Saturday, 3 March 2018

THE LAST RIDE BY DONALD HARRY ROBERTS 1 What is old do you think? Well let me tell you. Old is when you think you can’t still do the things you could do when you were young and believe, like splitting the fire wood for winter. Or chattin up the ladies at the saloon or slappin iron in a high noon gun fight, and winning. But let me tell you more. If you don’t think that way and you keep all your movin parts movin you won’t get old so fast. I was sixty one years, four months and eighteen days of age when I read the wanted poster for a fella wanted dead or alive, just down the road in Watsitville Bridge. 2 His name was Jerry Grandplunker, a kid who’s Daddy drank away the farm and left he and his Ma scratchin dirty while he fooled about at the saloon with them fancy ladies that would, you know, for a couple of bucks. Jerry senior died while visiting one of them ladies and the bank foreclosed on the farm leavin Jerry junior and his Ma high and dry and broke, and it wasn’t long before Mrs. Grandplunker got laid out in a pine box and buried at the expense of the town. Jerry took every last dime he had and bought himself a six shooter, one of them old navy revolver and a holster. He worked the stable at the livery in town to keep eating and to buy cap and ball so he could go out to the broken down remains of the farm and practice his quick draw. 3 Six months later Jerry Grandplunker robbed the Watsitville bank and gun down the sheriff in a fast draw as he was getting ready to ride out of town. He got away with five thousand dollars and the sheriff’s horse and saddle. After that he became a legendary quick draw killer and gun for hire. Last count that was writ up in the Watsitville Gazette tallied an even two dozen. , that’s not including the men that tried to gun him down for the reward that grew every time someone else got killed for their troubles. By the time he got to Santa Fe he was worth 3000 dollars and even Billy the Kid turned tail and run off. 4 Well now it turned out Jerry Mangler, they were calling him, came round in a great big circle and landed right back in Watsitville where he began terrorizing the good folks and forcing them to pay up for protection which was only good for protecting them from him. He lived free at the Saloon and had his way, free with any lady he wanted. If there ever was a bad man it was Jerry the Mangler Grandplunker. The only time anyone saw him soften, just a little bit was the day he went to his mother’s grave. He made everyone in town show up so they could listen to his speech about what turned him to the killer he turned out to be. And when he finished he shot the banker for foreclosing on the farm. 5 I woulda never gone after the lad except he did something that touched me deep. He killed one of them ladies who was servicing him free. And even then I wouldna done much, me being an old codger and all, but it turned out the lady was a lady, a young lady who got forced into the business because a year and a half later Jerry had killed her father, the sheriff, and her Ma died of a broken heart and that was the only way she could survive. And that folks really peeved me off. So I dug out my gun that I had put away a long time ago to become a peaceful quiet fella instead of a fast draw, sharp-shooting federal Marshall. 6 I took a few days to limber up and loosen the joints and get my sights squared away. I was surprised how easily it came back to me but I still had a wonder on whether or not I could beat the guy. I was about to head into town when my eyes happened on a plate of iron about a foot and a half square and curved a little. I was making me a new door for my potbelly stove. It was a little heavy but I worked out some straps to tie it on my chest and belly. Most gunslingers aim for the biggest target on the body. 7 Finally I strapped on my six-shooter was about the same as Jerry’s, climbed up on my old mule and got into town. It was about mid morning when I got there and everything was quiet. Store keeps were just getting ready for the business day which was unusually late. I asked Pete Naffer at the general store why they was so late getting moving and said it was because Jerry made everybody stay up drinkin to the wee small hours, men women and kids all alike. “He says he’s gonna kill us all eventually and no one can stop him, though a couple have tried and we even tried an ambush but he’s a clever devil that one. 8 I nodded and went on my way make straight for the saloon. I tied up old Alderberry my mule in front of Margies Rooming house so he wouldn’t get killed if I did. I told Old Margie that if I got killed she could have the mule. She thanked me kindly but didn’t try talkin me out of doin what I had come to town to do. I stood out on the street. “Jerry Grandplunker. This is Marshall Tucker Briggsford; you get your sorry carcass out here and fight a real gunslinger.” It took a few minutes but he showed his face, all dressed up in fine black duds. He looked at me and started to laugh. “Ok old man. Let’s slap iron. I ain’t killed no one before breakfast in a while.” 9 He moved out into the street and put his back to the sun. I tipped my hat down low to cause a shadow over my eyes. It actually caused me to have a nice dark silhouette target to shoot at. He took his stance, turned slightly off center to make a smaller target, a tactic that I had used myself and knew how to compensate for. “Any time Mr. Marshall man.” He teased. I stood there waiting. Waiting makes thugs like Jerry the Mangler nervous. I wanted him to draw first. And he did, twice as fast as I could ever draw, even when I was young. But bullet met iron and barely knocked me back half a step. 10 I leveled my gun and fired, hitting Jerry Grandplunker in the left eye. He stood there for a second or two before toppling over, crashing face first into the dust and dirt. I holstered my pistol and started back to my mule. A great harangue of cheering broke out and several people rushed to inspect the dead body. Someone yelled, “Where ya goin Tucker?” I didn’t answer. I just kept riding out of town and back to my little spread. I didn’t have the heart to tell them good folks in Watsitville that I had just laid out my grand boy. His Ma being my daughter though even she didn’t know.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Tuesday, 31 October 2017


