Tag Archives: historical fiction

#Fridays with BQB – Interview #3 – Historic Fiction with T.A. Henry


Author Website

Amazon Author Page

T.A. Henry. The Hankster. Hank-o-rama. I first virtually met T.A. in 2016, when I was writing the first draft of my upcoming (and when I say upcoming, I mean, “sometime between now and when I croak”) novel, “How the West Was Zombed.” Cowboys + zombies = Zombie Western.

T.A. had a lot to say in the comment section of my fine blog, and was a stickler for historic accuracy. I mean, yeah, she gave me an allowance for zombies, but she urged me to try to be as historically accurate as possible, to pay attention to whether people from the 1800s would say a certain thing, act a certain way, wear a particular piece of clothing, use a type of invention. In short, she made it clear that what I thought was going be a pretty easy novel to write would require a whole lot of research.

She kept commenting and I kept writing and I’ll be honest, she didn’t give me the glowing, flowery praise we all secretly want, but rather, the swift kick to the back of the pants criticism that I needed. Everyone needs a persnickety commenter like T.A. If you can make her happy, then you’ll probably do OK with the reviewers on Amazon, who live on a steady diet of writer tears.

History is T.A.’s bag. On her Amazon page, you can find two novels, “Scripting the Truth” and “Ostrich Mentality,” both of which take place in the Twentieth Century, which doesn’t seem to me like a long time ago but apparently it is. It really is.


QUESTION 1 – T.A., welcome. I could be wrong, but you seem like a serious person, so I thank you for lowering yourself enough to be interviewed on a blog run by a man who swears he talks to aliens. I’m telling you, hang on a year or two and you’ll be interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, who only acts like he is a space alien.

History. You might have told me but I don’t remember because I’m not a good historian, but I’m wondering how you got into writing historic fiction. Give the history of your historic obsession to my 3.5 readers, or to my 2.5 readers, since you are a reader.

ANSWER: One day the window got left window open and I crawled out on to the ledge. Uncle Bob tried to chase me back in but I was scared, who wouldn’t be? Uncle Bob is creepy, and so I jumped up on the roof. Bob kept coming though. He got out this weird metal contraption and bam it slammed into the edge of the roof. So I ran to the other side. But the shingles were loose and as I tried to jump to the nearby oak I slipped. And fell. 3 stories. Into the road. Amazon was making a Prime delivery and wouldn’t you know it, I got hit by a load of….wait what was the question?

Oh, how I came to be a historical writer, yeah. I fell into it. What else do you do with a degree in history and no chance to teach because your hubs got transferred and you have no connections in the local community college scene.? LOL.

QUESTION 2 – When it comes to historic fiction, I think the average writer understands the basics. In other words, if your story takes place in 1776, you don’t want a scene where George Washington watches the latest news on the American Revolution on a big screen TV.

For me, it seems like the old cliché is true. The devil is in the details – the littlest details. What would a person from a certain time period say or do? How would they act? What would they wear?

Hollywood types can call up a renowned history professor and pepper him/her with questions for days. Alas, unknown self-publishers like myself don’t have that kind of pull. For us peons, what resources are available? What advice do you have if we have a question about whether or not a little snippet of our fiction jives with the historical record?

ANSWER: Research. But it doesn’t have to be all difficult. You’d be amazed what you can find online. Google really is your friend.

I have the advantage of a huge base knowledge of the time period I write in, which means I am only looking up tiny little specifics. But you could can do that with anything. What did the average sheriff in a small western town get paid circa 1870? You will get answers.

QUESTION 3 – Seriously, I don’t mean to state the obvious, but setting your story in the past is difficult. As I wrote my Zombie Western, I found myself with all sorts of questions. For example, a character eats a candy and I start to wonder if that candy would have been present in the Old West.  Is all that tedium worth it?

ANSWER: Probably not. It seems to me like most people don’t care about the reality of situations. They want a good story, big explosions, better special effects. Of course if you’re trying to write for an intelligent audience, they will catch you. And they will huck the book across the room and give you the dreaded one star review.

QUESTION 4 – Your new book, “Ostrich Mentality” takes place in 1990 and involves a small pox plot. Take it from there. Tell the other 2.5 readers you read my blog with what this tale is all about. The title seems cool but I’m wondering what’s the significance? I know I always prefer to stick my head in the sand and hope all problems disappear rather than face them. That usually works, right?

ANSWER: Ostrich Mentality started out as a little question that I couldn’t shake while I was reading an interview with a Russian scientist who defected in the 90s. He claimed that not only did Russia have weaponized small pox but it was missile dispersible and….they lost 20 tons of it during the break up of the USSR. FUCK!

This book is my take on what might have happened after that. How three spies and a know it all analyst save the world. LOL.

“With your head in the sand and your ass in the air, you’re ripe to get screwed.”

QUESTION 5 – By the way, why are you trying to make me want to jump of a bridge by setting a book in 1990, like that’s some long ago, ancient time? God, I was just a little kid then. Oh well, I suppose time flies. What do you think historians of the future will say about the time period we live in right now?

ANSWER: Are you trying to make me feel ancient? Little kid in the 90s. Pffftt. I was in flipping high school. Ass. I don’t talk current events. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

QUESTION 6 – Your first novel, “Scripting the Truth” takes place after World War II, where a writer tries to scheme her way into a movie studio to reconnect with the soldier she once loved who has since become an actor. Tell the other 2.5 readers more about this. What inspired you to pen such a romantic story?

