Thursday, September 8, 2011

John Wayne and “The Help”

John Wayne had opinions on most subjects and was not reluctant to share them. Among my favorite Duke quotes is “Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're STUPID.” Now I don’t know what Wayne would have thought about a recent discussion that took place on line among my writers’ group but I’ll bet the above quote might cover it.
I have my own personal John Wayne story that I’ll reveal at the end of this article. (In the TV world that’s called a tease.)

The writers’ conversation regarded a recent lawsuit and the bestselling book, now a movie, The Help by author Kathryn Stockett. According to an ABC news article, “Ablene Cooper, the longtime nanny for Stockett's brother, has filed a $75,000 lawsuit against the author, claiming she was upset by the book that characterizes black maids working for white families in the family's hometown of Jackson, Miss., during the 1960s.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Size Matters: The Last of the Longhorn Trilogy

Those who raise Herefords, Angus or one of many breeds of cattle think size matters. Longhorns tend to be as much as twenty-five percent smaller than Herefords or Angus. Since cattle are raised to produce beef and sold by the pound to the packing plant, assuming you start off by paying the same amount per head for Longhorns as you do the other breeds, it just makes sense to raise the heavier animals. Right?

Wrongo. What some ranchers overlook is that they are not selling beef. They are selling grass. They just ship it to market in a beef container. And how efficiently a bovine converts grass to beef is very important. So the question isn’t how many head of cattle you put on any given pasture, it’s how many pounds you put on that pasture and how many pounds you have at market time.

I submit that if you put the same number of pounds of Longhorns on a given pasture they will return the same amount, or more, beef as their bigger cousins. They graze more efficiently because nature taught them to survive on marginal forage. They are more heat tolerant so they will continue to graze through many a hot day. You drive through cattle country when the thermometer is topping eighty degrees and you’ll see cattle resting under shade trees or on the shady side of buildings and down in shady draws. They’ll stay there until it cools off. But not Longhorns. They’ll be on their feet, grazing the grass or browsing the brush. Oh, and by the way, most Herefords and Angus don’t browse. They’re too persnickety. They only use the brush for shade.

Longhorns also handle going without water better than most other breeds.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How Longhorns Saved My Writing Career

Last time I pointed out some misconceptions regarding Texas Longhorn cattle. Let me tell you how I became enamored with this great bovine breed. And then I’ll address some misconceptions that still exist.

In the early 80s our country was suffering a recession - not as bad as right now, but bad enough. After a blow-up with my partner in the La Veta restaurant we moved to Colorado Springs and I went to work for a builder. This turned out to be another blunder as interest rates climbed to 18 1/2%. After two years I was once again looking for a job. A friend owned a mining company and hired me to run their off balance sheet financing. In order to do this I had to get a securities license which entailed taking a nine month course in order to pass the SEC exam.

Meanwhile wife Cy (actually Cyrenne but no one calls her that) went to work as the bookkeeper for the Texas Longhorn Journal, based in the Springs, which was one of two full color, high dollar magazines that acted as the breed publications for the industry. Her bookkeeping job morphed into an advertising sales job and she started attending sales and shows around the country.

I occasionally went with her and started learning about the traits that these critters could bring to the cattle business. But I was astounded at the prices paid for Longhorns. Many breeders were Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado oilmen and money wasn’t an object. But that changed when the oil business tanked. Suddenly Longhorn prices were plummeting  and advertising sales were too. When you could sell one calf to pay for a full page, full color ad there were plenty of advertisers. When it suddenly took the sale of five calves to accomplish the same result advertisers were scarce as hockey player teeth. Cy was struggling and I was going to school in Denver every day. Things were getting tight.

Then the SEC changed the rules for off balance sheet fund raising and my job was made moot. I dropped out of the school and was home licking my wounds one day when Cy came home for lunch. Now I’m pretty good at reading her moods. Hell, Helen Keller could read her moods from a mile away. You’ve heard of people who wear their emotions on their sleeves? Cy’s spill over on to everyone’s sleeves and other body parts. She definitely had a mad on.

