Thursday, February 29, 2024

Bearclaw Summons (A Serialized Story) blog post #643

 Image Courtesy of Pinterest:


Did the first installment grab your attention. If you have any interest in multicultural tales, I suspect it did.


Here’s the second part of the story.




“He’ll come in the morning.”

“Maybe it’s not smart for him to miss work. Might put them on guard. He loses his job, those two will see the rifles are discovered missing, and he’ll get the blame.”

“That might be, but anybody can be sick one or two days. He’ll come see you tomorrow.”

“All right. I’ll be at Snakehead at noon.”

“Thank you, nephew. Uh ... Willy’s the only one in his family working. He ain’t got much money. You have any idea what it’ll cost?”

Again Bart was silent for a few seconds. “You say he paints?”

The man and his wife both nodded. “Nora,” Big Jack said quietly. The woman went into the other room and returned with two framed canvases.

One was an Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer, masked and wearing a headdress. The second was a view of the Sacred White Mountain from the south. The dancer was done in a primitive style, in stark, vibrant colors. The landscape was different; it had depth and perspective and light and shadow. Bart’s eyes shifted back and forth between the two oils.

He sighed. “It’s going to be expensive. Lawyers cost money. I’m afraid it will take both of them.”

Big Jack and his wife resumed breathing. They were satisfied. Their nephew would pay his own way without swiping food from the family table.

“But understand, Jack, I have to feel good about this before I go to my friend. Willy has to talk straight to me, and I’ll have to test his words. You’re a good judge of men, Big Jack Bearclaw, but in some matters, a man’s gotta take his own measure.”

“That’s fair. Willy’s words will sound right to you because they are right. I don’t doubt it, or I wouldn’t put a strain on our friendship.”


Bart ’fessed up to his foreman and wrangled a couple of days off. He arrived at his old camp at Snakehead Spring precisely at noon. A motor died somewhere beyond the trees. A door slammed. Moments later, a short young man scratched on Bart’s wickiup. The face was familiar from around the fringes of Big Jack’s camp.

They greeted one another warily, almost like adversaries entering an arena. Bart ignored his camp chairs and sank to the rug on the floor he’d dusted a few minutes earlier. They spoke awhile of people they both knew. Because he was needed for branding, Bart acted like a white man and cut the polite conversation to a minimum. Willy’s story was almost identical to the one Big Jack had related the night before except Willy provided two names, Burke and Avila.

“How long have you been working there?” Bart asked when the other had finished.

“Three months next week.”

“When did they ask you to do them the favor the first time?”

“First week I was there.”

“Next time?”

“Couple of weeks later.”

“Why did you do it?”

Willy Saltbush shrugged eloquently. The young man wore his hair short. His nose and lips were fleshy, the rest of him plain and dark. The eyes were bright, however. Bright and constantly roving. It took some time to understand that it was the artist in the man examining light and shadow and structure. Even when his gaze was on Bart’s shoulder—never on his eyes—Willy’s pupils flickered as he studied plane and tone. This was a man who both saw much more and much less than most. He would spot a highlight others would miss, understand the darkness of a deep cavity, but he would be less curious about the motives of another human. Others had seen this in him and used it to advantage.

Abruptly, Bart stood. “You’ll have to tell all of this to Mr. Charles. He’s an Indah, but he’s a good man. He won’t know how to behave like you, so you’ll have to behave like him. Open up to him. When he talks to you, look him in the eye. That’s not the way you were taught, but it has to be. The whites think you’re not being honest if you can’t look at them when you talk. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the way they are. Speak up and don’t mumble. If you have to think about an answer, that’s okay, but when you’re ready to give it, be clear and firm.” He saw Willy’s Adam’s apple bob a couple of times.


“Tomorrow. Meet me in front of the Mission Church at nine in the morning. Bring the two pictures you painted with you.”

“Can’t you do it for me?” There was a plaintive note in the young man’s voice.

“No. If you don’t talk to him face to face, how can he tell what kind of man you are? Besides, he’ll have questions that I can’t answer.

