Tag Archives: westerns

Remember the Zombamo – Introduction


Jim Bowie. Sam Houston. William Travis. Davy Crockett. Juan Seguin.

When the West was young, a series of unlikely events occur, pushing these men to Texas as if guided by a well-intentioned divine hand.

Texas is in a state of revolution as Texans decide that the dictatorial rule of Mexican President Santa Anna can be stood for no longer.

Four out of the five will throw down against a vampiric Santa Anna’s army of zombies at the Alamo, defending the old Spanish mission with their lives and fending off the evil that lies below it – an evil so powerful it could consume the planet.

The fifth will later confront Santa Anna’s zombies on the field of battle.

Will our heroes save the day? Find in the first book of BQB’s Zombie Western Series.

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A Note on Remember the Zombamo


Hey 3.5 readers.

Well, I’ve done it again.

I’ve started a new story before finishing my other open stories.

Oh well.  I’ve been thinking about Zombie Western for months now, how to tie it all together and I finally decided I need to go way, way, way back in time to the early 1800s, to the Battle of the Alamo to get things started.

One thing I want to make clear – I’m lying…a lot.

You should take nothing I say in these books as historical fact.

If you read these Zombie Westerns and are inspired to look up the actual history in books written by actual historians then I’m glad.

But I am doing a whole helluvalot of fibbing just to fit everything together in a tale that is interesting to the reader.

Santa Anna, for example, is getting lied about a lot:

  • He did fend off a Spaniard invasion at Tampico but he did not lose his leg until long after the Battle of the Alamo.  He lost his real leg in a battle against the French.  He then lost his prosthetic leg while trying to retake Texas in the 1840s.
  • However, for purposes of this story, him dying in the beginning and then being brought back by a vampire seemed like a good way to begin and to introduce the readers to, “The Legion” the evil organization that commits heinous acts throughout the series.  So I rewrote history to make him lose his leg much earlier.
  • He didn’t kill Guerrero or Bustamante.  He did engage in dictatorish activity, but the scene where he kills these two didn’t happen.  I figured the presence of werewolves and vampires would have caused you to draw that conclusion but just making sure.
  • He did have a General Urrea who was a good soldier but stood up against bad things, i.e. saved some Texans from Santa Anna’s execution orders as he thought they was a violation of basic rules of war to execute opponents who have given up.  So at the start of this story I had a fiction General Arroyo and then I changed it to Urrea.  My plan is this is a human who remains loyal to Santa Anna until he can’t bring himself to support him anymore. Not sure if I’ll keep him as Urrea or perhaps I’ll avoid maligning Urrea by reverting to the fictional Arroyo.  Also, Urrea sounds like a penile disease.
  • Going forward, we’ll see the lives of Jim Bowie, William Travis, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett, what they were all doing pre-Alamo and what events led them to end up in Texas.  There will be a lot of grabbing at history and/or mythology interspersed with made up stuff to keep the story going.
  • If (when?) I publish this book I’ll make a series of posts sharing the real history and how I made it fake history so hopefully people won’t believe the parts I made up, except for the shit about zombies, because that totally happened and your history teacher was probably working for the Legion when he didn’t tell you about the zombies at the Alamo.


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Remember the Zombamo – Chapter 4

December 1829

The Palacio Nacional was an astounding piece of architecture. Though by the 1800s it featured balconies, columns, porticos and other European style features, there were parts of the structure that dated back to the Aztec King Montezuma II.

But at this particular moment of history, there was no time to appreciate a fine building. Rival factions had gathered outside and violence was underway.

“Guerrero is the rightful ruler of Mexico!” cried one of the president’s supporters. “Down with the traitors!”

“Fool!” shouted a supporter of the vice-president. “Bustamante will lead us into prosperity!”

Torches were brandished. Rocks and bricks were thrown. Heads were busted. Fists flew.

A shot was fired.

“Insolent rabble!” shouted Colonel Urrea as he stepped down from his horse. “Cease this disruption of the peace and make way for the general so that he may sort out this matter at once!”

The opposing sides were ready to tear each others’ throats out over their disagreements, but they were united in their respect for Santa Anna. As the general marched up the steps in his dress uniform, the crowd gazed upon him in sheer reverence.

The general, the colonel, and Isadora entered the palace in lockstep with a dozen soldiers trailing them.

“General,” the Colonel said. “These past few months in your service have certainly been an adjustment. Your foray into the, well, for lack of a better word, ‘the occult,’ has certainly taught me many dark secrets about our world.”

“Your loyalty is has always been your greatest virtue, Colonel,” Santa Anna replied.

“Yes,” the Colonel said. “And I must admit, it has taken me some time to get used to your new ‘advisor.’”

“Isadora’s advice has proven invaluable,” Santa Anna said.

