Two new titles are available on Amazon. The first is the fourth of the State of Arizona series, STATE OF CONFUSION. It takes Tan and a new Governor to new heights of trouble at the southern border along with trouble in the capital between the new Governor and everyone else, particularly Tan.

The second book is the second of the DEACON series, DEACON UNDERGROUND. The Deacon is caught up in three or four problems that all wrap around Gold. He has to go underground to get to the bottom of it all.

See posts and link here soon.

Archives: cowboys

I REALLY WANT . . .

I have been reviewing my site now for over two hours. It looks cool and has a hint of what I’m all about as an author. It’s not just a time filler for an old, retired geezer, it exciting. I haven’t had this much fun since I woke up and found water flowing down the passageway where water wasn’t supposed to be on the submarine I was serving on at the time. That will get your heart thumping and exercised.

Bottom line after two hours. Needs some work. BUT, Nanowrimo is at hand.

So, I will write for Nano and then when I run out of words I will do what I can to make the site an awesome experience for my readers.

Why?

Because it’s all about our relationship.

Currently working on four books. The Nano book is DEACON 3. Two of the books are good, kick butt westerns in the style of BLOOD ON THE ZUNI and VENGEANCE. The third is a sequel to SAILOR, with a working title of THE SEA CALLS. All should be up to my self stomping standards.

Love and hugs till next time.

doug

FREE BOOK – The DEACON – Episode 24

Tommy went wide up the slope into the trees. I motioned for Buck to stay behind me. All of a sudden it hit me. I didn’t know what this horse would do if the shooting started. ‘Hey, Lord. Please keep an eye on this horse and let me hang on, Please. Thank you, amen.’

I rode along the steam.

A spot where the stream had been blocked a bit by rolling rocks across its width, causing a pool of fifteen feet across and two feet deep right in front of mouth of a cave. The cave looked like it was natural. The top of the dam lined up with the cave and on my side of the stream, fifty feet or so, was a pile of smaller rock that looked different than the rock the cave was in. There were no fresh tracks anywhere except for one set where Buck had come close a couple days before.

I got off the horse, dropped the reins, and walked across the dam. The cave opening was natural. No sign on it of any tools, but inside the mouth ten feet, I could see a pick and a single jack standing against the wall with a couple of drill steels alongside. A wooden box like one I had seen blasting powder in once over by Amarillo what seemed like a long time ago.

I walked up close and read the label. AJAX BLASTING POWDER. I lifted it and moved it up to the trees behind a bunch of scrub and rock with Buck’s help. Actually, he grabbed it and rode up there while I walked empty handed.

Returning to the hole was in a quandary. That hole was dark. How far could I go in and be safe. I had no light of any kind. ‘Lord, I need to see what’s in there. Any ideas.’ All I came up with was that small voice in the back of my head saying, ‘walk.’

I did, carrying my little pointy headed hammer.

Thirty feet in it was so dark the floor was difficult to see and there were no more colors, just dark shapes and space. Running my hands up the wall on the right side and across the ceiling I came to a foot wide hole in the ceiling. I checked it out by running my hand along the hole toward the entrance. It ended ten feet back. Now that I was looking in a different direction I could see a bit better. At the edge of the slot in the ceiling were whitish rocks with lines in them.

I went back to the thirty foot area, took a whack at the edge of the slot with the hammer, and brought down a fair sized slab of the roof, a few pieces hit me on my hat. Bending over, I grabbed the slab and made for the entrance.

In the noon sun the whitish stone looked white as snow and the lines were a rusty yellow. The rock crumbled with very little effort. The tough parts felt the hammer. Tommy came down from the trees, took one look, and said, “Gold, or my name’s little Suzy Brown.”

“Gold?” said I.

“Gold?” Buck said.

“Yeah, that’s gold. That’s the kind of gold miners love to see, cain’t remember what it’s called, but they love it. You can sit here with our little hammer and crumble it, separating the white quartz from the gold veins, and walk away with almost pure gold to take to town. Most banks’ll give ya 90 to 95 percent of the ounce price without any further refining. Why heck, you can refine it in a forge down to dang near the pure stuff.”

We all said, “Woooweee,” at the same time as we stood there gawking.

Tommy looked around and found a couple of sappy pine knots. Buck got a fire going. When we put the two together I had two torches to go in the mine with. They smoked a bit, but put out a fair amount of light. Forty feet in the veins of rusty yellow got bigger and the channel in the ceiling went wider and wider. All I could think of was, ‘Nancy’s gonna be a rich gal. This mine has enough gold showing to restock the ranch and build those line shacks she wanted.’ It was just a shame that her daddy wasn’t going to get to see it.

I left the mine without burning out the first torch. A dunk in the stream simmered it to out and both were put in a crack twenty feet south of the entrance so no one would see them if they happened to drop by.

We headed for the ranch house with some good news for a change.

Nancy cried all the way through the meal she prepared and set before us. I said grace and the crying started. It the time for me to eat the steak in front of me and five biscuits for her to settle down enough to talk about it. “What would I have done without you all? I feel so good and so bad all at the same time. Cicero missing. Tor dead. Shorts dead. All those gun hands dead and even that horrible Mr. Everson dead. All over gold. I wish it wasn’t there. Why couldn’t it be on someone else’s ranch? My mother homesteaded that section just because of the water. My father always said that place was a waste because it was so far out. I wish he was here now.” Her bawling wiped out the rest.

I went for a walk. I had a lot of questions I would have liked answered. Why homestead a place that far out even with water? Who was digging the hole deeper into the wall? Who found it? “What do I do next, Lord? I really need You to tell me.”

Everything seemed so done. The kidnapper/killers were all accounted for. Nancy was safe. Every body we knew of was buried properly. The hands remaining were trustworthy. I could leave whenever I wanted to.

Tommy died that night.

Tommy had the first watch. He never woke up me or Buck. I woke at the first hint of dawn and saw Buck’s bunk occupied. I didn’t even bother to check my boots for varmints before I kicked my feet into them. Grabbing my gun belt I whipped it around my hips and missed catching the buckle. I tried again and succeeded. The yard was empty. The house was quiet. All the horse seemed to be in the corral. Solomon looked at me like, ‘What’s up, Deacon?’

I found Tommy in the kitchen with a cup of coffee on his finger. The coffee was ice cold. I put the pot on the stove and added some kindling, blew on the ashes, and had a fire in a minute or so. Buck ran in, saw Tommy, and asked very quietly, “What happened?”

I told him all I knew.

Tommy’s body laid on the floor just as I had found him. He had soiled himself and his face was one of agony. His back was arched backwards. The coffee that had been in the cup must have gone down his gullet because none was seen spilled on the floor except one large drop under his cup lip.

The pot on the stove boiled. I reached for a cup on the counter and handed it to Buck. He grabbed the pot and poured as I reached for another cup.

I dropped it and spun around, slapping Buck’s full cup from his lips. The hot coffee go on both of us. My shirt caught some, but I leaned forward to give the hot coffee distance from my skin. Buck wasn’t as lucky. The scalding coffee splashed on his cheek and ear before pouring off his face and down his back. He screamed like a gut shot horse. I grabbed the water bucket and doused him with half a bucket of water.

“Thanks, I think. What was that all about?”

“The coffee is the only way Tommy could have been poisoned.”

“How do you know he was poisoned?”

“The box in the far corner of the counter. See, the one that says ‘rat poison’ on it.”

“Oh, thank you, Deacon.”

Nancy walked into the kitchen with her wrong shaped robe wrapped around her and fear in her eyes. “What’s all the . . .”

She saw Tommy.

“Is he dead?”

“Yes. Poison,” Buck answered.

“Oh, my god.”

“Ma’am. I wish you wouldn’t say that unless you know God up close and personal.”

“How’d he die?”

“Poison. I already told you that.”

“You don’t have to yell.” The crying started all over again. “Damn gold.” She turned and walked back to her room.

I heard the door slam.

“Let’s get him out to the barn, Buck. Did you see that box on the counter at dinner?”

“No. No one puts poison on the kitchen counter.” He looked around. “Do they?”

“Someone did. Far’s I can see. Either you or Nancy put it there, cuz I know I didn’t do it.”

“You can count me out. I know I didn’t do it either.”

I just shook my head grabbed Tommy under his arms. He was cold and stiff. Buck grabbed his feet. The barn was cool and a board across a stall became his marble slab until the grave was ready for him.

Nancy was still in her room with the door shut when they returned to the house. “I’ll cook, you watch,” I said.