ANSWER:  Laughing…um…”Scripting” actually started as a dream – a rather naughty dream about a girl finding work in the porn industry. Laughing…but I wasn’t going to write that.

The rest just evolved. It’s not really a romance. It’s more about a woman challenging the ideas her family has saddled her with. Challenging what the world would have her be. Figuring out who she is and how to make that work. Yes, there’s a guy, because there’s always a guy, but he’s not really the important part.

QUESTION 7 – “Scripting the Truth” is an interesting title. Is it possible for people to script their own truth? Perhaps “truth,” or an understanding of who people are and how they got there can be malleable? Maybe the wise person tells his/her life’s story in the best possible light?

ANSWER: I think we script our own truths every day. We all tell ourselves little stories to get through the day. We tell ourselves and each other little lies to grease the wheels of society.  In “Scripting,” Molly tell herself a lot of lies. She discovers everyone is lying about something. And then she makes the best of that.

QUESTION 8 – My addiction to buying covers for books I have yet to publish remains unabated. Honestly, it has come to the point where I might start engaging in unsavory activities in back alleys just to score some dough so I can run out and buy another unnecessary book cover. I’m sure you’ll find me on the street one day, clinking my tin cup, shouting out, “Brother, can you spare a cover?”

I don’t know why I do it. I jump from one story idea to the next, like a bumble bee with ADD, moving all willy nilly from one flower to the next, never focusing on just one flower until he’s sucked all the nectar out of it.

Oh right. I should work a question in here somewhere. I remember you talking about working on a spy novel at least a year ago, maybe even two. Now, all this time later, your spy novel is real and people can buy it on Amazon. You stuck to one idea and saw it through and you’re reaping the reward. What advice do you have for people like me who jump from one idea to another without staying put and seeing one idea through to the end?

ANSWER: Bwahahahaha. No really.  Bwahahahahahha.  I started writing “Ostrich” 5 years ago. FIVE. In between I wrote and published “Scripting.” I wrote a murder mystery. Abandoned said mystery. Wrote for and was published in an anthology. I dropped “Ostrich Mentality” at least half a dozen times. It had a rough ride through beta. It was pulled apart, redesigned, thrown in the garbage masher on the detention level more times than I can count. Not to mention the struggle, see below….

I don’t know that I have generic advice. Ok maybe I do. I think people jump around so they never have to publish and face the heinous truth that it is brutal out there. You can pour your heart and soul into a book and it can be Pulitzer level material or “Saturday Night Live” level material and then you sell 12 copies, and it feels like someone stabbed you in the heart. You’ll gladly climb into a grave and stay there, licking your wounds. It takes so much more guts to climb out of that space and publish for the second time. I’m talking here to Mars and back again exponential guts. By jumping around you get the morally superior ground of being so prolific you can’t stay focused. Your flaw becomes a virtue. Script that truth my friend.,

QUESTION 9 – Will you ever write a novel that doesn’t take place in the past? If so, would you set it in the present or in the future? Fun fact: if you wait too long to write a novel that’s set in the present, it will become a novel that is set in the past.

ANSWER: I am in the middle of writing a cozy procedural trilogy which I will publish later this year. It is set in present time in the PNW, where I live.

Tell you more you say? Well, ok. The three books track a serial killer bumping off middle aged successful white men and cutting off their dicks. (Smiles. )

Laughing. Come on, it’s funny. “The Dismember Killer” is what the media calls him. LOL
Book one solves a copy cat. Book two takes place in the cold case squad where they solve a couple of unrelated murders and find a case that might have bearing on the serial killer. In book three they catch him.

It’s been interesting writing it because the detectives all text each other – all the time. Something that never happened in my previous books. It ups the immediacy and forces me to get more creative.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: I’m investing in lockable metal underpants.

QUESTION 10 – You wake up to find yourself stuck in a log cabin in the middle of a secluded forest. You have no idea how you got there other than a vague recollection that accepting a drink mixed by Bill Cosby was a bad idea.

You look out the window and hundreds of brain chomping zombies are closing in, ready to feast on your gray matter. Furiously, you search the cabin for any items that might help, but you only find three things: a squeaky, rubber duck, a sealed bag of Cool Ranch Doritos marked “Best used by March 1, 1997” and an oversized, novelty foam finger.

How will you use these items to save your brains?

ANSWER: Are my brains really worth saving? I mean really? What have I done that’s so extraordinary that I should be saved by extreme measures? And if I was dumb enough to accept a drink from Bill (Cosby or Clinton) I deserve what I get.

Are these fast zombies or slow zombies? Are we talking “Night of the Living Dead”(original) or like “I-Zombie?”

Spread the Doritos on the floor so I hear when they are in the cabin. Use the foam finger to block the chimney behind me, so no soot falls down, as I frog climb up to exit out the top like some reverse Santa Clause. Make a run for it as soon as they are inside.
Find you and stick the rubber duck up your ass for proposing this little question. LOL.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: That’s the twelfth time this month my backside has been threatened with the introduction of a rubber duck.  It isn’t easy being mediocre Internet celebrity.