“Right,” Colonel Urrea said. “But general, you are about to walk down a path from which you will never be able to come back from.”

The general placed his hand on a doorknob. “My dear friend, why would I ever want to come back from this?”

Santa Anna opened the door and entered the presidential library, a large room with walls lined with bookshelves holding ancient volumes and dusty old tomes.

On one side of an old oak conference table sat Vincente Guerrero, the tall, dark, brooding president. Two guards stood to his left. Two more stood to his right. All four men were loyal to the smug, smarmy looking vice-president Anastasio Bustamante, who was sitting across the table.

“You have signed your own death warrant, Bustamante,” Guerrero said. “I will enjoy seeing you swing from the end of a rope.”

“Oh come now, Vincente,” Bustamante said. “You’re in no position to make threats.”

Santa Anna’s troops spread out throughout the room.

“What is the meaning of this?” the general asked.

“Ahh,” Guerrero said with a grin. “Thank God! Santa Anna, this vile dog has dared to betray the will of the people.”

“Such drama,” Bustamante said.

“I won the election,” Guerrero said as he thumped his chest with his fist. “I chose you as Vice-President to make peace with your supporters and you reward me with a treacherous coup.”

“OK,” Bustamante said. “Yes, I’ll admit you make a good case that this isn’t very democratic but sometimes in a democracy the people must be prodded in the right direction and if they’re incapable of realizing that you’re little more than a common street charlatan…”

“Enough!” Santa Anna shouted.

The general looked to the guards. “You men. You are soldiers of the Mexican Army. I gave no order for an insurrection.”

The soldiers stayed quiet. Bustamante answered for them.

“Obviously I didn’t tell you that I was planning to overthrow this gorilla stuffed in a suit…

Upon hearing that remark, Guerrero attempted to stand up but was immediately shoved back down back the guards.

“…because you might have warned him. But now that the deed is done, Antonio, you’ll have to make a choice. Him or me.”

“Yes, mi amor,” Isadora said. “Who will it be?”

Santa Anna withdrew his pistol and aimed it at Guerrero. After a few seconds of hesitation, the general moved his weapon and pointed it at Bustamante.

“Oh, fuck it,” Santa Anna said as he held out his free hand. “Colonel, your sidearm.”

Urrea was perplexed but good solider that he was, he followed orders and placed his pistol in the general’s hand.

“Stop toying with us!” Guerrero hollered.

“Yes,” Bustamante said as he pounded his fist on the table. “Who will you side with?”

Santa Anna pulled both triggers. Holes opened in the heads of both men. Their bodies slumped forward in spent heaps.

“Neither of you,” Santa Anna said as he handed the pistol he borrowed back to the colonel.

The guards who had been loyal to Bustamante drew their swords. Santa Anna looked to his troops.

“Dispatch them.”

To the great horror of Bustamante’s men, the twelve soldiers that Santa Anna had brought with them flexed their muscles and burst out of their clothing. Fur sprang out of their bodies as they grew to well over seven feet tall. Snouts, long, sharp teeth, black noses, long claws.

The vice-president’s men were instantly ripped to shreds. One of the werewolves looked towards Santa Anna.

“Search the palace,” Santa Anna said. “Round up all who sided with the vice-president. Those unwilling to pledge their allegiance to me shall be executed.”

The werewolf nodded and he and his furry brethren were off.

“I must say, Isadora,” Santa Anna said. “Had your new werewolf recruits been in my service years ago, so many battles could have been won low these many years.”

“Yes,” Isadora said. “But do not forget they are only as loyal as your pockets are deep so never neglect to pay them and you’ll find they’re worth their weight in gold.”

The she-vamp caressed the cheek of a very frightened looking Colonel Urrea. “It’s the loyalty of this one that I worry about.”

“Is she right?” Santa Anna asked.

“No,” the Colonel said. “I serve Mexico and whoever happens to be in charge of it at the moment, in good times and in bad.”

Urrea looked around the room and grimaced at the multitude of dead bodies. “I just wish there was more good.”

Santa Anna rested his hand on the Colonel’s shoulder. “That’s good enough for me, General.”

“I’ve been promoted?” Urrea asked.

“We both have,” Santa Anna said.

The trio of Santa Anna, Isadora, and Urrea left the library and exited the palace. Outside, the rabble was just as rambunctious as ever, but they quieted down for Santa Anna.

“Good people of Mexico,” Santa Anna said. “After a thorough investigation, I determined that the president and the vice-president were a duo of filthy corrupt criminals whose misdeeds are far too voluminous too mention at this time. Therefore, I was left with no choice but to pass summary judgement upon them and execute them both on the spot so that they may never trespass against this great nation again.”

Hushed whispers could be heard throughout the crowd.