“Will you be there with me?”

“If you want. But you’ll have to answer him yourself.”

Willy gave a short, choppy nod. His footsteps as he left seemed heavy.


Bart waited in the church parking lot until ten before admitting that it was not merely a matter of “Indian time”, Willy was not going to show. He went to Mark Charles’ office and claimed a chair.

“He chickened out.”

“Maybe he just needs more time to screw up his courage,” the lawyer suggested. “You didn’t give me much when you called. Tell me all you know about it.” Bart complied. Mark whistled. “You better get your man in here pronto. That’s a federal rap he’s playing with. He’s not going to be able to shrug it off and hope it goes away. This Burke and Avila are going to lay the dark deed right on his doorstep when they’re found out.”

“Uh ... by the way,” Bart said warily. “This one comes under the heading of gaining experience.”

“You mean it’s a freebie.”

“Not exactly. The kid’s an artist. You’re bartering for your fee. Two paintings. They’re good. I’ve seen them.”

“Oh, well. The place needs a dab of color. You hogtie him, and I’ll see if I can still lay a brand.”

Bart detoured through the reservation, hoping to find Big Jack without having to drive clear up to Bigrock and encountered the fat man working his way out of the front door of the trading post outside of White Pine where he’d been trying to phone him at Mark’s office.

“Just found out he didn’t show up an hour ago. Tried to catch you at the Charles boy’s place, but you was gone. Glad you come by.”

Bart followed the fat man around to the shady side of the building where the mules hauling Big Jake’s wagon eyed them like they were following the conversation.

“Willy’s mamma went to old Amadeo yesterday, and that one told her to keep Willy away from the whites... all of them.” Jack’s tone let it be known that he considered the shaman to be a fake, but he didn’t voice the words.

“Willy was scared, and them’s the words he wanted to hear. He lit out for the high country. His brother went out to find him this morning.”

“They’ll come for him, Jake. The FBI’ll come right in and flush him out no matter how high up he goes. This is serious.”

“So what are you going to do about it, nephew?”

“Me? Hell, how’d it get to be my problem?”

“By way of knowing more about the outside than most of us, I guess. Can you just walk away knowing what’s gonna happen to him?”

“Shit, Jack, don’t lay that on me! This is branding season.  I’m up to my ass in slicks and hot irons.”

“I guess so,” the fat man wheezed, “but this is one of the People.”

“All right,” he sighed. “Send word to me when his brother gets back. I’ll go up early tomorrow if I hear from you. Is he armed?”

“Yeah, with a handful of paint brushes.”


The call didn’t come until after eight o’clock that night. Bart picked up the receiver in the bunkhouse, heard a wheeze, and knew that it was Big Jack. The man did not like telephones, so he started right in without preamble.

“Willy’s brother didn’t get back till late, and I had to pry the information out of the son of a bitch. Damned if he don’t act like I’m in cahoots with the white eyes.” Indignation oozed over the wire. “Anyhow, he’s at the high end of Lead Scout Canyon. They’s a balsam—”

Yeah, I know where it is. Why would he hide out in a box canyon where anybody can trap him?”

“Damn fool’s been wanting to paint something up there for a long time. Figgers, this is his chance, I guess. Hell, I don’t know! Must be some Navajo blood in the kid somewhere.”

“That’s not as far up or as hard a trip as I thought. I’ll ride up tomorrow and drag him back.”

“Just swipe his paintbrushes, and he’ll follow you all the way back,” Jack said dryly.

“Okay, I’ll head out at first light. Should be back by noon. I’ll take an extra horse.”

"No need. He'll be on his old paint. Thank you, nephew. I’ll be in your debt.”


If Willy ever ends up in the white man’s court, I wonder if the Judge will understand that a shaman’s advice might cause a young man to simply paint pictures rather than attend legal matters? Doubt it, don’t you?

 See you next week.

My Mantra: Kee on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say... so say it!