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The Illiad Rebooted – Chapter 3


The sound of a blaring ram’s horn tore across Sparta before it finally made its way to the king’s ears.

“What?” the king asked.

Leda stirred. “Could it be?”

The gold plated doors to the throne room opened to reveal a rather stern looking muscle bound, long haired warrior. He entered in the company six other warriors, three on each side.

Their uniforms consisted of little more than leather thongs and flowing capes.

A frazzled Tyndareus sprang to his feet. “Oh, thank the gods, ’tis Talos, general of the mighty Spartan army. What news do you bring?”

The Spartans marched in a stoic manner until they reached the throne. Then, they shouted a very guttural “oohrah” before falling to their knees before the king.

“My good king,” Talos said. “My good queen. Castor and Pollux approach the port in their ship.”

“And? Tyndareus asked.

“Umm,” the general said. “The wind is in their sails and their pace is steady?”

The king slapped his forehead. “For the love of Hera’s tucas, man! Is Helen with them?”

“Oh!” Talos said. “Yes! Indeed she is. I spotted the princess standing on deck.”

“Not trying to tell you how to do your job, general,” Tyndareus said. “But you might have led off with that.”

The warriors arose. “On your word, we shall escort you to the port, your highness.”

Leda stood up. “I must fetch our niece.”

“Yes,” a relieved Tyndareus said. “Collect dear Penelope so that our family will finally be together again.”

Three Spartans left the throne room with the Queen.

Meanwhile, the king, Talos, and the other three warriors departed.

As the king’s party moved through the hustle and bustle of the city, the king couldn’t help but notice the skimpy attire the warriors were wearing.


“Yes, my liege?”

“Is it me or have the uniforms of the mighty Spartan army grown absurdly scant?”

“’Tis not you, my king,” Talos said. “A reduction in clothing is one of many changes I have made as of late to give the mighty Spartan army an edge over all challengers.”

“I never thought one could could go wrong with a good tunic,” Tyndareus said.

“All due respect, my king,” Talos replied. “But tunics are bulky and get in the way. Leather thongs allow for much freer movement.”

“And the capes?” Tyndareus inquired.

“Oh the capes are just badass,” Talos replied. “When our enemies spy the mighty Spartan army rolling up on them, they’ll be all like, ‘Damn, those bad ass Spartan muthafuckas be wearin’ the shit out of them capes!’”

“I see,” the king said. “And what other changes have you made?”

A miserable wretch covered in boils hobbled up to the party on his cane with a live chicken tucked under his arm.

“Huzzah!” the wretch said. “’Tis Good King Tyndareus! May the gods smile upon you, your majesty!”

“Step aside, peasant!” Talos said as he knocked the wretch over with his pinky finger and kept walking.

“A bit harsh, weren’t you?” the king asked.

“I don’t know where that lowly dog has been, my king,” Talos said. “He coughs on you, you get sick and before you know it I’m slitting my own throat to atone for my failure to protect the man the gods have selected to rule over Sparta. Now where was I?”

“The changes,” the king said.

“Ah yes,” Talos said. “I’ve given the men a robust schedule. Up before dawn for swordplay practice, followed by an afternoon of rubbing scented oils and lotions into one another’s rippling muscles, followed by an evening of slippery wrestling until we fall asleep.”

“That seems rather uh, homoerotic,” the king said. “Not that I’m judging.”

“Scented oils and lotions are good for the muscles, your highness,” Talos said. “It brings the gallons upon gallons of testosterone coursing through our veins to the surface and makes us stronger. I swear it has nothing to do with us enjoying putting our greasy hands all over each others’ firm, supple bodies.”

“I’m sure it doesn’t,” the king said.

“Also, I have trained the men to shout incredibly macho statements about themselves upon command.”

Talos snapped his fingers. “Spartans! Flatter yourselves!”

“I possess gigantic testicles forged from wrought iron by the hand of Hephaestus, God of All Blacksmiths, himself!” the first warrior shouted. “Ooorah!”

“Is that true?” the king asked.

“I don’t know that it is not true,” Talos said. “Spartans! Continue!”

“I can snap the neck of a griffin with nothing but the tight muscles of my buttocks!” the second Spartan shouted. “Ooorah!”

“That’s true,” Talos said. “I’ve seen him do it. Third Spartan, report!”

“I crave man ass all night and day!” the third Spartan shouted. “Oohrah!”

Talos rolled his eyes. “Third Spartan, that’s not really a macho statement about yourself so much as an interest in an, um, extracurricular activity that the good king doesn’t need to know about.”

“I’m sorry, General!” the third Spartan said. “I’ll think about it and get back to you! Oorah!”

“How does making them shout macho statements about themselves make them better warriors?” the king asked.

“Would you want to go up against an army of Spartans with such massive egos to compliment their oiled up muscles?” Talos asked.

“I should say…” The king stopped to cough in his fist. “I should say not.”

“My king,” Talos said as he stretched out his hand. “Please, let me assist you.”

“No,” Tyndarecus scoffed. “I may be old but I’m not dead.”

“I understand,” Talos said.

The party reached the port and waited as the royal ship drew nigh.