She plunked down in a chair and stared at me. “That sonofabitch.” I was very relieved. She wasn’t mad at me. She went on to explain that she had what she thought was a brainstorm. Longhorn prices were down but people still needed to advertise and sell them. Why not start an alternative to the glossy magazine by starting a tabloid paper. She had run some preliminary figures and felt that it could be done and allow ads that would cost 25% of those in the Journal. She had taken this idea to her boss. He had laughed at her and told her it was the craziest thing he’d ever heard.

So she looked me in the eye and said “Why don’t you and I do it?” I had a degree in communications. I thought “Hell, why not.” As they say, the rest is history. We started Longhorn World. Soon we were traveling all over the country attending Longhorn shows and sales and visiting ranches. Then we'd rush home and put out a monthly publication. We struggled at first but we gained momentum. Two years down the road the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America who had wanted their own publication for several years offered to buy us out and move us to Fort Worth to run a magazine for them. We jumped at it and started the Texas Longhorn Trails. We ran that magazine for several years before we moved back to Colorado to take care of my mother in 1991.

During those Longhorn magazine days my appreciation for the Longhorn grew. I know raisers of Hereford and Angus cattle will cite many downsides to the Longhorn as a beef animal. They make some points that are worth looking into. I’ll address them next time as I finish my Longhorn trilogy.

In the mean time don’t forget that NO MORE BULL is now available as a soft bound book and I am offering it to readers of my blog at HALF PRICE for the rest of August. Just click on

We’ll talk down the trail.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pre-publication offer

It's finally published. Eeeehah. After four plus years No More Bull sees the light of day. To all of you who have supported this effort - friends, acquaintances and fellow Pikes Peak Writers members - I want to thank you by offering you a signed copy at 50% off or $9.50 vs. $18.95, the price you'd pay at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Just click on the link below.

It will take you to McMillan Books which is the company my wife and I own to deal in rare and out-of-print books. We sell on line through ABE Books which, a subsidiary of Amazon. If you don't have an account with ABE it is easy to do and you will be shown how during the purchase process.

Just click on "Add to Basket." ABE takes most major credit cards
This offer is good for the rest of this month. If you wish a special message inscribed leave that under "Special Instructions" which you will find in the check out process.

If you wish to purchase No More Bull in a different manner you can email me.

Thanks for your support. Next time I'll get back to talking about Longhorns and other things featured in my story.

See you down the Trail


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Don’t Eat That Longhorn!

Last time I told about the steer I didn’t buy. You know, the twelve year old Longhorn steer that I expected to pick up for a few hundred dollars only to see the auctioneer pound his gravel at twelve thousand. I finished that article (I can’t help it, I spent too many years writing for a magazine, I just can’t get myself to use the B word) by saying that either those Longhorn folks knew something I didn’t, or they were crazy as hell.

 Well, they did know something I didn’t. They knew the Texas Longhorn, the animal that built the Western United States. You think that’s an exaggeration? Not so. After the Civil War millions of Texas Longhorns roamed the prairies and forests of Texas, most the offspring of cattle that had been abandoned by ranchers and farmers who went off to war. These were the survivors and that’s a key word. They are the bovine example of survival of the fittest. They learned to survive drought, insects, poor feed and predators like the panther and the wolf. If a Longhorn critter couldn’t survive those conditions they died - and so did their genes.

 When the war was over and the men returned (survivors in their own right) they had to make a living. The vast number of Longhorns provided a solution. For the next ten plus years these cattle were gathered (no small feat since they had been running wild for years) and trailed to railheads in Missouri and Kansas.

 Remember the Longhorns in John Wayne’s Red River? They were scrawny, temperamental and hard to handle. Oh, and by the way, most of those weren’t Longhorns at all.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

These Aren’t John Wayne’s Longhorns

I was asked last week, “Why are you using Longhorn cattle in your story?”  The implication was that I should be writing about REAL cattle. You know, the black ones or the brown and white ones instead of those scrawny, mean Texas Longhorns that John Wayne and all the other celluloid cowboys trailed through countless movies.

