34 comments

Submitted on 08/02/2020

Categories: Drama Historical Fiction Western

 "Dang it Pa, I don't want to go off to college and all." I got to stand firm on account of my Pa is Mike Carson. The man who chased down the Lane Gang by himself. Ranger, town marshal, legend. And ma expects me to live up to it by studying books, of all things. Don't get me wrong. I like Ivanhoe and never met a yarn by Mark Twain as couldn't hold my eyes a spell. But college ain't like that.


"Two weeks," Pa says. "Then you git on the train and take it to college station"


I'm set to tell him no when Ma chimes in. "Cecil, if you agree to go and try your best, you can take the time between now and then for yourself. Ride around. Visit with your friends or even Carlotta Sanchez. We trust you, but college is important."


I know other boys my age as won't take guff from their parents. Jimmy Schneider hit his old man about two months back and rode off with their best mare. But my dad ain't like theirs. He's still tougher than most any man you can name, even without his guns. With 'em, he's deadlier than a pit of rattlers. Then I got Ma to reckon with. A teacher from back east, she's the smartest person in three counties. She still teaches at the black folks schoolhouse and she made darn certain sure me, my brothers, and my sisters all learned proper spelling and all when we went to school with the white kids.


You just can't buck two determined folks like that.



The sun's glinting off the fringe of the surry as Carlotta and I enjoy one of my last days here in Burnet. She holds a picnic basket in her lap and I can smell the fried chicken her Ma packed for us. I keep stealing making calf eyes at her. This time, she looks at me at the same time and our eyes lock. I can near enough see myself in her dark blue eyes, then a call to our left shifts my attention.


During August, land what's terrible-dry turns to powder and every little breeze might make a dust devil. One fifteen or so feet tall tumbleweeds along and torments a rider with his cow. I know the rider. And the beeve. Pa don't hanker to me going heeled, but he keeps a Winchester in the surrey. I get it out from under the seat, rein in, and lever a shell into the chamber. "Jimmy Schneider, why-for are you dragging away one of our cattle? You turn rustler?"


Jimmy, mounted on the Palomino mare his dad swears can run a mile in under two minutes, moseys on over. He's got a pistol at his hip, but most folks his age carry varmint shot for rattlers. He tips his hat back looks us over and makes a big smile. "If it ain't the college boy. Still tied to his mammy's apron I see. I ain't feared o' you."


He sidles his horse close. Carlotta fixes him with a stare, then crosses her arms in front of her ample chest. "Do not look down my shirt, James."


"You don't gotta be so cold," Jimmy says. "I know you're warming Cecil up at night."


"That's my Pa's beeve." I keep the Winchester trained on him.


"An' it was wandering, spooked by that devil." Jimmy hikes his thumb over his left shoulder. "My Pa spotted her by the property line and asked me to take her in."


"We got wire all round."


Jimmy shrugs. "I'll leave her with you. It's all the same."

He loops the leading line around the brake handle, then turns away.


I got no call to say he's a liar, not how Pa reckons the law, so I let him go. I put the Winchester back under the seat, then give Carlotta a look as says I know it ain't right. She twitches the corner of her mouth in a tiny smile. Then her eyes dart to the side and get wide. I hear the shot at the same time as a fist to my brisket knocks the wind clear out of me. I smell smoke and taste blood. Carlotta screams.


I'm not sure what's happening, but I manage to turn about. Jimmy Schneider aims a pistol at me and fires a round. I see the flame lance out of the barrel, then smoke billows, adding to the cloud already thinning around us. Another fist hits me in the belly. My knees give out, but at least I'm sitting rather than lying on the ground. That would be plumb undignified.


Jimmy's saying something, but I can't hear him over the pounding in my ears. Jimmy smiles and aims at me again. Two other fellahs ride up to join him. I don't know either, but they're owlhoots, sure as shooting. Behind me Carlotta yells, "Filthy pigs. You should hang."


I want to do something brave. Ignore the pain and pick the rifle up faster than they can shoot, then put all three in the dirt before they know what I'm up to. Jimmy moves with slow deliberation, cocking his gun for a final shot at me. He's sidling his horse up to the surrey, to get close enough he can hit me betwixt the eyes. Then I hear thunder, but muted like from the far horizon, and one of the owlhoots falls from his horse, his chest a mass of red. Jimmy and the other man turn to look.


