Jun
0

Advertizing a Fine Book

Advertizing a Fine Book

The original purpose of this of this site was to market my book “The Briefcase Symphony,” a book of poems. It is a small book and save for the first part which contains self-pitying poems about my love life, not bad. But this site has never worked as a market sold; I’ve sold zero copies of it via this site.
The blog was added later. It has worked as a vehicle for creative writing, which is great, but also not profitable.
I mention these things because this computer is old and I need a new one. So if you read this blog but have never ordered a book, please do so. Even some of my forlorn loveless male verses aren’t that bad and some poems in this book are great. I mean that. I’m thinking especially of “Elevator Man,” inspired by my late father. He operated a grain elevator for 17 years.
Another section of the book has ten sonnets, ranging from the whimsical “On a Cat” to sonnets in honor of Gandhi, Joan of Arc, my adopted patron saint, to the great country singer and songwriter Hank Williams.
This book is not a classic. I can’t say that. But it is good reading for the average man or woman. So please see the order page on this site or mail $10 per book+$3.00 S+H to;
The Briefcase Symphony
David P. Rundle
2021 N. Old Manor Rd.
Wichita, Ks. 67208
Wichita residents can save S+H by emailing me at drundle@sbcglobal.net and setting a time to come by to pick your book or books. Supplies are limited so act today.
The next chapter of “The Shy Horse,” featuring Nate Law and Maggie Order is coming soon!
Thank you!