 My granddad raised Herefords - some registered, most not. He loved them and swore by them. So, I grew up thinking Herefords were the only cattle to have. I bought into the John Wayne image of Longhorns. Tough, scrawny, cantankerous, hard to handle, easy to spook. Who’d want to raise those things? Might as well breed wild cats and cross them with werewolves.

 When I moved to La Veta, Colorado (where, by the way, my mystery NO MORE BULL is staged) to take over a restaurant, I noticed there were several ranches in the area that ran Texas Longhorns. Of course most of them were owned by Texas oilmen, so that kind of made sense to me. I really didn’t give it a lot of thought. But I got my first up-close-and-personal moment with the breed when asked to cater a Longhorn sale. They would supply the meat. I would smoke it and prepare it for a barbecue with my “secret” sauce. Now, my first surprise came when I tasted the meat. It wasn’t tough and stringy. It was lean but really tender and tasty. I attributed that to my smoker.

 My second surprise came at the sale. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Ain’t No Lady Gaga

Nathan Bransford, a writer and former editor who now works for CNET, writes one of the most-read blogs in the publishing business. He visited the Pikes Peak WritersConference in Colorado Springs a couple years ago. That’s where I met him.

 Earlier this week he wrote about Self Promotion, how hard it is and why we have to do it anyhow. It’s like eating spinach. You hate it but it’s good for you. It’s a great article. You can find it at

 He’s right. Every time I sit at my computer to write my blog I cringe. I know I’m going to have to send emails to all my friends and acquaintances. I’m sure many haven’t bothered to read my ramblings. They might not even open my emails. I know I feel uncomfortable sending them. I hate to bother them by promoting myself. I ain’t no Lady Gaga.

 But Nathan’s article got me to thinking about one of the Characters I knew as a kid.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How To Properly Eat Rocky Mountain Oysters

In a previous blog I talked about how lucky I was to grow up in a community full of Characters. That’s Characters with a capital C. The benefit has been a long list that I can mine when creating characters in my writing.

Take Pat for instance. Pat was foreman on a local ranch. By the time I knew him he was probably in his early fifties. What you could see of his face under a crumpled and sweat-stained grey Stetson looked like he’d borrowed it from a well worn saddle - brown and creased and scuffed. His gnarly hands always protruded from a blue denim, snap-front shirt. Stubby legs bowed down to dusty boots with run down heels. I don’t know how he wore those boots out. He rarely walked. After all, he was a cowboy.

A hand rolled cigarette generally hung from the corner of his mouth. It would bounce as he talked. The string of a Bull Durham pouch hung out of his shirt pocket. He was gruff with that special Irish knack of creative cursing. His blue eyes always carried a twinkle.

Late spring was the roundup. Time to brand and castrate the new calves. From when I was about six until my mid teens I got to attend. First to keep out of the way and fetch anything I was told. Later to work with the friends, neighbors and cowboys who gathered for the event. Twelve years old was the magic number when I graduated to working in the pen.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Don’t Practice Milking on a Cow Dog

A question most fiction writers hear is: Where do you come up with your ideas for a plot or a scene?

I imagine each writer has his/her own answer. Me? I draw on real life. Stories I’ve heard from friends or acquaintances or events or situations I’ve experienced myself. Take the time I practiced milking on a cow dog. Not a good idea, by the way.

When I was four my mother was called to her parents ranch in Northern Idaho. My grandfather had a stroke, grandmother was ill and they needed help. Since dad was the bread winner and had a full time job I had to tag along with mom.

I was already a wannabe cowboy and was thrilled that I was going to stay at the ranch. I immediately started following the hired hand, Otto, every place he went. Annoyed the hell out of him I was told later.

A chore he had to repeat twice a day was milking the cow. I got as close as I could, but she was a saucy old gal with a quick left hoof. Otto made me stand back out of range, but I was close enough to see the action from the first tinny splank into the empty bucket to the last sploosh in the full one.