Jimmy fumbles his pistol, dropping it onto the floorboard of the surrey. I fall forward, pretty near all I can do, and get it in my hands- still cocked, ready to fire. Jimmy leans close, trying to get the pistol from my hands. I get it pointed at him, but can't get the trigger to pull. Another roar of thunder, closer, but I don't see what happens. Then Jimmy jerks and falls, clutching his side.


Pa's there, to protect Carlotta. I just gotta get some sleep before I go to school. Maybe dad will let me off this semester, while I heal up.


"Cece, You OK?" Pa leans over me. His hand holds the back of my head while he puts the jug to my lips. He keeps one with a damp towel under the seat, so the water is a little bit cool. It tastes delicious. I didn't know I was so thirsty.


"Can I stay home from school this semester?"


"We already sent in the money. Be a shame to waste it."


"You're right." A cloud passes in front of the sun, making it dark. I feel the raindrops, just a couple, falling on my face.


"Stay awake Cece. You need to see Doc Murchison."


"I'm just tired Pa."


"You hold on. Don't go nowhere. You Ma'll be here presently. Bringing pecan pie."


"I don't wanna go to school. I just wanna be a ranger. Like you." It's hard to talk. Did dad hear me? I can't hear him. He presses something into my hand. It's a star. His star. It's too dark, and getting co-


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34 comments

Rambling Beth
08:49 Aug 21, 2020

I love the dialect in this, and it's so consistent throughout! Great job there. I thought the twist was well-executed and I really liked how you decided to cut it off mid-sentence at the end. Also, I love the fact you decided to make it a western. Not many people write in that genre nowadays so it was a pleasure to read. :)

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Charles Stucker
12:48 Aug 21, 2020

I have several Westerns here and on Watpadd. Here the other Westerns are On the Stage, Death Valley Daze, and Cold Storage. For when you're bored and looking for a western.

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Rambling Beth
12:51 Aug 21, 2020

I'll definitely read more of them when in the right mood! :)

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Doubra Akika
11:08 Aug 07, 2020

Loved this! The dialect is a lot of fun to read. The twist in it definitely made it a lot better. Definitely didn’t expect it. A really creative story! Felt like you could relate to the story, not exactly relate to everything but the dialect didn’t seem forced. Seemed realistic. Loved how you cut it off like that at the end.

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Lynn Penny
15:14 Aug 05, 2020

It's super impressive how you were able to keep such a strong tone throughout the story, I loved every second of it!

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Laura Clark
13:22 Aug 05, 2020

This was a complete pleasure to read. The dialect is thick and immersive and a lot of fun. There are a few places where you start to slip out of it - notably the Suns rays and During August paragraphs where you start to go into some lovely description that is more in your writer’s voice than your protagonist’s but it was maintained well aside from this! I also really loved the interpretation of the prompt. I doubt many people would write a Western for it but this works so well. One editing note that might be useful: the first sentenc...

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Charles Stucker
14:01 Aug 05, 2020

Thanks for a superb analysis. I'm looking at your notes now so i can edit.

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Laura Clark
14:04 Aug 05, 2020

You’re welcome - glad they were helpful! If you want any help in the future, just drop me a comment on one of mine. Happy to go as in depth or light as you’d like.

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Charles Stucker
14:11 Aug 05, 2020

As much as you like to do. Anything that helps me get even a smidge better is appreciated.

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Daisy Torres
03:02 Aug 05, 2020

I loved everything about this, from the perfect accents, to that plot twist, to the descriptions- everything was perfect and felt like something from a classic masterpiece. F a n t a s t i c job. I have nothing negative to say about this, aside from a possible typo. "Jimmy's saying *soemthing, but I can't hear him..."

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Charles Stucker
03:44 Aug 05, 2020

Thanks for the catch while i can still fix it.

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Daisy Torres
05:10 Aug 05, 2020

No problem!

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Rose Cg
04:35 Aug 04, 2020

Hi, I like the way your words pulled me into the story. I enjoyed the period dialogue too.

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Mae Obusa
18:34 Aug 03, 2020

Didn't see that coming, Charles. And I can feel the heat of the summer as I read, you did a really good job letting your reader visualize your vision of the scene. I wish I could write like that. Aaaaand I also love words like "git" and "ain't" and the likes and it sort of transports me to a time when people are just genuine with their conversation, regardless of the grammar police out there.

