SAMPLE from Company A
Watch for release of new book
May 29, 2017
His horse nickers and paws impatiently at the ground as the rider leans forward resting his arms on the saddle horn. He watches the activity around the ranch as Guillo and the vaqueros prepare to depart. Glancing at the two riders beside him he nods his head toward the ranch.
“Those boys are in a real big hurry.”
“Yep. ‘pears those fellars are in a right big rush to go somewheres,” says the rider on the right.
“Is anybody stayin’ home, Travis?” the rider on the left asks.
“Davey, how in the hell should I know whose stayin’ or leavin’?”
“Don’t rightly know, Travis, just thought maybe you’d know. That’s all.”
Looking to his right, the rider says, “Jim, I thought we’d finally been able to put some smarts in this kid brother of ours, but every now and then when he opens his mouth, stupid falls out.”
“Davey, just sit there and shut up. Okay?” says Jim.
“Okay. Don’t have to get all uppity and ugly about it,” replies Davey.
“Look, brothers, I know it’s been a ride, but we’re fixin’ to clean up. This ranch looks well heeled, and we can get everything we need. So, let’s get offin’ this hill top and rest a spell.” He turns his horse and rides down the back hillside. The other riders follow.
Dismounting in a gully bordered by mesquite and manzanita brush, horses are tied, kindling gathered, and a small fire started. Canteen water is dumped into a metal pot and set on to boil.
“What do you reckon we’ll find down there?” asks Jim.
“Everything we need to get back to Texas and a woman,” says Travis. “I saw her standing on the porch.”
“Ain’t had a woman for a while,” leers Jim.
Travis sits by the fire, crosses his legs, and looks at his brothers. We’re all deserters. He unconsciously shakes his head in disbelief. Didn’t want to stick with old Colonel Canby and his Union Army. General Sibley’s Johnny Rebs whipped our butts at Val Verde. When they broke through the center of the line, Canby ran all the way back to Fort Craig to hide out. Well, we’re hightailing it for home. It’s a good piece to Comfort, Texas, but I imagine we can make it. It’ll be good to get back. We’re Texans, but don’t cotton to being secessionist.
Wm A.Burgdorf...a story teller...a writer!
Excerpt from soon to be published THE ARIZONAN
Brax steps off the train at the depot in Benson, Arizona. He is rail-worn and sore from the continual pounding over the rails since Lordsburg, New Mexico. The whistle stop is brand new and has all the trappings with tents, wooden shanties, tarp buildings, damaged railroad cars, piles of railroad cross ties, and iron rails. This spot is built about a mile from a traditional crossing of the San Pedro River on the site of the Butterfield Overland Mail depot. It is only twenty-five miles from Tombstone.
Hayes, Gregory, and Vern straggle off the railcar and wait beside the tracks for Brax’s instructions.
“Well, I suppose you’d like to ride a horse from here to Tombstone instead of walk, right?”
Vern chances an answer, “Yep.”
“Get the horses and tack out of the livestock car, check the horses over, saddle them, and get back here. MOVE.” The three scatter toward the boxcars.
Brax mutters to himself, “I don’t know why I’ve stayed with them; in Tombstone I’ll go my way, and they can go theirs.”
He finds a shady spot beside the depot and waits. Eventually, he hears hoofbeats approach. Pushing his hat from his eyes, he sees the gang with his saddled horse in tow.
“Did any of you think about how we are going to eat and where we are going to stay in Tombstone?” Brax asks the gang.
“Nooo. No, sir.” Vern says looking at the other two for answers. Gregory glances away and studies the sky. Hayes glares hatefully at Brax.
“Figures,” says Brax as he steps into his saddle. He shouts over his shoulder, “Let’s go, Tombstone’s down the road.” Spurring his horse, he gallops through Benson.
Brax and gang ride through the desert from Benson, onto a flat mesa. Darkness greets them but they still see construction everywhere. Lumber is stacked up against buildings, and partially erected stores, saloons, and warehouses line a main street. Tents seem to sprout everywhere. Even though it’s night, people wander about the main street like midday. Lantern lit saloons operate at full tilt. The town is above a silver mine named The Tough Nut, according to the sign hung alongside the road. Finally stopping in front of a saloon, Brax dismounts and ties his horse to a hitching rail; the gang follows his actions.
Stepping to the batwing doors he looks into the establishment. Along the back wall, a bar of planks lays on upended barrels. On a shelf behind the bar, he spots bottles of Old Overholt, Old Crow, and Old Grand Dad whiskey. A piano player is banging out a racket in the right corner of the room. He counts fifteen tables with chairs scattered around the room. A small stage uses the left side of the building. Faro dealers operating at three tables, and five tables have participants clinging to cards with multiple combinations of fifty-two chances to win their poker games. On the right side of the room, a roulette wheel clatters as the ball bounces from pocket to pocket on the spinning wheel. Cheers rise as fortunes are won and lost. The thick crowd of hardrock miners, cowboys, and drifters shuffle around the room while six skimpily dressed whores slide through the crowd selecting their next mark. A pallor of blue-black smoke hangs over everything and the odor of stale beer, vomit, and body odor assaults the nostrils. Brax smiles to himself.
“My kind of place,” he mutters shoving the swinging doors open and walks inside. He walks toward the bar when the doors swing open again.
“Good evening, Marshal Earp,” a Faro dealer talks to a gentleman dressed in a black sack coat buttoned by the top button to show off his light gray vest. Earp reaches into a vest pocket and pulls out his pocket watch, takes a quick look, and returns it to the pocket letting the chain drape across to the vest.
