Hey 3.5 readers.
How the West Was Zombed was my first finished book draft, the one that started it all.
Finally, I’m getting it a cover.
So, vote for your favorite.
The Mississippi Rive will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise. Zombies are equally stubborn and foolhardy. Only a ball peen hammer applied liberally to their rotting craniums can persuade them to do anything else but eat your brain.
In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. In like fashion, few men are made of the stern stuff necessary to attack a marauding zombie head on. Instead, they cower in corners, concerned only with their personal safety. Once a man of great bravery steps up and murders all impending zombies in the vicinity, then, and only then, will a sniveling reprobate remove himself from his corner of cowardice and boldly declare, “I supported zombie killing this entire time!”
None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try. A fountain-pen can help a man translate his thoughts onto the page and also, it works well when plunged into the brain of a zombie.
Zeal and sincerity can carry a new religion further than any other missionary except fire and sword. Fire and swords are also good weapons against filthy zombies. I’ve always found that if a zombie won’t burn, it’s best to chop its vile head off with a sword. Don’t forget to plunge the sword in the beast’s brain for good measure.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Whenever you find yourself on the side of a zombie, it is time to jam a sharp object into its ear canal, as that is the quickest way to destroy its brain before it eats yours.
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything…except to stay away from zombies. Always remember to stay away from zombies. Write a note that says, “STAY AWAY FROM ZOMBIES!” and pin it to your shirt collar if need be, but in any event, dear reader, do stay away from zombies.
I have never let my schooling about zombie anatomy interfere with my education of zombie slaying tactics.
Total abstinence is so excellent a thing that it cannot be carried to too great an extent. In my passion for it I even carry it so far as to totally abstain from total abstinence itself. Hell, sometimes the only way a man can come down off a high after spending a night’s worth of vigorous zombie fighting is to get all up in some Mississippi boo-tay.
What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light. It is doubtful that would even be effective as most likely this man would revert to the undead state of a wretched zombie. Anniversaries are very well up to a certain point, while one’s babies are in the process of growing up: they are joy-flags that make gay the road and prove progress; and one looks down the fluttering rank with pride. Then presently one notices that the flagstaffs are in process of a mysterious change of some sort–change of shape. Yes, they are turning into milestones. They are marking something lost now, not gained. From that time on it were best to suppress taking notice of anniversaries, especially the anniversary of the first time you ever witnessed a close friend getting his brains devoured by a zombie. No one needs to remember that shit.
To ask a doctor or builder or sculptor for his autograph would be in no way rude. To ask one of those for a specimen of his work, however, is quite another thing, and the request might be justifiably refused. It would never be fair to ask a doctor for one of his corpses to remember him by, seeing as how that corpse is likely to turn into a zombie, leaving you with no choice but to make an utter shambles of the doctor’s office when you bash the zombies brains in using little more than the closest blunt objects in your general vicinity.
I don’t like this thing of being stripped naked & washed. I like to be stripped & warmed at the stove–that is real bully–but I do despise this washing business. I believe it to be a gratuitous & unnecessary piece of meanness. I never see them wash the cat. However, I wash myself anyway, for many medical doctors in good standing with the board of medicine have assured me that regular baths are the only way to rid one’s self of the various germs that can infect a man with a zombifying virus. Wash your bum or become an abomination, as my old spinster aunt used to say, and she wasn’t kidding.
There’s nobody for me to attack in this matter even with soft and gentle ridicule–and I shouldn’t ever think of using a grown up weapon in this kind of a nursery. Above all, I couldn’t venture to attack the clergymen whom you mention, for I have their habits and live in the same glass house which they are occupying. I am always reading immoral books on the sly, and then selfishly trying to prevent other people from having the same wicked good time. In summation, good readers, I can only assume that my most revered book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has been banned from your local lending library as it contains a wealth of information vis a vis anti-zombie warfare. Also, it features use of the “N” word like 9,454 times.
Among human beings jealousy ranks distinctly as a weakness; a trademark of small minds; a property of all small minds, yet a property which even the smallest is ashamed of; and when accused of its possession will lyingly deny it and resent the accusation as an insult. Jealousy can even be found among dirty disgusting zombies. Why, I have seen many a zombie pick a fight with an associate zombie over the size of a pilfered brain,
Wright’s shot came nowhere near Bowie.
