October 2014 Issue- Week 2

October 14, 2014

“Better late than never!” our managing editor Ms. Stelling says. It’s been busy around the pub office since we began 1 year to the date publishing authors poetry and flash fiction books. And we look forward to more manuscript submission for next fall! We would love to see some western genre manuscripts come out way, since there are so many of you submitting to this ezine.

See our submission guidelines at www.reddashboard.com for more information, dates are Oct 1st – Feb 28th.

Enjoy this months issues!

mphoto043 (1)

Photo by Malinda Fillingim of David Fillingim singing at a chuck wagon event at the Booth Western Museum, Cartersville, GA.

COWBOY SHOWERS

She never liked the smell of cattle
Keeping me clean was always her battle
I sprayed myself twice a day
Just to keep the fighting at bay.

It never dawned on me
That my arm pits stank
But daily she reminded me
With many big yanks.

Get in the shower
She’d loudly declare
While I wash out
Your dirty underwear.

I wonder if her
Love is enough
To keep me clean
Not smelling of snuff

Maybe it is,
Maybe it’s not,
But this shower
Is way too hot.

She can’t cook
Her love’s gone sour,
So why am I here
Scrubbing in a shower?

I’ll grab my clothes
And all that’s pretty
And find a woman
Who’ll love me dirty!

Malinda and David Fillingim have been married for over 30 years and live in Leland, NC. They both teach at Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington, NC. David is an award winning writer of many books and articles, including Georgia Cowboy Poets and Malinda takes really good photos with a camera she bought at a thrift store for one dollar. Contact either one at fillingam@ec.rr.com.

************

INDIAN CAMP OF THE HUDSON VALLEY – A True Story

There was no reservation,
only houses and shanties
in the wetlands along the Esopus Creek.
Not good land, it flooded
in the Springs when the run-off
to the river was high.
Dutch burghers and Tory descendants
disdained it, but
it was place to these displaced Algonquians,
Lenape from New Jersey, Manhattan and Delaware.
They took the twenty-fours dollars worth of trinkets
for land they did not own,
and they knew farming,
how to make fabric from plants and skins.
They had kitchen gardens
tended by women and children.
In time before driven out of the valley,
men worked the slate mines,
skidding great gray slabs on timbers
to Hudson’s stolen river.
Straining horses and men delivered
the sidewalks of New York
to barges dipping and bowing
in the residual tides of estuary.
Commerce walked like a ghost
on the water
of the Creek and of the River,
slipping away toward Manhattan
and the sea.

Howard Winn has published over 400 poems and short stories in various competitive selection literary magazines. He’s published one book of poetry, and has been nominated for a Push Cart Press Award three times. Winn has appeared in two poetry anthologies, one published in the Ashland Poetry Series and one of Hudson Valley poets edited by Mary Gordon. He’s been included in one anthology celebrating the 300th year anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River.

************

Blessings Be Upon You, Horace Greely

“Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.”
So, I followed the Conestogas
and found forever, an Eden,
endless vistas that promised
vast possibilities of success.
With no gaurantee in my pocket,
save that of manhood’s training,
I trusted myself,
and called myself frontiersman
when in truth I was a gambler separated
from those who sought safety in civilization.
And I, a being formed by space itself,
untamed, unrestrained
except by natural age and failing,
chart my course by stars named
Sea. Sage. Sequoia.
Mesa, rio, arroyo—
commissioned by God to dare.
Experiment.
Build.
Fashion.
A demigod in boots and chaps
wielding a branding iron instead of lightning bolts,
I did not know the Great Divide
was more than just geography,
that those contented
with being Europe’s mirror
would become my enemy
because they fear the freedom
of the ultimate question:
Now that God has made him,
what can a man make of himself?