“As the nation’s chief military officer, I must, though it brings me no joy and is a terrible burden, assume the position of president,” Santa Anna said. “Further, in order to bring about order in the wake of this chaotic ordeal, I am left with no choice but to dissolve the Constitution of 1824 as well as all rights and privileges listed therein until such time as I determine that order has been restored.”

Urrea leaned into Isadora’s ear and whispered. “They’ll never go for it.”

“Oh ye of little faith,” Isadora whispered back.

“I realize this will result in a great deal of power being given to one and one man alone,” Santa Anna said. “But do not fear, my friends, for I have always served with honesty and dignity and will do so as your new president. From hereon, Santa Anna is Mexico and Mexico is Santa Anna!”

The rabble was silent and then…they cheered. Claps. Hoots. Hollers. Cheers. Chants of, “Santa Anna! Santa Anna! Santa Anna!”

“Dios mio,” Urrea said.

“Tell a confused mass that you’ll solve all their problems and punish the idiots who caused them and they’ll applaud you all day,” Isadora replied.

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Remember the Zombamo – Chapter 2


Hours later, the modest home of a simple villager had been turned into a makeshift battle hospital.

Doctor Sebastian Garcia listened to the patient’s heart with a stethoscope. The beats were slow and feint.

“We’re losing him,” the doctor said.

“Unacceptable,” Colonel Arroyo said. “The General is so loved by the people that our heads will be on pikes if he doesn’t live.”

“He has lost too much blood,” Doctor Garcia replied. “There is nothing I can do.”

The front door creaked open and an alluring woman emerged. She was dressed all in black with hair to match. Her eyes were stunning, her lips were red and full and a subtle beauty mark graced the lower part of her right cheek.

The Colonel turned his head toward the woman. “Leave, wench! You have no business here.”

“You will leave me alone with the general,” the woman cooed in a soft, sultry voice.

“Senorita,” the doctor said. “This is not a time for games. This is an important man and he is very ill.”

The woman’s eyes turned blank and blood red. She looked at both men intently, then slowly repeated, “You will leave me alone with the general.”

“Bien,” the doctor said as he walked out the door. “I suppose every man deserve’s a pretty woman’s company in his final moments.”

“Bahh,” Arroyo said as he joined the doctor. “Let’s leave them be. I need a drink.”

The door slammed shut. The woman’s eyes returned to normal as she stepped closer to the patient.

Santa Anna shivered and gritted his teeth as beads of sweat trickled down his forehead.

“Shhh,” the woman said as she ran her fingers through the general’s long, black hair. “All is well now, mi amor.”

The general’s hand twitched. The woman reached down and took it into hers. “Do you know my name?”

No response.

“Mi nombre es Legion,” the woman said. “Porque somos muchos.”
The woman rubbed her thumb up and down the back of Santa Anna’s hand. “But I suppose ‘Legion’ isn’t a very pretty name so you may call me Isadora.”

Isadora pressed her lips up against Santa Anna’s forehead and kissed.

“I have been following your career with great interest, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna,” Isadora said. “In my many years, I have never seen a man so willing to risk his life for his country.”

Santa Anna winced with pain. Doctor Garcia had cut away the chunks of flesh and bone, cleaned the wound and dressed it, but blood continued to pour out of it and stain the white bed linen.

“Do you do it for honor?” Isadora asked.

No answer.

“For country?”

No answer.

Isadora’s right eyebrow raised. “Do you do it for glory?”

No answer.

“I can work with glory.”

Isadora opened her mouth and two pointy fangs popped out.

“Fear not, novio,” Isadora said as she drew her mouth close to Santa Anna’s neck. “This will not hurt at all compared to what you have been through already.”

The vampire chomped at the patient’s throat, then sucked on his blood, feeding herself until the general was drained.

Santa Anna murmured one last “ungh” just before his heart stopped.

Isadora bit into her wrist, opening up two holes through, causing drops of blood to flow out.

The she-vamp pressed her wrist up against Santa Anna’s lips.


Santa Anna remained a still, lifeless corpse.

“Feed, mi amor,” Isadora said.


“Feed and all of Mexico will be yours.”

Like a wild animal, Santa Anna emitted a guttural roar. He sprang up in bed. His eyes turned red. A pair of fangs popped out of his mouth. Instinctively, he used them to cut into Isadora’s wrist.

A primal thirst had taken control of the general. He quenched it with Isadora’s blood.

She was a willing donor. As she watched her new plaything nourish himself, she could not help but laugh.

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Remember the Zombamo – Chapter 1



Tampico, Mexico

The Spaniards had returned for what they deemed was rightfully theirs. An army of two-thousand-six-hundred men loyal to King Ferdinand approached with rifles at the ready.

Sitting atop his horse, the middle-aged Colonel Javier Arroyo peaked at the uninvited guests through a spy glass.