“Ha,” Bowie said. “You couldn’t hit a tap-dancing elephant if it were right in front of you. Let’s call it a draw and…”
Marvin Blanchard fired. His shot was true. Bowie dropped to his knees and clutched his stomach. Blood oozed out of the wound, staining his white shirt red.
Bowie aimed at Wright, but before he could pull the trigger, the knifeman fell face first into the sand.
“Foul play, sir!” Doctor Maddox shouted.
Wright clocked the old man in the face with the butt of his pistol. Blood smeared teeth popped out of the doctor’s mouth as he fell.
The old man struggled to stand up only to have his throat stomped on by Wright’s boot heel.
“I never did care for you, Maddox,” Wright said as he put his weight down on his heel to crush the old man’s wind pipe. “Don’t you know that standing up for a lost cause is a good way to get yourself killed?”
Bowie was up. Blood poured out of his stomach. He was soaked in it. He drew his knife and staggered towards the sheriff.
Chester fired a shot that landed in Bowie’s left shoulder. Unfazed, Bowie hurled his blade with great accuracy through the air. It landed in Chester’s heart, killing the younger Blanchard brother instantly.
Bowie fought through the pain and lunged at Wright, tackling him to the ground.
The sheriff and the knifeman traded blows. Bowie managed to straddle Wright and was about to bring his fist down on his opponent’s face when Marvin smashed the butt of his gun down on the back of Bowie’s head.
To Marvin’s surprise, Bowie did not fall. As if he were some kind of immortal monster, Bowie stood up.
Confirming Doctor Maddox’s earlier suspicions, Marvin twisted the end of his cane and withdrew a thin, pointy rapier.
Bowie threw a fist at Marvin. Marvin ducked, but cut a wide slash across Bowie’s abdomen.
Bowie staggered over to Chester’s carcass and pulled his knife out of the dead man’s chest.
Clang! Bowie and Marvin became locked in a vicious sword fight. Bowie slashed Marvin’s arm.
Marvin drove his rapier into Bowie’s stomach.
Bowie looked Marvin in the eyes. “You think…”
Blood sputtered out of Bowie’s mouth. “…it makes you a big man…to do that shit heel’s dirty work?”
“A job’s a job,” Marvin replied as he pushed the rapier deeper into Bowie’s guts.
Bowie gritted his teeth. His face turned red. There was a look of shock and amazement in Marvin’s eyes as Bowie plunged his knife into Marvin’s chest.
“Some jobs aren’t worth doing,” Bowie said as he pulled his knife out of Marvin’s chest. “If the man in charge isn’t worth shit.”
Marvin’s body fell to the ground, cutting Bowie further as the rapier that had pierced his stomach became dislodged.
Wright stabbed Bowie in the back with a pocket knife.
Bowie turned around as if he’d just been tickled. He glared at Wright.
“I told you not to miss,” Bowie said.
Wright stabbed Bowie again.
“Why won’t you die?” Wright asked.
In one swift motion, Bowie slashed his blade across Wright’s throat. It opened up nicely, coating Bowie’s face with a misty blood spray.
Wright grabbed at his neck in vain, then fell to the ground.
Bowie dropped to his knees, right beside his latest victim’s body.
“Because you’d like that too much,” Bowie said as he raised his knife high into the air. With both hands on the handle, Bowie used all of his strength to bring the blade down into Wright’s chest, ending his opponent once and for all.
Dizzy and delirious, Bowie shouted out. “Doc! Doc?”
Too many wounds. Too much blood lost. Bowie passed out and collapsed into the sand.
In the middle of the Mississippi River, a sandbar arose from the water. It wasn’t quite large enough to be considered an island, but it formed a long, straight line and thus had been the spot of choice for southern duelists for over a century.
Bowie stood on the bar and pulled a rowboat ashore. Dr. Maddox squinted as the sun beat down upon him. The old man poked his cane into the sand and once he was assured of steady ground, he stepped out of the boat and onto shore.
“An obvious trap,” Dr. Maddox said. “This far out of the public eye, Wright will be free to engage in all manner of chicanery and yet still proudly proclaim himself the unsullied victor.”
Wright and the Blanchard brothers, Marvin and Chester, walked over to greet the new arrivals.
“I’m surprised you showed, Mister Bowie,” Wright said.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t, Wright,” Bowie replied as he chewed on a wad of tobacco. “Shame to have another dead man on my conscience. I get so little sleep as it is.”