Jenean McBrearty is a graduate of San Diego State University, a former community college instructor who taught Political Science and Sociology, and is finishing a certificate in Veteran Studies. Her fiction has been published in a slew of print and on-line journals including Cigale Literary Magazine, 100 Doors to Madness Anthology, Mad Swirl and The Moon; her poetry has been accepted by Van Gogh’s Ear and Page & Spine; and her photographs have appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Journal and Off the Coast Magazine among others. Her novel, The 9th Circle was published by Barbarian Books, serials Raphael Redcloak and Retrolands can be found on Jukepop.com. Web-page: Jenean-McBrearty.com.

October is also dedicated to Robert Penven, one of our beloved poets passed last night after a surgery that wasn’t suppose to cause problems. He was 81, and was one of our biggest supporters, lived here in New Jersey, about an hour away from the managing editor who met him at a local Vineland poetry group, Poetry-go-round once a month. RIP dear cowboy, you are missed…

Tumbleweed

Photo taken by Mindy Wilson, Kentucky, USA

*************

TUMBLING WEED

by Shelby Stephenson, North Carolina, USA

				I

So this little tumble was taken . . . 
So was I.
	Weed,
wiry hair in the scuds,
reflecting
in the sun.

A thimble roll of gather
licks and bucks the shells
and white caps
pointing out
plovers.
		
				II

I am a flower of awe, 
an awesome blossom of reflections

like a pledge to sand
the ocean’s goodness.

My father’s hands fumble
when he leaves my mother

nestled in the sea:
I am planted.

				III

I’m a rider
writing all night long
my parents’ enchanting whirl.

Daylight sports 
horizon clearly connecting to the sea

in different colors, tresses,
light blue, a sail of whitish wisps,
then the dark exhaust-tinged mirage

and more sludge now in the shallows:
still no birds in sight,
just the tumbleweeds,
disengaged from their parent-roots,

to move with the wind,
breathing in and out,
the tumbleweed,
as its umbilical is free from the old
and must take on 

a god or goddess 
drifting along.  The day is done.

************

TUMBLEWEED JUSTICE

By Michael Jerry Tupa

It was the summer of ‘83,
when L’il Slow Joe, last name Dundee,
appeared on the far horizon,
with the shimmering sun just risin’
smell of pancakes and sizzling bacon
lingering in the glowing dawn.

Sheriff Green and deputy were gone,
only real law left was Doc Myron Braun
asleepin’ on his small office cot,
dreamin’ colorful dreams of naught,
while into town Dundee jockeyed,
rollin’ in like a lonely tumbleweed.

Only 5-foot-4 and red peach fuzz
no one knew, or cared, who he was,
just a boy ridin’ on a high horse,
following a lonely, uncharted course,
horse stumbling down main street,
both lookin’ for somethin’ solid to eat.

Hot breakfast cost most of a quarter,
sleepy horse was stabled by a porter,
Dundee asked about a hotel room,
crawled into the white-sheet womb
snuggling in for a daylong’s rest,
sleepin’ ‘til sun was deep in the west.

Risin’ in the sunset’s grayish gloom,
Dundee emerged from his warm tomb,
strolling to the nearby noisy saloon,
seeking dinner and a pretty tune,
a perhaps a fast game of cards,
he saw the bar; he gave his regards.

Slow Joe’s money pile mushroomed tall,
while other angry players cast a pall,
one in particular, Cheyenne Pete,
a loud gentleman, most indiscreet
fingered his trigger and questioned why,
suggesting Dundee’s time might be nigh.

It’s a bitter tale to recall, dear friend.
for Slow Joe Dundee it was the end,
Doc Braun didn’t know who to notify
no one around to bid a fond good-bye —
Pete never knew he shot his brother.
(Dundee’s sad horse went to another.)

************

WE ROAMED THE SANDS

by Robert L. Penven, Vineland, New Jersey, USA

During my daily walk
by the ocean,
I encounter a curiosity.
a tumbleweed had become
mired in the sand,
close by the tide line.
I asked this strange wonder
how it got there, well knowing
it wouldn’t sacrifice
its secrets.
So, I left it behind
though not out of mind,
for others to contemplate.