Check out my BJ Vinson murder mystery series published by Dreamspinner Press. The books are a good read... but then, I'm prejudiced.

My personal links:



X: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday:


New posts every Thursday at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bearclaw Summons (A Serialized Story) blog post #642

 Image Courtesy of Pinterest:


Hope you enjoyed the story of Pauly and Streak. Every short story writer needs to tell the story of a kid and his dog… at least once.


Today, we start on a different journey. Let’s get at it. This first installment is a little long, so please stick with it.




Dead tired from a day of branding and cutting new stock, Bart Shortlance entered the bunkhouse, pulled off his boots, and flopped onto his bunk. He didn’t know which side of him was more exhausted, his white father’s or his Apache mother’s. Put them together, and he was totally whipped. It was gonna be an effort just to hit the shower.

As he contemplated that chore, Tex Duncan, another YWZ cowboy, entered and handed Bart a scrap of paper.

“A Injun kid rode up, said to give it to you,.”

Bart examined the markings on the paper: a stylized bear claw.

“Whut’s it mean?” Tex wanted to know.

“A friend wants to see me.”

“Why didn’t the kid just say so?”

Bart grinned at the Texan. “You know us inscrutable Indians.”

“I’ll say!”

He hauled himself up and rushed through a shower to borrow the ranch’s Jeep for the half-dozen mile trip south. Darkness was falling, but he knew from the proliferation of kids that he’d arrived at Big Jack Bearclaw’s camp. One of the children ushered him into the house. No one except Big Jack was there, but the place seemed filled. For as long as he could remember, Bearclaw had been a large man, but Bart had never seen him this fat. The man wheezed his way to a standing position as Bart approached.


“Uncle,” Bart played along with the courtesy. “You’re looking good, Jack.”

“See you’ve learned to speak with the white man’s forked tongue,” the man growled sourly, rubbing his big stomach. Then he let go of a laugh that shook the walls. Jack wasn’t a bigot, but neither was he above a little humor at the white man’s expense. “Sit down. Sit down. Let me get you something to drink.” He let out a bellow, and one of the older daughters served them.

“Hits the spot,” Bart complemented his host on the whiskey the girl served.

“They may be worthless sons a bitches, but the white eyes sure know how to make good liquor. There ain’t no tulapai in the world as good as this.”

“I’ll have to agree with you there.”

“That was my daughter, Dora. She’s next to the oldest. Smart girl, like her momma. Knows how to sew and makes all her clothes. She can weave like a born Navajo and makes better bracelets than a Zuni.”

Bart felt like a young buck sitting before his prospective father‑in‑law. Instinctively, he tucked his chin and inspected the far corners of the room. “Real beauty.”  Surely, this was not why Big Jack had sent for him.

The fat man motioned with his lips to Bart’s battered face. “You been fighting them white men you work for?”

Bart fingered a bruised eye. “Naw. Party. Too much liquor about, and I had to straighten out somebody who got outa line.” Bart lied with a straight face, knowing that it made a better story than than getting tossed by a half-grown slick that didn’t want to get castrated. Just part of a cowboy’s working day.

“Damned Indian bars,” Jack groused. “Ain’t good for nothing but getting our young men in trouble.  In may day, wasn’t so easy. Got drunk out in the woods or in a gully somewhere. Had to chug it down ’fore some white man come along and took it away from you, claiming you didn’t have no right to do what he done ever day of the week. Nowadays, a fella just go up and plop down money and take a drink. Too easy. Don’t take no effort or no smarts.” Jack switched on him again. “Been a while since you been back on the rez.”

“Yeah. Keep thinking on it, then work or something gets in the way..”

“That mean you ain’t coming back?”

“One of these days. The‑One‑Who‑Was‑My‑Grandmother would want it that way.” He used the indirect form of address because Jack would have had a heart attack to hear the name of a dead woman uttered in his house.

“You still working up on that white man’s ranch, I hear. They treating you all right?”

Bart nodded. “I’m fine, Jack.”