I wanted to do it. I pleaded. I cried. I made promises of future good deeds. I even tried bribing, but a four-year-old doesn’t have a helluva lot to bribe with. Otto stood his ground - or in this case his stool.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

ebook should be available next week

My galleys are off to the publisher. I am now formatting my book for Smashwords anticipating an ebook available next week. My publisher will handle placing NO MORE BULL on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and others I’m not familiar with. I’ll be making an announcement and releasing a press release, so you’ll know where you can get it if you are an ebook reader.


I was asked the other day, “How do you come up with ideas for the plot?” Having spent years around the livestock industry has given me a treasure trove of ideas and stories. Probably more than I’ll ever use.

When I do use them I sometimes have to change the names and places to protect the innocent - or guilty - as the case may be. Take the story of Darner Thompkins who you’ll meet about midway into NO MORE BULL. His story is based on a real incident that was told to me by a veterinarian. It didn’t take place in Pryor and the guys name isn’t Darner Thompkins. And I have exaggerated the size and capacity of the junk yard. But I think it’s a great story and wanted to tell it. Unfortunately much of it hit the cutting room floor. Darner’s tale was designed to show a day in the life of a veterinarian and doesn’t really help drive the plot. Plus I needed to cut my initial draft from 120,000 words to 95,000 words to meet requirements of a publisher.

However, having Gil go to Darner’s does feed the plot by placing Gil in a position to get in trouble. Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find out how.

But I thought my faithful followers might get a kick out of Darner’s complete story, so I have included it in this post.

Have a good week. I’ll talk with you next Thursday. I’m skipping Monday to not watch the fireworks. Dry around here you know.

“You’re in for a treat,” Janey told Gil.

“How’s that? 

“You get to visit Darner Thompkins.”  She said this like Ed McMahon introducing Johnny Carson.

“I’ll bite, who’s Darner Thompkins?” Gil asked.

“Darner Thompkins is one of Huerfano County’s premiere dairy owners.  His herd consists of one Holstein that he keeps at his junk yard south of Walsenburg.  It seems that his cow, who he lovingly calls Sally, is sick.  And so is Darner.  She’s the love of his life.”

Janey went on to fill in the saga of Darner Thompkins.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How I met Dr. Gil Tailor

I think most every fiction writer is asked at one time or another, “Where do your characters come from? Do you make them up? Are they people you know? Do you just change their names?”

Truth is, the characters in NO MORE BULL are a combination of the above. Dr. Gil Tailor for instance. He’s the protagonist in the three book mystery series that starts with NO MORE BULL. I have wanted to write mysteries most of my adult life. But, like most folks there was this thing called “life” that kept getting in the way. You know, little things like making a living.

I did, however, have time to read. The more I read, the more I wanted to write. I knew that I wanted to write mysteries. Many of the writers I enjoyed wrote series. Robert B. Parker’s Spencer and Jesse Stone series, John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee, Loren Estleman’s Amos Walker and Page Murdock to name a few.

I started thinking about developing a character that could sustain a series. I wanted him to have something to do with the livestock business. He needed to have a reason to be involved in situations that could allow bad guys and murder to flourish. For quite a while I thought he might be a brand inspector. But that put him IN law enforcement. I wanted him to be someone forced by circumstances to solve crimes.

And I wanted him to be a character.  Luckily I’ve been blessed with the kind of life that put me face to face with a bunch of Characters. (Notice the capital C.) Growing up in Cripple Creek, Colorado was a start. That town draws Characters like posys draw bees. Living in Wyoming and Texas helped too. Some of the Characters I have met are melted down and remolded into the folks in my stories. Some are pure imagination. But it wasn’t until one night at the Golden Bee Tavern, a part of the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, that I met Dr. Gil Tailor.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Galleys arrived. And Chapter four

I'm a happy camper. My Galleys arrived. For the uninitiated, Galleys are a trial print run designed to give publisher and author a solid idea on how the book will look when printed. It also gives me one last time to cure errors and screw-ups. So this week I'll be going over No More Bull one more time. Then it's off to be printed. I still don't have a solid date of publication, but soon covers it.