Tomorrow will bring
a day of new life for me.
as for the tumbleweed,
the wind must embrace
the burden for journeys to come.
it will surely succeed
through the living world
but stop to share tribute
to those of late.
though it no longer plays
with the gulls and terns,
I will recall this curiosity
with warm thoughts.

************

BLUE ON BLUE

by Miss Cathryn Evans

Rivulets chased after the ebbing tide, sighing softly against the sand, lovers parting just as they had done that distant day.
The sea rushed forward once more to clasp the shores sandy face in a sweet embrace and kiss away the briny tears, only to leave again however fleetingly.
The never ending bitter-sweet love story of the shore.
She wondered if he would return, if he would rush to hold her close once again.
The gentle breeze seasoned her lips and inspired a tumbleweed to skip along the waters edge, a knot of mermaids hair.
The softly foaming manes of white horses lapped playfully at her feet. These gentle colts would grow to fiery stallions with the spring tides, stampeding along the coast, leaping and taking flight, their breath to fall like rain.
The shore had its seasons just like the prairie. Both were ever changing yet never changing.
The sky was a beautiful blue. Blue on blue on blue above the graphite shaded sea. It reminded her of his eyes. They showed his moods just as clearly. Were they still bright and alive or were they dead and turning milky as his body lay torn in a bloody, muddy battlefield?
She shook herself. She knew he’d return just as surely as she knew she’d still love him no matter how broken this war left him. Civil war. There was nothing civil about it. A sour taste crept into her mouth.
Turning, she walked slowly toward the path that would eventually wind its way to their small house with its few acres. Her skirts felt heavy, the bottoms darkened by the water. Heavier still was the rifle she carried. It dwarfed her small frame but she clasped it against herself with her small, pale hands. She was glad of the weight. It kept her anchored in the here and now. She’d promised him she’d always carry it. He’d worried the fighting would spread this way but so far the only action it had seen was taking a rabbit or deer by the creek.
She prayed he’d be home soon.

************

CATCHIN

by Leroy Trussell

See’in yearlin rump,tail a wavin’.             
    Horse in a lather.
Tryin’ my patience,this misbehavin’.
   Hand full of rope to gather.

Caught up in the slack.
   Uh’ chasen yearlin bones.
Just a comin’ off Cedar Back.
   Sure’nuf a flyin’and kickin’ up stones.

My ol’ horse,breakin’ brush.
   In a weed eatin’ style.
A airy downhill thrush,
   Over a Cedar Back rock pile.

Stickin’ low in the saddle.
   On the heels of this-here critter.
Thorn’brush,cactus,and mesquite ta’ battle.
   But ain’t no fancy greenhorn quitter,

Ol’ bronc still between my knees.
   Throws my loop.
Catchin’ them bawl’lin horns with ease.
   Then tryin’ ta’ recoup.

Now the catchin’ get’in tougher.
   An the Sun,is get’in low.
Somehow a little rougher.
   Than this old Cowpoke us’ta know.

************

 

A TUMBLEWEED ON THE SHORE

by Smokey Culver

Did it drift in from the sea, or roll in from the plain?
	that tumbleweed knows only where it's been 
It travels on its journey where it stops along its way 
	for just awhile, then rolls away again 

It wanders down the sandy shore as salty breezes blow
	for miles  and miles not caring where it's bound
Like some old driftin' cowboy never staying in one place
	no roots to keep it anchored to the ground 

A tumbleweed's a symbol of the freedom of a time
	before the barbed wire fences came along
An image of the roving lifestyle, sleeping 'neath the stars
	a life we hear about in cowboy songs 

It rolls along to music that's created by the sound
	of waves as they come splashing in the sand
Of dry winds 'cross the desert or the thunder of a storm
	that soaks the ground in fields and pasture lands 

If that ol' tumbleweed could talk about where it has been
	the places that it's passed along its way
I'd sit and listen closely to its stories one by one
	about its travels every night and day 

That spirit of an old time cowboy in a brushy heap
	that moves along, takes little time to rest
It never settles down, and I know that it never will
	that tumbleweed, an icon  of the west...