“Look good. Got flesh on your bones, but you ain’t got no belly yet. Lean.” The man chuckled.  “When you was a kid, wasn’t nothing to you at all. Arms and legs like sticks and not much else. We both come a long trail from that pine grove at Rising Rock. That musta been a sight for tourists. A two‑room cabin, a tipi, and one brush wickiup.” Jack laughed and went on down the memory trail. “Then there was that old paint of yours. A real Indian pony ever there was one. And the old woman. Shit! We was better’n a western shoot-’em-up movie. Shoulda sold tickets. The Indah would have paid a nickel apiece just to walk through,” Jack used the word for whites.

Jack’s wife Nora entered and took a chair at the kitchen table. Apparently, the time for polite conversation was at an end. He would now learn why Big Jack had sent for him.

Jack started the real conversation. “That rancher’s boy still good friend of yours?”

Bart nodded affirmatively.

“He’s a lawyer, I hear. He a good one,” Jack probed.

“He’s smart, so I guess he’s a good one.”

The fat man grunted his appreciation of the candor. “You figure the white man’s law works for the red man?”

“Maybe I’m not the one to ask.”

“I know who I’m asking,” Jack said sharply. “It’s your thoughts I want.”

“Then honestly, sometimes yes. Sometimes no.”

“When is it yes?”

“When a white man with power is interested enough to see that it works.”

“Like your friend?”

Bart hesitated. “He has the knowledge, but I don’t know if he’s got the power.”

The answer stumped Big Jack for a minute. He reflected before continuing. “Does your friend want to see justice done for a Redman?”

“I call my friend brother,” Bart answered.

Big Jack wouldn’t accept such ambiguity. “There’s brothers and then there’s brothers.”

“This brother swears he can’t see a man’s color.”

Jack let out a wheeze. “Nora’s brother’s boy got hisself in some trouble.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Willy Saltbush. He works out at the airbase. Cleans up one of the big warehouses out there. Good job. Couple of men he works with asked him to carry something out for them. He’s got a pickup; and they was in a car. He didn’t think nothing about it. New man on the job, he wants to get along, so he done it. Took out a box in the bed of his truck where them two laid it and covered it up with a tarp. Delivered it to one of the other men’s house. Week or so later, they wanted him to do it again, so he done it. Yesterday, they asked him again. Didn’t look right to him because one of them was in his van. Could’ve taken it out easy in the van. So he said no. They told him he better because he already stole a dozen rifles, and they’d turn him in for it if he didn’t do what he was told and keep his mouth shut.

“Now Willy, he’d rather paint pictures than eat, but that don’t make him a complete fool. He knows one of these days, the base brass gonna find out about them missing guns and start checking up. Worried him enough so he come to Big Jack wanting to know what to do. Only thing I could think of was to ask you about the your lawyer friend.”

Bart went quiet for a few moments. Both Big Jack and his wife had better manners than to intrude on his thoughts. At length, he spoke: “Did he bring out the other case?”

“No. They didn’t press him on it right then. But they will.”

“I want to talk to him,” Bart said.


Interesting situation. Mixed cultures always intrigue me. Anglo, Apache, and mixed-blood. And now one culture’s clashing with another. Can Bart get justice for this young Apache who only wants feed his family and paint pictures?

 See you next week.

Stay safe and stay strong until we meet again.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something say... so say it!

Please check out my mystery novels published by Dreamspinner Press starting with The Zozobra Incident and ending with The Cutie-Pie Murders.

My personal links:



X: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.


New posts every Thursday at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Pauly Pittman and the Pit Bull (Part 3 of 3 Parts) blog post #641

 Image Courtesy of Vector Portal:


Today, we have the conclusion to the story of Pauly Pittman and the feral dog that’s been hanging around him. Hope you enjoy.




Monday morning, Pauly wrapped his sweater tighter around him as he waited for the yellow bus. Colder than it looked. Only a couple more weeks before school let out, and he could stop coming up to the road and waiting in the weather for it to show up. He glanced at his Mickey Mouse. Dadgummit, he’d arrived ten minutes too soon.