Thursday I'll reveal how Dr. Gil Tailor was conceived. For now let's just say that Jack Daniels is the godfather.

Now to keep your interest up, here's Chapter Four of No More Bull.

Chapter Four

            He followed Janey to the office. When he walked in Janey was holding the phone at arm’s length and pinching her nose as if smelling a skunk.

 “Mr. Oren Hansen.”

Gil felt like a fifty pound sack of feed had been dumped on his chest. Prominent in state politics and a well known authority on cattle, particularly Longhorns, Hansen owned the Holy Cross ranch where the bull that disappeared with Roscoe was raised. He was a walking example of the Napoleon complex. His pompous, pious attitude had worn on Gil like a twisted cinch. How the hell had Hansen heard already? And how did he know Gil was working here?

“You know him, I take it?” he asked Janey.”

“Oh, yeah.”  She closed her eyes and slowly nodded. “Take it in Dr. Bramlett’s office.”

At Bramlett’s desk in the back office, Gil gathered his wits, breathed deeply and stroked his mustache. He set his hat, crown side down, on the desk and picked up the phone.   “Dr. Tailor here.”

 “Gil, my boy,” boomed the familiar voice. “I lost track of you after you left Brush. How’ve you been?”

 “All right Mr. Hansen.  Taking things kind of one day at a time.”

Hansen lowered his voice. “I imagine. . . Son, I never did get a chance to tell you how sorry I was about your wife.  She was such a beautiful young lady and so full of life. Such a tragic accident.”

“Thanks, Mr. Hansen.”  Gil didn’t know what else to say.  Hansen had always been condescending and demanding to both he and his wife. The phony concern rankled.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting a handle on Road Rage

Road rage pisses me off. But I think I have discovered the reason road rage has proliferated in the last ten years or so. And maybe I have an idea that will help.

A while back I was out on a ranch with a friend of mine. It was winter and he hadn’t been out to see his cows for a few days so we threw a bag of cake in the back of my recently purchased Dodge Dakota and headed out.

Now cows don’t necessarily want to be seen. Sometimes bad things happen to them when they are seen. Like they get run through a squeeze shoot, a hand is shoved up their butt and at the same time someone sticks a needle or three into them. None of that sounds very fun to me and I’m sure the cows agree.

But even if they don’t like to be seen, they do like to eat. That’s why they can be bribed out into the open with a bag of cake. The universal signal that you are bringing cake is to honk your horn. They'll come running. So when we got in the vicinity of Doc’s cows I honked my horn.

beep. . . Nothing happened.

beep . . . Still nothing.

You see, the tiny little horn that came with my thirty-thousand dollar truck wasn’t loud enough to get their attention. Now this is where road rage comes in. (I bet you were wondering how feeding cows relates to road rage.) If you can’t get a cow's attention in the middle of three thousand acres of quiet, how the hell can you get the attention of that jackass that just cut in front of you on a busy freeway? In the days when trucks were trucks and horns were horns, when you honked at someone they heard you. It startled the jackasses and they realized they’d screwed up. That loud HONK gave you some satisfaction. The jackass was properly reminded of his jackassedness and you felt better.

When you beep, who the hell notices? Not the jackass. He goes on down the road to commit jackassedness on some other poor soul. And you just get more frustrated. So you drive up beside him and do what it takes to get his attention - getting madder all the time.

That, my friend is road rage.

So my solution? Put real horns on all vehicles. Let’s get the HONK back on the road. When I got home I immediately cranked up the computer and ordered a horn with some HONK. I feel better and Doc’s cows can now get seen – whether they like it or not.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chapter Three and my inner curmudgeon

Howdy, all. I will be adding a second post each week so that you can get twice the bull for your buck. Sometimes the post will come from my inner curmudgeon. For instance, this week I’ll give my take on road rage and how it can be stopped. No, no firearms involved. My curmudgeon has moved beyond brute force.

Next week I’ll be writing about how the character Dr. Gil Tailor came about. I found him at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.

For now here is Chapter Three of No More Bull for your perusal.  I’d love your comments.