May
0

The Sky Horse Chapter Three

The Sky Horse Chapter Three

The Longs
Ryder’s cell played “Mack the Knife,” the type of song Nate liked so he smiled and took another shot of Old Granddad. Maggie looked at him so he whispered in her ear: “Hey, it’s free and I might need it later.” He didn’t add that it was properly aged and very good. Maggie was not a Bourbon coinsure. He was contemplating a rare third shot when Ryder spoke,
“Nate, “Ryder said, “The countess, my wife will see you now.” Maggie can—“
“Maggie will come with me,” Law said.”We’re partners in everything.”
“The countess wants only you,” Ryder said half-heartedly
Nate said:: “I’m just Irish enough to not care what a countess from England wants.”
“I figured as much. No one ever listens to me around here. Well, have fun with the Longs.”
Ryder escorted them to a small room with two chairs and a desk. Nate saw it also had a day bed. There was a woman behind the desk who Nate took be over iffy by trying to hide it with plastic surgery and makeup. She wasn’t succeeding. She wore a sleeveless red dress and was sitting so her legs were seen. Nate thought she was flaunting herself rather blatantly. Then he saw her look at Maggie and frowned.
“John,” she said in a perturbed tone, “I told you to only send Nat in. “
Before Ryder could reply, Nate said: “Fort, name’s Nate, Nate Law. I suppose if we have high tea here, I’ll let you call me Nathaniel but not Nat. Second, Maggie, as I told Ryder, is my partner. When we take cases, I do the investigating sand she handles any legal issue for me. This being summer, our kids are here with my grown son as babysitter.”
“You brought a priest along on a hit?” Ruder asked, shocked.
“I didn’t know you people thought I whacked people. I don’t. I help folks, mainly poor, in tough spots. It’s a bit of stewardship, Joel says. He’s my grown son. He’s not quite a transitional deacon, let alone priest yet but he can wear a Roman collar, which tends to help us get faster service in certain places, It’s useful to have him.”
Ryder cleared his throat “Mind if I ask a question?”He asked.
“Shoot,” Nate said.
“I know you’re Catholic but I never got a fix on how strongly you believe,”
“I haven’t either. For one night, I thought being a priest but I got over that. We go to Mass weekly, teach our kids the best we can and don’t do anything to make Joel look bad as a would-be priest. But I doubt. I struggle with dogmas. Then I see the stars, smell a flower or help pull a calf out of his mama and watch her lick it. At those times, I know God is very real. It’s a farmer’s faith you might say. The land and sky humble you and the wonder of life amazes you and you know God is real.”
The speech had surprised not only Ryder and the countess but Nate himself. Only his wife smiled knowingly.
Nate looked behind him and saw a short man who was about Nate’s age with a man about seven feet tall, which made him five inches taller your Nate. He was also a hundred pound heavier and a good twenty years younger. Nate made a note to be far away if he ever made this got mad.
The short man spoke. “So you were one of Aggie O’Brien’s soldiers. Never met a made mafia man before. What’s it like?”
Nate sighed. What he was about to say came as easily as an Our Father to him now. Being Agnes “The Lamb” O’Brien’s heir was a very mixed blessing.
“You must be Ted and Paul Long. Yes, I’m Nate Law and this is my wife and partner Maggie. Aggie O’Brien, being a female, was not Mafia. What she was was an old bawd that flew young girls across America and never gave a damn about it. She also ran bootleg booze in Orrin, Kansas. I figured that out during a crime spree, during which her two sons got whacked. That shook her up and having no one else, she leaned on me. She had known Sinatra, Dean Martin and those guys so I let her tell me stories and cry my shoulder. Then she died and made me her main heir. I kept it and decided to run for sheriff. People thought I had been in Aggie’s pocket. I got my ass kicked. Looking back, I don’t blame the voters for thinking what they did. I took the money to give my wife and kids a good life. Maybe I was wrong. But that’s the truth.”
“That’s one crazy ass lie,” Paul said.
“Nobody buys my story, kid,” Nate said without thinking. “But you don’t know my wife and I ask you to watch your mouth in front of her.”
“Hell, Fay sold you as a killer who’d whack the Pope if the price was right,” Ted Long said, very annoyed.
“If you knew Fay better,” Nate said, “you’d know he’d sell you a ten-old dry cow as a virile young stud if he thought he could get away with it.”
“Then you absolutely won’t take the job?’ Ted Long asked Nate.
“You’re catching on,” Nate said. “First, as my late brother Pete told me, I ain’t tough; I’m just cool. Second, I brought my wife and kids with me. Hit men usually don’t do that. Third, my oldest is going to be a priest. They have a think about whacking people in our church. It’s nearly as bad as using birth control.”
“I don’t like your mouth,” Ted said.
