their life together back be all downhill from there.

 Rosa Cervantes and Louis Hernandez should have dated in high school, but fate has a way of delaying the inevitable.  Working together sorting the crush for a vineyard, the older couple play matchmaker for two high school kids, Paul and Amanda.  At Rosa’s urging, the four attend a local concert where a salsa band introduces zapateado to the audience.  For Rosa and Louis, the question is can the dance of life begin in their forties. 

 Wilson Brown and Carmen Lee were a hot and heavy couple until Wilson was caught in a garage filled with moonshine and charged with breaking and entering with the intent of second-degree burglary.  Carmen Lee was a cook at a southside diner and Wilson was her best customer.  Carmen was in between husbands and Wilson was a dangerous man with a passion for large women and southern cooking.  While it lasted their romance burned white-hot.  Now Wilson is an ex-con looking for a new life and Carmen and husband number three own a local hot spot for jazz and Creole. 

 Alice Netherlander and Cathy Simon were college roommates. Alice is Kelli Netherlander older sister. Alice and Walter Piwicket were in English Lit classes together. Walter, Alice, and Cathy went on several dates together before Walter met Kelli. In their Junior year, Alice and Cathy dated a pair of fraternity Jocks.  Gradually they realized they were happier together and their relationship deepened.  After fifteen years something or someone is driving them apart.  The problem is they still love each other, but they aren’t talking and the intimacy they shared seems gone.

 Diane Fender and Teddy Nash met in college.  He was an English major and would-be writer working construction for the Summer and she was a math major serving drinks in a local bar.  When they met, they had nothing in common, except being alone at the end of the night.  What neither expected was the sex was outstanding.  Marriage and good-paying jobs came as a surprise.  The absence of children a disappointment.  Now Diane is working two jobs and Teddy is getting fat.  The question is can the passion missing from their lives be restored.

 Tommie Markie and Susan Cloverfield could have been actors, they are that attractive. In college, they were part of the fraternity and Sorority crowd.  After college Susan became a Realtor and Tommie an insurance broker.  For a time, their success bought them a beautiful home, luxury car, and expensive vacation designed for romance. On vacation, the two seemed to come alive. They’d become emersed in the local music, art, food, and wine, and renewing their youth, their college days.  At home, they lived in a house whose rooms were without love.

 Nancy Elbridge and Ron Dewitt met in college.  Nancy was an A student and religious tea-totterer.  Ron was a hard-drinking life of the party.  They met at an anti-war rally.  Ron was an Army vet with a gut full of metal and a head full of anger and Nancy was a devote passivist. She also was a beautiful wallflower ready to bloom.  In Nancy, Ron saw a hidden beauty ready to experience a new way of life and Nancy looked at Ron as a man seeking a new path.  Both were right, but the life and path they followed might destroy them.

 Charlie Peters and Helen Sidelle went steady in high school and married after college.  Their life together spanned fifty years, most of which was normal and boringly ordinary.  At least in public.  What made their marriage last were the little secrets they shared.  In private they were Scout and Cubbie.  Now Helen is dying.   The question is can Charlie survive without Helen.

Oct 29, 2020

Oct 28, 2020




 The attack by the raiders came in the early morning hours when only a dozen men were guarding the castle’s outer wall.  The majority of people living on Lord Garrett’s land were craftsmen and indentured farmers.  They lived outside the castle.  In times of danger, these people sought protection inside the walls of Castle Kildeer. 
            Jax grew up living in the castle.  His father was one of two sword makers working with Scratch. As boys, Jax and Lord Garrett’s son Dragu played together.  Jax was even allowed to visit the third floor in the keep where the Garrett family lived.             
            At twelve, the two boys entered the training program for castle guard.   After two years of training, Jax was expected to enter castle service as a guard defending the outer walls.  Rather than serve as a guard on the wall, the plan was for Dragu to serve as an apprentice knight under Scratch’s direction.  Jax for his part continued his training but at night joined the men on the wall, dreaming that one day he would become a knight.
            Impressed by Jax’s natural ability with sword and shield, Jax was invited to attend the training sessions with Lord Dragu.  He and Dragu were the only apprentices being trained by Scratch the ancient swordmaster and armorer to Castle Kildeer and Lord Garrett. 
            At first, Dragu’s sister Willa attended her brother’s training, saying only that she was bored with her instruction.  Soon, Willa, another natural, was training to fight with a sword and dagger especially made for her by Jax’s father.   In their training sessions, the three gave no quarter.  They fought until one emerged as the winner.  The reward for winning, a word, or a smile from Scratch. 
            The first skirmish with the raiders from the sky was quick.  The raiders took food and women prisoners; they killed without hesitation.  Swords and lances proved ineffective against their military body armor, just as iron shields didn’t stop laser weapons.  Jax and several other guards raced to the Keep to protect the Lord and his family.  What they found was old Scratch with a bloody sword standing guard over the unconscious body of young Dragu.  Beside him was Lord Garrett with a bloody dagger in his right hand and a blackened hole in the center of his chest.  
            Scratch’s only words were, “They took her.”