A big, black dog trotting down the road interrupted his musings. Didn’t look friendly. Tail wasn’t wagging. That and laid-back ears told him the beast wasn’t coming to greet a friend.

“Whoa!” he called.

To his surprise, the dog whoaed. For a second. Then it took deliberate—and threatening—steps toward Pauly.

He tried again. “Whoa!”

“The dog ignored him this time. His lips curled and a snarl came from somewhere deep inside him.

As the beast advanced, Pauly backed away, managing to keep space between him and the threatening animal… until he tripped and went down on his backside. Panic boiled up inside him and he heard himself holler something unintelligible as ferocious growling and snarling split the air. The dog! Two dogs?

Pauly lay half in the borrow ditch at the side of the road with his head on the low end, so he couldn’t see the road where the ruckus was coming from. By the time he managed to sit up, he saw the black dog racing away with another on his tail. The pit bull? He couldn’t tell.

Heart still pitter-pattering like crazy, he picked up his schoolbooks as the bus came over the hill and screeched to a halt. He scooted aboard and found a seat beside Billy. He couldn’t talk for a moment until his breathing calmed.

“You won’t believe what just happened,” he finally managed to get out.

“Try me.”

“A big black dog attacked me.”

“Don’t see bite marks on you.”

“That pit bull saved me.”

“That same pit bull from the other day.”

“Yeah. Well, I think so.” Pauly explained he’d ended up in the ditch looking up at his shoes, but he was pretty sure that’s what happened.

Billy was doubtful.


All during class, Pauly glanced out the window, halfway expecting to see the pit bull in the shade of the cottonwood, but the dog never showed. Had he gotten into a fight with the black dog and was hurt? His heart dropped into his stomach, and his mood followed. The school day took a long time passing.

When he said goodbye to Billy at the bus stop, Pauly watched carefully for the dog—both dogs, as a matter of fact. But all the way home, he saw nothing.

He was feeding the chickens when his father came roaring in from the fields on his tractor and headed for the kitchen door.

“Saw your pit bull,” he threw over his shoulder as he barreled through the door. A minute later, he came back out carrying his shotgun.

“Wh-what’re you gonna do?”

“Shed the neighborhood of a feral dog.”

“Wait!” Pauly yelled. His father didn’t, but Pauly ran beside him as the man started across the field on foot. “He saved me this morning. From another dog.”

His father listened as Pauly told him what had happened this morning. His reaction mirrored Billy’s.

“So you didn’t really see him?”

“Well… just a glimpse.”

“Can you swear it was the pit bull you saw?”

“Swear? I dunno, but I’m sure.”

His father started walking again. “Not good enough. And if it was the bull, chances are the black dog was rabid. If they tangled, he’d get bitten and catch rabies too. Be a mercy to spare him that kinda suffering.”

“You don’t know that!” Pauly protested.

“You don’t know he saved you either.”

Pauly stuck to his father’s heels as they crossed the field and entered the woods beyond.

“Onery critter,” his dad mumbled. “Come on, show yourself.”

After half an hour they broke through to a little glen and started across. Out of the corner of his eye, Pauly saw movement. He halted in his track as the pit bull came charging out of the tree line heading straight for them. No, for his father. The dog was attacking his father!

“Dad!” he shouted.

He was too late. The tan and gray form launched itself into the air and hurtled for Pauly’s dad.

His father saw the dog at the last minute and tried to swing his shotgun around, but the dog flung himself sideways and barreled into the man’s side, sending him crashing to the ground. The shotgun went flying.

As his father scrambled for the weapon, Pauly spotted something.

“Dad! Wait! Look!”

In possession of the shotgun again, his father hesitated. The dog stood twenty feet away, panting heavily.

And there in the grass, directly in what had been his father’s path, lay the coiled form of an agitated rattlesnake.

“He saved you, Dad. You’d a stepped on that rattler for sure.”