The Blanchards were a pair of skinny looking reprobates. Dirt beards. Missing teeth. Though they looked as though they had forgotten to bathe for years, they did remember to bring their pistols.
“What’s the deal with these two snakes?” Bowie said. “I only brought a second because I didn’t know there would be thirds.”
Wright slapped Marvin on the back. “Mister Marvin Blanchard shall be my second. He and his brother are inseparable and Chester is here merely to observe.”
“The whole point of a second is to observe,” Bowie said. “You get two men to make sure shit is fair and I only get one?”
The sheriff snickered. “I’m sure Dr. Maddox makes up for this discrepancy with the vast experience he has incurred through his advanced age.”
Maddox smiled and nodded, then put his arm around Bowie. “Yes, yes. Let us make fun of the old man. Pardon me sheriff, a moment with my colleague if you will.”
“Take your time,” Wright said. “I dare say Mister Bowie doesn’t have much of it left.”
Wright and the Blanchards laughed as Maddox prodded Bowie to step out of Wright’s earshot.
“Walk away from this,” Maddox said.
“Don’t start that bullshit again,” Bowie replied.
“Tell me, do the Blanchards strike you as proper gentlemen?” Wright asked.
Bowie looked dumbfounded, as though he’d just been told a joke but missed the punchline. “No?”
“Of course they do not,” Maddox said. “Then why are they strutting about with canes?”
“I don’t know,” Bowie said. “They’re putting on airs.”
“My boy,” Maddox said as he rested his hands on the knifeman’s shoulders. “I implore you to apologize to the sheriff, leave immediately and purge this incident from your mind as though it never happened.”
Bowie shook the old man’s hands off and marched towards Wright. “Let’s get this over with.”
Wright snapped his fingers, prompting Marvin to open up the lid of a velvet lined wooden case. Inside the box was a set of pearl handled dueling pistols.
“Heirlooms that have been in my family for quite some time,” Wright said. “Cleaned, loaded and ready for your inspection, doctor.”
Doctor Maddox took a pistol out of the box and squinted through his spectacles at it. He stretched out his arm and took aim at the water. Once satisfied, he lowered the weapon and handed it to Bowie.
“It is in proper order,” Maddox said.
“Mister Bowie,” Wright said. “I assure you that the shot I too last night was a rare fluke. I am an accomplished marskman.”
“Really?” Bowie asked. “Because I got the impression that you can’t shoot for shit.”
Wright leered at Bowie. Clearly, the titled gentleman was holding back an urge to strangle the commoner.
“Yes, well,” Wright said. “It would be unsporting of me to not offer you one last chance to rectify this matter with words instead of pistols. Will you apologize to me for your vile remarks?”
Bowie made a look as though he were deep in thought. He chewed on his tobacco, then spit an odious, disgustingly brown loogie that landed at Wright’s feet.
“Can’t say that I will.”
Doctor Maddox sighed.
“Very well,” Wright said. “Shall we say, back to back, ten paces, turn and fire?”
“If you say so,” Bowie replied.
With pistols in hand, Bowie and Wright arranged themselves back to back.
Doctor Maddox stood alone. The Blanchard brothers watched from the other side.
“Count us off,” Wright commanded.
Dutiful lackey that he was, Marvin began counting. “One…two…three…”
Each man remained straight shouldered, their chests puffed out as they stepped away from one another in time.
To Doctor Maddox’s great dismay, Wright turned before the count reached nine.
“James!” the old man cried.
Bowie turned. Wright fired.
A shirtless Bowie sat in a rickety chair in the residence of the esteemed Dr. Thomas Maddox, a decrepit old man with a withered face, spectacles, and a lengthy white beard.
The good doctor’s hands trembled. In an effort to calm his nerves, he took a belt of whiskey, then for good measure, dropped a splash of the good stuff on his patient’s arm wound.
“Oh hush,” Dr. Maddox said as he pushed a needle into Bowie’s skin, then worked a piece of thread through the nasty cut. “I should hate to see the other fellow.”
“Depends on which fellow,” Bowie said. “The man who took the bullet meant for me is stone dead.”
“And the man who fired?” the doctor asked.
“Ah,” Dr. Maddox said. “You and that big mouth of yours.”
“Word that you accosted the sheriff’s reputation had infiltrated my ears as of late,” Dr. Maddox said as he squinted at the stitches he was making. “I assumed it would only be a matter of time before he challenged you to a duel.”