The actual moment of realization cannot be pinned down to an exact time. It happened over a vast period and came to fullness only when it was all over.
Aders Drin banged his head on a low hanging branch as he rode his horse along a supposedly well-manicured bridle path. It knocked him off his horse flipping him ass over tea kettle, twice before he landed on the cinder path with a long scraping action that burned a hole in his trousers and scraped a few layers of skin off his buttocks. I guess he should have paid closer attention.
How long did he lay there, unconscious before he came too to the experience of nausea, excruciating pain and a severe sense of disorientation, from road rash and the head butting contest with a tree branch causing an enormous headache and a welt as big as a goose egg on his forehead.
When he woke Aders was no longer on the bridle path and his horse was nowhere to be seen. In fact there was no path at all. In its place was a swamp in which Aders was standing up to his knees and his knee high riding boots were full of water.
"Where am I?" He asked weakly.
"Hummm. A human in Yukersnok. Again." The answer came gurgling through.
Aders looked about, hither and tither until he spied a frog floating just below the surface of the water and its mouth was moving.
"What mess do you get into to bring you to Yukersnok Mire?"
"Banged my head and fell off my horse." Aders Drin answered. "At least that is what happened just before I got here."
"Of course. You humans never come here unless there is some dramatic dilemma"
"Well push on you. I didn't come here willingly."

The frog, whose name was Ferrrog, crawled up onto a lily pad and fixed his big, black, bulbous eyes on Aders. It was a critical stare. One that a judge might afford a criminal who has just been found guilty of a nauseous crime.
Ferrrog said in his natural croaking voice. "Willingly or not, you are here and should not be here and most definantly should not be able to be having this conversation. This circumstance of course means something very strange and unorthodox is happening. You are the first human who is capable of conversing with the inhabitants of Yukersnok."
"Not true. Not true." Another indigenous of Yukersnok blurted out. Aders head snapped around and there in a mound of drier earth stood a Venus flytrap with its jaws flipping open and closed gobbling up flies.
"I've gone over the edge. My brain is scrambled. Still I must ask, "Who else like me has come to the oddity of places?"
"The old hermit. He came in through the Bog and lives in a shack near the bog he came through." Described Mr. Flytrap.
"And where do I find him and his bog?" Asked Aders Drin.
"That way" Flytrap pointed.
"Good. I will go find him and maybe he can explain all this to me." Aders announced and strode of at a hurried pace wanting nothing more to do with talking frogs and Venus Flytraps.
And he did not have to walk far, nor did he get away from indigeonouses that could talk.
Indeed he found the hermits shack but he was also confronted by a talking turtle and snake, both whom wanted to know who was trespassing in Yukernok.
"Why are you interloping in Yukersnok Human." The Turtle, a large snapper, demanded.
"Indeed." Hissed the snake.
"Like I told the frog and the Trap. I bumped my head on a branch and got knocked of my horse. When I woke I was here." Aders answered. "Now I am looking for the Hermit."
The Turtle laughed. "He's looking for Mr. Crotchol at this time of day."
"Humans really are odd creatures. Who would look for Hermit Crotchol before the morning rain?"
"Only a fool." The snake replied...hisssssssssss.
"Where can I find him before the morning rain?" Aders queried suspiciously.
"Asleep in the Bog of course. How could you not know that?" Demanded the Turtle.
"Where is the Bog?" Aders inquired.
The snaked flicked its tongue in the direction of the Bog which was next to the shack hidden by brambles and hawthorns.
"Thank you Mr. Snake." Aders responded distractedly as he walked toward the bog.
"You might be sorry for disturbing the Hermit. He's a grump this time of day." Warned the turtle.
"Right now he ain't half as mean as I feel. My head is throbbing now and my stomach is flipping up and over. I might barf." Replied Aders.
"I suggest you do not barf in the Bog." Mr. Crotchol will not be pleased." Hisssssssed Mr. Snake.
The bog was just a bog if you know anything about bogs. If not look it up and educate yersef. Wikipedia would be a good place. And nowhere could Aders see anything that resembled a hermit, or a Mr. Crotchol or humanish for that manner. Something did slither deeper into the bog though...and disappeared in a blink of light.
"What the hey. I'll just follow the Slithery thing." Cried Aders as he jumped feet first into the bog....just as he barfed. I am sure you can imagine the mess it caused, unless of course you have never barfed before.
Well. Here we are at the end of our story and I am sure you want to k now what happened to Aders Drin. To be quite honest I don't really know. I ran out of coffee before I came up with the answer and since I really have to get on with my day I must to move on.
However. There is a silver lining in the bog of your imagination so you can decide the fate of Aders Drin in your own way. Or you could always go try and find Mr. Crotchol.