“Madness,” the Colonel said. “General, we have no choice but to…”

Before Arroyo could say “surrender,” his commander, the brash, young General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was off, charging his steed towards the invaders with his saber drawn, a battle cry pouring out of his lungs, and hundreds of his own men in tow.

“Dios mio,” Colonel Arroyo said as he drew his saber and pointed it at the Spaniards. “Attack!”

The air grew thick with the scent of gunpowder as shots rang out from both sides. Swords clanged. Blood was spilled, staining the soil crimson.

Before long, the Colonel and the General found themselves fighting side by side.

“I find myself questioning your sanity, Antonio!” the Colonel cried as ran his sword through a Spaniard’s gut.

Santa Anna fired his pistol at one Spanish soldier, then, lacking sufficient time to reload, socked another square in the jaw with his bare fist.

“And I question your intestinal fortitude, Javier,” Santa Anna replied.


The general’s sword clanged against a Spanish rapier. Parry…parry…thrust! Another Spaniard down.

“Your guts!” Santa Anna said.

“There are too many of them!” Arroyo shouted. “There’s cowardice and then there’s using the head that God gave you!”

Pow! A Spanish cannonball emerged from a cannon perched on a hilltop, tore through the air, and landed twenty feet away, causing a contingent of Mexican soldiers to erupt in an explosion of blood and viscera.

Santa Anna picked up a dead Spaniard’s rifle and fired a shot, opening up a giant hole in the middle of a Spanish officer’s head.

“Fighting to keep what is yours?” Santa Anna asked. “If you think that’s a bad idea, then you’re the one who has something wrong his head, amigo.”

Pow! A second cannonball landed. It was closer this time. Ten feet away. More blood. More guts.

Arroyo ducked just in time to avoid getting his faced smashed in with the butt of a rifle. He returned the favor by jamming his sword through his opponent’s stomach.

“I think its a good idea to live,” Arroyo said.

“And you will,” Santa Anna said. “Trust me, tonight we will celebrate by…”

Pow! A third cannonball landed three feet away. It exploded.

The general was on the ground. His ears were ringing. His sight was blurry.

“Antonio!” Arroyo shouted as he fought his way to his fallen leader’s side.

Santa Anna looked to his left. A bloody, shredded leg laid in the dirt. Even with all the pain and confusion, he could tell the limb looked all too familiar.

The general looked down. His right leg was still there. His left leg was not. Scraps of flesh and bone jutted out of the left side of his pelvis where his leg once was.

“Antonio?” the Colonel asked. “Antonio!”

Santa Anna’s eyes closed and he slipped into a deep, dark state of unconsciousness.

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How the West Was Zombed = #170 on Wattpad Horror

That’s pretty high, 3.5 readers.

Please, if you have a minute, comment, like, etc and help push it up the ranks to increase my readership as my 3.5 readers are lonely.

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Movie Review – The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Guns. Horses. A town in trouble. White hats and black hats.

BQB here with a review of The Magnificent Seven.

So yesterday I railed against Hollywood reboots and now I’m going to be a hypocrite and tell you that I really enjoyed this remake of The Magnificent Seven (1960) starring Yul Brynner (dead), Charles Bronson (so dead), Steve McQueen (a badass even in death), Brad Dexter (also dead), James Coburn (totally dead), Horst Buchholz (the German James Dean who, like the American James Dean, is dead,) and Robert Vaughn (still alive, huzzah!)

Admittedly, I never saw the original, so the new version was new to me, which just goes to show that reboots are always new to someone and when the inevitable Back to the Future reboot comes out and some dumb kid asks, “There was an original BTTF?” then I will know my time has run out and it is time for me to dig my own grave, lie down, and wait for the worms to eat me.

But I digress.  The new seven are:

  • Denzel Washington as lawman Sam Chisholm
  • Chris Pratt as drunken gambler/comic relief Josh Faraday
  • Ethan Hawke as the troubled yet smooth talking Goodnight Robicheaux
  • Vincent D’Onofrio as grizzly mountain man Jack Horne
  • Byung-Hun Lee as knife thrower Billy Rocks
  • Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as mysterious Mexican Vasquez
  • Martin Sensmeier as Native American warrior Red Harvest

Peter Sarsgaard, who’s built a career on playing epic douches, stars as epic douche/evil businessman Bartholomew Bogue who notifies the townsfolk of Rose Creek that they have three weeks to sell their land to him on the cheap or be killed.

Not willing to roll over for Bogue’s chicanery, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett, who looks so much like Jennifer Lawrence that movie studios could save a bundle by hiring her instead of J-Law and no one would know but movie nerds like myself) scrapes her life savings together and uses it to hire the seven.