“I accepted,” Bowie said.
The good doctor sighed. “Of course you did.”
“What of it?” Bowie asked.
Dr. Maddox examined his patient’s back. A healed over bullet wound. A number of slashes and scrapes.
“So many scars,” Dr. Maddox said. “I should hate to be your guardian angel.”
“It may sound like poppycock,” the doctor said. “But I believe that every man has an angel looking after him.”
As soon as the wound was stitched shut, the doctor pulled on the thread tightly, then snipped off the end of the thread with a pair of scissors.
“You might consider putting your life ahead of your ego, my boy,” Dr. Maddox said. “You might live longer and your angel will thank you.”
Bowie grabbed the doctor’s bottle, took a swig, then set it down. “It’s not about ego. It’s about honor.”
“It’s about a set up,” Dr. Maddox said.
“A what?” Bowie asked.
Dr. Maddox stroked his beard. “James, you do have a knack for charging head first into a mess as though you were a rabid rhinoceros, oblivious to all consequences, concerned only in the imminent moment and not day after.
“Stop speaking gibberish old man.”
The doctor snipped the end off of a cigar, held it over a lit candle, then puffed on it. He inhaled, exhaled, coughed, then spoke again.
“Dueling is a gentleman’s sport,” Dr. Maddox said. “And you, lad, are no gentleman.”
Bowie scoffed. “What’s that got to do with a hill of beans, old man? I’m just as good as those fancy fucks. I’ve wheeled and dealed my way into more money than they’ve got, that’s for damn sure.”
“You have,” Dr. Maddox said. “But I resubmit the fact that you are no gentleman.”
The patient put on his shirt and buttoned it up.
“You see,” Dr. Maddox said. “When our forefathers took up arms against the British and drove their cursed hides from this land, it was assumed that the concept of royalty exited this country with them.”
“Didn’t it?” Bowie asked.
The doctor winked his left eye. “An aristocracy remains. To be certain, there are no lords, dukes, or princes here but…there are Governors. Senators. Wright, he was once Major Wright and is now Sheriff Wright, though he is free to use both titles interchangeably. And I, of course, have never been one for battlefield combat so I studied until I earned the right to be called ‘Doctor.’”
“What are you getting at?” Bowie asked.
“The titles changed but the titles remain, just the same,” Dr. Maddox said. “Whether you are in Jolly Old England or in the United States of America, if you have a title then you are a gentleman and there are rules for gentlemen.”
Dr. Maddox puffed on his cigar.
“Titled gentlemen obtain and maintain their power through the favors they perform for and receive from other titled gentlemen,” Dr. Maddox explained.
“I could buy and sell the lot of them,” Bowie said.
“No doubt,” Dr. Maddox said. “But you have no title and thus no position, the power of which could be bartered for assistance from other titled men. Thus, you are no gentleman.”
“We’ve established that,” Bowie said.
“Dueling,” Dr. Maddox said. “Is the means by which titled gentlemen regain their good name when it is besmirched by another titled gentleman. As such, gentlemen must follow the rules when squaring off with other gentlemen. But with a commoner such as yourself, Sheriff Wright will be able to violate the sanctity of the duel in any way he pleases and as long as you die, no gentlemen will think ill of him.”
“Sure they would,” Bowie said. “He’d be branded a cheater.”
Dr. Maddox laughed. “Oh my boy,” Dr. Maddox said. “That’s what titled gentlemen do. They sit around in parlors and smoke cigars and imbibe alcohol and plot out their intentions to cheat lowly commoners such as yourself.”
The good doctor noticed the smoke in his hand and the booze on his table, then cleared his throat.
“Naturally, I would never use my title to harm another,” Dr. Maddox said. “But Sheriff Wright would and will and as you hold no title, his fellow gentlemen will heap praise upon him for snuffing out the commoner who dared to speak up against him, rules be damned.”
Bowie’s lungs expelled a sigh of deep, forlorn exasperation. “Fuck.”
“Indeed,” Dr. Maddox said.
“Well,” Bowie said. “There’s nothing I can do about it now.”
“Preposterous,” Dr. Maddox replied. “Of course there is. Do not show up at the duel.”
“Then I’d be yellow,” Bowie said.
“My boy,” Dr. Maddox said. “I have spent eighty some odd years avoiding one fight after another and I assure you, being ‘yellow’ has allowed me to live a long, healthy life.”