Monday, 23 October 2017


My name is Caruthers Mangledfield. It's a hard name to live with and most folks forget it 10 seconds after I tell them so I just introduce myself as Buddy.
My parents died when I was 7. I am 21 now and have a childish memory of them. They were nice people. So are my aunt and uncle who adopted me.
Yes they were nice folks but I on the other hand was a terror as a kid and not much better as a teenager. I didn't get it til I joined the army. Then I got it. Full force right in the gut. I became a soldier and a man all at the same time.
I don't know if I am a good man but I do know I am a good soldier. I can't tell you what makes me good because most of what I do is classified. I am sure you understand. But I didn't come here to talk about just soldiering and being a man. I came to talk about other things that affect my life, like women, other men and the drink.
Yah. When I am not soldiering or getting ready to go soldiering I drink because it helps me forget that most of my life is about violence. And when I drink I think about women and since I am not a bad looking dude I don't have much trouble picking one up when I need to.
The other thing I do is chew up and spit out clowns who think they are men because they have big arms and six-pack bellies and throw their weight around picking on other men who are really more man than they are but choose just to be whatever they are. This kind of activity has landed me in trouble, more than once. My CO has ordered me to lay low or one of these days I'll do some damage he can't get me out of.
I ship out in 5 days. I am going to see my aunt and uncle before I go. I miss them and they worry about me. I wish I could make them understand that I'll be alright. I'm always alright, even when I am up to my ass in grunge and guts. I am going to tell them that I'll always come home, but I doubt that'll help much.
Last night I hit the bars. It is a good thing I am shipping out. I beat the crap out of a jerk who was beating the crap out of his girlfriend because she couldn't pay their bill. I told her to dump the jerk and run. I told him that if he did anything to her while I was gone I'd finish the job when I got back. He was bleeding pretty bad and to tell you the truth I wasn't sure if he recovered. I would check it out when I am done this job. Hope he ain't dead.
Three months seventeen days. I am finally back, in a hospital bed. I took a shot in the shoulder and another in the leg. Both bullets broke bones. I'll be laid up for a couple of more months and my job is on the line. They are worried that getting hurt will change me, but it won't. They taught me my job well. I know how to kill. I am not sure I can do any other job.
The jerk I beat up before I left is dead, but not because of me. His girlfriend stabbed him 16 times, three time in the heart. Any one of them could have been the killer stab.
Her face looks like hamburger, sliced, diced and fried. They didn't put her in jail. They put her in an institution for the criminally insane. I am not sure that was fair but I believe it is for her own good. When I get out of this bed I'll go visit her. Maybe I can help somehow though I don't know how. Maybe she's gone too far over the edge to be helped. I heard she was really strung out on drugs when she went berserk on her boyfriend.
Tomorrow I get out of this hospital. I have been posted to a training camp as a combat instructor. They tell me it's a temporary assignment ordered by the doctors until my wounds finish healing. I guess I can live with that explanation for a while. Three or four months they say.
I went to see Martha at the institution. That's the girl that killed her violent boyfriend. She was looking pretty good and someone had paid to get some plastic surgery on her face. A shrink was still working on her head. She was calm. Too calm. I recognize the mood. Simmering.
It's been a year now. I am a Brick Leader. An officer and I got married. To Martha. She is a great lady a fine artist and soon to be mother. The problem lies in the secrecy of my job. I can't tell her anything. She wants me to quit. I can't. I don't know anything else except for soldiering. I told her that. She cried for a while but then accepted my truth. And she asked me what would happen if I didn't come back sometime. I told her she would be taken care of. I have life insurance.
I am going away again. For a year I'm told. My kid will be born while I am away. My heart is not in it this time, but I am signed. I could resign but I would lose everything and I still don't have any other skills except looking down the scope of a rifle and squeezing the trigger. What does a guy like me do in the domestic world? I suppose I could go on one of those rehab training courses but it wouldn't work.  And the longer I am here the deeper I fall.