The first half of the film is basically Chisholm wandering the countryside recruiting the seven, during which time we learn about who they are and what they’re capable of and then this all leads to the second half, the ultra violent, action packed showdown.

I loved it. It had all the Western tropes that I love.  The townsfolk want to bend over and take it from Bogue rather than risk incurring his wrath.  Sigh.  Western townsfolk always want to take it from the bad guy rather than cooperate with the good guys. Also, there’s card playing, drunkenness, prostitution, duels, gambling and so on.

I applaud Hollywood for making historical movies at a time when they aren’t doing so well.  Earlier this summer, I enjoyed the Ben-Hur remake (meaning I’m a hypocrite again, though I hadn’t seen the original so it was new to me) but it did not do well at the box office.

I hope this film does well so that Hollywood will be encouraged to keep making historical movies.  In fact, you should go see it to add to the ticket sales.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.


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Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 45

shutterstock_131233601-copyWhack! Whack! Whack!

Aunt Lu buried her meat cleaver into a slab of beef and took a break, just long enough to spot Charlie and the Reverend carrying Jane’s sleepy carcass into the lobby.

“Good God Almighty,” Lu said as she met them. “Is Jane alright?”

Jane interrupted her snoring long enough to sing to herself.

“John Brown’s body lie a-molderin’ in the grave! Something, something’s marching…marching on…”

And she was out again.

“About as good as she ever is,” Charlie replied.

“Mercy,” Aunt Lu said. “She does like to start celebrating early doesn’t she?”

“Not sure she ever stops,” Charlie said.

Aunt Lu returned to her cafe. Charlie, with his arms locked underneath Jane’s armpits, and the Reverend, with his hands grasping Jane’s ankles, slowly carried their cargo upstairs, being careful to not bonk her head along the wall on the way.

“Is Miss Jane a believer? the Reverend asked.


“Have you ever heard her invoke the word of the Lord?” the Reverend inquired.

“She takes the Lord’s name in vein just about every hour on the hour,” Charlie replied. “Does that count?”

“Not as such,” the Reverend said. “But I do hate to see Miss Jane in this condition. I wonder if I could appeal to her with the good book?”

Upon reaching Jane’s room, Charlie sneaked one hand into Jane’s vest pocket, snagged her key and unlocked the door.

“You’re welcome to try,” Charlie said. “I fear she may just tell you where to stick your good book though, Reverend.”

Charlie and the Reverend hoisted Jane onto her bed.

“Many I have reached out to with the word of the Lord have done just that,” the Reverend said. “But once in a great while I’ll find that someone listens. Those people make my work worth it.”
Charlie struck a match and lit a candle, providing the room with dim illumination. He tugged on one of Jane’s boots until it was off, then did the same with the other. He set the footwear down neatly in a corner, then covered Jane up with an old, tattered blanket.
The Reverend looked around the room. There were no decorations, or pictures, or even much in the way of furniture. Just a bed, a table, and lots and lots of empty glass booze bottles…and one book.

“Perhaps Miss Jane is more pious than you think?” the Reverend asked as he held up the book.

Printed on the cover were the words, “Holy Bible.”

Charlie smirked, took the book from the Reverend, opened it up and pointed to some writing scrawled across the front page.

“For Jane,

May you pay more attention to this than I did and become all the better for it.

J.B. Hickok, 1868”

“Lovely gift,” the Reverend said as he set the bible down. “Certainly she must be a believer if she has held onto it all these years?”

“She’s um…very loyal to Bill,” Charlie said.

Jane shifted about. “Bill?”

“Shhh,” Charlie said. “Its ok.”

“Does Bill….need my help?”

“No,” Charlie said. “He’s fine. Go to sleep, now.”

Charlie waited a moment until Jane was out.

“Miss Jane looks rather peaceful like this,” the Reverend said.

“Yes,” Charlie replied as he blew out the candle. “Shame she’ll soon open up her mouth and ruin it.”

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Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 44


Charlie gently patted Jane’s back as she heaved, heaved and heaved some more.

“Jane,” Charlie said, attempting to get a word in edgewise between the hurls.


“I’m not a doctor…”

“Then shut the fuck uh…ughhhhh!”

“…but I’m pretty sure that when you throw up, its your body’s way of telling you that you’ve had enough liquor.”

“Oh, what do you know you uptight son of uh…uh….bleah!!!”

Perfect gentleman that he was, Charlie sat there, accepting Jane’s verbal abuse as she puked into the dirt.

Jane’s heavy breathing subsided. A cool sweat broke out all over her face. She sat back on the bench, sighing with relief.

“That all?” Charlie asked.

“I think so,” Jane replied. “Jesus H. Christ, a girl can’t get a little under the weather without getting a Sunday sermon around here.”

“This is more than just being a little under the weather and you know it,” Charlie scolded. “You need to drop the bottle and never pick it up again.”

