November, 2015

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Issue #74

Looking for free, tantalizing Tales of the Old West?
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Read this month's Tales and vote for your favorite.
They'll appear in upcoming print volumes of The Best of Frontier Tales Anthologies!

The Cap and Ball Outfit
by Kenneth Newton
The hands from the Rocking T set about to lynch Danny and Bobby, no matter that they had a bill of sale for the bull. Danny had about lost all hope when things got even worse—a party of bloodthirsty Comanche stopped by. But worse for who?

* * *

Mitchell at Wheatland
by Dick Derham
The Wells Fargo shipment was stolen, the shotgun guard killed, and the driver left dying. Mitchell figured no ordinary stagecoach thief could have plotted an act so cold-hearted and calculating, but who else could it be?

* * *

No Bad Deed
by Stuart Suffel
Lewis and Milton were only two days from the border, and Canada meant freedom from justice. But the golden scroll they found told a story with quite a different outcome.

* * *

No Place to Run
by Melissa Embry
Peter knew he was persona non grata in the hill country of Texas, so he headed for Chihuahua, taking refuge with old man Obregon's gang. But a beautiful woman nearly cost him his life—and made him realize just how much he valued it.

* * *

by James P. Hanley
Searching for a horse thief, Sheriff Matt Parker shot the wrong person. Now his life was in danger. Would the sins of a father fall upon a son?

* * *

Yet He Knew
by B. Craig Grafton
Woodie Duvall, wounded in his escape from the posse, ended up in a cave in the hills. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do to get away from them . . . or was there?

* * *

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All the Tales

Yet He Knew
by B. Craig Grafton

"Wake up Woody. I got to get going."

Woody painstakingly shuddered and pulled himself up, shook his battered head side to side, and groggily moaned out loud, cursing his bad luck. His head still ached and his right leg continued to throb. The knot on his head had been bandaged as had the wound on his leg. A splint was wrapped around his leg.

"Patched ya up best I could, old buddy, while you was out. That splint ain't worth a damn but, then again, I ain't no doctor. But I did get the bleeding to stop. Them Blanco citizens broke your shin bone when they shot you in the leg."

"Help me on my horse," said Woody.

"No can do, partner. I'm going on alone. You can't ride. The pain will just cause you to pass out, fall off again, and re-injure your head and leg. Can't put you on my horse with me. Can't make no time that way. Posse will find you soon enough. I've left you a canteen of water and some jerky in your blanket roll there."

"Augustus, you just can't leave me here in the middle of nowhere in the hill country of west Texas. It was your idea to head out here. Said it's too rocky to track us and now you say a posse is after us. Thanks a lot, partner."

"Well, Sheriff Butcher Metzger, that old meat hacker, couldn't track us, that's for sure, but he's no fool. He knows Indians can track out here. Figure he hired him a Kiowa or Kickapoo."

"Oh ya do, do ya, and don't forget the Comanches. They'll be looking for us too."

"Ya got to rest and rebuild your strength Woody. You can't be moved. You've lost too much blood and you can't hobble around on that leg. You'll make it worse. Won't never heal right."

"Where's my bullets, Augustus?" screamed Woody, frantically pawing through his blanket roll.

"Reckon I need them more than you. Same goes for your horse. I'm taking that too. 'Sides I left you one bullet, in case the Comanches come across you, and 'sides, you always brag no man will ever take you alive."

"Well whoop whoop, huzza and hurrah! I do thank ye ever so kindly."

"Ya know damn well you'd do the same if the roles were reversed."

Woody lowered his head and muttered, "I guess you're right. You'll get no argument from me there. If wet get through this though, meet up at the usual rendezvous hideout and divide up the bank money?"

"You bet, partner."

"And if I don't make it, give my share to Juanita over in Carrizo Springs."

"Hell no, I ain't giving that old granny abuela woman anything. She'll just spend it on primping up and tequila. I'm giving it to Padre Pedro to pray you out of Hell, you being French and Catholic and all. Probably haven't got enough here to get you to Purgatory though."

"Lord knows I could use some help there, but won't matter no how, no way. Padre Pedro will spend it on Juanita anyway. Vamoose and Adios, mi amigo."

"Thus I bid you farewell and Adieu Mon Ami Woodell Duvall." Augustus Jones rode off, never looking back.

Woody wrapped himself in his blanket. He checked his one bullet in his revolver. Ready for whatever. He hunkered down for the night, somewhere in the middle of the hill country. Where he was he had no idea. He prayed his holy Marys that Sheriff Butcher Metzger would find him before the Comanches.

But somebody else found him first. That night someone or something watched him. Whatever it was it kept in the shadows. It kept sniffing the air, all the while moving furtively through the blackness among the cedars and live oaks. It kept its distance, sizing up its prey, waiting to jump and make its move, while the night slowly expired.