“I’m watching after I get rid of this rat poison.” Buck walked out the back door. I watched him go a hundred yards from the house and slowly pour the poison out of the box onto the ground in a thin stream. The morning breeze kicked up a bit to help disperse the poison. He brought the box back and threw it in the stove.

We both watched it burn to ashes. I stirred the ashes. It was gone.

Three of us on the ranch and one of us was a killer.

Then my brain kicked in again. It wasn’t me. The reason for the murder was important. Tommy knew where the gold was. Of course, so did Nancy and Buck. Nancy already owned  the gold mine. That only left Buck, and he didn’t act like a killer. He was genuinely startled and surprised when his saw Tommy on the floor. So was Nancy.

Was there someone else on the ranch trying to kill us off? Why? Because that someone else knew about the gold and did not have a prayer of getting it without killing us off. That had to be it.

My head hurt as I grilled some steaks in a fry pan and burned some biscuits in the oven.

We ate it all regardless.

I told Buck I was camping out a ways tonight and if he wanted to do that he could. I informed Nancy of my decision and she just shrugged, locked her bedroom door, and yelled, “All you brave men leaving a woman at home to guard the fort. Oh well, I guess it is my ranch so it’s up to me to keep it. I won’t move outta this room tonight and I want everyone to know, I have a Winchester and two pistols in here. I know how to use them and I can’t miss if you come through the window or the door. Goodnight.” Her lamp went out.

I had done so much figuring that I was wondering if I was guilty of the murder of Tommy, by accident. We had really torn that kitchen apart a looking for all we needed to cook and serve a big meal, any one of us could have left that poison on the counter. Although, I can say I don’t ever remember seeing it in the kitchen or anywhere before.

I just started riding trying to keep the moon light bright around me while I was in shadows and under cover. After a mile or so I just rode. The dog appeared beside me just sauntering along with the horse’s quick walk. So here we were so deep in the mystery, but all together like we had been shortly after it began. The dog wasn’t too talkative, so I just shut up and rode.

Without thinking I had ridden toward the mine and come in on the high side of the ramp down to the creek. We set up camp near the high side of the slope and settled in for a night’s sleep in peace and quiet.

Solomon grunted which woke me up. I didn’t move. I didn’t open my eyes. I prayed that my breathing hadn’t changed any. Someone was very close to me. How did I know? I don’t know, I just knew.

A foot step.

Another.

A sixgun rubbing leather as it was drawn.

FREE BOOK – The DEACON – Episode 16

Moving from tree to tree, I got to the horses. Actually, it was just horse, Solomon. Diane’s horse was gone and so was her saddle. Why had she left alone? Why was I on the ground? Why was it dark when it should be early?

I had to think hard through the pain to come back to the answer, my concussion. I had blanked out and she did what I told her. She left me. She left me covered with a blanket and Solomon. For both I had to thank her. My Winchester was gone.

I checked the saddle bags, but found nothing there to eat. We hadn’t had anything to eat in a day before I blacked out again, and now I was going to have to look for her tracks, find food, and catch up to her before the Lazy E crowd, specially the fat man. Not a goal I was too sure I could handle at that time.

A sharp noise rattled through the woods. I drew the .44 and stood as silent as the rock next to me. Solomon’s head came up. I grabbed his muzzle to keep him silent. We waited.

Another horse? No.

Must be a person making that much noise. No.

It was a cow, a big ugly fat cow, also referred to as beef steak on the hoof. If I shot the poor dumb critter I might as well send a telegram to the ones following us and tell them where to meet me.

The cow got to live a bit longer. I slowly and carefully saddled Solomon, eased myself into the saddle, and started to go . . . where? I had no idea. I checked the big dipper. A couple of hours left until it would begin to get light. I slowly climbed down and, leaning against a the rock wrapped in my blanket, I waited for enough light to see her tracks.

 

I woke again with the sun just over the horizon. Solomon was still saddled and not very happy with me. He nudged me and gave out with a couple of grunts as if to say, ‘Let’s go, laggard.’ I really could not blame him.

The tracks of a fast moving horse left that campsite heading east. It was the tracks of Diane’s horse. We took out after them.

In the morning light the tracks were easy to follow. If they were easy for me, I knew they’d be easy for any real hand on a ranch. For a while I drug a bush along behind, but looking back all I’d done is make an easier track to see the trail.

There was about three miles behind me when the sound of a rifle shot came from up ahead. Solomon kicked the speed up a bit and we went running into battle.

The sound of a couple of six guns going off echoed off the steep sides of a valley we were entering. We splashed through a small stream and up the other bank, still on the tracks. The problem became very evident. Two other sets of tracks joined Diane’s. She was in trouble.

The rifle sounded again, followed by a six gun.

I was behind two chasers which were between Diane and I. I couldn’t shoot until I knew the positions of both Diane and the two outlaws, or at least I was assuming they were from the Lazy E. Another pistol shot, this time closer.

I left the saddle and tried to walk, leading Solomon. That didn’t work by head began to swim and I went down.

The sun had moved about two hours’ worth when I woke up. I wasn’t as confused as earlier, but there was still the problem of getting into the saddle. When I finally did, I was seeing double and Solomon was wanting to move. We moved at whatever speed Solomon wanted to go and all I did was hang on.

At least there were no more gun shots.

For awhile.

Not two miles down the path, four more horses joined the three I was tracking. Now there were six on the trail of one young gal that just wanted to see her father buried proper and get her ranch back. The more I thought on that idea, the madder I got. Why? Why was this outlaw rancher so intent on gaining a ranch that he would kill her father and then go after a woman in a time and place where woman were looked upon as more holy than any church. You could burn down every church in the state and just rile folks a bit, but mess with a woman and every man jack of them would be on your trail with a hanging rope over the horn.

At this point, Everson had to kill her and bury her deep. If she made it to a real town, he would be a hunted man and so would all his hands, or gang. I was already on his trail and I intended to be the one who read to him from the Good Book and told him of his sins. God could deal with him when the time came for his final judgment. I didn’t want to be judge, jury, and executioner. I just wanted the girl safe and sound in her own home.

I looked to the heavens and said, calmly, “Is that too much to ask, Lord.”

Thunder rolled through the new canyon Solomon had just taken the two of us into.

I didn’t like the sound of that answer.

Solomon moved on like he knew what he was doing and I just worked at staying in the saddle and making sense of the sights I was seeing double. No more shots rolled through the canyon as the walls got steeper and the steam ran faster.

I heard a shout.

Solomon stopped before I could pull back on the reins. I slowly swung my right foot over Solomon’s rump and eased myself to the ground. Taking my left foot out of the stirrup was no easy task, but Solomon stood for it. I dropped my end of the reins in the dirt just in time to see the dog moving through the boulders on the other side of the stream. Where had he been? I didn’t really care, I was just glad to see him. I whistled softly and he ignored me. I moved parallel to the dog as we moved up the trail alongside the stream.

Another voice said, “Catch up when you can. I ain’t missing the fun when they catch that gal.”

“Some pard you are, Doby.”

I listened to hear Doby ride away followed by the other man grumbling about a busted latigo way out here in the middle of nowhere.

The trail went up steeply alongside a ten foot tall water fall. Kinda pretty it was, but who had time to appreciate the creation around them in times like this. My head came slowly over the top at the edge of the falls to see a man fumbling with his saddle, which laid in the dirt, and trying to piece together two pieces of broken leather.

It looked to me like the mice had gotten to his latigo and done a right smart job of eating a fair sized chunk out of the strap. Only two ways I knew to fix that; rivets or a new strap. He tried to use just the ring end of the latigo only to find it too short to make a tie. He reached in his saddle bag and pulled out a strip of leather a short half-inch wide and thick about three feet long. Using his knife he cut the two chewed ends of the latigo off square and over laid them. The pocket knife he dug out of his ducking trousers had a long, narrow blade which he used to start a hole through the two ends of the latigo.

I could see what he was planning on and filed that idea in the back of my mind should I ever need it. He was going to sew that latigo together with the leather. He tossed the leather strip in a backwater of the stream and as he did caught sight of me. He grabbed for his gun.

I hauled mine out, but before I could get it over the edge of the trail, the dog hit him running and leaping across the stream to land in the middle of one surprised gun hand whose gun went flying and feet went out from under. The dog stood on his chest and growled in his face. I stepped up took his knives away from him. The big one I had to roll him a bit for, but the pocket knife was lying in the dirt next to him.

The dog backed off when I asked him to.

“Stand up and tell me the name of the man I’m gonna bury right here.”

“You ain’t burying me.”

The dog didn’t like the sound of his voice or something, he took the man down again.

The man’s hand flashed into his shirt and came out with a short barreled small caliber pistol which I heard click twice as he thumbed the hammer back. I didn’t think. I just shot the man as he laid there trying to get that barrel lined up with me or the dog.