Jane blew Charlie an impassioned raspberry. “Pbbbbhhht! Now you’re just talking crazy tah…ugh….ughhhhh!”

The cowgirl clutched her stomach and barfed all over the ground once again.

Charlie started rubbing Jane’s back again, only to have his hand slapped away.

“Hands off, pervert!” Jane cried.

Jane sat back and closed her eyes. “You love this, don’t you?”

“What are you on about?” Charlie asked.

“You love it when you can act all high and mighty,” Jane said.

Charlie rolled his eyes. “You know what? I’ll just leave then.”

“Oh shut the fuck up,” Jane said as she laid down on the bench. She let her hat hang down her back from the cord around her neck and crushed it with her back as she snuggled her head down on Charlie’s lap.

The businessman was pleasantly shocked.

“Don’t get any ideas,” Jane said.

“I won’t,” Charlie said. He stared down at Jane’s face. Her eyes were closed. She looked so peaceful until she spoiled it by talking.

“I mean it,” Jane said. “Keep your hands to yourself, Utter.”

“I will,” Charlie said.

“Just because in my temporarily ill state I require your doughy lap as a makeshift pillow does not mean that I am inviting you to have your way with me.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Charlie said.

“Good,” Jane said. “Because I’m not some kind of shameless hussy. And besides, you’re a married man.”

“Apparently not anymore,” Charlie replied.

Jane opened one eye. “The fuck’s that supposed to mean?”

“Louise,” Charlie replied. “She’s filed for divorce.”

Jane laughed and laughed until she grabbed her stomach to hold off the pain.

Charlie was chagrined. “Fine friend you are.”

“Well I don’t know, Charlie,” Jane said. “Here you are, poking your nose around in my personal business when you can’t even keep your missus happy.”

“‘Poking around in your business?’” Charlie asked. “That’s what you think I’m doing?”

“I do,” Jane said as she closed her open eye.

“I’m trying to keep you from killing yourself,” Charlie said. “It’s a tiresome burden that I wouldn’t wish on a dog if we’re laying our cards out on the table.

Jane’s voice grew weaker as she grew sleepier. “Land sakes alive, Charlie, you worry more than a ninety year old grandmother. ‘Granny Utter’ I ought to call you.”

Torn between his desire to dispense advice and to not get rebuked, Charlie sat there quietly for a while, enjoying Jane’s head in his lap as much as he could, given the circumstances.

“Why do you smell like a French hooker?” Jane asked.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You smell like a cat house on payday,” Jane said.

“Its cologne,” Charlie said.

“Smells like perfume,” Jane replied. “Unmanly if you ask me.”

“I didn’t ask you,” Charlie said. “And its better than smelling like…”

The mixed aroma of Jane’s festering puke pile on the ground, combined with her stank breath wafted into Charlie’s nostrils, but he caught himself before he could say anything unkind.”

“…I just like the way it smells.”

“You would you dandy,” Jane said.

Slowly but surely, Charlie reached his trembling hand down until it landed on Jane’s head. Hearing no protest from a woman who was never shy about offering it, he began to stroke his hand through Jane’s hair.

“The fuck you doing?” Jane asked.

“Oh, sorry,” Charlie said as he pulled his hand away. “My mother used to do that for me when I was sick. I thought it would help.”

“I didn’t say stop, dumb ass,” Jane said.

A thoroughly enthused Charlie continued to stroke Jane’s hair.

“But don’t get any ideas,” Jane added.

“Of course not,” Charlie said.

After awhile, Charlie asked, “Why do you do this to yourself?”

“Shut up,” Jane said.

“You have a job that you do well,” Charlie said. “You’ve got your beauty. You’ve got business partners that care about you. You’ve got your health if you’ll vow to put the cork in the bottle once and for all.”

“And I’ve got assholes,” Jane said.

“What?” Charlie asked.

“Assholes,” Jane said. “The world is full of them and they all stink. No pun intended. Wherever I go, whatever I do, there’s never a shortage of assholes waiting to tell me what to do, how to act, what to think and how to live my life. I can’t even rest on a goddamn bench without an asshole giving me his unwanted opinion about my affairs.”

Charlie sat there for a minute then perked up. “Oh, wait a minute. So you’re saying I’m an…”

Jane finished Charlie’s sentence. “…asshole. Yes.”

“Some of these um…uh…”

“‘Asshole,’ Charlie,” Jane said. “Jesus, you wouldn’t say ‘shit’ if you had a mouth full of it, would you?”

“Probably not,” Charlie said. “But anyway, some of these folks offering you their advice may have the best of intentions.”

“And some of them are just pieces of shit trying to overcome for their flaws by pointing out mine,” Jane said.

“I just don’t want you to die, Jane,” Charlie blurted out.