************


SALT OR SAND

by Andy Kerr-Wilson

Comes a time
when we all
are tried and tested.
Comes a time
when we all
are measured up for bigger things.

Past paths and footsteps
bring us to it.
Decisions, avoided or postponed,
made in haste or agony.
And now,
all distractions and delays exhausted,
we stand on the edge of things,
confronted.

Comes a time
when we all
are alone with our own hearts.
Comes a time
when we all
are faced down by ourselves.

A journey’s end or its first acts.
A leap of faith or a final chapter.
Fresh starts or the last loose ends.
And now,
whether the dark unknown or the too familiar,
we are asked to find the courage,
within.

Comes a time
when we all
are up against it.
Comes a time
when we all
taste salt or find sand.

Time’s currents swirl,
and we choose.

************

TUMBLEWEED

by Arthur Davenport, The Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Red sun was born this morning,
I rose to watch through the peachy haze.
As the wind blew, I heard her calling,
For today, we are one,
You and me, summer is our name.

Tumbleweed, rumbling, tumbling,
knows the wind, she’s a friend.
Wild and free, just like me, tumbleweed, tumbleweed.

Don’t mistake me for somebody,
somewhere, somehow, that you once knew.
I’m not your daddy, or your old boyfriend,
or anyone who put you through,
the lover’s grindstone, fighting dust storms,
chasing ghosts that you once knew.
Didn’t you? Tumbleweed?

Tumbleweed, rumbling, tumbling,
knows the wind, she’s a friend.
Wild and free, just like me, tumbleweed, tumbleweed.

Woke up feeling lonely this morning,
Thinking about roots and a room with a view.
A hometown boy, with the simple joy
of settling down with a girl like you,
Yea you, you tumbleweed.

Tumbleweed, rumbling, tumbling,
knows the wind, she’s a friend.
Wild and free, just like me, tumbleweed, tumbleweed.

More than I can express to you
lies sleeping, dreaming, drowned.
The well is deep, eternal spring,
drink deep this life you found, tumbleweed.

Tumbleweed, rumbling, tumbling,
knows the wind, she’s a friend.
Wild and free, just like me, tumbleweed, tumbleweed.

October Issue- Week 4

October 22, 2013

chuckwagondinner

‘Chuck Wagon Eats’– “In my many journeys as a chef: Boy Scouts, trail drives, camp outs etc., I’ve made Hatch Chili Stew, and most recently for a crowd of twenty in the Pine Barrens while hunting down the Jersey Devil.” Managing Editor CPP, Elizabeth Akin Stelling

************

JAYHAWKED

Send Kansas to me in a sun shower.
You said you’d come home with a rainbow.
Don’t want fraidy hole siren hook echoes—
or thunder god flashes of ego. I want scissor-
tails clipped to a windshear, to clear me a path
through your switchgrass. No rope-jumping
Jayhawk squawk-tongues in a squall, or campfire
myths hawking ghost rain. I’m that torn-stalk
sunflower you stuck like a pig in a hog wallow
next to a cornfield. I want flag-side-up roses
round a two-story soddie near an artesian spring
in the tallgrass, with a fresh holstein heifer rich
on alfalfa hay staked-out next to a new butter
churn. Or I’ll muster a posse to lasso your ass
to the dilated tail of a wall cloud, and hog-tie
your spurs to a rodeo bull—spinning pirouettes
through a herd of wild mustangs.

Kevin Heaton is originally from Kansas and Oklahoma. He now lives and writes in South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications including: Raleigh Review, Foundling Review, Beecher’s Magazine, The Monarch Review, and Mixed Fruit. His fourth chapbook of poetry, ‘Chronicles,’ was published by Finishing Line Press in 2012 . He is a Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets 2013 nominee.