Please check out
The Lightfield Files 1, Jack Trinity and Secret Of The Broken Mind

Saturday, 21 October 2017


"Does it not seem odd to you that a man, living in a town, would wander about the streets dressed in a robe, carrying an ornate wooden staff, crowned with a silver ball and, of all things stranger, he is accompanied by an old wolf and an old raven who seldom drift far from his reach. And that Raven most often rides on the back of the Wolf while it walks at its human's side?"
"I find it intriguing and a little dangerous given the general disposition of the people in this town, they being God-fearing and he seeming to have followed a more ancient path."
"It will come to no good I am sure."
"I think not. After all the man and his pets have been wandering about these part for nigh on 20 years and nothing terrible has come of it. After all he keeps to himself and few ever approach him and those that have found him pleasant to speak with even though a little distant and distracted. And he always treats the children well. Those I mean that have the right stuff to go near him."
"True, but as you said. Few do."
"Friend Wizard. Those men on the bench are talking about us."
"Yes old friend Wolf. I hear them."
"But is that not rude of them?"
"Very rude and if it were up to me I would still their tongues to silence."
"But Friend Raven. Do you not talk about the humans and not always in a kindly manner? Maybe they would like to clip your wings."
"Yes. I suppose you are right Friend Wizard."
"We should talk to them sometime."
"It would be well if you could but they cannot hear your mind's voice as I can."
"How horrible." Said the old Raven.
"But you Friend Wizard can talk to them."
"Indeed I can Friend Wolf and have on several occasions but it is beyond your comprehension for, as they cannot hear your mind's voice, you cannot understand their spoken word, except for the merest of simple commands and then only after days and days of listening and learning. Even when I speak aloud you stare at me dumbfoundedly. Were it that I was not a Wizard and able to hear your mind's voice we could not be the friends we are.
"Listen to our wise human Friend Wolf." Cawed the Raven amusedly.
"Mr. Mayor. You seem to have ignored our petition. That strange man and his strange pets should not be allowed to stroll about town as they will in such garb and with no restraints on the animal. Wolves are unpredictable and dangerous and who in their right mind would keep a raven as a pet. It's simply outrageous."
"I have not ignored the petition Mrs. Blighe. I simply do not believe there are any working bylaws that can restrict the man in how he conducts himself or choses to dress and since in 20 years neither animal has caused one iota of trouble in this town your demands to retrain them are unfounded."
"My paws grow sore. My time draws near. I am older than most of my kind ever know."
"Ah it's so sad Friend Wolf for I have grown comfortable with you."
"Lollygagging on my back Friend Raven."
"Tis affection I show only old and trusted friends Friend Wolf and I doubt I will ever know such a friend as you again."
"I too grow foot weary Friends Wolf and Raven. I fear Friend Raven, since you are the longest lived of all, you will soon go on to the future and leave us to our spirit travels."
The wolf growled and the Raven Cawed.
"Maybe we should cross the great river of the abyss together and travel in the spirit world as we have in this most mundane of existences."
"What a delightful suggestion Friend Raven."
"Thank You Friend Wolf. What do you vote Friend Wizard?"
"I would be honoured to do so but it takes something very special for us to cross the river together. The moment must be just perfect."
"I know what must be done." Said the Wolf. "At the stroke of midnight when the moon of November is full I must sing the wolf's lament."
"Yes. Yes. And as you sing I must soar into the light of that same moon." Announced the old Raven. "Even though my mortal life may wander many years yet into the future I would not chose to go on without my dearest friends."
"And what of you, Friend Wizard the old wolf and the old raven inquired at once.
"Hmmmm. Such timing would be difficult but if it can be done I must separate my spirit self from mortal body, Wind Riding it is called, and when my spirit hovers above I must cut the silver thread that binds us, all on the night of the full November Moon. Our spirits will meet in its glow and go off to wander eternity together.
Two old men sitting on the bench outside the town hall. They had not spoken in months though they were close friends.
"Did you hear it? That old wolf howling at the moon last November. And a full moon it was at that." Said one.
"Indeed I did and at the very same moment I saw that old Raven circling upward. It seemed to be reaching for the moon." Said the other.
"I read in the newspaper that the old man died on that very night. They said he was out walking by the river. There was a kid who saw him who said the old man just stood there with his arms out stretched up at the moon. He stood as still as a tree. Then he collapsed just as the wolf howled and the raven circled into the light of the moon."
"They found the old wolf and the old raven beside the old man."
"What in blazes do you suppose happened?