Oct 26, 2020





Can any person or nation claim to own an unexplored planet 12 light-years from Earth?  In 2035, the Starshot Program sent ultra-fast light-driven nanocrafts to assess the potential for human settlements on 20 exoplanets within 50 light years of Earth. Traveling at 2/5 the speed of light, Starshot 1 was sent to explore Alpha Centuri.  Starshot 2 focused on the four known planets in the Tau Ceti constellation of Cetus, “The Sea Monster” or “Whale.” In 2114 data from the exploration of Tau Cet-e indicated that humans could live on the surface in the same way they had survived living in shielded structures on Mars for 75 years.  
     In 2127, the American Federation Starship Cetus 1 left on its 75-year voyage to place a team of explorers, scientists, and Marines on Cet-e.  Four years before their arrival in the Tau Ceti system, the ship’s Commander Mary Elizabeth Teal was awakened by the onboard computer to the news that a team of from the Euro-Russian Pact Space Agency are traveling to Cet-e in newer and faster starship.  
    According to the first reports, the Pact team was in orbit around Cet-e and may be on the ground. Little more was known given how long it takes to communicate and how secretive the Pact Agency could be when it came to the Federation. Commander Teal is instructed to continue with her mission, but to be aware that the Euro-Russian Pact team may, according to Earth law, claim the planet as theirs and deny her the right to land. If that happens, Commander Teal has permission land and contest (fight) any claim of eminent domain or to fly to the mission alternative, the smaller planet Cet-g. 
    Believing the decision is not hers to make alone, Teal had the ship’s computer break protocol and awaken Ian MacDonald, the chief engineer, the ship’s physician Oliver Green, the leader of the science team, Dr. Susan Maude along with head planetary explorer, Mr. N. Keith Mallory, and Marine Captain Walter Johnson. Together they will decide the fate of the Cetus-1. 