“And the rest if your face is pretty annoying,” Paul said, smirking again.
“Shut up,” %d snapped his son. “Mr. and Mrs. Law, Ruder will lead you to the door. We will pay your travel expenses if you wish.”
“That’s not necessary,” Nate said. “But our car’s in town. Someone needs to get it for me. Take my keys” He gave them to Ted who tossed them to Ryder and told him to ride to town with a ranch hand and get the Caddy, Nate and Maggie waited in the library,. When Ryder got back, Ryder told them Ted wanted to see them. Ted told them to drive safe then tol=ld Ryder to drive safe. After Nate heard that, he saw Ted whispering in Ryder’ ear.
As they followed the man down the hall, Maggie whispered in Nate’s ear: “Despite, what you want, Nathaniel, we’re not staying here.”
“Why would I want to?” Nate asked.
“To prove you’re tough.” Maggie said.
“But I’m not tough,” he said. “I know that. The Longs now know. Who’d else might know that I’d care if they did?’ The boys?’
“The way I see it, either Peter figured it out on his own or Joel told him. Who does that leave?”
“Agnes. Gosh, that would be bad…for her, I mean.”
“Of course, you did. By the way, I threw up this morning.”
“I’m sorry but I thought we’re talking about Aggie.”
“I was talking about your kids in general. Think about it and I’m sure you’ll see the connection.”
They were at the Cadillac so Nat4 opened the door for Maggie, still puzzling over her statements. He got in himself and noticed Ryder tapping on his door’s window so he rolled it down.
Ryder leaned in and said:
‘L.T. wants you gone by tomorrow and to keep your damn mouth shut. ?the profanity was his, not mine/”
“I’ll be sure to tell your scout j=master you try to avoid foul language should he ask,” Nate said. He pulled away.
A couple of minutes later, Maggie spoke. “I just booked five of us in a bed and breakfast in Loan Oak for the time being.”
“I thought we weren’t staying because I’m not tough.”
“Nate, have, you aren’t tough. But you’re not a wimp, either and neither am I. Those yahoos might take it into their heads to send a guy go Orrin to whack us and our three kids.”
“Joel won’t be there, honey.”
“Six weeks ago, the kids spent Memorial Day weekend. At my brother’s in Agra.. Remember that?”
Nate leered. “Yeah we had a lot of fun. Oh, you’re—“
“Pregnant. “I’ve been having morning sickness all week and you haven’t noticed?”
“My bad, baby. How do you feel about? I mean, I’m happy but we talked about it before we got pregnant with Petey and Aggie.”
Yes, we did. But I planned an unplanned pregnancy. I asked Bob and Jill to keep the kids, bought that yellow see-though night gown and waited to see what might happen.”
“You knew what would happen, Margaret.”
“Well, my hypothesis was correct, Nathaniel, wasn’t it?”
He grinned and parked the car in front of the café, got out, opened Maggie’s door and they went inside.
It was very dark. The brightest light came from a juke box. But Nate could see all the people, about seven, and none were Joel and the kids. A quick look at Maggie told him she was very upset.
“Sit down and order something,” Nate said. “I’ll take care of this. Stress maybe bad for the little girl inside you.”
“He’s a boy.” They both smiled weakly.
Nate hunted up Straight. The man wouldn’t look at him. Nate politely shoved the old man against the wall, gently grabbed him by the collar and softly asked: “Where are my kids, old man? My sons never leave a table after only two hours on their own. Aggie never du=disobeys me, either.”
“I don’t know. I swear.”
His late brother Pete had taught Nate the Look during the Orrin mess. The Look made people think you would about to use brutal force on them even if you weren’t. Pete had bluffed a lot of confessions from perps and had also been a damn good poker player. Nate tried the Look on Straight.
“Cops got him, Joel, Nate,” Straight said. “County took the kids.”
“City cops?”
“They ain’t got no city cops in Big Foot,” Straight said. “Sheriff Pratt come from Big Foot after someone seen your kids in the window,”
“Did he tell you why?”
“Nate, I work for Mexicans. A white working for Mexicans ain’t a man Delbert Pratt is going to his ear whispered in by Delbert Pratt. I swear. Really, that’s the truth—“
“Yes,” Nate said, dropping his façade, “it’s the truth. I’m sorry you pissed your pants but I have to get my kids back. Here’s a hundred for a new pair.”
“I could get three pair with that much.”
“Are you complaining, Straight?”
The old man grinned. “Law, if you ain’t working for L.T. maybe I can pass on anything I hear. I don’t hold with murder, though. Ain’t that why he sent for you?”
“I only kill deer, pheasant, quail and varmints. The Longs told me to leave. I’m not. Here’s my cell number but where’s my phone?”
Nate had left it on Maggie’s table. She gave it back to him with a very strange look.
“We can pick Peter and Agnes up. But Joel’s being charged,”
“With what?”
“You won’t believe it,” she said.
“Try me, Margaret.”
“Child molestation.”
To be continued.