His father loosed an oath… but it was a soft curse. “You may be right.”

“Just like he saved me from the black dog.”

The subject of their discussion stood looking from man to boy as they spoke. His tail, stiff at first, began to wag a bit.

Pauly fell to his knees and held out his hands. “Come on, boy.”

“Now wait—”

His father’s protest died as the dog lowered his head and trotted to Pauly, giving his face a huge lick.

“Pauly, you get away from that animal. We don’t know if—”

The pit bull moved to the man and nudged his knee. Pauly figured things would turn out okay when his dad put hands to the dog, sort of petting him, but Pauly understood he was actually looking for bite marks. There didn’t seem to be any.

After giving the man his attention, the dog moved back to Pauly, who hugged him to his chest.

“All right,” his father said. “What are you gonna name him?”

“Streak,” Pauly said promptly. “He streaked to save me from a dog, and he streaked to save you from a rattler. So Streak’s a good name.”

“Then Streak it is. And speaking of rattlers….”

But the snake had more sense than to hang around and get blown away by a shotgun. It was gone.


So Pauly now has a new dog named Streak. It appears that pit bulls have gotten a raw deal. From all accounts, they are friendly, loyal animals. Sometimes might not abide other dogs, but are friendly to humans. Mind you, I’m only repeating what pit bull owners have told me and what I’ve read. I’ve never owned one, not have I sat for one back in the days when Betty and I dog sat. She passed fifteen years ago, and once the dogs we cared for faded away, I didn’t accept new animals. Sometimes I really miss them.

 I have no clue what’s coming up next week, but I’ll manage something.

 See you then.

Stay safe and stay strong until we meet again.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say it!

Take a look on Amazon at my BJ Vinson murder mystery series consisting of The Zozobra Incident, The Bisti Business, The City of Rocks, and four others.

My personal links:



X" @dpmtravo3

See you next Thursday


New posts every Thursday at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Pauly Pittman and the Pit Bull (Part2 of 3 Parts) blog post #640

Image Courtesy of Vector Portal:


Let’s see what happens with Pauly Pittman and the mysterious pit bull today.




Pauly glanced over his shoulder, but Billy was on the other side of the room. Mr. Hasterton had separated them at the first of the year when they wouldn’t quit whispering to one another. He looked back at the tree again, halfway expecting the dog to be gone, but there it was, as still as a statue made out of poured plaster.

A stern voice brought him back to class. “Mr. Pittman, I asked you a question.” Mr. Hasterton always called his students Mr. This and Miss That when he was irritated with them.


“Please give me the answer to question number two on the blackboard.”

Why did he always call it a blackboard when it was as green as it could be?

“Uh… False.”

“Correct. Now tell me why.

By the time Pauly finished the verbal dance Mr. Hasterton orchestrated for him, he glanced out the window. The dog was gone.


“A pit bull you say?” his father asked after he mentioned the mysterious dog at the dinner table that night. “Around here?”

“Well, it was at the bus stop this morning. And I saw it again at school.” Should he mention Billy Bills’ shapeshifter? Nah.

“You catch it around here again, you let me know. We got enough coyotes chasing our chickens. Don’t need a rogue dog too.”

“How do you know it’s rogue?”

“You ever see it before?”

“No, sir.”

“Belong to anybody you know?”

“No, sir.”

“Me neither. Don’t know of a soul around here who’s got a pit bull. Do you?”

“No, sir.”

“There you go then. Rogue dog. You see it again, you let me know, and I’ll take my shotgun to it.”

The hair on Pauly’s neck stood up… but he didn’t know why.”


The mysterious pit bull didn’t show up again, making Pauly ponder if he was glad or sad. He liked the idea of a dog. They hadn’t had one on the farm since Nosy, their golden retriever died a year ago. He’d mentioned a pet to his father a couple of times, and while his dad didn’t say no, nothing ever developed. Would a pit bull make as good a pet as old Nosy. Take a whale of a dog to replace that one, for sure.