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Charles Stucker
19:45 Aug 03, 2020

I have an unfair advantage in Western dialogue- many people in Texas still talk like that, so I just have to imagine on of them saying something. Glad you liked the tale. When you have a couple decades of practice, you'll git better to boot.

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:40 Aug 03, 2020

Holy moly, this is like reading vintage Cormac McCarthy! When a convincing accent is pulled off like this, the result is beyond immersion, it swallows the reader whole. Your spelling/grammar checker must give you hell though - do you turn it off, or just ignore it? Maybe there's a 'Western' setting? That'd be cool. Again, your dialogue is brilliant, enhanced all the more by the Southern twang one can't help but reading it in and while Cecil's death isn't a crazy wtf plot twist, you show how logical progression and believable conclusions c...

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Charles Stucker
15:57 Aug 03, 2020

Thanks. Yeah, my dad talked a lot like Cecil and one of my friends sounds like Mike. Living in Texas gives an advantage for hearing Texas accents, though if you can catch an Audie Murphy clip, you can hear a good one too. Oh, spellcheck does have cows with my Westerns. Cormac McCarthy, haven't heard much from him in a while. But still, a comparison like that...Wow! Thanks

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P. Jean
16:54 Aug 02, 2020

I enjoyed the story but I did ask myself several times if you can overdo the corny old west jargon until it becomes more important than the story or detracts from the story content. Just thinking out loud!

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Charles Stucker
19:09 Aug 02, 2020

I toned it down here. I have one about a prospector being chased by outlaws and he's the epitome of thick dialect. OTOH his story is slightly tongue in cheek. The main dialect is similar to my father's, who grew up in rural Texas.

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P. Jean
19:16 Aug 02, 2020

I did say I enjoyed it and smiled often. Growing up with westerns every Saturday afternoon at the movie theaters , our small town had three theaters, so you could always count on a western. We used to tell by the color of their hats, the good guys from the bad guys, that wouldn’t float today. Keep writing. I hear in your responses that they give you tremendous pleasure!

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20:56 Aug 23, 2020

Wow. I loved this a lot Charles, especially the ending. Poor boy just wants to be a ranger 😭. Parents do always want to have their way. I loved this very much, and quite liked the Western feel (even though I really didn't understand some parts😂) Great job Charles!!!!! (P.S do you mind reading my recents, "How's Breakfast faring?" And "Strange Inmate 2"? Thanks a lot.

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👏👏👏

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Pragya Rathore
19:09 Aug 22, 2020

What a relatable and interesting story! This take on the prompt is unique and lovely. Beautiful story! Even the title's appropriate :) If you get some free time, please check out my new story :)

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D.n Pendragon
10:48 Aug 12, 2020

The consistent tone and dialect really add to the story. I chose the same prompt using a uniquely South African tone of voice and dialogue, which admittedly doesn't make for easy reading, but speaks to the story I wanted to tell. I really appreciate other authors doing the same and hope to improve the way I use language as a method to immerse a reader into a story, rather than relying on content alone.

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I agree with Doubra, dialect is so awesome to read. Stories that take place in the west are awesome. The way you wrote this especially with the twist at the end, reminded me of the twilight zone. This was such an awesome job. Now if you can please check out my latest story, thanks.

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Vicky S
21:40 Aug 09, 2020

I really enjoyed your story especially the twist.and well done for getting your story published

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Katrina Lee
12:55 Aug 09, 2020

oh my the ending hits like a— your ability to wield a vernacular is admirable! I wish someday also I could do that🤓 also, I like the way you portray the main character's youthfulness :) Btw I'd appreciate it immensely if you could give some feedback on my story! Thank you😁

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Vanessa Marczan
00:33 Aug 09, 2020

Solid story Charles! Very different, great language and tone, I felt transported to the deep south and wild west. Fantastic 🙏

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Roshna Rusiniya
20:33 Aug 08, 2020

Another great story from you. This was beautiful. Loved the ending!

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Thom B.
11:47 Aug 08, 2020

A great twist on the prompt and really well written. I struggle with conveying any kind of accent but you nailed it. I could hear their voices. Easy read with great flow. I submitted one yesterday called “Consequences”. I’d love your feedback if you have time.

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Deborah Angevin
11:05 Aug 06, 2020

This is an interesting story, Charles. I find the inclusion of thick dialect makes it "different" (in a good way!) Would you mind reading my recent story out, "(Pink)y Promise"? Thank you :D

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