Abandon hope all ye who enter here

What follows is the abandoned opener to another Western short story I wrote a while back that I’m just now putting the finishing touches on.  I discovered, during my Sepia Phase (for lack of a better description) that I really enjoy writing about landscapes.  There’s just something melodic about it.  Anyway, I came across this and thought it might be good to share.

Clairmont sat nestled between peaks of the Mogollon Mountains that rose like green-mossed tortoise shells from the earth, humped in sloping arcs and generous inclines into rounded peaks thick with Sycamore and ash and cottonwood. It was a small town that originated as a mining camp but fell short of this ambition with a scarcity of rich veins in the vicinity. It now survived only as a supply center for itinerant prospectors bound for Glenwood or Cooney, sating its meager population with the lucrative draw of retail to the color-mongers. Scattered patches of range-land moated the settlement, filled with course grasses and dicotted forbs and mesquite with its narrow and bipinnated leaves drinking from some deep watertable, their wooded formations and needled thorns like some abysmal blanket on the land. The scrubland brushed back into dense clusters of Ponderosa that lied at the base of the rocky bluffs with its redbrown  knotted bark that tanged like vanilla if caught just right on the wind, encapsulated in what would later be known as the Gila Wilderness.

An ode to cowboys and serials: “Blood Quantum” Part 1

Not sure why, but I’ve always been been a big fan of Westerns (both films and literature – I’m quite fond of Elmore Leonard’s work in the genre, as well as the undisputed master himself, Louis L’Amour). I don’t exactly know what hit me a few years back, but for about a year and a half, all I could do was write Westerns. My love is still there, although I tend to write in different directions these days, but something about the alluring American West will always sit deep within me.

Thus, I’ve decided to serialize one of my favorite Western short stories, “Blood Quantum” (circa 2007). The story follows Everett Root as he makes his way through the barren countryside with a bleeding wound in his leg and a piece of silver ore the size of his head, all while out-maneuvering a mysterious assailant who seems to be on his heels the whole time. It’s simple in it’s premise (survive and cash in), and I went for a very Cormac McCarthy-esque route here, as far as the sparseness of the dialog and the setting itself goes.

At any rate, I quite enjoy this story, and, again, being a fan of old-timey serials, thought it might be fun to offer this story as one. I’m not sure how often I’ll post a new segment, perhaps every other day, perhaps once a week, but make sure you stick around til this one ends. I promise it’s good fun. (Ap0logies for any formatting issues – WordPress doesn’t play nice sometimes.)

Blood Quantum

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Bob Antrim felt a cold steeled barrel matt his thick hair down and wedge into the back of his skull.  He heard the hammer click back metallically and in that moment recalled his wife dying of consumption, spittles of blood curtained along the contours of her sunken face and chest, and then he mulled on his boy who had died in infancy.  His hands gripped the splintered haft of the pick and for a minute further he dreamt of spinning in place and lodging the wedged spade into his attacker but amid the hallucinated escapades a shot thundered out like drums.  The bullet churned down the barrel of the spunked and dusty revolver and it crushed through Bob’s skull and out his right eye socket as fluids sprayed like some geyser and his body fell to the ground sharp like stone.

Everett Root rolled the dented .44 caliber Dance revolver around his index finger and holstered it as if he were some dashing and wily roughrider that had been wrangled into a Wild West Show.  He coughed a bit and waved the smoke away from his face with his hands and then set his eyes on the heaped body, smiling crookedly and scratching his chin. The ache in his leg gathered up again like a fist and he snorted out a dollop of snot from his nostrils and lowered himself carefully to the floor of the gritty mine.  He set his feet up on the twin timber planks that bridged across mud and wet recessed puddles in the rock.  The air smelled like sulfur.

Continue reading An ode to cowboys and serials: “Blood Quantum” Part 1