Bowie looked around the doctor’s empty house. “What have you got to show for it?”
Now the doctor looked around his sparse home. “Touche.”
Dr. Maddox waved his hand through the air. “I have given you my counsel. Do with it what you will.”
Bowie put on his coat. “Be my second?”
The doctor choked on his smoke. “Don’t be absurd!”
“Every duelist needs a second,” Bowie said.
“And what good would I be to you as a second if you will not heed my advice?” Dr. Maddox asked.
“I don’t know,” Bowie replied. “You could patch me up like you always do?”
Dr. Maddox rubbed his aching cranium. “Oh fine. As we speak I can feel the eyes of your father, who had a head as hot as yours, burning a hole into my soul with his livid eyes, demanding that I assist you. I shall be your second.”
“Much obliged,” Bowie said.
“If only hot headedness could skip a generation,” Dr. Maddox said.
Bowie grinned. “Now where would the fun be in that?”
“What in the hell are you on about, Wright?”
Wright slid off a pair of black leather gloves as he stepped forward.
“It has been brought to my attention that you have disgraced yourself sir,” Wright said with an air of sophistication.
“Is that so?” Bowie asked.
“It is, sir,” Wright said as he pounded the floor with the end of his cane. “You have been spreading a most scandalous fabrication that has proven to be quite injurious to my character.”
“You’ll have to dumb it down for me, sheriff,” Bowie said. “I don’t speak fop.”
“Did you or did you not state a claim to a collaboration of ruffians that I stole the election?” Wright asked.
“I did,” Bowie replied.
Wright raised his cane in the air. “Aha! So you do not deny that you have slandered me, do you sir?”
“I do deny it,” Bowie said.
“Speak plainly, man,” Wright said. “How can you admit and deny the same offense?”
“I admit that I told a few of my drinking buddies that you stole the election,” Bowie said. “I deny that I slandered you because the truth is not slander.”
Wright gasped. “How dare you sir? You slander me again!”
“Well,” Bowie said. “If the shoe fits…”
The knifeman walked to the bar and ordered a whisky. Wright followed him.
“And now you turn your back on me!”
“What?” Bowie asked as he accepted a full shot glass from Brent. “I thought we were done.”
“Not by a long shot,” Wright said. “Until you publicly retract your villainous lie, this matter will not be put to rest.”
Bowie gulped his shot. “Wright, I personally witnessed those Blanchard boys you got in your back pocket stuffing those ballot boxes with more paper than Tavish’s sister shoves in her brassiere.”
Tavish shook his head up and down, then burped. “It’s true. Old Maude is flatter than a carving board.”
“Look, Wright,” Bowie said. “Everyone knows that the political game is like a hyena’s dick. They’re both crooked and they’re both ugly. I didn’t tell anyone anything they didn’t already know so untwist your knickers, quit your bellyaching, and get out of my face.”
Bowie turned his back on Wright once more, but Wright refused to be ignored. He tapped on Bowie’s shoulder.
The knifeman turned only to be slapped in the face by a pair of gloves.
“I challenge you to a duel, sir!”
Bowie was quiet. Everyone in the bar was quiet.
When Bowie laughed, everyone took it as a cue to join in.
“I never figured you for a comedian, Wright,” Bowie said as he pointed a finger at the sheriff. “That’s a good one.”
Wap! Wright slapped Bowie in the face with his gloves a second time and in so doing, knocked the smile right off of Bowie’s face.
“That’s a good way to get yourself gutted from stem to stern, Wright,” Bowie said.
“Satisfaction will be mine!” Wright shouted.
“You’d be so easy to kill it wouldn’t be a fair fight,” Bowie said.
“And you are making excuses for your cowardice, sir!”
Bowie’s nostrils flared. He took a deep breath, then turned his back on Wright again.
“Well then,” Wright said as he drew his pistol. “If you are not man enough to face me then you leave me no choice.”
Wright was known throughout Rapides Parish for being a horrendous shot. The bullet grazed Bowie’s shoulder, cutting a slight rut through the skin of the knifeman’s arm before it landed dead center in Tavish’s chest.
The drunk shouted several choice obscene phrases before falling off his stool. On the floor, he convulsed, then died.
Bowie wasted no time. He grabbed Wright’s arm and shoved him up against a wall. Wright closed his eyes as he felt the cold edge of a knife being held up against his throat.