Apr
0

The Sky Horse Chapter Two

The Sky Horse Chapter Two

Ryder
The Kia, which as she as Maggie saw it, made her uneasy. The main reason Nate drove the Caddy was he secretly wished he was a member of Sinatra’s Rat Pack. The other reason was he was too tall for any other than a large car or truck and he only drove his Dodge pickup on the farm. Maggie herself drove a Chrysler mini-van to haul the kids. Anyone familiar with their book would have known this because Nate insisted on talking about his Caddy excessively. Maggie, who set up the meeting with the Longs, had told a man named John Ryder that Nate was a tall man who needed a car with ample leg room. She had stressed that The Kia was some type of signal and Maggie knew, a damn stupid one.
A man of medium height, wearing slacks, an open collar shirt and loosened tie got out of the driver seat, He had rolled up sleeves, he was a foot or so shorter than Nate, who was six seven, two inches shorter than Kent Straight but a good fifty pounds heavier, This man, presumably Ab Davis, was thin with gray hair. He immediately saw Maggie and blatantly checked her out while he ignored his wife who had to struggle with the passenger side door. Maggie did not have to look at Nate to know Ab had ticked him off.
Her husband was not the jealous type. However, in spite of the way he spoke to her and about her, she knew how much he loved her, Their love had grown under fire and even after she foolishly sleepy with another man under his nose,=. She hadn’t realized how much she loved him until she woke up with a man who barely knew her and treated her like a disposable razor. But her pride had almost kept her from admitting to Nate how much she loved him.
Then she learned how different Nate was from other men. Even after they were engaged, he wouldn’t sleep her till they wed. Neither of them were virgins but Nate hadn’t had a lover since her first, his stepmother. Her death and his shame had made him not have a serious relationship till he met her, Maggie. He had sublet a room he was renting from the town’s newspaper editor. Boy did that raise eyebrows in Orrin. But Nate only did it for the cash, she thought. She also thought he was a stuffed-up peacock more concerned with his suits and car than with her. It turned out he had loved her at first sight.
When they had finally gotten together, she had assumed they would cohabit until their wedding. Instead he had made her move out, citing mutual Catholic faith. Some they had met. He had been irreligious. But then Nate had discovered Joel was his son, not his brother, and was bound for the priesthood,
Thinking appealing to the eighteen-year-old Joel would win her the argument. She went to him and asked: “You really don’t have a problem with unmarried people sleeping together, do you?”
He thought and said: “Yeah, I do. It’s not moral. Pete and his wife always said so till Pete did it? But he was wrong. It hurt everyone. Besides, I can’t say yes right before I go to the seminary. Besides, my uncle the bishop would wring my neck if I said yes.” He thought some more and asked: “Did we eat all the meatloaf last night? I’m hungry.”
So she had moved out until the wedding, defeated by the man the loved and a theological garbage disposal.
Then Nate and Maggie were wed= im Salina, Kansas and spent two weeks in New York, going to night clubs, plays, ball games and doing other stuff. The other stuff had been more than worth the wait. Nate was…
“I said, your dress is gorgeous.: the woman repeated. “Wherever did you get it?”