The dog backed off and wagged his tail. Last I saw of him he was going over the next rise on the trail while I was gathering what I could use of the man’s rig. Two chunks of jerky were a blessing and that little, short barreled pistol, and his gun belt were going to come in handy I was sure.

I rolled him off the trail and set all the rocks I could move over against and over his body while I was quoting the Good Book to him for a service.

No there were only five after Diane.


20

 

The double vision was going away. I could move without getting dizzy. Getting on Solomon was not the task it had been just hours ago. “You fixin’ me up, Lord? I will give thanks for that.”

We moved slowly up the trail figuring someone would come back to check on the man left behind, but no one did after a half hour. Solomon slowly picked up the pace until we came to place where someone, Diane probably, had rolled a rock and caused a slide to cover the trail with large rocks and also dam up the stream.

The Lazy E boys had moved enough rock to get their horses over the blockage making a new chunk of trail which I promptly used and kept on at the tail end of the parade.

As I rode I was looking at the tracks. There were three I could identify anywhere due to some weird markings, but the others looked the same to me. I was trying to figure out which one was Diane’s, but had no luck by the time the sun was low in the western sky. With about an hour to find a secure place to camp, the trail split. The tracks of the horses went one way, which was cresting the pass not more than two hundred yards ahead. The creek was down to almost no water in it. I could even see where the trickle began near a pair of rocks not fifty feet ahead.

I filled my canteen and took the other way until I was sure no one was following and began looking for a camp spot. My figuring was that I would set up a camp and walk up to the pass after dark and see what I could see of campfires or even cabins or a town in the distance. We were high enough up that unless the view was blocked, the view should be long and informative.

Maybe a quarter mile up the side path, I found a spot. Just as I was swinging off the back of Solomon, I noticed as single small boot track in the dirt right where I figured to put my bed. It was a flat spot maybe six feet wide and protected on two sides by rocks three feet high. The track looked to have been made by someone going from rock to rock, but there they had to hit the dirt because the jump was too far.

Eyeballing the direction I took out to see if any more tracks showed up. The reason was simple. I was sure this was a track of one of the boots Diane had been wearing. Diane had sent her horse down one trail as she got off and headed down the other going from rock to rock alongside the trail. Those gun dummies would never think of a trick like that. Why would anyone leave a perfectly good horse to walk on top of rocks when and where there was no way they could get back to the horse? And, it was a long way to anything down this new trail.

The DEACON – Episode 6 – Constructive suggestions wanted.

NOTE: This is right off the keyboard. typos, misspellings, and other bugaboos free just like the story. BUT, I am looking for your impressions, ideas, plot suggestions, and just plain thinking. THANK YOU for staying with me this long.

“He has killed over twenty that we know of. All have been clouded with lies good enough that we have never been able to hang him. This town is better off without him, you can bet on that.”

“I don’t bet on people’s lives.”

“Yes you do. Every time you preach you are betting that some of the folks listening will take to your message and become Christians just like you. Some you win and some you lose.”

“I win nothing. God wins it all.”

“Fine. I won’t argue the religious stuff with you.”

Daniel walked to the caravan door and went inside, emerging a few minutes later with rough clothes on and tucking a small sack of coins in his pocket. “I am going to the mountains to pray and think this through.”

He ducked under the caravan and returned with his Bible.

“Evelyn, the caravan and all that is left in it are yours. I will find you one day a couple weeks or so from now, and we will discuss the future. Deputy, where can if find a good horse at a fair price?”

Evelyn grabbed his arm, “All this is good for nothing without you.”

“There’s enough in the safe to keep you for as long as I will be gone. I’m sure you are well taken care of. If I were you, I’d find a nice boarding house for ladies and stay there. Join up with that Pastor’s church and sing in the choir. I will be back.”

The deputy said, “Come on, I’ll get you set up.” Something caught in his throat, “You know, the first time I had to kill a man, I was riding shotgun on a gold shipment. It hit me much the same as you for altogether difference reasons. I went fishing for two months to think it through. That robber got what he had coming just as this man on the ground here got what was long overdue. Would you mind if I tagged along with you for a week or so? I need a bit of a vacation myownself/”

Dan walked to Evelyn and threw his arms around her. “Thanks. You’ve been a good mother to me even if you ain’t my ma. I’ll be back. Don’t sell the caravan, yet.”

He turned to the deputy, “Where’s the fishin’ real good around here?”


First post – http://wp.me/p5dVRw-1L

9

A couple hours later the two of them were riding toward the mining country around Golden and the big fish along Clear Creek. Daniel was not used to a saddle and demanded a break at midday. “I need to get off this nag and walk on my own two feet for a spell, Tor. Besides all that, I am hungry.”

“If ya wanna get down we can for a spell, but if you’re hungry, you’re gonna have to shoot something.”

“What? You didn’t pack some food?”

“Not a bite. There’s a great spot to rest up about half a mile from here. See what you can shoot with that Winchester under your left leg on the way there. You take the lead.” He pulled his horse off the trail and let Daniel pass.

“Dan, that rifle is yours. Came with the rig. All you are sitting on is the outfit of Bixby. Livery man said Bixby owed him about $14 and he’d take what the man owed for the rig. I figured $14 was a good price for a horse, saddle, rifle, and whatever’s in them saddlebags. Ya might wanna air out that bedroll before it gets dark. Check for bed bugs and lice and such.”

Daniel jumped off the horse. “I can’t take the belongings of a man I killed. It wouldn’t be right, Tor. Not right at all.”

“You didn’t mind the deal when I found it for you. It’s just that it used to belong to Bixby. Is that the drift?”

“Yeah.” Daniel sat on a rock beside the trail. “I can’t do this.”

“Okay. So if you had walked into the livery on your own and the owner offered you this rig without you knowing where it come from, you would of turned it down. Is that right?”

“Well, no.”

“Then what’s the problem. I didn’t twist the man’s arm. I didn’t ask. He didn’t name Bixby until after the deal was done. All he told me was a man owed him and died. I grabbed it cuz it was a great deal. Danged rifle gun alone is worth the money. Take it or walk. I’ll buy it off ya. Matter of fact you still owe me the $14, you ain’t paid me back yet.”

“So it’s your horse and rig?”

Daniel climbed back in the saddle and said, “I’ll ride your horse and riggin’. Ya wanna sell it?”

“Yes I do. $300 for the lot.”

“What!”

“Well, you didn’t like the deal I got for you, now it’s my turn to turn a profit.”

“That ain’t a profit, that’s robbery, highway robbery and a swindle to match. Look at this gun. The bluing is rubbed off all along this side. The butt has a crack and it’s held together with wire. This horse is ugly. The saddle is so worn I can feel the horses backbone under the blanket that you can see through. I’ll give ya $20 for the lot.”

“You think I’d see $300 worth of rig and horse for $20? You must be counting on divine intervention or something.”

“Well, I could try asking the Lord to knock you off that horse your one and give you a Saul moment? But, He don’t work that way. $25.”

“Sold. I don’t wanna be know what at Saul moment is.”

Forty yards down the trail a young elk jump from the bushes. The rifle came up. Tor yelled, “No, you danged fool. We can’t eat that much.” He pulled his pistol and took the head off a large cottontail rabbit not twenty feet the other side of the trail. “That will do. Lunch time, Dan, lunch time.”

He walked his horse over and reached down a long way to pick up the rabbit before he took off in a trot to the great spot he was talking about. Dan followed thinking, ‘Don’t much care for rabbit. The Right Reverend, my pa, fed me that every time the count was down.’

As the rabbit roasted, Dan filled Tor’s request for an explanation of a Saul moment.

“Dang, knocked him to the ground. Made him blind. Yelled at him. And, then he used him to start new churches all over the world? Ooooweeeee. That’d be some moment in my life.”

“Sure was for Saul. God even changed his name to Paul and then Paul lost his head to the Romans in the end.”

“God ain’t too much on protecting folks from the government, is He?”

“I don’t think I want to touch that comment, my friend.” Dan dug in his pocket, “Here’s the $30 I owe ya for the rig.”

“About time. I was beginning to figure the interest on the loan of that fine animal and his riggin’.” Tor got up and walked to his bedroll, stuck his hand in the middle, and came out with a shiny Colt .44 in a worn holster. “Here this goes with it. Bixby’s short gun. It’s a good gun. Tried it myownself. Them grips are real mother-of-pearl, comes from some sea critter, and the .44 is an easy gun to find ammo for in these parts.” He tossed it to Dan.