“My king,” the general said. “Far be it from me to question your wisdom, but I hope you know that the mighty Spartan army and I are infinitely loyal to the royal family. Should you ever desire to give the Dioscuri a break, we shall relish the chance to rescue Princess Helen the next time she is kidnapped by a pervert, which, given the way things have been going, will no doubt be sometime around next Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest.”

The king smiled and patted the general on the shoulder.

“Noble Talos. Never would I question your loyalty to my family or to Sparta, especially when you and the mighty Spartan army have proven yourselves time and time again on the field of battle, but Helen is by far the hottest chick in the world and I’m sure you will understand that I just feel more comfortable when she is in the company of her brothers as opposed to an army of outrageously strong egomaniacs with oiled up muscles and gallons upon gallons of testosterone coursing through their veins.”

“Oh, you need not worry, your majesty,” Talos said. “We are not interested in Helen in that way.”

The king was taken aback. “Seriously?”

“No doubt,” Talos said.

“But aside from her kin, Helen is desired by every being with a penis,” the king said.

Tyndareus raised a quizzical eyebrow. “I thought you said you dudes weren’t into other dudes.”

“I did not say we were not, not into dudes,” Talos replied. “Besides, I thought you said you weren’t judging?”

“I’m not,” Tyndareus said.

“Mighty Spartan army requirements are very strict about interpersonal relationships,” the general explained. “If we were into dudes, which I’m not saying we are, we couldn’t very well run around advertising the fact that we are into dudes now could we?”

“Ah,” Tyndareus said. “So you’re saying that you’re all into dudes?”

The general threw his hands up. “I didn’t say that.”

“Well,” the king said as he watched the ship come in. “I appreciate the offer, Talos, but I can’t take the risk that one of your men might be a switch hitter.”

“Not gonna lie,” Talos said. “The ninth Spartan warrior isn’t so much into dudes or chicks as he is into anything with a warm hole of any kind.”

“TMI, Talos,” the king said. “TMI.”

The ship docked. A contingent of sailors attached a gangplank to allow the occupants to exit the vessel.

“Princess Helen approaches!” shouted the first sailor from the ship’s deck. “Avert your eyes!”

“Shut your eyes!” the second sailor shouted as he walked down the gangplank. “Princess Helen comes this way!”

“What’s everyone on about?” the third sailor asked from his position the dock.

It was too late. All but the third sailor closed their eyes. That sailor, upon spotting the glorious beauty of Helen as she strolled down the gangplank with her brothers in tow, immediately went cross-eyed, became consumed by an orgasmic fit, then dropped to the deck.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me the Princess was disembarking?” the third sailor asked. “I soiled my tunic!”

“We did,” the first sailor shouted from the deck with his eyes still shut. “Clean the shit out of your ears!”

Helen spotted Tyndareus.

“Father!” the princess cried as she ran over and hugged the old man.

“Oh my darling daughter Helen!” Tyndareus said as he wept tears of joy. “I am so delighted that you survived this week’s kidnapping.”

“The Dioscuri rescued me from the crusty old fucks!” Helen proudly declared.

“Castor and Pollux!” the king said.

The Dioscuri took turns hugging their old man.

“Father,” Castor said.

“Father,” Pollux repeated.

“My heart swells with pride that you have saved your sister from yet another weekly kidnapping!” the king said.

“Yeah,” Castor said. “Not like there was anything else we’d rather be doing.”

“Right,” Pollux said. “Now let’s go nap for five minutes before some pervert nabs Helen and we do this shit all over again.”

Tyndareus frowned. “What…what is that? Are you boys using sarcasm on your father?”

“No,” Castor said.

“We’d never do that,” Pollux said.

Seconds later, the queen arrived with the royal niece and her contingent of Spartan warriors.

“I can block out the sun with my monstrous phallus!” the fourth Spartan warrior shouted. “Ooorah!”

“Yes, yes,” the queen said. “We all know you are all super gay. No one cares.”

Penelope was a curvaceous young woman. Tight in the waist, splatow in the other place if you catch my drift.

“Mother!” Helen said as she hugged the queen.

“Oh Helen!” the queen said. “We were so frightened that you’d been done in by those crusty old fucks!”

Helen let go of her mother and embraced Penelope. “Sweet cousin!”

Penelope spoke in a monotone that belied a demeanor similar to what you modern readers might refer to as “depressed brainy goth chick.”

“Whoopee,” Penelope said as she let her arms hang at her sides, refusing to return the hug. “Helen’s back, y’all. Let’s all drop what we’re doing and talk about this for three or four hours. Hooray.”

Talos squinted as he looked out across the sea’s horizon. “My king!”

Tyndareus looked up and joined his general in staring at a small blip that eventually turned into a ship.

“Is it a friend or foe?” the king asked.

“It…it bears the markings of a ship of Ithaca!” Audax proclaimed. “Surely it carries a friend.”

Castor and Pollux looked at each other.

“Oh come on,” the first brother said.

“It has to be…” the second brother replied.

Penelope flashed a rare smile. “Ithaca, you say?”

The royal family and the mighty Spartan rmy waited patiently until the ship reached the port.

A strapping young man with a full beard stepped out onto the deck and grinned.

“Whassup, beatches? Odysseus all up in Sparta’s ass! Woot woot!”

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The Illiad Rebooted – Chapter 2


Tyndareus, King of Sparta, sat sullenly upon his throne, ensconced in a crippling bout of depression so severe that even his three most ample slave girls were unable to break him out of it.