“New York. Heather Cole made it for me,” Maggie said.
“You know Heather Cox?” Abby Straight asked im awe. “Doesn’t’ she design for the First Lady?”
Maggie blushed. Knowing Heather always made her feel uneasy because people assumed she knew other famous people. She didn’t. “Heather tutored Nate in math in high school. And, no, they weren’t an item. Heather had her pick and Nate never was in the running. It was an unspoken deal between them. We ran into her on our honeymoon. She’s designed my clothes ever since. I get a discount. I think it’s out of sympathy for being stuck with Nate, I’m joking,”
Abby laughed. “You’re fun for being rich. Jill Long acts like a queen and she’s treats me like a serving wench.”
“And you put up with that?” Maggie asked.
“We deal mostly with L.T. or the duchess, his cousin. Her first husband was a duke. She’s on her sixth now, Johnny Ryder. He’ll do the pre-pre-interview with her husband. Polly’s next and then if L.T. likes you. He’ll hire both of you.”
“For what?’ Maggie asked.
“First, Nate will kill Triplet for us and you figure out why the Sky Horse flies every night.” Abby said this as if people hired hit men ever day. Maybe the Longs did A lawyer, Maggie kept a straight face.
“And what’s the Sky Horse? A plane?”
Abby sighed. As if explaining something simple to a slow child Abby Straight said: “The Sky Horse is a giant horse that gallops every night in the sky.”
The front seat, Ab corrected his wife. “I8t’s not a full gallop. It’s a fast trot.”
“Oh,” Nate said with his cool irony, “it’s probably just having fun.”
“But why?” Ab asked.
“You’re asking a hard one. I’m no horseman.”
“No, but you’re smart-ass as hell, even for a killer. We’re here. Get out. I don’t like killers.”
As they got out, Maggie whispered in Nate’s ear: “Crazy Town; we’re in Crazy Town.”
“You have a firm grasp of the oblivious, counselor dear. Your legal mind never fails us.” Nate dryly replied.
Maggie saw a man about sixty-five with salt-and-pepper hair. He wore faded jeans and a dark gray shirt, the type farmers and ranchers wore with snap fake pearl button. (Nate only owned a gaudy black one with embroideries Indian on the back. Nate wore it when he bought or sold livestock at a sales barn or when he made one-on-one deals. Sinatra never wore anything like it, Nate assumed, He tried to make their accountant claim it as a uniform on their tax returns one year. Sam the accountant got tipsy in the pool hall, told the story and the town, which already though the shirt dumb, ribbed Nate about his “uniform” for months. He wore it more. You did not mock his clothes or car.) The man had a broad smile and said: “Howdy, folks. How was your trip?’
Nate whispered: “Chicago; he’s from Chicago.” Nate took pride in annoying accents but as Joel said once: “If pride was a fuel, Dad could light the East Coast for a decade. Me. I’m a glutton with a high metabolism.” Both observations were extremely accurate.
The man spoke: “Ryder’s my name. Some call me that, others John or Johnny. Take your pick. You go by Nate and Maggie, never Nathaniel and Margaret except when you’re pissed off at each other. It’s three-fifty-five. I have a shot of Old Granddad for Nate in my temporary office, the library for Nate. Maggie, your tastes were very hard to learn. The duchess suggested watercress finger sandwiches with sugared iced tea and lemon slice. Is that OK?”
“I’ll could do without the sugar but—“