The rig hit the dirt after Dan backed up and refused to catch it. “You lettin’ that gun lay in the dirt ain’t good for it. Get it on. They’s some wild and woolly boys up in these mountains and we may just have an Indian or two try to steal that nag of yours.”

He paused for a moment and saw that Dan was not going to move. He yelled, “Put it on or I won’t ride with you. This country is dangerous. The critters are dangerous, grizzly and lion, and the danged people are dangerous, male and female. Put. It. On.”

Daniel put it on.

“That was the funniest way of putting on a rig I ever did see. Thumb and forefinger of each and was all you used and it took you forever. Some morning when the world falls apart around us, you will need to get that one in a flash and get off all the shots you can in the poof.”

“Look, Tor. I am not used to a pistol. Never handled one and never owned one. This is Bixby’s, or was Bixby’s. I’m still getting used to sitting on his horse, let alone strapping on his gun rig. Look at that holster, it’s got a tie down. Only folks us them are gunslicks.”

“So cut it off.” Tor tossed his knife in front of Dan’s feet.

Daniel cut it off and tossed the leather string on the hot coals. “Show me how to use it if you’re gonna make me wear it.”

“You’ll get your first lesson tonight. Let’s move. I don’t wanna camp here, too public.”

Five hours later Daniel was standing with his legs spread shoulder wide, his arms dangling at his side, and the six gun on his hip loaded again after tearing the thing completely apart and putting all back together under Tor’s guidance. “You stand like you were watching a nice looking horse walk down the main drag.”

Dan shuffled a bit.

“That’s good. Now make a fist and open your right hand a few times.”

Daniel did.

“Now grab the gun butt, pull, ease the hammer back – whatever you do don’t let it slip – until it clicks the second time, and then pull the trigger while your pointing the gun at that whitish rock over there. The one on the bank of the hill.”

Daniel did. The whitish rock came apart. “Like that?”

Tor stood in his position with his mouth open. That whitish rock was a good 10 yards away or more. First shot and it was a dead rock.

“Do it again. This time get off two shots. Remember, you have to pull the hammer back for each shot.”

Dan put the gun back in the holster. “What you want me to aim at this time?”

“How’s about that branch stickin’ up on that dead tree?” He pointed.

Daniel brought the gun out with no apparent speed, two shots sounded like two shots from two guns one on top of the other like one was just a mite slower than the other. Two branches on the dead tree lying 15 yards or so away disintegrated in puffs of saw dust and bark.

“Reload,” was all Tor could say.

Daniel ejected three cases and inserted three fresh rounds from his belt. “How come?”

“Always reload as soon as you can after firing. You will never know when you might need all five shots.”

Daniel asked, “Why on five rounds? There’s six holes here. In a battle wouldn’t six be better?”

“How many times have your fired a pistol of any kind?”

“Just the three shots today.”

“Then how can you shoot so well. You hit the target and are moderately fast in gettin’ yourself in the fight. You amaze me.”

Daniel looked at him, “Ain’t that what a man’s supposed to do?” He flipped the loading gate shut and spun the cylinder. “Six shots loaded.”

Tor walked over to him and stuck his hand out, “Let me have your .44.”

Daniel lifted it out of the holster and handed it to Tor. “Here ya are. What’s the problem?”

“Watch.”

Tor walked over to the stream bed and grabbed a fist sized rock that was fairly flat on one side. He held the pistol with his hand wrapped around the grip. The hammer was down and his finger was not on the trigger. He smacked the rock into the hammer with the barrel pointed across the stream.

The gun went off sending a slug to ricochet off the water and into the hillside.

“That’s why.”

The DEACON – Episode 4 – Constructive Critique requested

The food arrived and disappeared down their throats faster than a chicken will suck up a worm. Daniel stood, yawned, and stretched, “I’m for a nap. Let’s go move Dad out of the caravan. If he ain’t there, all the better.”

“He’s still you earthly father, Dan.”

“Yup, he is. He can move underneath with me. Plenty of room for two separate bedrooms under there.”

“He isn’t gonna like it.”

“That is really his problem. He passed the baton to me when he got so drunk he couldn’t preach. Now it’s my show and he’s welcome to tag along.

6

The two of them stood behind Miner’s Hall praying. The air was still and sticky telling Denver it was in store for a storm. “Let’s get inside before we get soaked.”

Evelyn answered, “I really don’t want to go in there. There are many ways for God to provide the answers to those prayers on the hilltop.”

“We’ll never know until the curtain opens.

They entered after knocking on the stage door to get the stage hand to open it.

He smiled, “I’m whipped. I never knew prayer could be such hard work. I joined Jesus last night after my wife explained some of it to me. I still need that conversation we were gonna have.”

“Congratulations. I forgot with all the excitement and the hilltop experience.” He motioned toward the hall, “How’s it look?”

“Don’t know. I’ll find out with you with we draw the curtain. It’s very quiet out there and there’s just five minutes til start up.”

They moved to the rope that controlled the curtain. The piano began quietly. No other noise could be heard. A quiet piano version of Amazing Grace lifted.

Evelyn walked to the middle of the stage still behind the curtain. As the piano got to the closing line of the verse and played the first three sections of the last line, she stepped through the gap onto the stage, down center, to the brightest stage light lifting from the biggest foot light, and began to sing as the piano continued.

Backstage there was still no sound from an audience.

Daniel listened as she sang. At the end of the first verse he stepped through the curtain. Every seat was filled. The side aisles and the back were filled with standing men and women. An occasional child could be seen, but all were quiet.

Daniel stood in awe. His body began to shake from fear. Only organized angry people could stay that quiet as they waited for the key word that would loose the lions on the two of them.

He looked out over that crowd with his Bible in his hand. They had come and by all that was Holy they would hear the word. He opened the Bible and began to read. “For God so loved, HE LOVES YOU, the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever, WHOSOEVER, believed on Him, THE SON, should not parish, DIE, BUT, BUT, hear me, BUT have everlasting life. Perfect life. No sorrow. No tears. No pain. No fear of death. The perfect life for all eternity, THAT MEANS FOREVER. From right now until FOREVER.

He nodded to Miss Evelyn telling her it was time to quit the song. Evelyn shook her head and sang louder. He lifted his arms high in a gathering motion, “Come, come as I did three nights ago. Come to Christ. Come find life anew. Come in faith that all this is true. Come, now is the day of deliverance from your bondage to the devil,” he shouted over the music.

Minutes went by. No one moved. No one made a sound. Then one young woman against the back wall began sobbing and walked toward the stage. A cowboy walked forward with his hat in his hands covering his face. A kid came smiling. A brushy faced old man hobbled to the front, shouting, “Hallelujah.” Some folks laughed, but even those were laughing without mocking. The man yelled even louder, “Hallelujah.” The crowd echoed his cry, “Hallelujah.” The windows rattled and dust fell from the chandeliers.

Daniel cried real big tears of joy. Miss Evelyn moved to the stairs and joined the growing crowd at the foot of the stage. A local pastor joined her in providing counsel to those seeming to be sobbing out of control and answer any questions put to them.

One laughing couple asked, “Can we be baptized now?”

The pastor said the river was a good place and began a march to the river that stopped at the first horse trough. First the pastor slid Daniel under the surface of the water and then Daniel moved across the street to another trough and began baptizing all those who were willing. Cries of, “Thank you, Jesus,” and “Hallelujah” were heard as the seemingly endless lines of people were dipped in the mossy waters of the troughs.

After an hour, Daniel noticed that the lines were down and a crowd was standing around, many of them dry as a bone. He jumped to the stand on the hitching rail and pulled himself up on the roof of the shade over the wooden sidewalk, where he shouted, “Come to the waters in faith all you sinners. Know the true God of this world. Live the life He designed for you.” He kept beckoning as the dry individuals slowly walked away or came crying to the trough.

As it was apparent that the folks were not going home, but were standing around praying, singing, or just plain watching, Daniel began the sermon he had prepared for this night. The street before him squirmed with live bodies trying to hear the Word. More people were caught up in the excitement and some were even directed to the trough where the Pastor continued to baptize all that agreed to the Sacrament.

At 1 AM, a local deputy from the Marshall’s office walked up to a position under Daniel as he stood on the roof, “Sir, I must ask you to stop preaching and allow these folks to go home. We do have a noise ordinance and there have been complaints. There are also laws against blocking the street and holding a parade without a permit.”

“My apologies, I didn’t note the time was so late.”

“I’ll give you fifteen minutes to disperse this crowd,” the deputy added with a smile.

Daniel spoke a few words and said a long prayer of thanksgiving before notifying all present that it was time to get out of the road and go home.