“More grapes, your majesty?” the first slave girl asked.

The king did not respond.

“Perhaps some wine?” the second slave girl inquired.

Tyndareus continued to wallow in his perpetual woe.

The third slave girl started to untie the string that held the top of her gown up when she was rudely interrupted by a pair of clapping hands.

“Begone, wenches,” commanded the most lovely and regal Queen Leda as she strutted through the chamber. “The king is in a state that only a queen can fix.”

The slave girls departed and Leda sat down upon Tyndareus’s lap. She ran her hand over her husband’s face, tickling his beard.

“Why do you suffer so, my king?” the queen asked.

“’Tis Helen,” Tyndareus answered. “Kidnapped once again under my watch and no doubt being forced to touch the super old wrinkly balls of Theseus and Peirithous as we speak.”

“Ugh,” Leda said. “Damn those crusty old fucks.”

“Tell me about it,” Tyndareus said.

“You need not concern yourself,” Leda said. “Castor and Pollux have never failed you.”

“Indeed they have not,” Tyndareus said. “Never has a father been blessed with a pair of twin sons as daring and brave as the Dioscuri. But I fear we ask too much of them, wife.”

“How so?”

“This week its the crusty old fucks,” Tyndarecus said. “Last week it was the Kraken. The week before that it was the minotaur. Leda, Helen is getting ridiculously hotter everyday and accordingly, no man or beast in all of Greece with a penis can control himself in her presence. If we continue to importune Castor and Pollux to save their sister every time she is kidnapped by a filthy degenerate pervert, they will never have lives of their own. They’ll never find wives. They’ll never have children. They will simply spend all of their time fighting perverts.”

Leda sighed. “I admit I never thought about it that way.”

“That’s because you never think of anyone but yourself,” Tyndareus said.

The queen stood up. “How dare you?!”

“How dare I?” Tyndareus asked.

“My betrayal was so long ago, dear husband!” Leda shouted. “Surely by now I have earned your forgiveness!”

Tyndareus took his wife’s hand. “So many nights I have laid awake begging myself to forgive you but alas…I don’t know if I will ever be able to.”

Leda stomped her foot on the marble floor. “It was Zeus! Fucking Zeus!”

The king stood up. He gritted his teeth and his face turned red. “In the form of a swan! How did you fuck a swan?”

“I don’t know!” Leda said. “I just did!”

“The logistics alone boggle my mind!” Tyndareus cried.

“Why must you insist on dredging up the past?” Leda asked.

“How did you even find yourself attracted to a damn swan?” Tyndarecus asked.

“Because it was Zeus in the form of a swan!” Leda said. “My darling, shouldn’t a woman be allowed a pass if she is seduced into adultery through the allure of a god?”

“Absolutely not,” Tyndareus said.

Leda folded her arms. “You’re going to stand there and tell me that if Aphrodite swooped down from Mount Olympus and begged you to go to town on her lady bits, you’d refuse?”

The king shook his head. “If we’re talking about Aphrodite in all her super hot goddess glory with her ginormous goddess titties, then yes, I’d most certainly lose control. But if we’re talking Aphrodite in the form of a duck, then no dearest, I would abstain. I love you enough to avoid fucking a duck. Alas, you did not afford me the same loyalty when it came to a swan. Call me crazy, but I believe we owe it to each other to avoid dalliances with water fowl.”

“It was still Zeus!” Leda protested.

“Ahhh, fi on thee woman,” Tyndarecus said. “I shall hear no more excuses for your swan fuckery.”

The king eased his weary bones back into his throne and let out an “oof!” upon landing.

“Besides,” Tyndareus said. “Your sordid infatuation with swan penis…”

“It was an infatuation with the greatest of all the gods!” Leda snapped.

“It does not matter,” Tyndareus said. “All that matters now is that is that I have failed our children and failed them miserably.”

Leda returned to the king’s lap and gently stroked her hand through her husband’s hair. “Oh my love, you are not a failure. How could Castor and Pollux have become such gallant fighters were it not for the training you provided them?”

“A fine point,” the king said.

“And who kept Helen safe for so many years until your advanced age forced you to turn the burden over to the Dioscuri?” Leda asked.

“I did,” the Tyndareus said. “But that is the point, my queen. Sooner or later, we all find ourselves dragged into the underworld. I can burden our sons no longer and yet, who will ensure our beloved Helen is safe when I die?”

Leda held Tyndareus in her arms. “A most vexing question, but one you will surely answer. You are a noble man, Tyndareus. Few men in your position would have found it in their hearts to raise Helen as their own.”

“She must never know that I am not her father,” Tyndarecus said. “You must never tell her.”

“I would never do such a thing,” Leda said. “And as far as I am concerned, you are her father, for that sleaze bag Zeus never once called, or wrote me a letter, or even offered to pick up a bill or two.”

“Fucking gods,” Tyndareus said.

“Alas,” Leda said. “I fear the more Helen learns about science, the more likely it will be that she will do the math in her head and reach the conclusion that her astounding beauty could only be the result of an illicit union between a woman and the greatest of all gods in the form of a swan. That’s just science.”

Tyndareus slammed his fist down on the arm rest of his throne. “Blasted science!”