Sunday, 15 October 2017


Mr. Marshlands was a funny old sod who spent more time enjoying the daydreams that played out on the back of his eyelids as he sat in his rocking chair on the front porch of his bungalow than he did in the real world. He seldom even notice people strolling up and down the street past his house or the slights kids shouted at him, which he could not hear because he was almost completely deaf. For that matter, without his glasses, which he only wore to navigate his way to and from his rocking chair he could hardly see.
Then one morning his phone rang, which it had not done in months.
He answered the call, "Hello," was all he said then he listened for a minute and hung up.
There was a gentle smile on his lips and a flickering light in his eyes that had not glimmered for years as he dressed in his walking clothes donned a rain coat since it was drizzling out that morning, sipped his feet into his toe rubbers and set off out the front door of his bungalow.
"Where are you going Mr. Marshlands?" someone called out from across the street.
"For a stroll in the park." Mr. Marshlands replied cheerfully.
Down the street, only a block or two on the left side of Mistywhen Lane was an old park that had been there for as long as anyone could remember, though most could not recall how it got its name and that that it should be renamed for its trees, which were almost all huge and ancient Oaks, except for one. In the very middle of the park grew an enormous old weeping willow tree that seemed always shrouded in mist, except on the very brightest of midsummer days.
Now you must understand that Mr. Marshlands was probably, as old as the trees in the park and walked with a slow scraping shuffle. So it took him several minutes to walk one block and it seemed the closer he came to the park the heavier the rain came and the deeper the mist grew about him. As for the mist around the willow, that old tree was almost invisible but it was not in the least silent for the wind, though slight sang through its branches. It sang an old song that once belonged to himself and Mrs. Marshlands.

As he drew near the park Mr. Marshlands began to hear the voice he hoped would come from the mist around the willow. As soon as he did he began humming the tune with the wind and his beloved Mrs., a tune they often hummed together while walking along Mistywhen Lane and through Mistywhen Park.
"I hear you dearest. I am going as fast as these old legs will carry me." Mr. Marshlands said in a breathy whisper.
Then. Ever so suddenly, as he took that first step into the park his legs, his entire body in fact, grew youthful and strong.
As he drew near the tree Anasia emerge from the mist in all her youth and the beauty she had. Her perfect smile, glittering sapphire blue eyes and chestnut brown hair were as vibrant as they had ever been.
"Dance with me my Knight." She said in her sweet voice. She called him her Knight from the day he knelt before her.
"A Knight to your eyes my love but a poor one I say." Still. With you I know our life will be rich and full."
"It already is my dear and it will grow better through the years."
And they danced in the mist to the whisper song of the willow, as they had done so many times across the years of wonder, youth and gold. And their life did blossom with all the wonders joy could bring.
And as they twirled and swirled and whirled through the mist from one end of Mistywhen Park to the other where the brook disappeared into the earth they hummed along with the willow in perfect harmony.
And Anasia whispered to her beloved Knight. "We shall dance together through the mists of eternity and never shall we know a broken minute."
On Mistywhen Lane there stands a quaint stone bungalow that has become a little over grown and a for sale sign leans unattended at the end of the walk leading to the porch. An old rocking chair sits on the porch, alone and weathered and sometimes it rocks when the breeze hits it just right.
Some folks, mostly new residents, rallied to have the street name changed to Willow Street and the park to Willow Park, believing the new names to be much more suitable.
A young couple stopped by to have a look at the bungalow. She smiled brightly.
In a few weeks the bungalow with lifted to its former coziness and the young couple made it their own. A new voice was introduced into the story, a child. And the joy grew with sounds of laughter and song.
Often, on a summer's eve they sat on the porch enjoying their boon, he in the old rocker they had found sitting there and had not the heart to throw away. Mother and baby swung to and fro in a new porch swing while mother hummed a tune and nursed the infant. The bungalow gave out a sigh of contentment.
On a warm summer's day, it is said by those who had lived there a long while three voices could be heard rustling through the willow branches and the mist around it would whirl and swirl and twirl.
The new owners were told the story of their predecessors and what a beautiful couple they had been. Indeed they were in love til the end.
Yet those who had lived there a very long time often wondered and asked what ever became of Mr. Marshlands. For one day he went for a stroll in Mistywhen Park and was never seen again.

THE LAST RIDE BY DONALD HARRY ROBERTS 1 What is old do you think? Well let me tell you. Old is when you think you can’t still do the thin...