The crowd slowly dispersed with much cheering and singing as they went. Miss Evelyn was found seated on the edge of the sidewalk, sobbing. She answered Daniel’s query with, “I’m so happy.”

Daniel took her arm and led her to the caravan.

His father wasn’t home.

Pushing aside the canvas drapes, he crawled under the caravan and crashed into his blankets thinking he would hunt for him in the morning. He chuckled to himself when he realized it was early morning and shut his eyes.


8

Evelyn yelled and pounded on the bottom of the caravan, “He didn’t come home. We need to find him.”

Daniel used his boot to thump his acknowledgement to her call and crawled out of bed. Once dressed, he moved out from under the caravan and wondered which saloon or brothel he would find his father in this time.

Evelyn opened the side window of the caravan, “How much longer you going to keep hunting him down every other morning?”

“Until he’s dead or breaks the habit. Or, he could be hit by the truth of all those sermons he preached as a phony and then we could work together.”

“That would surely be miracle.”

Dan smiled, “No more than my change and last night.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” She paused, “Well, go find him. I’ll get dressed and get us some breakfast. Oh, did you bring the bucket home?”

“No. I’ll look for that, too.”

He trotted down the hill to the opera house. The bucket was there by the back door, but there was only one silver dollar in it. The silver dollar went in a pocket and the bucket was left at the back door. The nearest saloon was two doors down. No one was there.

He started walking.

Seven saloons and two brothels later, he met the deputy from the night before. “What you doin’ out here at this hour? The preaching don’t start till dark, does it?”

“You’re right. Dark. I’m looking for my father. Heavy man, white hair, clean shaved, about your height. Wear’s black broadcloth suits most of the time.”

The deputy stepped back. “I know where he is. I was just coming to see ya about your daddy.”

“Problems?”

“Not for me anymore.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I think your father is at the funeral parlor.”

“Is he trying to do the services or something?”

“No,” he paused and took his hat off, “He’s dead.”

“How?”

“Got in a gun fight with a bad man gambler over a floozy.”

Free Book – The DEACON – Episode 3 – Critique requested

5

“Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, I stand here before you a humbled man. As many of you may have seen last night, I was struck down by the power of knowing that I was a sinner and needed the Christ I have been preaching. My father was a fraud and I have been a fraud for almost four years. Now I am the new man I have spoken of many times. Now, I am one transformed to being God’s man by His power. I stand before you a true, renewed man of God, convicted of the truth of the words I have been preaching by the Holy Spirit, and ready to share those same words with you in truth and power.”

The audience sat or stood in silence. Vegetables fell to the dirt. Fruit was dropped. Bags and baskets were pushed aside. Miss Evelyn began signing softly to his right. The crowd slowly gathered in the words of the song, ‘Just as I Am,’ they stood and joined in the singing. Not one verse was missed. Not one person stood silent, they hummed if they did not know the words

Daniel stood with his head hanging and his hands clasped at his chest in awe of the power of the truth.

The first rotten thing hit him, a potato. The rancid stench filled his nose as the eggs and garbage flew pelting him harder and harder until he was covered in the slime of an angry city. He fell to his knees crying from the sense that he deserved all this and they had every right to vent on him.

Evelyn sang louder as she joined him on the stage. The target became her as she joined Daniel on her knees. Words like hypocrite and liar filled the air. The venom of the words was stunning to young Daniel’s mind. How could they hate so much that another had join the Kingdom of God? How?

Louder and louder the audience raged until all became silence as if someone turned off the entire group at once.

Daniel looked up. All he could see were the backs of twenty or thirty folks leaving the building. They were done. He felt that he had only begun. Tomorrow night they would be here with the power of the message, the Gospel of Jesus, and not the sweetness of a man trying to lure the dollars from the suckered crowd.

There was no time to mourn or pout, no time to second guess, he had to preach. All that he was told him that. “This is our baptism, Evelyn. Let’s get to work.”

There was no reply.

He looked to his right and saw Evelyn lying on the stage, blood coming from her forehead.

“Oh, God, please let her live,” he cried louder than he had ever spoken before.

“You care that much?” Evelyn asked.

“Yes,” he replied, startled.

“Let’s get this mess cleaned up. We got a service tomorrow night that will be a world changer, I’m sure.” His face was bright red and it wasn’t from exertion.

The cleanup took until the small hours of the morning. The stage hand had left around midnight leaving only Evelyn and Daniel. Daniel had peeled down to his shirtsleeves and trousers. Evelyn worked in the dress she started in. “It’s destroyed anyhow. The stains and the stink will never come out. I’ll trash it when we’re done.”

As they left the building, rolling the last two wheelbarrows full of garbage before them, Evelyn started singing, ‘More About Jesus Would I Know.’

“Where’d that song come from?”

“It’s a new one I just got the music on. I kinda like it. How about you?”

“It fits, somehow. I like it.”

They arrived at the caravan with both of them singing the song. As it ended again, “Goodnight, Dan.”

“Goodnight, Evelyn.”

An hour later his father came under the caravan to join Daniel. “She won’t open the door, Daniel. Make her open the door.”

“No, Dad.” He reached up and grabbed a blanket from a shelf he had built there years ago. “Here, Evelyn and I are living a new life now. You can join us in Jesus, stay with us as my father, or leave. Goodnight.” He rolled over as a very drunk and perplexed man tried to figure out what was happening and how to wrap himself in the blanket.

Noon found Daniel walking around town in his work clothes hanging new posters all over. The posters read, “The message is the same, but the heart delivering it is changed forever” at the top of the same old poster they had used for years. “Come hear the truth” was at the bottom.

When he finished he stepped into The Grub House to get something to eat only to be received with, “Boo, go away you phony.” A cry of “The imposter had arrived, give him an egg,” followed. The waitress walked up to him and said, “How could you fake your sermons so well. Only the devil himself would be able to do that.”

He replied, “The devil was truly at work.” He handed her one of two posters he still had. “Come see the real thing tonight.”

She turned her back on him and refused the poster.

A large man smelling of blood stepped up to him, “You better get outta town, faker. Most folks don’t care much for swindles and you been pulling a swindle. You get on that stage tonight and you just likely to get tarred and feathered before be lift by a splintery rail and carried out of town.”

“I wouldn’t try that if I were you.” Daniel turned and walked out with his head hanging.

Seven PM rolled around and Daniel watched the seats in the Miner’s Hall. Only two were filled. No one was coming. He had purposefully taken the offering bucket and stashed it in the caravan so folks could see he wasn’t after the money.

Daniel nodded to Evelyn telling her to step out and start singing. She did. Amazing Grace rang through the hall like it was being sung by an angel. Her new dress sparkled in the light of the candles and lantern as if it were a piece of the dark summer sky.

The two drunks in the seats were shocked into wakefulness. The first said, “What’s that caterwauling, Roger.”

Roger replied, “Some cow’s got her teat in a ringer and the farmer’s still trying to get more milk.”

The two of them laughed themselves silly and went back to sleep by the time Miss Evelyn got to the part about ten thousand days.

She finished her two songs and walked off the stage. “Daniel, we’re done.”

“Meet me on the hill behind the caravan in twenty minutes.”

“I can do that.”

“Wear old clothes.”

“I can do that, too.”

He turned and walked to the two drunks, woke them up, and escorted them out of the building so the stagehand could lock up.

The stagehand asked as he ushered Daniel out the stage door, “You done?”

“The hall is paid for the rest of the week. I will use it for the rest of the week and maybe, just maybe, if the Lord is generous, I will pay up on the option for another two weeks.”

“Works for me. I gotta be here no matter how it’s used or it ain’t. No matter to me. I would like to hear more of what you was talkin’ off that last night before you fainted.”

“I’ll be here at noon and discuss it with you.”

“Where ya off to, Daniel?”

“Up yonder hill to pray. Evelyn and I will be up there for quite a spell, I would imagine. I got a lot to confess and get off my chest, and then there’s a lot I think needs to happen in this town and I aim to find out if God agrees.” He started to walk away.

“Can anybody come up there, Preacher?”

“You?”

“Yeah. And my wife. She thinks you’re a great preacher and a very brave man.”

Daniel flustered, “Nothing great about me. I just let God go to work on and through me. Come on up and bring a friend or two. I don’t care.”

“See ya in about an hour. Gotta finish locking up, making sure all the lights are out, and the till is in the safe. Ooops, no till, no safe needed.”

Daniel set his face toward the hill and started walking, dropping his coat off at the caravan, and grabbing a heavier jacked to kneel on and use if it got chilly. The top was empty when he arrived, but the sound of small rocks being disturbed came from behind and he knew at least one other person would be there, Evelyn.