“You can’t argue with science,” Leda said.

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How the West Was ZOMBED -Chapter 7


Sundown was the busiest time to visit the Bonnie Lass. Men had needs and Miss Bonnie’s gals aimed to please. Like prize peacocks, they strutted their stuff around the saloon floor, adept in the art of separating lonely men from their money.

Most of those men were lonely for a reason. Ugly, mean, miserable, alcoholic slimeballs without a dime to their name and no accomplishments to speak of.

Of course, in any brothel, there’s the occasional man who isn’t so bad but just can’t get out of his own way when it comes to chatting up a member of the fairer sex.

Once in awhile, there’s even a man who, despite all the odds against him, charms the ladies into having a good time.

Doc was one of those men. A scotch in one hand and a cigar in the other, he sat in a comfy chair in a back corner. Martha and Annabelle sat in front of him, listening intently to every word Doc had to say. Jeanette, an import all the way from Paris, claimed Doc’s lap for herself.

“And so I said to the Queen, either you’re terribly ill, or you need to return these mangoes to your grocer immediately!!!”

The ladies lapped it up. “Oh Doctor,” Annabelle said. “You are too much!”

“What a life you’ve lived!” Martha added. “You really met Queen Victoria?”

“But of course, my dear, but of course!” Doc said, swirling his glass around. “A delightful woman I must say. She suffered from ghastly stomach cramps and not a single physician in London was able to properly diagnose her. Naturally, she sent for me, having heard of the yeoman’s work I did as personal physician to the Raj of India.”

Martha’s eyes lit up. “You’ve been to India? Get out!”

“I shall get it, madam!” Doc said. “The Raj.  What a fine fellow.  Oh, how I miss Calcutta.  The cuisine, the people, the festivities…oh! But I’ll tell you as wonderful as my time there was it pales in comparison to the wonders of the world I saw while I traveled throughout Africa with the Bushmen of the Kalahari.”

“My stars,” Annabelle said, clutching her hand over her heart. “What were they like?”

Doc puffed on his cigar. “Splendid gentlemen the lot of them. They had an aversion to trousers but in that heat, who can blame them really? Do you know that one day I spotted a hungry lion who was gazing upon one of the children as if he were a particularly tasty snack?”

“No!” Martha and Annabelle said together. Jeanette wasn’t much of a talker. She preferred to wiggle her hand between two open buttons in Doc’s shirt and play with the fast talker’s chest hair.

Doc closed his eyes. “Oh ladies, please, I’d rather not discuss it…”

“Please!” Martha begged.

“No, no, you’ll think me a blowhard when all I did was what any man in my position would have done.”

“Land sakes alive, Doc!” Annabelle said. “Now we gotta know!”

“Oh, if you insist!” Doc said. “I socked the unruly beast in the nose, strangled it to death with my bare hands and now its gruesome head adorns the wall of my family’s summer cottage in Nantucket. The tribe was so pleased that they made me an honorary Bushman of the Kalahari!”

“They did?” Annabelle asked.

“Indeed, and between you and I, my dear…”

Doc paused for a moment then leaned in to revel in the transfixed look on Annabelle’s eyes. “…I’m well versed in the ways of the bush.

Annabelle pondered that statement for a second, then covered her mouth and playfully slapped Doc’s arm. “You’re terrible!”

“I know my dear!” Doc said as he took a sip of scotch. “I’m so very, very wicked!!!”

More laughter. Meanwhile, the spirits of the three sad sacks at the bar weren’t as high as the good doctor’s.

“I will never trust a man that breaks bread with Injuns, no way, no how!” Blake said, nursing his beer.

“I don’t like it,” Burt said. “Something’s fishy about the whole thing.’

“Aww hell, we all look like cowards now,” Waldo said. “You know, I bet that’s why Slade recruited them Injuns to help him in the first place! Just to make us look bad.”

Miss Bonnie, all dolled up in red can can dress, bellied up to the bar.

“Jesus H. Christ, the three of you put together don’t have enough brain power to warm up a biscuit. The only reason why the Marshall reached out to those Injuns was because none of you would lift a finger to help him and don’t you forget it.”

Bottle crack. Chair smash. The first rigged card game related fight of the evening.

Ernie Gunderson swore he saw a spare King of Hearts drop out of Mitch O’Connell’s sleeve, but Mitch steadfastly maintained his innocence with an uppercut to Mitch’s jaw. Tim Shea, never one to miss out on a good fight, lifted his bottle high in the air and was about to bring it down on the first head he could find when a perfectly placed shot shattered it into pieces.

The chaos stopped and all eyes were on Miss Bonnie, who was now holding a smoking derringer. In her rebuke to the crowd, she started out slowly, then built her way up to an ear splitting crescendo.


Hats were off and heads hung low. The collective response? “Sorry Miss Bonnie.”

The proprietor tucked her piece back into her garter belt. The degenerates returned to normal, or, as normal as they got.

Doc, upon hearing the shot, had ducked for cover and sent Jeanette crashing to the floor in the process.  He stood up and dusted himself off.

“Pardon me, ladies,” he said. “Reflex action, you see from…from…”

The ladies waited for an answer.

“From my days in the service of President Lincoln! Yes, that was it exactly!”

“You?!” Martha asked. “Worked for Lincoln?”