Ryder whistled and a girl about eighteen came out. She had red hair and wore a maid’s outfit. Ryder said to her: “Take aw3ay that iced tea and get some unsweetened.”
“Instant or sun-brewed, Johnny?’ The girl asked.
Ryder looked at Maggie. He said:”Erin, the brewed tea is probably what’d prefer and probably deviled ham instead of watercress.”
Nate gave Ryder a look of admiration mixed with annoyance: “Who the hell was your old man, Sherlock Holmes?” Nate asked.
Ryder laughed heartily. “I piss most people off somehow. I pissed you off by trying to be a gracious host. That’s a new one.”
Nate blushed/ “Sorry,” he aside.
Ryder laughed again. “Come have you shot. It might make you more mannerly.”
Maggie and Nate followed Ryder in the house and into a large room with many bookcases apparently filled with thick volumes, some in foreign languages. Maggie saw some in French, which she taken in college. She tried to take one out but couldn’t.
“These are fake!” She said indignantly.
“If you look over that, you’ll find a vast collection of western paperbacks. They’re Big Paul’s,” Ryder said.” “I begrudge him only the smutty ones. I’m a bit of a prude, which is ironic, considering my wife. Erin, you have Maggie’s tea and sandwiches. Sit them on the table. Thank you.” The young woman placed the glass and plate on a table that was so=unrounded by three overstuffed chairs covered in brown leather and left. Maggie sat down in one and the two men followed her. She sat a bottle of Granddad and a single shot glass. Nate took the lid of the bottle, filled the glass, put the lid back on and slowly drank the whiskey. After he did, he smiled contently.
Ryder said: “You drink one shot of Granddad at four, except on Sundays, when you have two. You drink beer rare4ly and usually with others. So I conclude you’re just being sociable. I don’t want to pry but can you explain?”
“You have already pried or you wouldn’t know all that,” Nate said with a smile that said “Don’t shit me, man.” “He continued: “When I was Orrin’s chief, the town was officially dry and had a lot of Methodist women who would have reported me if they had seen me drinking. But they were busy fixing what we call; supper at four and never came in my office. If a guy did, I’d said something and winked. Most men let me alone. Rev. Coleman caught me once and was going to the council about two days later, someone tipped his wife and she caught him with his young secretary. Ache never got around to reporting me. Besides, the mayor sold the whiskey to me. I never risked moiré than a shot. Well, after I retired, it was too ingrained to quit doing it. I did give it up for Lent before our son was born.””
“I suggested that,” Maggie said. “It taught me never to do it again.”
Nate said: “You checked me out fairly well, Johnny. You know I am not a killer. Why the hell did Fay recommend me?”
“Jesus Christ!” Ryder said. “Who told you?”
“Abby,” Maggie said.”
Ryder shook his head. “First, I told L.T. no real hit me brings his whole family on a damn job. No, first, I told me hitting Triplet was beyond insane. Finally, I said Ab and Abby were the wrong people to bring here. Abby is very…unhappy, I guess. She is a mountain girl and the plains have done something to her or maybe she’s sick of her loveless marriage. Anyway, she’s not reliable.”
“If she’s unstable, that would explain her crazy tale about the Sky Horse,” Maggie said.
Again Ryder shook his head and spoke: “I wish you were right but the Sky Horse is real!”
To Be Continued