Chapter Three

            Gil wasn’t aware of his drive back to the Spanish Peaks Veterinary Clinic.  He kept replaying the scene at Rough Mountain. Was Roscoe in that truck? How did it get there? Was this his fault somehow? Why had he abandoned his search for Roscoe and spent two years drunk? Why the hell did he think he could be a veterinarian? Hell, he couldn’t even take care of his friends.

The jolt when he bumped across the cattle guard into the veterinary clinic parking lot brought him back. He didn’t get out of the truck right away. He knew what he ought to do. He ought to stay out of it and let Jarmillo sort out what happened to Roscoe.  That’s what he ought to do.

“Shit, shit shit.” He rubbed his temples and rolled his neck. Trouble was, he was never very good at ought-to’s.

In the office Janey Ryan, Dr. Bramlett’s veterinary assistant, sat behind the counter with a phone to her ear.  “Yes, sir, if you can bring her over tomorrow morning, Dr. Tailor will take a look at her.” 

Gil appreciated the professional way she handled the call.  Every veterinary clinic needed someone like her, but seldom found them.  Raised on a ranch with two years of business school, she appeared smart, knowledgeable, hard-working and willing to learn.

Janey did everything - answered the phone, maintained the schedule, ordered the drugs, gave vaccinations, assisted the veterinarian, made sure patients were fed and stalls mucked.

 “Will nine o’clock be all right?” she asked the client while looking at Gil to get his okay. 

Gill nodded and picked up the folder on top of the “Today” tray.  It contained registration papers, breeding charts and the medical history for Three Box Ruby Red, a registered Quarter Horse mare. 

Gil was familiar with the bloodlines of two of the stallions she had been bred to.  They were well known in racing circles.  No question, she was a pampered and valuable animal. Something good to know when making decisions and recommendations to an owner.

Janey hung up the phone.  “Grueling day at Rough Mountain?”

He gruffly replied, “Yeah, personal business.”

“O-o-o-kay.”  Janey’s blue eyes cooled a couple degrees. Pointing to the folder in his hand she said, “That’s next. Robinson’s Ruby.   Has a bruised hoof, I think.  Corn, maybe.  I don’t think it will be anything serious. Want some help?”

“Please,” Gil said, feeling bad about snapping at her.  “First time around a strange horse it helps to have someone hold them.”

“I’ll put a ‘I’m-in-the-barn’ message on the phone and be right with you.”

Gil headed for the barn, fretting over the way he’d treated Janey. He vowed to do better.  He didn’t think he could change his disposition, but he could change his behavior.  There wasn’t anything he could do right now but be a veterinarian. He needed to do that as well as he could.  At the barn he jumped and grabbed the header over the door, hanging by his arms to stretch his tense back and shoulders.  It felt good.

He didn’t hear Janey come up behind him until she said, “You Tarzan, me Jane.”

He slunk to the ground and muttered, “Stretchin’ my back.”

“Uh huh,” she said.

Without acknowledging her teasing, Gil moved to Ruby’s stall.  She was a stunning sorrel with flaxen mane and tail.  The mare nuzzled Janey as she put the lead rope on.

“Been around her before?” Gil asked.

“She’s one of my favorites,” said Janey.  “I’d love one of her foals, but I’m not likely to get into that tax bracket anytime soon.”

“She’s a beauty.” Gil noticed the limp as Janey led her outside for better light.

Janey explained, “The Robinsons paid somewhere around fifty-thousand dollars for her as a yearling.  They ran her as a three-year-old at Ruidoso and then started breeding her.  Every colt she’s had has been a dandy.  Of course they’ve put nothing but top studs on her.  I’ve heard they’ve been offered up to two-hundred thousand for her, but turned it down.”

Gil ran a hand over the mare’s back and patted her rump. “I’d better take good care of you, lady.  You’re high dollar horse flesh.”

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sorry I haven't written

First I’m sorry I haven’t written. I spent all last week getting the final materials off to the publisher, Outskirts Press. In the hierarchy of priorities I felt that stood above blogging. No book? No need for blog.