“I’m here,” she said.

He fell to his knees and began praying silently with his face raised to the heavens. Evelyn understood and joined him five feet away. Within minutes they were both on their faces with tears dripping from their noses into the dirt. Neither of them heard the stage hand and his wife join their small group. Twenty minutes later six others joined. The Presbyterian preacher brought a few with him a few minutes later. By 10 PM a crowd of over a hundred was on that hilltop praying, yet not a sound was heard except sobbing.

By midnight folks were leaving the hilltop, many of them totally wrung out before their God. At the sound of the city clock announcing 1 AM, the crowd was half diminished. As the sun rose in the east, only two were still there. Each of them was standing with arms outraised welcoming the new day, praying harder that it would be a new day and life for many in the city below them.

Daniel looked at Evelyn, “Let’s go eat.”

Evelyn replied, “I feel filled.”

“So do I, but I am still hungry for food.”

They walked down the hill and across the streets until they arrived at The Grub House. No one said a word except the waitress. “What can I getcha this morning, Preacher?”

“Coffee.” He looked at Evelyn, who nodded, “Make that two.”

“Hey, Jim. Two cups a wide-awake for the Preacher and the Singer.”

“Comin’ right up.”

The waitress handed them a copy of their morning offering which offered eggs, side meat, steak, taters, beans, and grits in any combination cooked any way the cook cooked them.

They both knew what the place had, Evelyn said, “Load a plate for me,” and looked at Daniel.

“Same here,” he said.

They sat at an empty table and just looked at each other. Two smiles began to grow until Daniel said, “God’s gonna do something in the hall tonight that will determine the rest of my life. I really feel like He told me that up on the hill.”

“That goes along with what I felt. I feel He told me that my work was just beginning. The other side of that is, He wants me to dump your father and stay with you as your opener.”

“Dad isn’t going to like that after these past years.”

“I can no longer live in sin with a man not my husband. He refused to marry me last time I asked him. He was drunk enough to give a bar gal a twenty dollar bill, but not drunk enough to marry an ex-saloon gal and singer. I’m done with him. God said it had to be. I felt I had to sleep with him or I wouldn’t have a home or a job. My own stinking thinking kept me there. Your dad even preached that sermon one time in a camp where folks were all livin’ together without benefit of marriage because a preacher had never come to town and he found out. In his case it had nothing to do with sin. He wanted the money they’d pay for the weddings. It worked. He did 22 weddings that after noon and the least he received was a five dollar nugget which I still have in my case. It’s been my mad money for almost six years now. Well, I’m mad but I ain’t the one that’s gonna be movin’ out. I may have been a saloon gal, but I am not one now.”

“Sounds good to me.” He looked at her with new insight into the complexity of life as a Christian for a woman with a history.

The DEACON – Episode 2 – Constructive Critique please.

3

The next night the crowd began to form on the hilltop more than an hour early. There was even some jostling for the prime seats down front. Two cowboys got in a fight over a chair that was the last one on the back row. Miss Evelyn was dressed and mingling with the crowd a half hour before the show was to start.

“Oh, yes, you will be amazed at what God can do with your life once you surrender to Him through Jesus, the Christ. It is such a powerful moment and it lasts for the rest of eternity,” Miss Evelyn told one painted young gal on the front row.

“I hope he’s done before my boss misses me at the Cowboy Corral. I’m one of his biggest attractions and he won’t treat me nice if I ain’t there when the boys hit town, it being Friday and all.”

“I know whereof you speak, gal. I was in your shoes not 24 hours ago. Now I belong to Jesus and no man is gonna make me do anything I don’t wanna do no more.”

“Oh, that sounds so sweet. Tell me more at the end. You can walk me back, can’t you?”

“Maybe. It depends on the response.”

“Response to what.”

“The Word of God. That boy delivers it like no one I ever heard before.”

In the caravan, the boy is being shoved into his clean, second best shirt. “You just go out there and tell them another Bible story like you did last night. How about the ten lepers? Remember? Jesus healed ten lepers and only one came back to say, ‘thanks.’ The rest went on their merry way without ever givin’ a hoot who it was that healed them.”

“But Dad, I ain’t never been to no Bible school like you. I ain’t a preacher.”

“That crowd last night said differently, Daniel. They ate it up. The offering was one of the biggest we’ve ever had. It’s all about the money, boy, all about the money. You get out there and wow them with another story. You can do it. Bout time I retired anyhow. Too many towns know me.”

“I’ll do’er one more time. Then that’s it,” Daniel looked him in the eye, “I hope.”

“Give them heaven and they’ll fill the bucket.”

“I’m a phony, Dad. I don’t believe any of this stuff. It’s all hooey or so you been telling me.”

“They believe it and they’ll fill the bucket.”

“One more time,” Daniel said as he left the caravan for the rock platform.

The crowd saw him coming just as he saw the crowd. Every seat was filled with a person whose eyes were on him. The crowd went totally silent.

Miss Evelyn looked up to see why and then moved to her position on the rock. She looked at him and smiled. After all, he had shown her the way to a new life. She began to sing a new song she had never sung for anyone before. She had heard it as a child in New Hampshire when her folks would drag her, practically kicking and screaming, to the Congregational Church just outside of town. She sang, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” She didn’t plan it, it just came. The words flowed through her mind and out her mouth, verse after verse, until she was finished.

Daniel stood on the platform in awe of the beauty he had just heard. The crowd sat or stood in silence, most with their mouths wide open as if to catch all the music. One cowboy sitting on his horse way off to one side, took off his hat and hung it on the horn of his saddle and started clapping. The crowd slowly and reverently join in as they stood.

Miss Evelyn yelled, “It’s all true. You can have a friend in Jesus.”

The clapping got louder.

The cowboy ground reined his horse and walked slowly to the front of the rock platform and sat down in the dirt. Daniel raised his hands as he had seen his Dad do to get the crowd’s attention. They just kept clapping for Miss Evelyn.

She bowed and raised her hands. The crowd went silent. “Thank you. That was a song I learned a long time ago against my will, but today I sang it from my heart in His will. Please listen to what Daniel has to say to you.” The crowd shifted their eyes to look at the twelve year old boy in a boiled shirt and scuffed shoes.

He stepped closer to the edge of the stone platform.

An hour later he finished with, “Most of you want to be able to see, but few of you will come to Jesus for healing. He, and He alone can open your eyes to the sin in your lives that requires you to repent in order to truly know Jesus as a Savior. Then there will be even fewer that will come to the front and truly repent in faith before the throne of God that this rock symbolizes. Come won’t you?” He looked down, “Cowboy, you’re gonna have to move.”

The cowboy moved. He crawled to the rock, put one hand on his face and the other on the rock, before he yelled, “Jesus, heal me.”

Miss Evelyn scurried to the back of the rock, down the ladder, and around to the cowboy. She kneeled beside him, “Cry out to God and tell him how sorry you are that your sins required Jesus to go to the cross and be the blood sacrifice for your sins.”

The cowboy cried. He cried so loud his friend came up to see what was going on. By the time they arrived, the area between the chairs and the rock was filled with people in tears and on their knees before this God that Daniel had presented to them. Miss Evelyn went from person to person talking, comforting, and testifying of the Grace of God in her life. She even yelled at one point, “Yesterday I was in darkness, but since I met Jesus last night, I can in the light. I am free. I am free.”

The young saloon girl she had talked to before the service caught her, “Tell me how I can hide from my boss and live with Jesus.”

Daniel carried the bucket to the back of the area where most of the folks had entered. As he walked folks tossed bills and change into the bucket. The bucket got heavier as he approached the spot he had decided it belonged. Arriving, he sat the bucket on a rock that stood about two feet tall and placed a small sign on a stick in it that read, “Donations accepted,” and walked toward the caravan.

Person after person grabbed him and asked him to pray. He prayed. He didn’t believe it would do an ounce of good, but he prayed. He must have prayed a dozen times before he broke through the crowd and was able to reach the caravan. The clutching hands of the crowd fell away as he shrugged his way through the last ones and into the clear behind the rock platform.

“Dad,” he said as he entered the caravan, “You just aren’t gonna believe what I saw tonight.”

His father wasn’t there. He was in a local saloon, fondling a dancehall gal and drinking all the unguarded booze left behind the bar.

The gal didn’t mind. He had money and was free with it.

Miss Evelyn reached the last person face down on the dirt to find the cowboy. He was crying and shouting his sins as he begged for forgiveness. Miss Evelyn said, “Cowboy, that Bible says that if we repent and ask God for forgiveness, He will forgive. That’s a promise He keeps on a daily basis in your life.”