Oct 24, 2020

NANOWRIMO IDEA # 8 In the Nick of Thyme - reality was never this funny


In the Nick of Thyme

Host of Detroit's only reality restaurant show

Nick Thyme is the 40-year-old producer and star of a local reality restaurant show in Detroit, Michigan called In the Nick of Thyme. Nick is a Greek American chef born in Detroit. He loves the Tigers, Red Wings, Muscle Cars, Motown, and women. Shorter than average, Nick is wiry and tough and better looking than most men his age.
            Nick is standing in front of an open kitchen in a local Chinese restaurant, Wan Kow’s Bistro. Nick is filming the introduction to a new episode. Normally he would film outside, but it is raining. Behind the camera are the director Rosemary Leaf, script-girl Margie Mack, cameraman Bill Jacobs, and soundman Paul Jackson. 
            Nick is wearing a raincoat and dripping rain hat. He has an umbrella in one hand and a pair of chop sticks in the other. Behind Nick in the open kitchen are three Chinese men cooking at extra-large woks, and a long grill top. They are arguing in a Chinese dialect (Cantonese - Yue). Beyond them is a smoking woodfire for grilling and smoking meat. This is a new feature the owner’s son is hoping will make the restaurant a success.
            Nick shakes his hat off of rain and looks at the camera. Rosemary calls “Action,”
            “It is raining cats and dogs outside,” Nick begins, “but we are safe and warm here at Wan Kow’s Chinese Bistro. Wan Kow’s is the first open kitchen Chinese restaurant in Detroit. The owners are trying to add something new to one of the world’s oldest cuisines. Fire and smoke.”
            In the kitchen a large flame bursts out and over one of the woks and the grill top. The cooks begin screaming in Cantonese and running around. The fire jumps to a second wok, which explodes with flame. This is not part of the show.
            “Nick,” the cameraman shouts, “I hate to interrupt, but Mr. Sands is in the kitchen.”
            “I thought his name was Mister Lee?” Nick half turns from the camera to look in the kitchen. He sees the fire.  “Now that’s something you don’t see every day. Well actually you do. Kitchen fires represent nearly half the fires in American homes. Forty-six per cent.”         
            The kitchen fire continues to spread. One cook leaves the kitchen. The other two cooks continue to search for something to fight the fire.
            “Knowing what to do in a kitchen fire is essential. Follow me, and I’ll show you.”
            Nick walks around the counter and into the kitchen. Bill and Paul follow with the camera and sound equipment still filming Nick. Rosemary and Margie stay in the front of the restaurant.
Nick picks up the top to one of the large woks.
            “Now kids, you don’t want to do this at home. Fires need oxygen and fuel, like cooking oil. This is an oil or grease fire.”  Nick points to the blazing fire coming out of the wok.
            “The one thing you can’t use on a grease fire is water. Watch.”
            Nick wipes rain off his coat onto his fingers and flicks water into the wok. It explodes again in flame.
            “Wow. Never use water on a kitchen fire. The first way to put out a fire is to remove the oxygen. A pot lid can be used if it is bigger than the pot.” Nick covers one of the burning woks with a lid and the wok starts smoking, but the fire is gone.
            “For a larger surface, like a stove top, you might try a cookie sheet or a baking pan. But be careful.”  Nick looks around until he finds a long baking pan. Being careful not to burn himself, he covers the countertop fire with the bake pan. The fire goes out, too.
            “The best thing to do if the fire is out of control is call the fire department and if you have one, use a fire extinguisher.” 
            The cook who ran out comes back in carrying a red fire extinguisher. Nick grabs the extinguisher from the cook.
            “But, be careful. On every extinguisher is a rating A through K. A-C are for wood and electrical fires. B-C for the garage. Only K is for kitchen fires. This is an AC extinguisher from the front of the restaurant. If the cook had used it, the whole place might have burned down and there would be no show.” Nick laughs and hands the extinguisher to the cook and pushes him out of the kitchen.
            “In the absence of a K fire extinguisher or another of those big lids, we need a third way to put out a grease fire. Baking soda or salt, can be used if you have enough. But, again, never water, and never flour, baking powder, or corn starch. These will fuel a fire.”
            Nick looks around the kitchen while the fire in the wok has gone back to smoking. Nick finds a package of salt and pours it into the wok. The fire goes out.
            “I hope you enjoyed today’s lesson in fire safety in the kitchen. Remember, CSK; Cover, Salt, and use a K extinguisher. I’m Nick Thyme and we are at Wan Kow’s Chinese Bistro. The owners are hoping to add a little fire and smoke to their barbecue. Today they got more than they expected. Fortunately, we were here in the Nick of Thyme.”   
            Nick looks for Rosemary.
            “And, cut,” Rosemary says, rushing to Nick as do the crew and the cooks. “Nick that was fantastic. We might win an award for that. Fire departments all over America can use that video. We can put it on YouTube. What a promotion. Nick Thyme saves Chinese restaurant.”
            “Thanks.  I wish I actually knew more about Chinese cooking.”
            Nick gives Rosemary a sheepish grin and turns to Bill. “Say, Bill. What was that business about Mr. Sands. The owner’s name is Lee.”
            “It’s theater slang. It means the house is on fire, head for the exit, but don’t panic the audience.”
            “Good to know.”  said Nick.

Oct 22, 2020


                                                        NANOWRIMO STORY IDEA # 7


Charles Delaware Barrington liked to say in every good man there is a little devil.  Charles’ son and namesake Charles Delaware Barrington, jr. hoped the opposite was true; that in any evil man there is some good. As a young boy, Charles recognized there was a core of evil inside him, a boy he called Del. Knowing that Del was evil, Charles learned the importance of appearing overly good at an early age. To the family, friends, teachers, and his minister, Charles Jr was a good son, a good student, and a faithful Christian. To his employer, Charles Jr was management material and to law enforcement, Charles Jr was a model citizen.

            Most people didn’t meet Del directly rather when he got loose, they encountered evidence of his existence, blood, body parts, and the smell of death. What Del called his signatures. One such signature came when Charles was still in college. His father was found dead in the back alley of a skid row tavern, called Lulu’sHe had been robbed and knifed to death with his pants down at his knees. Charles Senior loved cheap booze and even cheaper women.

            A detective on the case told Charles jr. that his father, Charlie B, as he was known in the bar, had been seen leaving with a teenage girl.  The detective said, “We’re looking for a young prostitute who works that block. Nothing so far, but we’ll keep looking,” he said sounding uncertain.

            Angry over police indifference, Charles let Del loose to do some looking on his own.  Del wasn’t seeking revenge.  He hated his father. His father a fool.  He would have gladly killed him, any one of those times he came home smelling of liquor and women.  He didn’t because of his mother.  Helen loved Charles Senior and he loved her, at least when he was sober; that love sustained her. Now, some low life had taken advantage of Senior’s weak nature and the circumstance of his unsolved murder was destroying Helen.  Charles jr. believed if Del could restore the tie up the loose ends, he would bring balance in the world and Charles would be able to relieve Helen’s grief. 