And he’d heard things about a bull. Mean. Vicious. Turn on their owners without provocation. But was that true? He’d never had a pit bull. Didn’t even know anyone who had. And that raised another question. Where had this one come from? He’d never seen one in these parts. Maybe he got loose from someone passing through. Yeah, that made sense. Somebody mean who mistreated his dog—heck, his whole family. Well, coulda been that way.

Curious, he cut lunch short one day and headed to the computer room at school and learned the dogs were developed in England, Scotland, and Ireland in the 1900s as hunting dogs, and some said as herding dogs. Would one herd the chickens to him a feeding time. Course, they didn’t need herding. Step outside and yell “Cluck, cluck, cluck,” and they came running like they hadn’t been fed for weeks. But the pigs now. That was another matter. When one of them got loose, it took a lot of herding.

From everything he read, they made good family dogs and good with children when trained properly. Properly trained. What did that mean? Maybe they got a raw deal… being called vicious, that is. Everything he learned just made him more anxious to see the animal again.

But he didn’t. Until one morning, he spied the dog standing in the tree line across the road from Pauly’s school bus stop. His heart skipped a beat. Why? Everything he’d read said the dogs were friendly. And why did this one seem to hang around him? Had the dog chosen him as his new owner? Pauly wrinkled his nose. That was a new thought. Getting picked by a dog instead of the other way around.

Where did the animal live? In the wild? What did he eat? Small prey. He was a predator. That thought sent a tingle down Pauly’s back. Well, the dog had to eat something.

He stooped down and clapped his hands. “Come on, boy. Come on.”

Pauly spent five minutes cajoling the dog, drawing him closer and closer until the school bus came over the hill and spooked the animal away. Darn, he’d been so close.


That afternoon, Pauly’s dad picked him up at school. He’d had to stop at the feed store and do another couple of chores and decided to spare his son a ride on the bus and the short walk from the stop. As they drove toward the farm, his father spoke.

“That dog showed up again.”

“Dog?” he asked as his insides quickened.

“Your pit bull. Ralph down at the café chased him away from the back of his place. Rooting for food, I guess. And Joe saw him in the alley behind the grocery store.”

So maybe he was a scavenger instead of a predator. Pauly wrinkled his nose. Most likely both. He kept an eagle ye out, especially when they passed the school bus stop, but he didn’t see any sign of the animal.

When he fed the chickens that evening, a chill went up his back, and he didn’t understand why. Then he spotted the dog twenty feet away staring at him. No, it was staring at the chickens. Good grief, was he about to attack them? Probably make a good meal.

No, the animal shifted its gaze back to him. And the tail wagged a couple of times. Maybe it’d be all right.

Then his dad came barreling out of the kitchen door, shotgun in hand, roaring, Damned chicken thief.”

No, Dad! Wait.”

But the bull turned tail and headed for the hinterlands, followed by my dad’s buckshot.

“Damn, missed!” he swore.


Is Pauly ever going to meet that pit bull properly? Sure looks like all the cards are stacked against him. And why’s he hanging around so much? Let’s see how it ends next week.

 See you then.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say... so say it!

Please check out the Don Travis mystery series, a series of seven novels starting with The Zozobra Incident.

My personal links:


X: @dontravis3


See you next Thursday


New posts every Thursday at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Pauly Pittman and the Pit Bull (Part 1 of 3 Parts) blog post #639

 Image Courtesy of Vector Portal:


Hope you enjoyed the conclusion of last week’s “Garlic and Crosses and Silver Backed Mirrors.” Had fun writing it.


Today, we have the first installment of another three par short story. Without further ado, let’s get to the story.




Pauly first noticed the dog late in the school year when the worst of the winter was behind them—except for tricks Jack Frost still had in store for them—but before the spring winds really warmed things. Up on the county road waiting the school bus to come, Pauly noticed an animal sitting on his haunches eyeballing him from across the road. When the flesh on his back quit goose pimpling, he recognized it as a dog, not some wild creature come to claim him as a meal. Unless it was a mad dog. Was this the time of year for them? Did mad dogs have a season? He guessed it was a pit bull, and from stories he’d heard they came in close behind a rabid dog. Pretty near wolf level.