“You think that does a damn thing for your honor?” Bowie asked. “You try to shoot a man in the back only to murder a useless old lecher instead?”
“This is all your doing, Bowie!” Wright said. “You are the one who refused to face me. That man’s death is on your hands!”
“Shit,” Bowie said. “And I was just starting to like that old coot.”
Brent interrupted. “You just held a knife on him a moment ago.”
“He was starting to grow on me,” Bowie said.
Bowie looked to his left. Brent had walked over from the bar and was holding a rifle.
“Jim,” Brent said. “I don’t mean to tell you how to do your business but one dead body in my bar is too many.”
Bowie and Wright stared into each others’ eyes. Wright saw Bowie’s rage. Bowie saw Wright’s fear.
“And I’m no lawyer but you slitting the throat of a lawman who just fired the only shot in his pistol seems like it will end with you swinging at the end of a noose if you ask me.”
“No one asked you, Brent.”
Bowie leered at his hostage a bit longer, then released him.
“Wright, I accept your challenge.”
Wright coughed and clutched at his throat just to make sure it was still there. He then straightened up, dusted himself off, gripped the lapels of his jacket and turned up his nose at the knifeman.
“Pistols at dawn, sir.” Wright said. “Acquire your second and we shall meet at the sandbar.”
“Yes we will,” Bowie said.
Wright stormed off for the door.
The sheriff stopped but didn’t turn around.
“Do not miss,” Bowie said. “Because if you do, I assure you, my knife will not.”
1827 – Louisiana
The knife was, like its owner, one of a kind.
The blade was nine and a half inches long, thick and heavy yet sharp enough to split a cat’s whisker. The metal came to a point, then curved for a spell before it ran down to the handle.
The handle was polished oakwood and that curve at the end had been used to hook onto many a man’s gut as if it were a fish.
It wasn’t so much of a knife as it was a mini-machete.
On one evening in particular, Jim Bowie (rhymes with Louie), the knife’s illustrious inventor, sat at a bar inside a dimly lit tavern and peeled an apple with his infamous sticker. He might as well have been juggling gold nuggets with the way the barfly sitting next to him carried on.
Norman Tavish tossed back a brew and brought his stein down on the bar with a good, hard bang.
“Goddamn it, Jim,” the ugly mush mouthed drunk said. “That blade is a thing of beauty.”
Bowie had a lush lion’s mane of brown hair that came down the sides of his face in the form of two mutton chop side burns. Ever prideful, the perpetually angry looking Bowie didn’t find Tavish to be the type of man that was worth much of his time.
“Uh huh,” Bowie replied.
Tavish belched and scratched himself in assorted areas. “How much you want for it?”
Bowie rolled his knife around and around that apple until the peel was gone. “She’s not for sale.”
“Aw come on,” Flint said. “Everything’s got a price.”
Bowie tossed the naked apple up into the air as if it were a ball, then caught it in his hand. “Not everything.”
“I’ll give you anything you want,” Tavish said. “Shit, I’ll let you poke my sister.”
Every drunk in the joint laughed. Caleb Brent, the old bald barkeep, polished a glass and snickered.
“Fuck, Tavish. I’ve seen alligators more appetizing than your sister. You’ll have to do better than that.”
Tavish opened up his coat and tapped his finger on the side of a flint lock pistol hanging from his belt.
“I’ll trade you for it. Fair and square, like.”
Bowie snickered. “A pistol is a woman’s weapon. I rue the day they were ever invented.”
Tavish drank some courage. “Do my ears deceive me or did you just call me a woman?”
“I didn’t call you a woman,” Bowie replied. “I said you’ve got a woman’s weapon. Draw whatever inference you like.”
Brent laughed. Soon, everyone else in the bar was laughing.
Tavish looked around the bar. “Oh, you all think that’s funny, huh?”
The drunk drew his pistol and cocked the hammer. “You think I’m funny, Bowie?”
The calm and cool knifeman carefully calibrated his response. “You are whatever you think you are, friend.”
Tavish pointed his pistol at Bowie. “Well I think I’m the man that’s going to blow your damn head off, friend.”
Bowie set his apple down on the bar and stared deeply, intently into Tavish’s eyes.
Clang! The knifeman’s blade bashed Tavish’s pistol to the right, towards the collection of liquor bottles behind the bar. Reflexively, the drunk pulled the trigger and a nice big bottle of bourbon exploded, sending shards of glass and drops of brown liquid everywhere.