            Del knew how and where to look, and what to do with the information.  For twenty dollars, the bartender at Lulu’s gave Del the name of another girl who was working the bar that night.  The girl proved to be a forty-year-old woman named Sarah who lived at the back of a four-story walkup.  Sarah answered the door in her robe which was open, revealing she was naked underneath. Sarah said she wanted to help, but she knew nothing.  While they talked, she vaped cigarettes and drank several tumblers of whiskey which she offered to Del.  At one point, she asked about Charlie’s funeral, saying what a fun guy he was.  Del treated her like he was her social worker or therapist, and she was a whore with a heart of gold, all the time pouring her more to drink.  Eventually, she said she for a C-note I might have a name and an address, adding, “I usually get a hundred for my time.”    

            “I'll take both,” Del said putting one hand on her throat and the other a naked breast. 

            Del found Lilly Brown living with four other addicts.  After two days of careful watching, he knew where the girl bought her drugs and the corners and bars where she sold her flesh. He watched her drug dealer long enough to know he was Lilly’s pimp and that he likes to flash a pocket .25 cal automatic and a switch-blade knife.

            Del picked Lily up driving a rental car.  She was standing on a corner a block away from Lulu’s.  She had on short shorts and a Tee-shirt. When she leaned in the open window of the car, Del played the nervous college student asking her the cost for a blow job?  She asked if he was a cop. 

            “Of course, not.  Maybe I should go,” Del stammered.

            “It’s okay, sweetie, I have to ask. Drive around to that alley and I will follow.  We can talk about prices and be private there. You won’t be sorry.”

            Del wasn’t surprised when Lilly’s pimp climbed in the back seat and put a blade to his throat. Lilly, who had her head in his lap, seemed more surprised.  

            “Get his wallet,” the pimp shouted.

            Del took a moment to zip his fly before handing her his wallet.

            “Look, sonny boy, she’s going to write down your name and address. If you go to the police, I will kill you.”

            “What’s his name, baby?”

            “Charles Barrington.”


            “But that’s the name of the old...”

            “Shut up.”

            Del took that moment to Taser the pimp and then Lilly.   He took his time to be sure they were not being watched.  He zip-tied and gaged the pimp and then Lilly.  Taking blankets from the trunk, he covered each, making it appear they were sleeping.  Finally, he loaded two new cartridges into the Taser.  He had a long ride ahead of him and potentially a longer night. Del was resolved about what he intended to do.  He felt no guilt or remorse, nor was he acting out of revenge.  He hated his father and believed his life would be better without him. The sense of pleasure he experienced was better than sex.  He felt alive.              

            Two days later, at William Barrington’s funeral, the minister declared, “William was a good man. He was a loving man. He loved Helen, his wife of forty years, and his two wonderful children, Mary and Charles. His death is a tragic sign of these troubled times,” the minister claimed.

            At the gravesite, the good son, Charles, hugged his Mom and cried with his sister.  He shook hands with the minister and asked two of his dad’s friends to see his Mom and sister home, saying “I want to have a moment alone with Dad.”

            Del stood for a long time saying nothing, just looking at the fresh mound of earth.

            “You finally did it, you miserable prick,” he said to the grave. “The troubled times didn’t kill you, a fourteen-year-old drug addict and her pimp killed you when you wouldn’t pay the twenty bucks for a blow job. Truth is, you loved yourself, and nothing else.”

            In his mind, he pictured what he’d done to Lilly and Jessy, her pimp. The thought brought on a smile and Del laughed so hard he cried.   Looking around, he stopped laughing and adopted Charles’ calm and somber outward demeanor. Del was back in the shadows.   


Oct 20, 2020




It is 1937.  Robert Esterhouse is an American Executive from Standard Oil in German on a business trip to observe Germany’s effort to develop Bergius, synthetic oil.  Robert is traveling with his German / American wife, Hilda.  Like Robert, Hilda is a trained chemist who also works for Standard Oil.

The couple plan to visit several Bergius plants on the Rhine ending their trip at the Benzol Oil Plant at Linz in Austria, where Hilda as relatives.  In Berlin, they are questioned by the Gestapo.  Robert’s questioners focus on whether Robert is a spy working for the American military.  Robert is prepared for these questions citing his degrees in chemistry and engineering and his decades of employment with Standard Oil. 