************

MEETING UP AT EARL’S

The goldstone glitter of Gallup doesn’t
Begin here, but native vendors
Shine walking through Earl’s Café,
Route 66, offering art with pride:
Sleeping Beauty Turquoise and Kingman,
Zuni Petit-Point, Red Coral, Spiny Oyster Shell,
Lapis, Horse-Hair Pottery, Heishi Beads.
“Silver’s shot,” the Navajo artist says,
“Can’t touch the price so we work
With copper, sell it cheap.”
Spirit-lined woven rugs: as the weaver finishes
The rug, she leaves a white wool thread in the corner
Welcoming dreams of the next rug’s design.
Sumac baskets fetch gas money to travel home.
Animal fetishes and mud pots grace tabletops.
Red and green chili, corn tortillas in
Buffalo pottery and blue water plates.
Warm bread pudding for dessert. Greenthread tea.
We amble outside – vendors sitting at card tables,
Laughing, selling Concho Belts, Dream Catchers,
Cell Phone Charms. “So, where are ya from?”

Elaine Dugas Shea has lived in Montana for several decades, but still misses the ocean. She enjoyed a career in social justice working with American Indian Tribes and civil rights. Her writing is featured in Third Wednesday*, South Dakota Review, *the anthology *The Light in Ordinary Things, *the anthology *Hope Whispers, *Front Range Review, CAMAS, Spillway*, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, the anthology When Last on the
Mountain: The View from Writers over Fifty, Montana Voices Anthology and elsewhere.

October Issue- Week 2

October 7, 2013

Bison_skull_pile_edit

Author Unknown- Photograph from the mid-1870s of a pile of American bison (high plains) skulls waiting to be ground for fertilizer. Courtesy of the . |Source=http://www.raeky.com/bison/, originally Burton Historical Collection, Detroit P

Its a shame what our ancestors did, used up what we could, even the land. Once a plot of land yielded gains for the farmer, they moved on further west and began again, as opposed to alternating planting and letting land rest for a season.

************

Glance Bandit

I tried to steal them constantly—in rearview
mirrors and staggered side by side, through
the screened-off window of a trailer
in your backyard. I wanted to slip
where you slept, purposely forget
to pack an extra sleeping bag
forever, and bust my mouth up
until please don’t go so far from me
sounds something like: I hope you love
California. You will love California.
Dig any hole you want.
I will come to you.

Lily Goderstad obtained her MFA in poetry from The New School. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry Blog, and is forthcoming in Dark Matter Journal and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. She currently lives in Queens, NY.

************

BUS RIDE

Down the road,
a young boy walking in the dust.

A bus passes, whizzing by,
upsetting the cows and the flies.
‘I wonder where it’s going,
could it be Japan, or maybe Mexico.’

‘I’d like to see a bullfight.
Or maybe London,
with the funny-looking hats.’

‘Or Rome, or France.
Oh well, maybe just even Texas.’

He continues
down the road,
walking in the dust,
with only six pennies
and a rock in his pocket.

Mike Tupa began writing poetry at age 16 — during a car trip along a leafy, mountain road — and hasen’t kicked the habit since. A two-year church mission in Italy, a four-year active duty stint in the Marine Corps and four years of college haven’t cured him of any literary affliction. Some of Mike’s other publishing credits include poems printed in the Wilderness House Literary Review, Calliope Poets & Writers, and the Write Place at the Write Time.

October Issue- Week 1

October 1, 2013

Tombstone

Tombstone- ‘Town Too Tough To Die’

Managing Editor, Elizabeth Akin Stelling visited Tombstone in 2010, and survived the heat, or was it the OK Corral reenactment…

Tombstone was founded in 1877 by a prospector named Ed Schieffelin.   Ed was staying at what was then called Camp Huachuca (wa-chu-ka) as part of a scouting expedition against the Chiricahua (chir-i-cow-uh) Apaches.   During his time there he would venture out into the wilderness “looking for rocks”, all the while ignoring the warnings he received from the soldiers at the camp.   They would tell him, “Ed, the only stone you will find out there will be your tombstone”.   Well, Ed did find his stone.   And it was Silver.   So, remembering the words of warning from the soldiers, he named his first mine The Tombstone.