Doc grabbed his forehead as if he was suffering from an traumatic mental burden.

“Oh, yes…yes, my dear I was the President’s Chief Medical Advisor but please don’t ask me to relive that tragic day. I swear I pummeled John Wilkes Booth within an inch of his life but his six henchmen overpowered me.  Oh, how I pray that one day I shall be able to forgive myself.”

“Booth had henchmen with him?” Annabelle asked. “I never knew that!”

“Oh my dear,” Doc said as he wrapped an arm around Annabelle. “There are so many things about this world that the powers that be keep from you that if I were to tell you half of them your faith in humanity would be shaken to its very core.”

“Gosh,” Annabelle said. Martha, not to be outdone, took Doc’s other arm.

Jeanette finally woke up. “Sacre bleu!”

“Ladies,” Doc said.  “I don’t mean to intrude, but have you ever been properly examined by a Harvard trained professional?”

“I can’t say that I have,” Martha said.

“Me neither,” Annabelle added.

“Come then,” Doc said as he led the trio upstairs. “Let us retire to more comfortable quarters for I’ll have you know I am a master of the gynecological arts and when it comes to your health and well being I will leave nothing to chance!”

“Oh my,” Martha said. “This sounds serious.”

“Medical matters are always serious,” Doc said. “But don’t worry, my dear, I’ll give the three of you a discount rate for my services.”

“That’s mighty generous of you doctor,” Annabelle said.

“I know,” Doc replied. “I truly am devoted to my patients.”

Martha pulled a roll of bills out of her brasserie and handed it over to the physician.

“Will this be enough?”

“Hmm,” Doc said. “It’s a good start and you have an honest face. I’ll just bill you for the rest my dear.”

“Oh thank goodness,” Martha said.

“Trou du cul,” Jeanette said, rubbing the sore spot on the back of her head from when Doc dropped her on the floor.

Back at the bar, Miss Bonnie was pouring over a wad of cash, counting up the evening’s haul. It was a good one, as per usual.

The double doors parted ways and in walked Slade.

Yup. The joint was filled with men with needs and even the fine, upstanding Marshall wasn’t any different. As our hero and Miss Bonnie traded glances, it became clear that one thing and one thing only was on the Marshall’s mind.

Miss Bonnie had something that Slade desperately needed and he wasn’t going to leave without it.

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How the West Was ZOMBED – Chapter 2


The Bonnie Lass. It was named for its owner and proprietor, one Miss Bonnie Lassiter, declared by the populace to be the most beautiful woman in all of Highwater. A wood carved outline of her sultry shape adorned the sign hanging above the swinging set of double doors to her saloon.

Gunther strolled on in.

Drinking. Gambling. Wine, women, and song. Women especially. Ladies of the evening, even though it was daytime.

A fight over a fixed card game was in full swing. Grown men punched one another and slammed their opponents in the back with wooden chairs that conveniently splintered and cracked into pieces upon impact. There was even a fair amount of glass bottles being cracked over heads with reckless abandon.

The ladies were quite bored with it all. They milled about the bar, clad in fancy, frilly lace dresses, their hair done up perfectly, faces painted like works of art.

“Hey,” Gunther said.

No one paid the old man any mind.


Still nothing. Gunther pulled out his sidearm and fired a round into the air. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at the codger.

“That’s more like it,” Gunther said.

“GODDAMN IT, GUNTHER!” came Miss Bonnie’s sweet though presently angry voice from upstairs. “WAS THAT YOU?”

Embarrassed, Gunther removed his hat and held it over his heart. “Yes, Miss Bonnie.”


Gunther hadn’t really thought about it. “I’m sorry, Miss Bonnie.”


Gunther hadn’t thought about that either. “Yes, Miss Bonnie,” he said. “First chance I get.”


“Point taken, Ms. Bonnie.”

The cowboys let go of the various headlocks and holds they had on one another and gathered around the deputy.

“Gents,” Gunther said. “As you’re all well aware, the Buchanan Boys are on the way and old Smelly Jack Buchanan himself has put out the word that any man who stands in the way of his lootin’ and robbin’ and rapin’ and what have you is a dead man.”

Gunther stretched his boney arm toward the swinging doors.

“Out there on our main thoroughfare stands our man of the hour, Marshall Slade.” There was a tinge of pride in Gunther’s voice. “Who among you is man enough to stand with him?”

The room grew quiet. All the men looked at the walls, their boots, anywhere to avoid looking directly at the man who was about to lecture them.

“Well golllll….eee,” Gunther said. “Don’t y’all go and volunteer at once now, I’ll never be able to count everyone up.”

The general feeling in the room grew grim. The men were ashamed of themselves. They knew it. Gunther knew it. He did his best to play on it.

“This is our town, ‘aint it?” Gunther asked. “We built it, didn’t we? Who in tarnation does Smelly Jack think he is, that he can just waltz in here like he owns the place and take everything that ‘aint nailed down?”

Waldo Fleming, who in addition to his employment as the Bonnie Lass’ bartender served as the town’s illustrious mayor, was a goofy looking sourpuss. Hair parted straight down the middle, buck teeth and he always looked like he was sucking on a lemon.