“Miss Evelyn, I needed tonight. I knew I was living wrong and now I’m dealing with it thanks to you and that boy, that preacher. Jesus is my friend just like you sang at the beginning. Where’s the boy?”

“He left.” She knew the kid didn’t believe what he told these folks, but she knew that God would forgive him one day when he did repent and follow the Word he was teaching.

Three years later Daniel stood on the platform in the largest venue in Denver and looked out over several thousand people of all ages, creeds, and colors. The message was one of a thief that was dying from the nails in his hands and feet that held him. The thief was hanging on a cross next to the dying Jesus. The thief admitted he was guilty of his deeds and deserved to die, and told the world from his cross that Jesus had done nothing wrong. He was hanging there for no reason other than the jealousy of the priesthood of the church of his day. He was hanging there in reality because that’s where His Father wanted him. He was hanging there to pay the penalty before God for all the sins of a lost world.

As he taught that last sentence something happened in the heart of a 15 year old young sinner standing on a platform in front of thousands of people. Somehow he was convinced that all he had been teaching for three years was really true and that this same Jesus died for him. He knew that the bucket was sitting at the back of the room with its small sign. He knew it was overflowing with the donations of all these people. He knew that it wasn’t all about the money.

IT WAS ALL ABOUT JESUS.

HE BELIEVED IT ALL!

He fell to his knees and cried, “Father, forgive me, a sinner,” and fainted in tears.

4

The next morning just before noon the Denver Tribune put out a special edition with black headlines reading, “BOY PREACHER FALLS FOR OWN MESSAGE” in three lines above the fold. The article read:

Last night at the Miner’s Hall, 15 year old Daniel Fount came to the fount of Jesus in the middle of his own sermon. The young preacher, son of the infamous Right Reverend Lawrence P. Fount, was approximately half way through his usual sermon time when he swooned on stage.

Miss Evelyn, the singer with the preacher, says he has been working excessive hours with new believers in Jesus and was totally exhausted. His father, the Right Reverend, stated that he didn’t know what happened until this morning. Rumor had it that the father was in the notorious Bucket of Blood Saloon with one, Big Bottom Kate, on his lap for most of the evening throwing money around like it was confetti thrown at a political parade.

Dr. Elmont Goode, a physician, is reported to have said that he could find no reason for the young preacher’s nose dive to the stage. The good Doctor Goode repaired the man’s broken nose and received a $10 bill for his services.

Young Preacher Daniel Fount stated to this reporter that the Revival will continue tonight a 7 PM at the Minor’s Hall where he will explain everything. A hearty crowd is expected.

Miss Evelyn will sing.

 

At 5 minutes to 7 PM that evening, back stage in the Minor’s Hall Daniel looked at Evelyn, “Evelyn, I need you to sing like you have only sung once before and that was the night in Las Vegas when you sang ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus.’ I want you to sing it just like you did that night.” He turned, “Dad, I want you well out of here. It could get dangerous. There were three notes delivered this afternoon concerning the phoniness of our ministry and the use of the funds donated by the audience. I may get hurt, but there is no sense anyone else getting hurt. Evelyn, you leave by the back door as soon as I begin to speak.”

“I won’t do that, Dan. I will be in the wings praying.”

“There is no reason for God to protect us tonight. I have sinned greatly and you have allowed it to happen even after you became a believer. So, go.”

“No!”

He gave up, “Thank you. I’ll need all the prayer I can get. But, if it starts getting violent, you run.”

“Lady don’t run too well dressed like this. I’ll be there praying.” She pointed to the left wing.

The stage hand that was still working with them came by and said, “Ten minutes, Preacher Fount. Miss Evelyn, the piano player asked if you would begin with a couple of songs starting now. The crowd is sounding rowdy and angry.”

“On my way. Pray for me, Dan.”

The stagehand said, “She’s gonna need it. I saw lots of rotten vegetables and fruit out there as I watched the front door. There was also a basket of eggs. Not a single person has dropped a penny in the bucket.” He paused as if he were looking for the right words to say. “I know how you feel, but remember – the Truth shall set you free, and Jesus is the Truth. I’ll be praying with Miss Evelyn.”

“Thank you. Stay away from me if it gets bad.”

“Don’t worry. I got a wife and three kids to think of. I’ll drop the curtain if you say so.”

“I won’t.”

The sweet sounds of Miss Evelyn’s singing drifted through the curtains and reached Daniel’s ears bringing him peace as he prayed which brought him total comfort in the midst of this turmoil. He checked the backstage clock. Six minutes until he would walk out there and put everything on the line for the cause of Jesus, this time, the first time in truth.

He walked to the edge of the down left curtain and peeked into the footlights illuminating Miss Evelyn at the down right stage corner as she sang, ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ with her clear, carrying voice. The audience stirred like an ant bed a horse had just stomped on.

She finished.

He walked on stage to center front, three feet behind the center footlight.

The DEACON – Episode 1 – Constructive comments appreciated

The DEACON

By Doug Ball    Copyright 2015

Book One

“Boy, it’s all about the money. Never forget that. It’s all about the money. Now get out there on the road and bang that drum. We need the money they’ll bring to the show.”

The boy shuffled out of the huge blue and white tent carrying the bass drum that was almost as big around as he was tall. At twelve years old, he knew the routine well. He’d bang the drum while standing next to the sign that said, “Revival. Come for a fresh anointing of the power of God.” He’d look cute and smile as wagons and horses went past on their way to the businesses of the community his father had set them up in this time.

The routine was always the same. He’d bang the drum and his father would preach. His father’s current entertainment was a woman he’d picked up from a saloon about three months past who sang sweet enough, but dealt with life with a foul mouth and even worse heart. But, she was pretty, could sing, and dress like the pious lady she wasn’t for the meetings. After she and his father would retired to the caravan wagon to drink themselves to sleep.

The boy, on the other hand, would lie awake half the night listening to their foul conversation and plans for the money that had filled the offering plate. His only hope was that this was one of those rare occasions when his father would toss him a silver dollar and say, “Run into town, son, and buy yourself a treat.” That hadn’t happened in quite awhile.

The offerings were down.

A kid about the boy’s own age stopped and asked, “Can I hit that thing a couple of times?”

“Sure.” Daniel moved back from the drum on its stand and handed the new kid the stick with the round ball of soft felt wrapped around the end. “Don’t hit it too hard, you might break the skin and I’d get a whooping, a bad whooping.”

“Okay.” The new kid took the stick and gave the drum three healthy whacks causing the drum to tip.

Daniel grabbed the drum, “Not quite that hard and hold the edge of the drum like this when you hit it.” He showed the kid how to hold it by the tightening rod across the top side.

The kid grabbed the rod and hit the drum a couple more times. “This is fun. Do they pay you for this job?”

“Nah. My dad’s the preacher.”

“The one that was preaching in the saloon last night?”

“That would be him.”

“Never heard of a preacher that got drunk and preached for free.”

“He weren’t preaching for free. He was preaching so’s them bums would hear the Word and repent from their sinful ways and buy him a drink.”

The kid shook his head as he continued to beat the drum, “Sounds fishy to me. My Ma said that a preacher should never allow foul alcohol to touch his lips.”

“I doubt if the booze ever touches his lips he slugs them down so fast. His tongue maybe, but not his lips.”

“I’ll have to check with Ma on that.” He smiled at the thought of being able to counter his mother’s words.

“Come on by tonight and I’ll get you a seat up front. Sometimes Pa gets to preaching so loud and frantic, he spits on the folks in the front couple of rows. Specially if he’s got a snoot full.”

“I don’t want no one spittin’ on me.”

“Okay, you can sit on the side of the stage near the piano with me.”

“I could do that. Gee, thanks.”

“My name’s Daniel, what’s yours?”

“Michael. Just like the Archangel.”

“I’m named after some buckaroo that herded lions.”

“He must have been one tough hand.”

“He was. The King made him his right hand Segundo.”

Two cowboys rode by laughing at the boys beating the drum. “Ben, we gonna come back and hurrah this tent tonight?”

“Sounds like a great idea. I ain’t heard a hell fire and damnation preacher in at least five years. Might be a good time. If he ain’t lively enough, we can help him by kickin’ up the action.”

Daniel heard the conversation and told himself to remember to tell his father.

He didn’t.

That evening Michael showed up just as the ‘singer’ was belting out “Bringing in the Sheaves.” The crowd grew to fill about half the tent and its 70 folding chairs. There were about a dozen cowboys standing in the back with bottles of various varieties of booze from beer to rotgut flaunted. All of them were commenting and gesturing with volume and vigor.

Daniel remembered the two cowboys riding by and ran to his father. “Dad, the cowboys are planning to hurrah you and the service tonight.”