Now, I want to mention a couple housekeeping subjects. I really appreciate all the comments and suggestions that you have been sending me. They are mostly coming in emails. I asked one of my faithful why he was always sending emails and didn’t bother to leave a comment on the blog. As of right now, only one person has left a comment. He suggested that maybe people didn’t know how. Maybe I had made the assumption that everyone was familiar with blogging and how it worked and that I was wrong.

That kind of took me by surprise as I am rarely wrong. Even have trouble saying it. But, maybe I was w-w-w-w-r-r-r-rong. Fuu. That was hard.

Okay, in case I was w-w-w-w-r-r-r-rong here’s how to leave a comment. At the end of each day’s entry and you will see a list of how many comments have been left. Simply click on that yellow comments tab and a box will pop up on which you can enter your comment. You can leave your name or just enter the comment anonymously, which ever flips you dripper.

Next week I’ll be offering chapter three of No More Bull. You’ll meet Janey Ryan, the veterinary technician at Spanish Peaks Clinic along with George and Sue, Gil’s gender-bender critters. They all play an important role in the story. You'll want to meet them.

Talk at you next week.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Chapter two

          Hell, they were only bones. He’d been called upon to identify bones before. But veterinarian
Gil Tailor was skittish as a gopher in a badger hole. Maybe it was the fact that he hadn’t practiced his profession in more than two years. Maybe it was the irritating manner in which Deputy Jarmillo had asked him to view the bones during their earlier phone conversation. Could it be premonition? Nah, he’d never been a big believer in that paranormal bullshit.
            Dr. Gillette Tailor drove the Spanish Peaks Veterinary Clinic truck up to the secured entrance to Rough Mountain Ranches. He was early. The huge wrought iron gates were closed and could only be opened by someone who knew the code. So he parked to the side to wait for Huerfano County Deputy Sheriff Jarmillo.  It was the deputy who had called about the bones.
            Gil was surprised to see his knuckles were white from holding the steering wheel so tight. He needed to relax. To pass the time and calm himself, he read the advertising signs bordering the highway in front of Rough Mountain Ranches.  Own Your Own Colorado Ranch. 40-160 Acre Ranches. 
            Gil snorted. “Ranches my ass. Forty acres wouldn’t sustain even one animal in this country.”
            But grousing didn’t relieve his tension. Nervous perspiration ran down his back, causing his shirt to stick.  The hot summer sun blazed through the window churning the odors of naugahyde, hay, manure, medicine and sweat into a sour amalgam. He opened his window and tried to focus elsewhere – his new opportunity as a relief veterinarian for Dr. Bramlett, getting his life back together, distancing himself from the death of his wife; but he couldn’t keep his mind from returning to what was beyond that gate.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No More Bull - Chapter One

Pauly Rodriquez heard the thonk over the roar of the backhoe. Pauly knew his thonks. This one sounded like a king-sized ball peen bouncing off a large tin drum. He remembered the one when that sonofabitch Roger Pearson’s head hit the curb outside the White Swan Bar. Pauly had been charged with manslaughter. He had gotten off because he hadn’t started the fight, but still remembered that sound.

But this thonk was different, more metallic, and the concussion shook his parked truck.

“What the hell?”

He leaped from his big red 4X4 and ran to look in the hole before Harry could shut the hoe down. Fine yellow dust poofed as Harry set the bucket on the dry rocky ground.

“Sonofabitch” Pauly grumbled. “Damnit Harry, I’m already a week behind on this house, concrete will be here tomorrow, and now you’ve hit something.”

“Well it’s not like I’m out here looking for something to hit,” Harry Bower fired back. “What the hell could it be? There’s nothin’ out here but cows and coyotes!”

Until the previous year the four-thousand-acre place, near La Veta in Southern Colorado had been a cattle ranch. When Oscar Nasher died ten years ago his family leased the property to various cowmen for summer pasture. Two years ago a Colorado Springs developer had bought the land and split it up into what he called ranchettes.

Pauly stared in the hole. “Damned if I know what it is.”