Woody slept like the proverbial log. His injuries, the hard ride, and grueling escape had thoroughly worn him out him. He was totally out of it when the thing grabbed him, hurled him over its shoulder, ran up the steep rocky hillside, then dragged him through a jagged rocky hole into a small foul-smelling cave. His capturer roughed him up so much that it sent excruciating pain throughout his body. He passed out again. It was the foul odors that woke him.

Woody could hear someone pacing around but in the pitch black darkness of the cave he couldn't see a thing. Where the hell was he? Was he already in hell? And what time was it? Had to be getting close to daybreak.

That smell, what the blazes was that? Now Woody had smelled some pretty foul awful stinking animals before, both alive and dead. Why, he'd smelled the putrid smell of rotting human flesh. He'd smelled burning human flesh. Smelled the rancid body odors of some of the men he had ridden with too, but this smell was something else, kind of had an oily musky smell. It was overpowering and made him slightly dizzy and confused.

Then the thumping started getting closer. The thing was coming toward him. Something big and hairy was beside him. This much he could make out as the small cave entrance now let in a smidgen of the dawn's early light. Then it started to rub up against him. He could feel udders, he believed, against his chest. This animal thing was a female animal thing. Its continued rubbing him. Kind of reminded him of the dance hall and barroom girls in the saloons that would brush up against you when they sensed you had money in your pockets. "Is this female animal in heat?" he wondered. Oh God no.

Then suddenly it stopped. He could hear it taking in deep sniffs of the air.

Over to the cave entrance it hurried, got down on all fours and squeezed through to the outside and into the dim morning light. It stood erect and sniffed some more and looked down the hill into the ravine. It could see nothing because of all the trees but it knew something was out there.

It was right. Someone was down there. Someone else was sniffing the air taking, in its foul odor from above—the Kickapoo that was leading the posse. He had gotten the posse up at the crack of dawn and back on the trail. He didn't get paid until he had tracked down Jones and Duval, and every minute of daylight counted.

The Kickapoo saw it. There on the hillside, near the top, a massive figure was silhouetted against the rising dawn. He raised his arm to shield his eyes, pointed toward it and blurted out something in Kickapoo.

"Just what in the hell does that mean? Speak English, not Indian." growled Sheriff Metzger.

"That thing up there. See it. It is a mighty demon animal that lives in these hills. It is evil. You cannot kill it but it can kill you. It will rip you up into shreds. The stories of our ancestors are true. We must leave now and not offend it by intruding upon its home."

"Ain't no truth to it at all, ain't no such thing," huffed Sheriff Metzger raising his arm and shielding his eyes from the sun. "Looks like Jones to me. All that poppycock legend gibberish, well I've heard it too, only from white men, and that don't make it so either. It's still bull in any language. We'll just find out if its Jones or a demon," he said raising his rifle and firing.

He widely missed and the thing loped up to the top of the hill and over, out of sight.

"You should have stayed a butcher and not a sheriff," snickered the Kickapoo.

"Come on fellas. We got him on the run," hollered the Sheriff as he waved his men forward and started climbing up the hill.

Near the top, the Kickapoo smelled the cave, stopped and pointed to it. "One may be in there Sheriff."

"Hogwash! I'll check it out, you being too much of a sniveling coward. Besides, we just saw Jones. Duvall could be holed up in there."

The sheriff bent down on his knees at the cave entrance and shouted in, "This here's Sheriff T.F. Metzger. Anybody in there better now speak or forever hold their peace, as me and my posse aim to come in a-shooting first and counting bodies afterwards."

"Thank God its Metzger, old T.F. Metzger." Woody was relieved. He chuckled. Everybody knew what the T.F, stood for, That Metzger. "It's me Sheriff, Woody Duvall. I'm alone and unarmed." He didn't have his six shooter, or one shooter as it had become, as it got left behind during his capture. "Leg's broken. Can't walk. You'll have to carry me out."

"I ain't falling for that old trick Duvall. I got Jones out here," he bluffed. "And if you ain't out here in five minutes, I'm going start sawing off his fingers. Always carry some of the tools of my old trade with me. Never know when they might come in handy. So's you just better drag your scrawny old worthless carcass to this here entrance and we'll pull you out from here. Besides, this place stinks to high heaven. I ain't going in this outhouse. What you do, foul yourself when you heard it was me? Scared you s—"

But before he could finish, Woody hollered, "Enough already! I'm coming." Woody inched his way painfully forward and was painfully pulled out.

"Duvall, you just better count your lucky stars I got to you and not those Comanches. You know how them Comanches torture and skin a fella alive."

He knew.

"Kickapoo here claims he saw a wild half-demon, half-animal beast-thing that lives hereabouts. I bet you have no idea what that thing would do to you."

Yet he knew. Yeti knew too.

The End

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