Apr
0

Easter Haiku

Easter Haiku

A cool April morn
Tomorrow’s blessed Easter
Bow, we sit and pray

Mar
0

The Sky Horse Chapter One

The Sky Horse Chapter One

The Sky Horse
Chapter One
Big Foot, Texas
Kent Straight finally saw the Cadillac, a big car that must have been flashy once but now reminded him of a former socialite refusing to admit her money, looks and sex appeal were long gone, blown away like dust on a hot High Plains wind. The small, wiry man had been waiting outside Tomas Garcia’s El Café de Norte Tejas, a name that had rankled the native gringos since Tomas had changed it from the Alamo Grill, for two hours and five minutes. He knew that because every five minutes, one of the Longs or Ryder had called to ask if the Laws had made it. This had begun to annoy the sixty-eight-year-old. After all, he did not have to do this. But the Longs were in the habit of expecting you to do what they needed. He wondered how a man like Nate Law would get along with them.
Law had been the Chief of Police in Orrin, Jericho County, Kansas. A series of murders there nine years ago had led to the toppling of several prominent Kansas politicians. During the course his investigation, he had formed an odd friendship with an even odder crime boss, Agnes O’Brien. To his surprise, when the old woman had died, Nate Law had got most of her estate, including a big farm. This had raised a lot of eyebrows, so much so Law and his wife, Maggie Order, had co-authored a book, Death in Jericho County, which had been made into a movie. The media had said wealth and fame had not changed Law and Order, now husband and wife. Straight hadn’t believed that until he had seen a Caddy. What a heap!
The driver parked it and got out, a tall man nicely dressed in a tailored suit and tie and wearing a black fedora. He walked around the car to the front side. He opened the front passenger-side door a petite blond woman in white dress emerged. Then the back door opened and out came a boy and a girl somewhere between seven and nine and a tall priest in his twenties. The drive spoke.
“I’m Nate Law and this is my wife, Margaret—“
“Maggie,” she corrected him. He winked at Straight and continued.
“These are our children, Petey and Agnes Mary and Father Joel Law.”
Straight looked at Joel and then at Maggie and asked: “Stepmom?”
“Yeah, stepmother,” Nate said in a friendly enough tone but one that firmly closed the matter. He then gave Father Joel fifty bucks and told him: “Take my tax deductions and get something to eat. We ate a long time ago, forty-five minutes ago.”
“Dad, please,” Father Joel said exasperated. Petey said: “Come on, Joel. It’s not Dad gives us money every day without our asking.”
“That’s only because you ask for it every day,” Nate said.
”I don’t,” the girl said. She looked like her mother.
“I know, angel,” Nate said. Petey rolled his eyes and the priest muttered: “Litter brown nose.” Then he saw the café behind Straight and led the children inside.
“She really has you conned, doesn’t she?” Maggie said to Nate, laughing. Straight almost laughed himself but remembered his manners.
“I’m never introduced myself,” he said. “I’m Kent Straight. Some call me Kentucky.”
“Kentucky” Nate asked, “Kentucky Straight like the whiskey?”
“Yeah,” Straight said. “It was hell growing up. Now, it’s worse. I get called aged Kentucky Straight.”
“You don’t look that old,” Maggie said.
“Thank you, ma’am,” Straight said. “You’re as polite as you are pretty and that’s saying something but I’m sixty-seven and I have mirrors. I know damn well—pardon me, ma’am—how old I look. Anyway, Ab and Abby will be here shortly. Ab asked me meet y’all. They’ll take you to Big Paul’s ranch. He and his Daddy and lord know who else are waiting for y’all.”
“Ab and Abby?” Nate asked.
“Stepmom?” Straight retorted without thinking. He waited to be hit or yelled at, which was what a Long would have done. Instead, Nate Law gave a hearty laugh.
“Touche, Mr. Straight; I earned that. I treated you like a damn New York or L.A. reporter. They want to know everything about you, you know. But I know Maggie and Joel look more like brother and sister instead of stepson and stepmother. It’s a long story and this is not the place for it. I hope you understand.”
“I certainly do, Mr. Law—“
“It’s Nate, please,” Nate interrupted.
“Fine by me, Nate. I didn’t mean to ply. Abigail’s my only child and Abner Davis, her husband, is the son of my best friend, who’s dead. They were born on the same night so we decided to give them their names as a bit of a joke. Through the years we kidded them about getting married. Then Abby waited for him to ask her to their first high school dance. Ab was clueless about it till her mom called his mom and the rest, like they say, is history.”
“You grew up here, I take it?” Nate asked.
“Hell, no, Nate. We’re from east Tennessee, the mountains. Little Tex’s—call him L.T.—daddy quit the Opry and entered the restaurant business, fast food. He dreamed one chain, got rich and began to buy up these regional chains, Cajun, local barbecue joints. Died god-awful rich with a passle of kids. L.T. is the oldest and was a cop, believe it or not. But he got beat up and bought a ranch for Big Paul and moved the clan here. Big Paul hired my girl and Ab as his lawyers. I got drug here by Abby ’cause I’m an old widower, I guess.”
