Western Wednesdays—THE BODACIOUS KID

Every week on Western Wednesday, the Dorchester Blog will feature excerpts from some of the most exciting authors writing in the Western genre today. Westerns are a unique breed of story that capture the beauty and the grit of life forged on a frontier that no longer exists save for novels such as these. To quote a favorite poet of mine, Miss Rachel Hergett: I will never outgrow my attraction to old men. They lived what I missed.

And so it is that in the inaugural post we bring you the prologue of Stan Lynde’s THE BODACIOUS KID. Creator of the syndicated Rick O’Shay comic strip, Stan has a way of bringing the Old West to life in his colorful and quirky characters. He grew up on the grassplains of Montana and is a cowboy in his own right. Of course, being a Montanan myself, I suppose I’m a bit partial.

Happy Reading,

Allison Carroll,

Editorial and Web Coordinator

The Bodacious Kid by Stan Lynde

Prologue

When I rode out of Dry Creek, Montana Territory, that August forenoon in ’82, all in the world I wanted was to hire on with some cow outfit as a rider of their tough string. I was headed for the county seat of Shenanigan, where the big cowmen do their banking, and the weather that day was hot as the very hinges of Hell.

I had growed up around Dry Creek, and I liked the town. I can’t tell you why I liked it, I suppose it was the people, but anyway I did. Dry Creek took its name from a muddy, sometime stream that flowed west out of the foothills of the Brimstone Mountains and drug itself on past the city limits for a mile or so before it petered out entirely. Leastways that’s what it did most years, but that particular summer the creek had already been dry since the twenty-third of June. Barring a flash flood, it wouldn’t flow again until spring.

There was nary a cloud in all that brassy sky, and the sun burned hot upon my back and shoulders as I drew rein atop a sandrock ridge. The big gelding I rode was neither sweated nor winded, while I was both. Seldom if ever had I forked a saddle horse with a gait as punishing to the rider, but the animal had heart, and during our brief acquaintance I had found him to be steady, willing, and double-tough.

I had taken to the ridge in the hope of catching a cooling breeze, but found no movement to the air at all, cooling or otherwise. Down below, a whirlwind scampered out across the valley floor, growing bigger as it spun. In the distance a band of antelope shimmered white, black, and orange in the heat waves, and high overhead a red-tailed hawk drifted upward like burnt paper from a stovepipe. I envied him; I druther have been drifting on air myself than setting astride of the rough-gaited roan.

A half-hearted, random scatter of scrub cedar trees dug their claws into the sandy soil along the ridge, and even though the shade was scant I figured it was better than no shade at all. I stepped down off the roan, took my canteen and the cold hotcakes I’d brought from breakfast, and made for the nearest cedar. After I kicked some loose rock in under the tree to spook out any rattlers that might be dozing there, I hunkered down cross-legged in the dirt.

It didn’t take long for me to wolf down the cakes. I was still enough of a kid in those days to be hungry most of the time; I doubt a man could have filled me up with a scoop shovel. The hawk was still gliding upward, and I took to watching him again. Somehow, seeing him brought to mind the many times I had set on a ridge and watched a circling hawk with my Pa, and I felt my throat grow tight as the gut- lonesome sadness fell upon me again.

I had stood there at the Dry Creek cemetery with my hat in my hands and grief in my heart while the preacher droned on about Pa and what a fine feller he had been.

A hot, gusty wind rattled sand and grit against Pa’s coffin, and I tried to imagine him laying inside with his hands folded across his chest, or up yonder in Heaven a-playing harp, but I could not. The only way I could picture him was the way I’d seen him most, a-horseback, and setting his old Texas saddle—the same rig that was now cinched upon the withers of the roan.

Soon as I could manage it I pulled my mind away from the hurt of remembrance and got to my feet. I dusted offthe seat of my breeches and wiped my eyes on my shirtsleeve. Then I set foot in the stirrup, sunk spur, and took the roan again. Had I knowed at the time where else that road would lead me, I might well have rode the other way.

* * *

The Bodacious Kid by Stan Lynde is available in mass market paperback and e-book.

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