October, 2016

Home | About | Brags | Submissions | Books | Writing Tips | Donate | Links

Issue #85

Looking for free, tantalizing Tales of the Old West?
You're at the right place.


Read this month's Tales and vote for your favorite.
They'll appear in upcoming print volumes of The Best of Frontier Tales Anthologies!

Charlie Gauss is Dead
by Dick Derham
Why anyone would care enough about Charlie Gauss to pay good money for his killer mystified the Runnels Brothers. But the price was reasonable and they had nothing better to do, so they mounted up and rode south.

* * *

That a Fact
by Larry Flewin
All he wanted was a cold beer and a hot bath, but the law said otherwise. Seems a man couldn't just ride into town anymore and shoot what he didn't like. No guns meant no guns, unless you were looking for trouble . . . 

* * *

Home is the Sailor from the Sea
by Tom Sheehan
Looks, good or bad, of an apparent stranger, mean little to a real man in a cow town, especially a throwback born to the saddle and wed to the gun. So one had best be prepared for the difference, the manner he sets his goals and full intentions straight-off, and beware the non-believer.

* * *

The Brute
by J.C. Hulsey
Gabriel Montague, a newspaper man from Philadelphia, is searching for anomalies in the Appalachia Mountains to write a series of stories about for his newspaper. But instead, he comes across something or someone like he has never encountered before in all his travels.

* * *

Cattle Annie and Little Britches
by John Young
Cattle Annie and Little Britches have been mostly forgotten in the annals of western history, but not in Oklahoma a nd Indian Territories. There, they were two of the most famous female outlaws ever to strap on a six gun.

* * *

It Can Cost You
by B. Craig Grafton
Life is a gamble. And to some, gambling is their life. But be advised to always look to your hole card before placing your bet. Can you afford to cover it if you lose?

* * *

Want all of this month's Western stories at once? Click here –

All the Tales

It Can Cost You
by B. Craig Grafton

Jim Bowie sat watching the professional gambler. He was a dark swarthy man with dark black curly hair, dark black eyes and had an all around dark evil look to him. This self proclaimed dandy was part negro. Jim thought probably an octoroon at the least but a free man of color nonetheless. Jim knew who he was.

The gambler was playing poker with a young and obviously naive young man. In fact he was hardly a man at all with his boyish look, light brown wavy hair and hazel eyes, a genteel delicate manner about him. He shouldn't have been gambling, but he was flush, or had been flush, with the proceeds of the sale of his planter father's cotton crop in New Orleans. But now as the paddlewheel steamboat plowed north through the waters of the Red River he was almost broke, the professional gambler about to take the last of his money.

The comely wife of the young man, a dainty thing, watched from the doorway wiping the tears from her eyes. She could see that her husband was making a fool of himself but couldn't stop himself as a gentleman must, if he is to lose, lose with dignity.

Jim looked at his companion, a man known as Thimblerig who he made his living shuffling a pea under thimbles. Thimblerig knew what Jim was about to do and nodded as Jim approached the young wife and introduced himself.

She sobbingly revealed the facts that Jim already knew. Then Jim said, "Ma'am if you will go to your cabin now please, I'll return with all of your husband's lost money shortly. This man he's playing with is a professional card sharp. Your husband had no chance. I know how to play him." She graciously nodded her consent, thanked Jim profusely and hurried away all the while still sobbing.

"Seems you've been on a winning streak friend," said Jim addressing the gambler. "Mind if I might try my luck?"

The dark man glared at Jim and growled, "You got money? And who in the hell might you be?" "I be Jim Bowie of Arkansas."

The gambler adjusted himself and sat up straight in his seat. "And I am," but before he could finish Jim cut him off. "You be John Lafitte, the bastard son of Jean Lafitte the privateer."

"Well then you have done business with my father. He has spoken highly of you as a business man. I'm honored to meet you sir."

Jim did not return the compliment. Lafitte sat there expecting one but to no avail. "Well then lets play cards," he mumbled as he grabbed the deck and began shuffling.

A crowd now gathered round and Thimblerig started taking bets. The excitement grew as first Jim started to win back some of the planter son's money. Then his luck would switch. Back and forth it went between them. Jim would win and get ahead and then Lafitte would win it back and then some. This was the rhythm of the game for some time. Finally it came down to one hand for all the money. Lafitte was dealing, one to Jim, one to himself, one to Jim, one to himself.

Then in the blink of an eye Jim jumped up from his seat pulled out his famous knife and stabbed the card in Lafitte's hand that he was dragging from the deck to himself. The knife coming down with a loud thud between Lafitte's fingers not touching him while pinning the card to the table. Jim had placed the knife exactly where he wanted. Jim said, "That card came from the bottom of the deck."

"Then to the deck and let pistols be trump," challenged Lafitte. "Bowie I'm going to blow your brains out."

The duelists went up to the deck. The crowd followed. Thimblerig acted as Jim's second. The combatants took their places, marched out the appropriate number of paces, turned and fired. Lafitte crumbled. Jim remained standing. A locket of Jim's hair floated to his feet. Thimblerig bent down and picked it up. Then the crowd reassembled back in the gambling den where Jim was gathering up the money. His knife was still pinned to the stabbed card on the table.

Thimblerig entered holding the locket of Jim's hair between his index finger and thumb. "He shot off some of your hair Jim."

"What did he say he was going to do Thimblerig?"

"Blow your brains out."

"I moved my head. Never tell anyone how you're going to play your hand Thimblerig. It can cost you."

From the crowd someone hollered, "Where'd you shoot him Jim?"

Thimblerig grabbed the knife stuck in the table and pulled it free, the last card stuck to it. "Where do you think?" he shouted back, showing the Ace of Hearts to the crowd.

The privateer Lafitte never held it against Bowie for Bowie killing his son. After all, it was a fair fight.

The End

B. Craig Grafton is a retired attorney.

Back to Top
Back to Home