“Ahh, hell, Gunther,” Waldo said. “Who are you to bullshit us about standing up for what’s right? Why, I’ve seen you and every other Marshall before Slade hightail it out of town like cats with their tails stuck between their legs whenever shit got bad. You’re just as yellow as the rest of us!”

Shock. A look of total shock took over Gunther’s face. “Them’s fightin’ words, ya’ ornery son of a motherless goat!”

“It’s the truth!” Waldo fired back.

Gunther put his hat back on. “Mayyyybe it’s the truth,” he said. “Or….” The old man raised a finger in the air to make a point. “Maybe, just maybe, I never had faith in any other Marshall we had before like I do with the one we got now.”

The group of degenerate barflies mulled that one over for a spell.

“Do you really?” Waldo asked.

The old man never could bluff. “No,” he said. “But he’s the first Marshall crazy enough to stand up for us and we can’t very well let him do it on his lonesome now can we?”

Martin Blake was a ranch hand who worked on a spread on the outskirts of town. He never failed to spend his pay at the Bonnie Lass, or to offer his two cents in any discussion.

“Slade’s an asshole,” the burly brute said as he slammed his beer mug down on his table.

Gunther spun around so quickly his fake eye almost popped out of its socket.

“Did you just say what I think you said you lousy, good for nothin’ sack of…”

Blake stood up and rested his hands on his big brass belt buckle. “Yeah, I did,” he interrupted. “Slade’s a fool. He’s gonna get everyone in town killed. He oughta stand down. That’s all a man can do when he’s up against a crew of roughnecks. Let Buchanan have his way with the town. Anyone who tries to stop him is just going to piss him off and egg him on to kill more innocent people.”

Claps. Foot stomps. Shouts of “Here, here!” and “‘Atta boy!'” and so on. The crowd was with the ranch hand.

“Stand down,” Gunther said. “That’s what y’all think the Marshall, our duly designated officer of the law, ought to do, is that right?!”

“YEAH!!!!” said literally everyone.

Gunther stopped by the bar, picked up an abandoned beer, and swilled it down. He didn’t care who it belonged to. “So that’s the path this country is on now, is it?”

He stepped back to the center of the room. “Well, is it?”

Burt Townsend, the local blacksmith, stood in the corner with his back against a support beam, an apron full of soot and a face weathered by too much time near a hot fire. “Blake’s right, Gunther. Slade’s playing a dangerous game here.”

“I can’t believe my own ears,” Gunther said. “What a sorry sack of so and so’s y’all have become…that y’all are such a bunch of weak kneed, lily livered spineless swine that you’ve tricked your soft, sad little mush brains into believing the bad guy isn’t Smelly Jack. That Marshall Slade is the bad guy here.”

The old timer paced back and forth as he continued. “That our town being sacked is just part of life in the West, something we should just become accustomed to, like tornados and coyotes and the like? Is that it?”

“Yes,” Townsend said. “Sorry, Gunther, but that’s exactly it.”

Waldo and Blake had always been degenerates, but Townsend had always been a reputable individual. His words hurt Gunter a little more. What really hurt though was that the old man secretly agreed with the crowd, but he wasn’t about to give them the satisfaction of letting them know that.

From upstairs came the sound of footsteps moving around, followed by a door opening. Miss Bonnie herself, in all her fiery red haired, big blue eyed, attractive and sensual glory, burst out of her bedroom wearing scandalous black lingerie that left little to the imagination.

She leaned over the bannister and looked down toward Gunther. “Is Rain in trouble?” she asked.

Gunther nodded then quickly averted his eyes, scanning about the room to find anything, anything at all to look at other than the scantily clad beauty. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested but rather, he still considered himself a married man, even though his darling Mavis had passed on a decade prior.

“Yessum,” he said. “A bit of a spot.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Miss Bonnie asked.

That question elicited an endless supply of laughs from the lecherous losers.

“Why no, Ma’am,” Gunther said. “On account of you being…well…a…”

“What?” Miss Bonnie asked.

Just then, Roscoe Crandall, a tall, gangly looking doofus who loaded crates at the mercantile, ran out of Miss Bonnie’s bedroom with his pants around his angles, his pink polka dotted drawers on full display.

“Dammit, woman!” Roscoe yelled. “I ‘aint finished yet!”

Roscoe made a move to grab the little lady but ended up being grabbed himself. He was then thrown over the railing and down to the saloon’s main floor, where luckily for him, a table broke his fall.

“You’re finished when I say you’re finished, pervert!” Miss Bonnie shouted.

“I…I want…my money back,” Roscoe managed to say before he passed out.

“NO REFUNDS!” Miss Bonnie hollered. She turned back to Gunther. “You were saying?”

“Well,” Gunther said. “No doubt you can handle yourself, Miss Bonnie, but I just don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night if I went and put a woman into harm’s way is all.”

The redhead turned around. “I figured as much. Tell Rain I’m rooting for him just the same.”

And with that, the wealthiest woman in Highwater returned to her room and shut the door.

Gunther used his one good eye to give the contingent of cowards the evil eye.

“May it never be forgotten that the only one of you with the decency to offer a helping hand was a female,” the old man said.

Gunther knew it. The whole room knew it. Every man in the joint put his head down in shame, except for Roscoe. He was fast asleep.

“Pathetic,” Gunther said as he headed through the double doors. “PA-THET-IC!!!”

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