“Don’t you worry, son, the Good Lord is in charge here tonight as He is every night,” he said as he laughed at his own words.

“Dad, I don’t really think it’s right laughing at something like that.”

“You’re right, son, but few there are that realize that, and I am one of them.” He walked to the podium, laid out his Bible and notes, and then hit the bass drum standing in its stand there beside him with a couple of good licks just as the demure dancehall girl finished her song.

“Thank you, Evelyn, for that enlightening Word of God in song. Let’s all give Evelyn a rousing hand of appreciation.”

The audience gave a half-hearted response. The cowboys in the back were cheering like mad. One of them even called out, “That ain’t no Evelyn, that’s Miss Daisy from Wichita. I saw here there last year when I hauled beef into that burg.”

The audience laughed louder at that than the response was to the song.

“Let us pray,” said the preacher.

Two hours later after the bucket had been passed around three times, the Preacher gave an impassioned altar call for, “All you sinners that need to repent and come to the feet of Jesus. Now is the day of repentance, not tomorrow. Come, come one and come all. Now is the light of Jesus shining brightest in the eyes of your heart. Come and live forevermore with Him in Paradise just as the thief on the cross. Come and enjoy the benefits of His Salvation. No more problems. No worries. He heals, come and be healed. Come now. We will sing that great hymn of the faith, “The Old Rugged Cross. Miss Evelyn will lead us.”

Miss Evelyn stood and sang with a dozen tears in her voice.

The crowd split. One group just remained seated. The other 15 or so got up and walked the aisle to the front and was greeted by the Right Reverend Doctor Lawrence P. Fount, Larry Fount on his arrest records. The head Deacon of the local Presbyterian Church asked Dr. Fount, “May I assist you, Sir?”

“Why certainly, young man.”

Some folks hit their knees and begged for forgiveness of their sins, other cried out for healing, the rest of those up front just stood awaiting whatever was supposed to happen. All except one old cowboy. That one old cowboy began the journey to the front and passed out cold to end up flat on his face in the middle of the crowd.

The Reverend Fount screamed at the top of his lungs, “This man is so overwhelmed with the power of God that he has passed out at the relieving of the burden of all his sins. Let’s shout hallelujah in praise.”

“He passed out drunk,” yelled a cowboy from the rear of the tent.

The seated crowd laughed and catcalled concerning the issue.

“He’s a boozer and a loozer.”

“That old reprobate.”

“Somebody dowse him with a bucket of water.”

Just as the fun was really ripping through the tent, the old cowboy got up, drew his six shooter, and proceeded to put five holes in the roof of the big top. The crowd hit the floor as if they were all struck by the power of God. The old cowboy staggered to the back and exited through the door of the tent.

The Reverend Fount said, “Damn, more holes to patch before they run.”

He left the tent as Evelyn sang the first verse, the only one she knew, again for the fifth time.

By the time she finished the first verse again, the crowd was well thinned and Daniel was left to put out the lamps and lanterns hanging here and there, along with buttoning up the tent door. He noticed the Reverend Father, his Father, had not forgotten the offering which had resided in a tin bucket.

“Must have been skimpy, he left the bucket.” Daniel went to his blanket under the caravan.


2

A month and ten towns later, the tent sat in the dirt at the end of the main business section of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The wind blew as the six hired men struggled to get the tent erected until the Reverend Fount called an end to the struggle and just had Daniel set up the chairs. The weather being pleasant and the location at the crest of a slight rise said much for the outdoor, no tent set up. No one would be cold and due to the breeze, the mosquitoes would not bother the folks. There was even a convenient rock, flat on top and large enough to be the stage. The piano would not fit, nor could it be lifted up to those heights, but a simple four step ladder sufficed to allow the Reverend and Miss Evelyn an easy and modest assent to the God given platform.

With the easy site set up allowing the Reverend plenty of time before the show, he descended into the community to share the joy he felt with the folks of said community. There being five separate buildings which merchandised the nectars he sought gave him ample opportunity to spread the good word around concerning the Joy that would be available on the hilltop that evening.

Unfortunately, he spent more time imbibing in the merchandise than he did spreading the good news of joy. Come the advertised time of 6 PM, he was only semi-conscious in the caravan. No efforts of Miss Evelyn could arouse him fully. Finally, Daniel went in as Miss Evelyn took the stage to keep the masses occupied until he could wake up the Preacher.

After three verses of “We Shall Gather at the River,” Daniel threw a bucket of water on in the Preacher’s face. Of course that was not a good thing to do, it doused all the man’s clothing from the waist up and left the bed a sodden mess. The Reverend sputtered and cursed like a sailor until he gave out with the best idea he ever had, “You go preach to them, Daniel. Tell them how God delivered your namesake from the Lions.”

“I can’t preach. You’re the preacher, not me. What do I know about preaching?”

“It’s all about the money, son. Put on the show and they will drop their last penny in that tin bucket. It is all about the money.” He fell back, out cold.

Daniel grabbed his good shirt and coat from the bottom drawer, jumped into them, and ran for the stairs to the platform. Arriving at the top he found he could not see over the podium, so he tossed it aside with a crash that brought all attention to him. Evelyn ended her song at the same moment.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, my earthly father is ill.” A long period of laughter from the audience followed. “He has anointed me to speak to you tonight. If you are disappointed, you may leave and with this set up you may leave in any direction you wish.” Again laughter.

“My name is Daniel. It comes from a man of ancient Israel in captivity. He was a slave to the highest man in the world of that day.” He went on to finish the story.

“As Daniel was saved from the lions and promoted to the highest position under the king, you can be promoted to the highest position under God by using the same faith Daniel used in his stand against the evil advisors of the king. This old world will tell you that you are alright, but God says you must have faith in His Son, Jesus, to be all right. You cannot be half right and be in the presence of God, you cannot even be mostly right to be in the presence of God. You must be ALL RIGHT, and that only happens when you totally give in to the desires of God and let Him lead you to your resurrection one day.”

Miss Evelyn fell to her knees as she sang her rendition of “The Old Rugged Cross” again and again. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Between lines she cried out, “Save me, Jesus.” Everyone thought it was part of the show, but Miss Daisy (Evelyn) meant it from the bottom of her heart. As she began the first verse again, she fell to her knees and cried, “I repent. I will be your child. Bring on the lions.”

Daniel knelt beside her, “Don’t you think you are overdoing it a bit?”

“I am not acting. This is real. I have never felt like this. The happiness in my heart is smothering the pain of my life history. Oh, the joy.” She started the first verse again.

Daniel looked at the reactions of the crowd and wondered what was going on. This had never happened when his father preached. Even the cowboys from the back of the room were up front on their knees. Many of the crowd were crying, many were just sitting in their chairs with lips twitching. One man was flat on his face sobbing.

Folks had walked the aisle for his father, but never this proportion of the crowd, and never with such sincerity. There were only three left in their chairs showing no reaction. Daniel walked back to the caravan not knowing what else to do.

He father called out, “Did you do it?”

“Yes, Dad. I don’t understand the reaction.”

“What? Did they boo you or throw things at you?”

“No. They got all emotional and cried a lot.”

The man got out of his bed, stumbling over his shoes, and walked to the platform. The sight was one he had never seen before. Evelyn was on her knees confessing every single sin she could remember, the crowd was still on site in various positions of surrender, and even the cowboys were quiet, not mocking any of it.

“What did that boy do?” he whispered as he walked in sock covered feet through the crowd.

A palk in the wark

Life just isn’t as easy some days as it is others. Now and then the gently falling slope of time remaining turns into a wild slide to the end. The days of reaching new heights disappear and all around you is negative.

Well, that just hasn’t happened in this kid’s life, yet.

This past week I was privileged to take four long walks in the parks of the Kiabab Forest and Grand Canyon National Park, north rim. The beauty of God’s creation still amazes me like the birth of a child or the slashing of the lights in the heavens of a meteor shower. Those trails were much like life. The ups are tough, the steeper the harder. The downs are nice if they are gentle, but when the downs become slides they are terrible. How is it the nice gently falling trails of life can turn into the slide for life and be so uncomfortable?

Got home Saturday and trashed, as in moved to the cut file (a file I use to hold previously written passages that I may use later), 20,000 words of a story. Why? I realized it needed to be a sequel and not a first book. Hence, the beginning of my new series “The Deacon.” The Deacon is a Bible toting Paladin in the west of the 1880-90’s. The conflict of being a fighter and a man of peace makes for a palk in the wark. It’s an uphill climb all the way.

Be blessed and write.

Doug

© 2017 Doug Ball – Author