*************

WHITMAN REVISITED

When I heard the learned astronomer
From proofs and charts and periodic tables
H&R diagrams, overheads, and visuals,
With power points to show the history of stars
From flowers to quarks to quasars,
To the theory of everything
As all greatest mysteries unfolded
From hydrogen to hogs, to Hectors,
And among all the applause, I felt sick
And arose and went outside for some fresh air
Where looking up I beheld the silence of the stars
Until I realized I was in the planetarium.

Clinton Van Inman Born in England, BA 1975 San Diego State University, high school teacher in Tampa, lives in Sun City Center, Fl with his wife Elba. One of the last Beats still standing and still banging the drum (slower now) for the Cause.

************

I Wasn’t Born a Cowboy

I wasn’t born a cowboy, but I’ve done my level best
to earn the right to be called one today
I’ve shoveled up the stalls, unloaded tons of feed and hay
I’ve even milked some cows along the way

My childhood home was not a ranch, though on the country side
we had a few ol’ chickens and of course
I rode my bike for several miles each day come rain or shine
so I could care for my beloved horse

I didn’t have a thousand acres, or a herd of cows
but I could rope and tie a “Bramer” calf
And I could nail the shoes on dang near any horse around
been throwed and every time I climbed right back

No, cowboys may not all be born, cause some of us are made
like poor folks who grow up and make their way
To fame and fortune, that’s how cowboys do it, difference is
we don’t get rich like them, just draw our pay

I’m proud to call myself a cowboy and I know for sure
that others who have earned the right will say
That nothin’ good comes easy, but you hang on for the ride
get bucked off, get back on, the cowboy way…

Smokey Culver was born and raised in southeast Texas, and has lived there all his life. He writes music and poetry about whatever comes to mind, mostly farmers and ranchers and down home folks. The Lord has blessed him with an ability to put thoughts into words that generally make sense, and even stir up emotions sometimes. I have recently joined the board of directors of Musicians, Artists , Authors, Poets, and Storytellers (MAAPS) of Texas as the person to oversee the cowboy poetry issues. My poetry link- Smokey Culver via FB

February 2013- Week 4

February 25, 2013

SONY DSC

The Shooting Star

Midnight splendor

Tell me cowboy,

what was your wish?

Stars shoot first

and ask questions later.

Virginie Colline is a French translator living in Paris. You can read her latest poems in

*Seltzer*

*BRICKrhetoric*,

*Winamop and *Yes, Poetry*

******************

*/Paniolo/*

by Clark Crouch

He’s a paniolo

on a volcanic range

minding herds of cattle,

it’s really not so strange.

He’s a paniolo

on these, the lava lands.

He’s a paniolo

far from the beach’s sands.

His ranch is quite ancient

from ‘fore the Texasrange;

from eighteen nine ’til now

there’s been so little change.

His ranch is very large…

puts other spreads to shame;

multi-thousand acres

brings paniolo fame.

His ranch is furtherest west,

and off the continent,

three-thousand miles away

on an isle of content.

There on the mount’nous slopes,

his herds of cattle roam.

He’s a paniolo;

Hawaiiis his home.

Aloha paniolo

on the lava lands.

Aloha, paniolo

 

February 2013- Week 3

February 18, 2013

Untitled-2

“illo: cowboy-coat=scratch.
It’s well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so I’m typing this with one hand while pummeling my head with a frozen mackerel with the other. I’ve done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling – but mostly drooling – on tavern napkins. I also create art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. I was awarded the 2004 James Award for my cover art for Champagne Shivers. I recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at my online gallery: _www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright_ (http://www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright) . And please hurry with your response – this mackerel’s killin’ me! Your pal, Steve Cartwright

Heartache and Pards

His words were plain and to the point,
“Sometimes this life just sucks.
She does her best to throw ya down,
She boogers and she bucks.”

The cowboy knew the trail I rode,
The steep and rocky way.
I came for lies and platitudes,
But truth was all he’d say.

“You’re gonna hurt a good long time,
Ain’t nothin’ can be done.
You’ll ride awhile in blackest night,
Before ya see the sun.