Jane opened her eyes and stared up at Charlie’s face, which, from her vantage point, was staring down at her more lovingly that she was used to.

“Appreciated,” Jane said. “But unnecessary. I can handle my liquor.”

“Clearly,” Charlie said.

“Well, Mr. High Horse,” Jane said. “Tell you what. If you can rid the world of every asshole in existence, then I won’t have to drink in order to avoid thinking about them.”

“That’s a tall order,” Charlie said. “Can’t you just ignore them?”

“Would that I could, Charlie,” Jane replied. “Would that I…”

Jane fell fast asleep. Charlie closed his eyes for a spell, until he remembered Bill’s request.

He nudged his compatriot.

“Jane,” Charlie said.

“Huh?” the sleepy cowgirl asked.

“We need to get you a cup of coffee because Bill wants us to meet him,” Charlie said.

Jane’s head shot up. “Bill? Bill needs me?”

“Yeah,” Charlie said. “But maybe you ought to take it slowly and…”

Jane sprang to her feet, puked once more, then collapsed on the ground.

“Oh Lord,” Charlie said.

The businessman dropped to his knees, lightly slapping Jane’s cheek to see if she was alright. “Jane? Jane?”

“Ughhh,” Jane groaned.

“Come on,” Charlie said. “Let’s get you to bed.”

“But,” Jane protested. “Bill…Bill needs me…”

“He’ll get along without you just this once,” Charlie said.

The familiar voice of the Reverend Weston Smith pierced the air as he made his way down the street.

“Sinners! Repent! Repent lest ye be judged unworthy in the eyes of God!”

“Say Reverend…”

“End your sinful ways! Reject gambling, drinking, fornication, wine, women, and song!”

“Reverend!” Charlie shouted.

The Reverend turned and saw Charlie kneeling over Jane.

“Oh Heavens,” the Reverend said. “Is Miss Jane alright?”

“Well,” Charlie said. “That question has a long answer but for now, nothing that a good night’s sleep probably wouldn’t cure. Help me get her to her room?”

“Of course,” the Reverend said.

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Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 43

Bill sat on a bench in front of the Grand Central Hotel, puffing away on a long pipe. He watched as the rings of smoke rose up into the night.

A friendly voice broke his concentration.

“Well, hello there,” Charlie said. “I’m sorry to stare. Can I pull up a chair?”

“Howdy Charlie,” Bill said. “Be my guest.”

“I’m glad you didn’t protest,” Charlie said as he took a spot on the bench next to his old friend.

Bill smiled. “Your mockery I detest.”

“I’m sorry,” Charlie said. “It was meant only in…”

The two compadres looked at one another then laughed. “In…in jest!”

Charlie slapped his knee and chuckled. Bill shook his head.

“Money is money, Charles,” Bill said. “There are worse ways to make it than by putting on a show.”

“Save more and you wouldn’t have to demean yourself,” Charlie said.

Bill pulled a small pouch out of his pocket. He took a few sprigs of tobacco out of the pouch, dumped them into his pipe, then struck a match to reinvigorate his smoke.

“Don’t start that, Charlie,” Bill said. “You’re not my mother.”

“I know, I know,” Charlie said. “Jane said the same thing to me this morning.”

The businessman pulled out a few bills and handed them over to Hickok.

“Speaking of, your pay for the latest ride, plus some extra because your name saved the day.”

“It did?” Bill asked as he took the money.

“Bandits,” Charlie said. “They tried to have their way with my brother and I…”

Bill raised an eyebrow. “Their way?”

Charlie nodded.

“Shit,” Bill said.

“Tell me about it,” Charlie said.

“Criminals just don’t have half the respect they used to,” Bill said.

“I blame the dime store novels,” Charlie said. “I really do. Filling their heads with all sorts of unsavory ideas.”

“I take it Jane saved you and Stephen from a terrible fate?” Bill asked.

“She did,” Charlie said. “That woman is worth her weight in gold.”

Charlie sat back and stared up at the stars.

“Something on your mind?” Bill asked.

“Huh?” Charlie replied. “No.”

“Cut the horse shit, Utter,” Bill said. “I’ve known you too long to not recognize when you’re worried about something.”

Charlie sighed. “Jane’s drinking. It’s getting worse. She’s going to kill herself if she’s not careful.”

Bill puffed on his pipe. “Then she kills herself.”

Charlie recoiled. “That’s it?”

“That’s it,” Bill replied.

“So you don’t care?”

“Of course I do,” Bill said. “But what am I supposed to do about it?”

“I don’t know,” Charlie said. “Talk to her. Make her stop!”

“I can’t make her stop drinking no more than I can make a wild mustang stop running across the plain,” Bill said. “She’s a grown woman. Smart. Resourceful. She knows what she’s doing. I dare say she even understands that for the sake of her health, she needs to stop. But she won’t until she wants to.”