Hilda is interrogated about her family and whether she has Jewish ancestors.  Hilda who was born in Germany can prove her parents were Swedish and German and both Catholics, as is she.  However, she is caught lying about her grandparents.  As a result, her passport and travel papers are changed, identifying her as a Jew.

Ironically as thorough as the Gestapo are, they ignore questions of Robert’s Jewish heritage and never consider that Hilda might be the spy.  Ultimately Robert and Hilda are released and begin their tour of Bergius plants, however, a chance meeting with an American Army officer on their train to the Ruhr, brings the again into Gestapo headquarters in Dortmund.  There they meet a man the Gestapo called the “Hand.”  He makes it clear he is watching them.

The game of cat and mouse becomes deadly when Hilda learns a military secret from an anti-Nazi Jewish scientist at one of the plants on their tour and later he is found dead in their hotel room. The couple are forced to attempt a desperate escape right under the watchful eye of the Hand.

Oct 18, 2020




A murder mystery

This is the story of four old college friends, Helen, Elizabeth, Alice and Cathy. They are attending a graduation party for Helen’s niece Isabel. Her graduate advisor is one of the business department’s oldest and most successful professors, Dr. Kevin Walters.  Even at sixty-five, young women find Walters as charming and charismatic as he was when he taught the four friends, forty years earlier. 

Over dinner, the women discover that while Walters had helpful a hand in their careers, they were all sexually harassed by Dr. K. and the anger and sting of his behavior still lingers today. Worse, they discover he has continued to harass and abuse his female students, including Isabel and a number of her friends.  Believing the time is right, they plan an intervention where they can confront Dr. K and make him admit to his behavior; all recorded on film. The plan is simple. Isabel will invite him to a celebration dinner at a lake cottage owned by her Aunt. Isabel will make it clear they will be alone.

When Dr. K shows up, the four plan to spring their trap. For three of the women, the plan, if it works, will be a satisfying “Me, too” moment, providing evidence of his guilt. It might also be a way for him to address his errant behavior.  For one of the four women, the plan doesn’t go far enough.  However, she has plans of her own.

Oct 16, 2020

NANOWRIMO IDEA # 4 FRANK AND JOE The mystery of the murdered mutts



The mystery of the murdered mutts

The boys are older. Their days of being amateur sleuths are long gone.  Frank is sixty-eight and Joe is applying for Medicare.  Frank married Callie Shaw right after high school and Joe married Lola Morton in his third year of college.  Frank and Callie’s marriage lasted fifteen years and produced a son, Beau who became a lawyer and now is a local district attorney.  Joe and Lola had a daughter, Anne.  After college, Anne followed her grandfather joining the city police, where she has earned a position as a detective sergeant.  

            Recently, Joe moved in back in with Frank after Lola died of cancer.  The two brothers are living in their family home in Bayport, where Frank sells insurance and Joe is a high school science teacher when he isn’t playing guitar in a local rock and blues band. 

            Detective Anne Hardy tells her father, Uncle Frank, and Cousin Beau about a strange case she is investigating. Someone is killing family pets.  Dozens of dogs.  What is unusual is the dead pooch is found in a local park having been killed somewhere else.  Worse, the methods have all been different; poison, guns, knives, even explosives have all been used with no trace evidence where the crime was committed.  Anne admits everyone in the department assumes the deaths are the work of a disturbed teenage boy.  But she wonders if the crimes are an indication of something bigger. Beau mentions that he is looking into a local hate group.  He wonders if the killings are part of their initiation.  Frustrated Anne admits she is at a dead end. Loving a mystery, the Hardy brothers become involved. 