Bowie grabbed Tavish by the scalp and bashed the drunk’s’ face into the bar. When Tavish was allowed to lift his head up, he found himself staring at the point of Bowie’s knife, which was being held less than a quarter of an inch away from his eyeball.
“A pistol is a woman’s weapon because it isn’t that difficult for a drunken fool to take a shot at one of his betters,” Bowie explained. “Many a man has fired a pistol in a fit of rage only to live to regret pulling the trigger at a later date. Pistols make killing far too easy but a knife? I don’t care what anyone says. I don’t care how hot the fire in a man’s belly burns. I don’t care how many times he claims after the fact that he lost his mind in the heat of the moment. To kill a man with a knife, you have to use every muscle you have. You have to break through bone and sinew and dig through guts. Sometimes you’ve got to rip that knife out and stab him again and again, three, four, five times. You got to look that man right in the eye and not give a fuck that you are extinguishing all his hopes and dreams as you plunge that knife right into his still beating heart. Make no mistake about it. If a man dies at the edge of a blade it is because the man holding the knife wanted that death to happen.”
Bowie pulled his knife back. Tavish sat up.
“And so my point was, before you so rudely interrupted me, is that women use pistols. Men use knives.”
Brent, who had hunkered down behind the bar, rose to his feet and breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing the coast was clear.
“I’m sorry, Jim,” Tavish said. “It was just the drink talking. I didn’t mean to insult your knife.”
“I know you didn’t.”
Bowie tossed his apple three feet above the bar, then stood up, and threw his knife toward the fruit.
The knife struck right into the center of the apple and blade and fruit become one until they struck the wall. Two perfectly cut slices fell to the bar.
After walking to the end of the bar and pulling his knife out of the wall, Bowie returned, handed Tavish a slice, and took a bite out of the other piece.
“Just remember,” Bowie said as he slapped Tavish on the back. “It’s not for sale.”
“And if I find out you didn’t reimburse Caleb for his bourbon…”
The drunk threw up his hands. “I will.”
“I know you will,” Bowie said.
With the spectacle over, all patrons in the bar returned to their usual doings. Brent went to work on cleanup. Tavish persisted in drowning his sorrows.
All was quiet until the double doors at the front of the bar swung open.
In stepped Sheriff Norris Wright, a former army major turned sheriff. He had a thick, bushy mustache and slicked back hair.
The knifeman craned his neck just enough to acknowledge the lawman.
“You have offended my honor, sir, and I demand satisfaction!”
Happy November, 3.5 Readers.
Halloween is over but my latest attempt at a novel has just begun.
I’m zombifying the Alamo, people. How you are all not excited about this I don’t know.
I wrote the first draft of How the West Was Zombed this year.
And then I let it sit for awhile as I considered how to turn the story of several cowboys into a Zombie Western series.
So Zombed became the second novel as I got myself partway through writing Undead Man’s Hand.
And then Zombed is becoming the third and Undead the second as Remember the Zombamo will be first.
The hook I finally thought of – as I read about the history of the Battle of the Alamo, I realized that the main heroes – William Travis, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston all headed to Texas because they screwed the pooch on something and were looking for a second chance.
I’ve said this before but my novels always end up being about losers in search for redemption. Probably because I am one.
So these men, based on circumstances that happen to them, end up in Texas taking on Santa Anna.
Its a tale of bravery because the Alamo defenders knew ahead of time they were vastly, ridiculously outnumbered but they stayed to fight rather than run.
But in my zombified version, these heroes come together to stop a great evil.
And then the series will progress…a new cowboy will be introduced in each subsequent book and by the end, five will come together through life circumstances to take on evil and then close out the series….and by then I can only assume this will all have made me awesomely rich.
Not because I will sell so many copies but because I will charge my readers a million dollars a piece so 3.5 sales = 3.5 million dollars.
I know it will be hard, 3.5 readers, but take out some usurious loans and procure the services of multiple loan sharks if you have to.
My attorney tells me to mention I am only kidding. Don’t do any of that.
Come along for the ride, 3.5 readers! I’m zombifying the Alamo!
So far, Santa Anna has been turned into a vampire and William Travis’ delusions of grandeur and epic debt have him headed to Texas in a hurry.
Next up – Jim Bowie and his Arkansas toothpick.