“I don’t think she could if she wanted to,” Charlie said.

“Even so,” Bill said. “She’s such a free spirit that she’ll look at us as a couple of men trying to boss her around.”

“Not with you, Bill,” Charlie said. “She worships the ground you walk on. Me? She’d spit at me as soon as look at me.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Bill said. “I doubt she’d of saved your hide as much as she has if she didn’t care about it, Charlie.”

Bill sat quietly for awhile and puffed. “Do I detect that you seem to be interested in Ms. Cannary’s well-being a bit more than usual as of late?”

Charlie blushed. “What? No.”

“Shit,” Bill said. “You’re smitten.”

“I am not.”

“Bury those feelings deep, Charlie,” Bill said. “You’re a married man.”

Charlie retrieved the divorce papers Louise had sent him from his pocket and handed them over to Bill, who perused them.

“Petition for divorce?” Bill asked.

“Yup,” Charlie said.

“What kind of an incompetent judge would go and let a woman do such a fool thing?” Bill asked.

“I’m telling you,” Charlie said. “It’s the dime store novels. They’re turning people crazy.”

“Its her loss,” Bill said as he handed the papers back to Charlie.

“No,” Charlie said. “Its mine.”

Charlie tucked the papers back into his pocket. “I don’t blame her. A husband should be there for his wife. I am not.”

“Because you’re earning a living,” Bill said.

“Because I like to pretend I’m a frontiersman while paying other people to do my dirty work,” Charlie said.

“Works for me,” Bill said as he held up the bills in his hand.

“Apparently not for Jane,” Charlie said. “She let me have it about that.”

“She doesn’t mean it,” Bill said. “She wouldn’t keep riding with you if she did.”

Charlie spent a few seconds admiring his finely manicured nails.

“We seem to be talking a lot about Jane,” Bill noted.

“Yes,” Charlie said. “Say, Bill…”

Charlie hesitated and scratched the back of his neck to buy himself some time.

“Spill it,” Bill said.

“Suppose I…that is to say…”

“You’ve got it bad for Jane,” Bill said. “And now that your wife has cast you aside like a pile of rancid garbage, you’d like to know if I’d have any qualms about you pursuing our dear colleague in arms?”

Charlie grinned. “Well…do you?”

Bill scoffed. “I’m a married man, Charles. Why would I?”

“I don’t know,” Charlie said. “I’ve always sensed that she’s sweet on you. You probably could have her if you wanted to.”

“‘Wanted’ being the operative word,” Bill said. “I don’t mix business with pleasure. If you want to, be my guest, though I doubt…”

“Oh,” Charlie interrupted. “She’d never go for me I suppose.”

“Don’t take it personally, Charlie,” Bill said. “Like I said, ‘Jane’s a mustang.’ I’m not sure any man could ever tame her, so to speak.”

“And if someone ever did tame her then she wouldn’t be her,” Charlie said.

“You got it,” Bill said.

Bill puffed for awhile longer. “Charlie, if you can win the heart of one Miss Jane Cannary, I’ll be the first to congratulate. Personally, while she’s a fine gunslinger and there’s no one I’d trust more to watch my back, she’s the last woman I’d ever want as a wife.”

Charlie nodded.

Bill checked his pocket watch, then stood up. “And now, my friend, the hour is late, there is money burning a hole in my pocket, and my poker game awaits.”

“Just can’t wait to lose it all, can you?” Charlie asked.

“You’ll never take my advice about women,” Bill said. “And I’ll never take your advice about money. How we’ve stayed friends all these years I’ll never know.”

“No one else will have us I suppose,” Charlie said as he stood up.

Bill put his hand on Charlie’s shoulder. The gunslinger’s face grew grim.

“Listen…Charles. Find Jane and meet me at Nuttall and Mann’s Saloon, will you?”

“Eh,” Charlie said. “I’ll tell Jane but you know I have no interest in poker, Bill.”

“This isn’t about poker,” Bill said. “I have very important business to discuss with both of you.”

“Business?” Charlie asked.

“A grave matter that I must share with the two of you,” Bill said. “And I need to bring Jack and Crick in on it. I need to discuss it with all of you at once.”

“Is everything ok, Bill?” Charlie asked.

“I’ll explain it all tonight,” Bill said. “One hour. Don’t be late.”

Bill left and Charlie spent some time sitting on the bench, his mind lost in his woes.

Soon enough, Charlie’s thoughts were interrupted by an obnoxious lady belch.

“Brap! Well, well, well,” Jane said as she stumbled her way toward the hotel. “If it isn’t good ole Charlie Utter, sitting around like a bump on a…

Before she could finish that thought, Jane doubled over and vomited profusely, emptying the contents of her stomach all over the ground.

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