Oct 14, 2020




The cattle drives from Fort Worth to Kansas traveled from river to river at ten miles a day.  Most of the herd bosses followed the Chisolm Trail, crossing into Indian Territory at Red River Station on the Red River. Cowboys driving north from the Red River often spent a day or night in the Texas town of Spanish Fort. Spanish Ft. had once been Spanish and it had a fort, but it never had a Spanish Fort. In the 1760 the French built a fort to fight the protect against the Taovoyas and Comanche tribes.  
            At the time that cattle were moving north on the Chisolm Trail, Spanish Fort had a post office, a catholic church, a Masonic lodge, two general stores, five physicians, four hotels, two with ladies, three saloons, a barber, and one of the finest boot maker north of Galveston, Herman Joseph Justin.  What the town also had was a passel of outlaw trouble and an opening for a Sherriff.
            Drunken cowboys on Saturday night were problem enough, but ever since Big Jim Grissom shot Sherriff Cyrus Nobel in card game at the back of the Red River saloon, the number of wanted men, thieves, and cowboys looking to shoot up the town had grown to the point that the outlaws outnumber the locals.
            Jefferson Pine, who friends call lonesome, was just another cow poke looking for a night in town, when he rode into Spanish Fort.  He and three other drovers from the Mark W cattle drive had been the night off.  They were to rejoin the drive with supplies. 
            On the way into town Jefferson noted a bullet riddled sign on the Sherriff’s door that read “Check all fire arms” below which another sign read “Sherriff wanted. Apply at Simpson’s mercantile.” 
            Jefferson had worked as a deputy Sherriff once back in Illinois.  After the war, he sort of fell into herding cattle.  A job he didn’t love. 
            On his one night in town, Jeff was looking for a drink of whiskey, a bath, a bed, and a woman, not necessarily in that order.  He also needed his right boot repaired.   
            At the Red River Saloon Jefferson asked the bartender, “Where can a fella get his boot repaired?”
            “I sell whiskey,” the bartender answered.
            Jefferson put his right boot on the bar, with his big toe sticking out of a hole the size of a silver dollar.
            “I’ll take a whiskey, but I heard you have a boot maker in town,” say Jefferson.
             “If you know what’s good for you, Cowboy I’d take that boot off the bar,” said a heavy set man two men down from Jeff.  “The owner of this fine saloon is Big Ed Grissom. He is happy to take your money, but in his heart, if he has one, he hates you cowboys and your dirty boots”
            The man sounded drunk.
            “I plan to get a bath,” said Jeff.
            “I, on the other hand,” the man continued.  “I make my living from repairing boots, even poorly made ones like yours. My name is Herman Justin. Follow me.”
            The man took Jefferson to a patched together store front two streets away with a sign that read “boots.”
            Inside the walls of the shop were filled with plain and hand tooled boots of all sizes, gun belts, holsters.  In the front of the shop was a worktable, a stool and a shoemaker’s metal shoe form.  The man had Jefferson remove his boots. 
            “I’ll fix the hole, put on new heels, and throw in a clean pair of white socks, for fifty cents.”
            “I got a pair of socks.”
            “I said clean.”
            “What do these fancy boots cost?”
            “The plain boots are two dollars.  The hand tooled boots cost as much as five. Try on a pair if you like.”
            “How about one of these gun rigs?”  Jefferson picked out single right handed rig.
            “You aren’t wearing a gun.  Did you check yours at the Sherriff’s office?
            “The boss don’t like us wearing a pistol in town.  I have one in my saddlebag. It’s from the war, a 44. I’ve been thinking about getting out of those new Colts.”   
            “The price, depends on the caliber, the length of the barrel, and the quality of the leather.  In general, a single plain holster and belt like you have sells for a buck.”
            Jefferson ran his hand over the leather on a hand tooled holster, his fingers following the flow of the tooling. “I noticed that some of these holsters are as soft as a cow’s belly and others are hard and stiff,” said Jeff, “Why is that.”
            Herman Justin finished hammering on a heel before answering.  “It depends on the man and how the gun is used. A cowboy like you needs a gun in case of a rattler or an Indian attack.  If he wears a gun at all it should be high on his belt. Easy to get at, but with the hammer tied down. The holster should be soft and easy to move around as the man rides. In the army they have a covered holster they wear backwards so it won’t fall out or get in the way.  They don’t need to be fast draws.”
            “What if you did?”
            “Gun fighters come in all shapes and sizes.  It isn’t always how fast you draw, its how good you are with a gun. I heard in Dodge City Wyatt Earp was just as likely to hit you over the head with his gun butt, whereas Old Wild Bill practiced every day and generally entered a fight with two guns drawn.”
            “I was a good shot in the war, but I ain’t no fast draw,” said Jeff.
            Justin left his bench and searched through a stack of gun belts until he found one cut in the shape of a “Y” To the belt he added a narrow holster that attached through a hole in the belt.
            “Try this on,” the man commanded.  “And use the ties at the bottom of the holster to attach to you leg.  You don’t wan the holster to move when you walk.” 
            Herman opened a drawer in the bench and pulled out an Army Single Action Remington 1875.  Before handing the .44 to Jeff, Herman removed the bullets.
            “I’m going to count to three. When I say three, you draw. One, Two Three.”
            Jeff got the gun out of the holster, but the hammer wasn’t cocked.
            “I wasn’t ready,” said Jeff.
            “Dead men never are.  If you wear a gun like that, you have to walk around ready.  Keep your hand loose with your thumb close to the hammer. The gun has to leave the holster cocked and when it clears and come level, it has to be pointed at the man you plan to shoot.  No stiff arm aiming like in the army.” 
            Jeff tried again and did better. Drawing the gun out of the holster already cocked was easier than he expected.  The rig made it easy.  The problem was he kept trying to raise the gun to his eyes and point his arm straight out, as he had been taught in the calvary.
            “I guess, I’m just an old dog.”
            “No, in fact, you are a natural.  You just need more practice.”
            “How much for the boots and this rig?”
            “What gun do you have?”
            “Actually, I have a Remington like this one.”
            “That gun has the seven-inch army barrel.  It will hit what you aim at, but it is big and heavy.” 
            Justin goes to a different stack and pulls out a similar gun belt with a smaller holster.  He hands it to Jeff and then roots in the bench draw pulling out a new Colt Peacemaker, which he unloads before giving it to Jeff.
            “This is the Army Colt, the peacemaker with the four and a half-inch barrel.  Try it. Colt calls it a saddle gun.”
            Jeff puts the gun in the holster and draws it out several times. Even bringing the gun to his eye level, he is faster.
            “Like I said, a natural.”
            “How much?”
            “The Colt is new. It cost me sixteen dollars.  However, I’m guessing you could buy an older model for less at the mercantile in the morning.”
            “How about the gun belt?”
            “The buscadero is five dollars.”
            “Buscad- what?”
            “I call it a Buscadero.  It is Spanish. It means “one who searches.”  A fitting name for a lawman or the outlaw he seeks.”
            “I want one of these buscadero, but I’m a bit short. Here’s a dollar for my boots.”
            Jeff hands Herman a silver coin.
            “I should have twenty dollars in the morning. We can decide about price for the gun and the gun belt then.”
            “What happens in the morning?”
            “I’m going to apply for the job of Sherriff, provided they’ll pay in advance. What about a double rig?”d pulls out a similar gun belt with a smaller holster.  He hands it to Jeff and then roots in the bench draw pulling out a new Colt Peacemaker, which he unloads before giving it to Jeff.
            “This is the Army Colt, the peacemaker with the four and a half-inch barrel.  Try it. Colt calls it a saddle gun.”
            Jeff puts the gun in the holster and draws it out several times. Even bringing the gun to his eye level, he is faster.
            “Like I said, a natural.”
            “How much?”
            “The Colt is new. It cost me sixteen dollars.  However, I’m guessing you could buy an older model for less at the mercantile in the morning.”
            “How about the gun belt?”
            “The buscadero is five dollars.”
            “Buscad- what?”
            “I call it a Buscadero.  It is Spanish. It means “one who searches.”  A fitting name for a lawman or the outlaw he seeks.”
            “I want one of these buscadero, but I’m a bit short. Here’s a dollar for my boots.”
            Jeff hands Herman a silver coin.
            “I should have twenty dollars in the morning. We can decide about price for the gun and the gun belt then.”
            “What happens in the morning?”
            “I’m going to apply for the job of Sherriff, provided they’ll pay in advance. What about a double rig?”