“Evening, Harvey,” says U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp as he looks around the Oriental from under his black wool Homburg. After a quick survey, he exits into the night.
Brax makes a snap decision. He spins around and almost collides with Hayes, Gregory, and Vern swaggering into the saloon. He steps around Hayes and quickly rushes into the street to catch Virgil Earp.
“Pardon me, Marshal,” says Brax. “I’ve just ridden to Tombstone. I’m from--back east.”
“Well, everybody has to be from somewhere,” says Virgil without breaking his stride as they walk along the street.
“Yes, sir,” says Brax. “My point is that I’m here. My money’s back there.”
“Don’t remember. One poker table looks like another.”
“Tough situation to be in.”
“I’m looking for a job, Marshall Earp.”
“What are you good at?”
“Most anything, I imagine. I need to earn a living and find a place to stay?”
Virgil stops and turns to Braxton. “If I was down on my luck, I would seek out the best source of information in town, namely me. Having done that, my suggestion is you go to the Oriental Saloon down the street and ask for my brother, Wyatt. He deals Faro there. Tell him I sent you, and you are looking to deal Faro. Ever done that before?”
“I’m willing to learn.”
“I’ll look in on you later.” Virgil Earp continues his walk along the main street of Tombstone.
Braxton looks up and down the street to locate a sign that hangs above an entrance with the name Oriental Saloon and moves that direction.
The Oriental looks similar to the saloon Brax just left, only this emporium has a large mirror suspended on the back wall behind a finished, ornately carved mahogany bar. On the wall above the piano hangs the large picture of a scantily clad female lounging on a sofa.
Brax approaches the bar and motions to the bartender.
“What’ll you have?” asks the barman.
“Beer will do me just fine,” says Braxton. “Oh, could you point out Wyatt Earp?” Brax leans his back against the bar waiting for the man to identify Earp.
“Who wants to know?” asks the barman.
“Not your concern, friend. His brother, Virgil, sent me.”
“Okay. Since Virgil sent you, he’s dealing Faro at the table by the roulette wheel.”
Braxton approaches the Faro dealer.
“Excuse me, are you Wyatt Earp?” Brax watches money scoot across and stack up on playing cards painted on the tabletop. The dealer watches every motion on and around the board like a hawk.
“If I am, what’s it to you, stranger?” The dealer doesn’t even look up. Cards continue to be dealt.
“Virgil told me to see you.” Brax glances around at the unruly crowd of players laying down bets, cursing, shouting, and shoving to get to a better position at the table.
Earp kicks an empty chair towards Brax. “Sit down. When this boot’s empty, I’ll take a break.” The dealer nods his head toward the chair.
Brax sits and watches Earp’s every move.
The Faro dealer’s well-manicured hands move rapidly across the table. He collects coins and paying out money. His black frock coat, white shirt with stiff celluloid shirt collar, and a silk cravat style necktie with stickpin distinguish him from miners, cowboys, and drifters hoping to beat the house. His blond hair is short and carefully combed. Heavy eyebrows rest above piercing blue eyes and a full handlebar style mustache rests above his upper lip. Wyatt seems at ease and friendly as he deals Faro.
The game wraps up. Wyatt stands up, clears his money from the table, and motions another dealer to take his place. Moving to a nearby table, he gestures for Brax to join him.
“So, my brother sends me another stray puppy,” says Earp. “He always finds one of you wandering the streets of Tombstone and sends him to me like I can do something.”
“Well, sir,” Brax replies. “He did say he would stop by and see me later after you teach me to deal Faro.”
Laughing out loud, Wyatt continues, “What makes you think I’m teaching the likes of you?”
“If not Faro, then I guess I just have to become a cowboy.”
Wyatt’s expressions change dramatically; he leans forward on both elbows and stares at Brax. “Let’s be real clear, tender-foot, about what a cowboy is in this territory. Texas waddies trailing cattle from south Texas to Wichita and Dodge City are legitimate cowboys, drovers, and cow punchers. These Arizona cowboys, led by Ike Clanton, are rustlers, killers, thieves, bushwhackers, and the lowest vermin on earth. Be real careful calling anybody a cowboy around Tombstone unless you are well heeled, can draw faster, stay calmer, and shoot straighter than the poor son of a bitch standing in front of you.” He pats a Smith & Wesson .44 American revolver holstered at his side.
Taken by surprise, Brax replies, “I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, Mister Earp. I am just saying I need work.”
Resting back in his chair, Wyatt slowly looks Brax over. “If you ever hear of someone named McLaury, Clanton, Curly Bill Brocius, Pony Deal, or Frank Patterson, walk away. They’re part of a gang of over three hundred who extort a living from Mexico to Tombstone. They ride roughshod over everyone and everything. Since my brothers and I have moved here, it has been right ugly with them. Walk a ways around them. No, run away. Do you hear me? They are evil ambling around on two feet.”
“Yes, sir. I only want to learn to deal Faro. Will you help me?” Brax implores.
“Sure, I’ll help you. By the way, you got a name?” Wyatt eyes him curiously.
“I’m Braxton Bierman,” pausing, he adds, “From back east.”
“Well, Mr. Bierman, I’m Wyatt Earp, from back east also.” He grins from under his moustache. “What say before we start we go down the street for a bite of dinner at the cafe?”
“Hungry caught up with me about ten miles outside of town.” smiles Brax.
“Drop the Mister, Brax. Just call me Wyatt. I like you Braxton Bierman. Looks like we’re going to make a Faro dealer out of you.”
Watch for publication SOON!