The pain you feel ain’t nothin’ new,
Just look around, and know,
That scores of riders up ahead,
Have passed the way you’ll go.”

His thoughts were far from comforting,
Not what I came to hear.
His kindness smoothed their edges though,
And helped to calm my fear.

“There’s some will buckle to the test,
Some barely make it through.
But you, you’re tough. You’ll be just fine.
I’ve seen what you can do.

Remember that I’ll be right here,
When livin’ feels too hard.
If you should ever need a friend,
Just holler for yer pard.”

Debra G. Meyer’s was born in Brooklyn, New York, where she spent the first 10 years of her life. Her family then moved to Crane,Indiana. Debra married in 1974 at the age of eighteen, finished her education at Indiana State University in 1977, and by the age of 30 had two children and a job teaching elementary school. She wrote my first cowboy poem in 2007 after visiting a cowboy gathering in Fort Worth, Texas. Now 57 years old, have a small farm in Putnam County, Indiana, still teach school, and absolutely love writing cowboy poetry.

************

GUN FIGHT AT THE DIAMOND K CORRAL

It was one of those days at the ranch when you sensed something was going to happen—something fun but probably slightly dangerous. Grandpa, Uncle George and I were gathered on the back porch of the Bachelor Shack. On the agenda was a shooting match with the usual hyperbole regarding one’s expertise. Grandpa raised the ante to a bottle of Uncle George’s Courvoisier to the winner or, in the unlikely event that he lost, the same prize which he would obtain at the bar of the Rogers Hotel in Idaho Falls. Grandpa was generous and offered Uncle George a small victory sip. My uncle was “powerful annoyed” because first his cognac was dearer than life and second there was a strong possibility that his Dad would out shoot him. Furthermore his Dad knew exactly how to gore his ox. The shooting was over before it started. It wasn’t even close as the “hawkeye” punctured ten out of ten tin cans at 75 yards.
Uncle George was very unhappy and Grandpa was doing his best to restrain his gloating about his smashing victory. We retired to the front room of the Shack. I found an old seat out of the way and at a respectful distance from the combatants. Uncle George and Grandpa sat on the cots facing each other. They downed the bottle of cognac and then the conversation and its volume escalated. The egregious acts which followed became the stuff of legends.
Taking casual aim Grandpa shot a hole near the bottom of one of Uncle George’s gallon cans of honey and the resultant flow was spectacular and catastrophic. Then without a pause he shot a bottle of Hennessy where it had rested a long time under its owner’s savoring glance. Uncle George was furious—he had lost two bottles of cognac and a can of honey.
Before outrage set in, Grandpa was heading down the road with remarkable speed toward the ranch house. According to a reliable source, he ran upstairs and hid in the closet.
Within seconds Uncle George burst through the door shouting,
“Where is he? I’m going to kill him.”
In her customary calm voice Grandma said. “Put down the gun, Junior. You know he didn’t mean anything.”
Uncle George was still indignant, “Didn’t mean anything!” He detailed the damages and his grievances.
Grandma raised her hand and declared, “There will be restitution. Now put down the gun!!”
Uncle George did and the crisis was averted. In a few days Grandpa was seen heading toward the Bachelor Shack with a gallon can of honey and two bottles of Courvoisier—-a special affirmation of the wondrous love between father and son.
Later Grandma asked me to recite the events of the great shoot out. She listened and pronounced, “Those damn fools. They could have killed my grandson.”
I replied, “Maybe not Grandma, I was ready to duck.”

Michael J. Keyser in his formative years spent summers and other free time at the family ranch, the Diamond k located in southeastern Idaho. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in English. While there, he won the John B. Wanamaker Prize for Excellence in English Composition.

Mr. Keyser served as the President of the American Cancer Society, Cuyahoga County Unit. He was also a Park Commissioner in Hudson, Ohio. For several years he served on the Board of the Summit-Portage County Health Systems Agency.

He also has published four works of fiction. His hobbies are writing, walking and woodworking. Mr. Keyser is very active in his church with outreach ministries serving senior health facilities.

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