Oct 11, 2020





Fifteen-year-old Orlando Paladino is having the strangest dreams.  He and a group of men, dressed in scared and dented armor, are in an empty part of the city market fighting an army of hooded men in flowing white robes.  At the center of the conflict is an old woman who the king has declared his knights must protect if the kingdom is to survive. 

The problem is the knights are losing the fight.  They are overwhelmed.  Bravely they make the hooded men pay, but as one after another of the heroes falls, Orlando decides that bravery and honor are less important than cunning and deception. Orlando believes the old woman is some kind of witch. He has seen that she is able to so change her shape as to be invisible. One moment she is a gray-haired hag, another she is a dark-haired, middle-aged beauty. At other times she appears a mere girl with raven black hair and sparkling blue eyes. Orlando imagines the witch could protect herself if he could get her into a crowded market.  However, being the only female in a hornet’s nest of hooded assassins, she has no chance, unless Orlando can save her.  

Grabbing the old woman, Orlando calls to his brothers to shield him, as he tries to escape behind the wall of armor.  In the dream Orlando nearly makes good his escape, however before he can mount his warhorse, a hooded man stabs Orlando in the side and grabbing the woman from his arms the man carries her into a circle of men with drawn knives.  Sometimes, Orlando watches as they cut the blue-eyed girl into pieces or as Orland dies, he hears the woman screams for his help.  Either way, he has failed.