“Can we sit on that bench?” Maggie asked. “It’s in the shade”
“It is hot,” Straight allowed. “I should have thought of that myself. I’m an awful host.”
Maggie shook her head no, “You’re fine one and I find you most charming. Do you like Bigfoot?”
“Thank you, ma’am. And to beg your pardon, Bigfoot’s a shithole.”
“I know from shitholes, as they say,” Nate said. “Tell us about yours.”
“Well, sir,” Straight began, “it’s flatter than hell here. I ain’t used to it and don’t like it. I have lived all over Appalachia and I’m used to mountains and trees. They got trees here or what they call trees but not many and they sure as hell ain’t got no forests, Nate and Maggie, but I reckon Kansas is flat.”
“Southern Kansas is,” Nate said. “It gets hillier the more north you go. I see shelter belts here like near Orrin, some fine ones near Lone Tree, west of here.”
“So you like the Plains?” Straight asked, “You grow up here, on ‘em?”
“New York, Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan. I played college ball for Wichita State and fell in love with the night sky out in the country so I stayed.”
“Night sky? You’ll love ours,” Straight said with an odd tone. “You from New York, Ma’am.”
She laughed and shook he head. “Born and raised on a farm in Philips County. I’ve seen both coasts and I’ll stay on the Plains. I love them.”
“And the wind?” Straight challenged.
“Nobody loves the wind,” Maggie said, “or the heat in summer or cold in winter or worrying about blizzards or twisters.”
“Then why stay in Kansas or this part of Texas?” Straight asked.
“The ripe wheat in June. Milo, what most call sorghum. In September,” Nate said.
“‘Sunflowers and deer,” Maggie said.
“Calves born in April,” Nate said.
“Driving down quiet streets on Sunday mornings.”
“Being able to let your kids play outside without worrying about your next door neighbor bothering them ‘cause he live two miles up the road.”
“OK,” Straight said. “There’s that. But I don’t like being isolated or the fact your neighbors don’t like you ‘cause your kin ain’t buried here and the know what you do before you do it.”
“Tell us about the neighbors,” Nate said.
“The Longs or the natives?” Straight asked.
“Both,” Maggie said. “Right, Nate.”
“Right,” Nate said.
“OK,” Straight said. “Have you talked to the Longs and know why you’re here”
“We’re here because this L.T and I know the same bull breeder, Ross Fay from Oklahoma. Long read my book—“ Nate said.
“Our book,” Margaret correct. “A squirrel spells better than Nate.”
“Margaret’s a lawyer,” Nate said. ‘I can tell you your dog is dead in four words; if she uses twenty to say the same thing, she feels she’s shortchanging you. She wrote our book; I rewrote it. I can’t spell but I know how to use spell check.”
“And I know how t to file divorce papers,” Maggie said with mock indignation.
“And give up my manly body?” Nate asked.
“Nate, Please. Mr. Straight…” Straight hadn’t seen a couple so obliviously in love in a long time.
“Anyway, your man Long read our book, found out Ross knew me, and asked Ross to get us down here. Long must be damn cheap because I never charge for this kind of work, especially if it gets me from helping castrate calves. Those bastards kick.”
“You’re a funny man,” Straight said. “”Anyway, Bigfoot is named for Henry “Bigfoot” Jones, an old trapper who died here in 1866. When the cattle drives started, Elijah Triplet came here and grew damn rich off longhorns. His son, Todd, almost lost everything but Todd’s got it back. By then, Todd had had to sell most of it. But the Triplets still had two big tracks of land, one due north of town and the other fifteen miles southwest of here. The other main ranchers are the Comstocks, Perrys and McKinnons. They gobbled up land during the eighties. When the farm economy went to hell. It got so bad, Fred Triplet had to sell the north ranch to a man name Schipper, a retired admiral or something. He died and L.T. bought it for Big Paul.”
“If you’re new here and hate the place, how do you know so much?” Nate asked.
“Read some of it. Heard most of it at the weekly dance at Sam Limes’s joint. Everyone goes to it. The young people dance; the old folks talk and I listen.
“Now, what Big Paul should have done was hire local boys but he brought an outfit from Tennessee, fellas he grew up with. Then a black drifted in and he hired him. Fred Triplet had a fit and tried to pressure Nig Paul. His daddy, L.T., moved here with his security team and told his kid to screw Triplet and hire more blacks and Mexicans. Mind you, Bigfoot was lily white till the Longs got here,”
“What’s your take?” Nate asked.
“I’m an old man, son. I used to be a hippy but you can’t change the world. The Longs have a right to hire who they want. But one Mexican and two blacks are dead ‘cause the Longs want to change Bigfoot,. It ain’t worth it.”
“That’s why we’re here,” Maggie said to Nate.
“Well, that and the horse,” Straight said.
“What Horse?” Nate asked.
“Never mind now. Ab’s here and you best not keep the Longs waiting.”
To be continied