Thankfully, it is only a dream because fifteen-year-old Orlando Paladino is no white knight, no hero. His goal in life is to stay low and make it out of the hood. In a neighborhood filled with gangs, drugs, and crime, Orlando is a standup kid.  He is a faithful son, a good student, and an Alter boy in the Catholic church. Orlando listens to his elders and he believes in the good in people, however, he is smart enough to avoid the bullies and tough gang members in school. In his dream, Orlando is a leader; the bravest man in a court filled with knights-errant. In real life, he is going nowhere. He is a loner.  At school he is invisible. He has a few male friends, boys like him, but no girlfriend. No girl who even talks to him. At least, that is, until Kassandra Alexander is transferred to his school.

Kassandra is like no other girl he knows. Where he is invisible.  She is outspoken.  She is smart, brave, and unafraid. She is a bit of a loner, shunning the popular girls and indifferent to the dangerous boys. Orlando imagines her to be the girls of his dreams, only to realize she is the girl in his dreams, and as in his dream, it turns out Kassandra is at the center of a storm.

Oct 7, 2020





Times are hard. Deputy Sheriff Hunter Nalje has been laid off from.  He is working as a bouncer at a late-night strip club owned by Big Bill Smith when two masked men rob the club and carry off, CoCo, the entertainer.  One of the men tells Hunter to give Big Bill a warning.  “He is coming late to the party.” Smith is famous in southern Utah for his cowboy saloons filled with cheap booze and cheaper babes.  Now he is trying to expand into the local cash crop, Marijuana.  The growers have sent a message.  Stay out.  Big Bill is ready to go to war.  Hunter convinces him there is another way.

Chapter 1

Deputy Sheriff Hunter Nalje was talking to Winslow Hastings, the bartender at Big Bill Smith’s Green Weed Saloon when the two men entered.  CoCo Taylor was on stage twirling her assets.  Cowboys in dirty jeans and checkered shirts followed CoCo’s whirling breasts like they were gold nuggets.  Hunter’s primary job as a bouncer on the midnight shift was to ensure the cowboys kept their boots and hands off the stage and off CoCo’s behind.  Occasionally he had to break up a fight or carry a drunk to his car.  His job didn’t include drawing down on a masked man with a Winchester Pump or his partner pointing a Glock 19 at Hunter’s right hand as he reached for his own pistol.

            “Easy does it Chief,” the man with the Glock said. “We don’t want no shootings.”

            “Everyone on the ground,” the man with the shotgun called.

            Hunter thought he sounded Hispanic. Both men were dressed in black and wearing ski masks and gloves.  Their pants were tucked in their boots.  Military, Hunter thought.

            “Face down, hands behind your backs,” Shotgun called.  “You can stay where you are, honey.” He pointed his gun as CoCo. 

            The man with the pistol used zip ties to secure the Cowboys’ hands.  He came to Hunter last.  After tying Hunter’s hands, he searched for a weapon, finding Hunter’s concealed Walther PPKs.

            “We know who you are Chief.  You’re lucky, it doesn’t pay to shoot a cop.  Tell Big Bill this is a warning.  He’s coming late to the party. The growers don’t need no more competition.  Bill should stick to babes and booze.”  The man laughed a nasty laugh.  His breath smelled of garlic. 

            The two men grabbed the bartender by his arms and dragged him into the back room.  The man with the shotgun returned to the bar, leaving his partner with Winslow.  To the untrained eye, the narrow back room was little more than a storage place for cleaning supplies, bottles of booze, and a place for Coco to dress. Hunter knew it was more than a storeroom; he had seen the floor safe.  Apparently, the men had too.

            For a time, the sound of punches and Winslow’s screams filled the bar.  It didn’t take long after a single shot for the man to walk out carrying a black bag that Hunter assumed was filled with cash and drugs.  He moved to the door. 

            “Bring the girl,” he said to Shotgun.

            “You’re coming with us, Honey.” The man grabbed CoCo by the wrist. She pulled back and tried to scratch the man. He hit her across the face with the barrel of the Winchester.  One of the cowboys tried to stand.  The man hit him with the butt of his rifle.

            “Everyone calm down.”

            “Miss Taylor will be fine. She is just a little traveling insurance.  We are going now.  If anyone comes out this door in the next five minutes, he will be shot.”

            The man with the shotgun picked CoCo up and slung her over his shoulder.  The two men left bumped their way out the door with CoCo screaming for help.


May 10, 2020

Sheltered - a strategic poem


From the old English: to shield
Opposite: to threaten, to expose, to endanger
Similar: to cover, screen, or protect

Protect who?
Protect from what?
Protect how?

Take refuge
Seek sanctuary
Hole up


But are we safe?
And, at what cost?
And, for how long?

Roger C. Lubeck©2020