But maybe the thing wasn’t an ordinary dog. It had just appeared. Hadn’t been there one moment, and then there he was big as you please. Pauly’s goose flesh reappeared, quelling his urge to click his tongue and call the animal over.

They studied one another from opposite sides of the dirt road until a yellow school bus rolled over the hill and came to a stop between them. For some reason, Pauly’s butt puckered as he scooted through the bus door a little quicker’n usual. After finding a seat beside his best friend Billy Bills, he twisted to look out the back window. No dog. The roadway was clear.

“That’s weird,” he mumbled.

“What’s weird,” Billy wanted to know.

“That dog.”

“What dog?”

“Sitting on the side of the road.”

“Didn’t see no dog. Kinda dog?” Billy asked.

“Dunno. Big one. Probably one of those pit bulls.”

“Oh, they can be mean. I hear one tore an arm off a kid over in Middleton.”

Pauly curled his lip. Billy hadn’t heard any such thing. It was just one of his stories.

“What did it look like?” Billy asked.

Like I said, big. Kinda gray and tan. This line went right down the middle of his face, and on one side it was tan, and on the other, gray.”

“Yeah, sounds like a pit bull. You said weird. What was weird about it?”

Pauly shrugged. “Dunno, really. I mean, it wasn’t there, and then it was.”

“You mean it just ran up?”

“Naw,” Pauly said with a shake of his head. “It was just there. Didn’t see it come up or anything.”

“Uh-oh,” maybe it was a shapeshifter.” Billy was part Navajo.

“Do shapeshifters turn into dogs.”

Billy let out a breath. “They turn into anything they want to.” He studied the seat in front of them a minute. “But I never seen one turn into a dog.”

Pauly punched his shoulder. “Yeah, like you’ve ever seen one.”

“Well, my grandpa has. And my uncle too.”

They argued over shapeshifters all the way to Ecton Elementary some five miles down the road.


That afternoon, Pauly’s mind wandered as he fought to keep from dozing, thanks to too much to eat at lunch and his sixth grade teacher. Mr. Hasterton spoke in a  monotone unless he was talking about football. Then he sounded human, not like one of those metronomes in the band room that went click-click in a measured beat. On the few nights Pauly didn’t drop off to sleep the moment he got to bed, he wished his teacher had been there to give one of his lectures. That woulda put him out like the light bulb in the barn when Pauly pulled the string on it. A glance out the window brought him wide awake.

In the shadow of a cottonwood at the edge of the schoolyard, he made out the shape of a big dog sitting and staring at the window like a guard dog put on alert. The pit bull… if that’s what it really was.



Well, here we go again. Last week “vampires,” and this week “shapeshifters,” perhaps. Or maybe it’s just an ordinary dog. But even so… a pit bull? Are they vicious or big cuddle buddies? You can get into a big argument over that. At any rate, we’re not sure exactly what the animal is yet. Let’s learn more next week.

 See you then.

Stay safe and stay strong until we meet again.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have somethingto say it!

Please check out my BJ Vinson murder mystery series starting with The Zozobra Incident and ending with The Cutie-Pie Murders.

My personal links:



X: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.


New posts every Thursday at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time. 

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Garlic and Crosses and Silver Backed Mirrors (Part 3 of 3 Parts) blog post #638

 Images Courtesy of Dreamstime:


Aha, loaded down with garlic and crosses and silver-backed mirrors, our hero is walking up the hill toward the woods to confront his vampire… or werewolf… or whatever. Let’s see what happens.




The forest seemed darker today as I pushed through the underbrush and entered the trees. Other than the noise I was making, they were absolutely silent. No bird calls. No squirrel chatter. Nothing.

But I caught the dying sway of a scrub oak bush where someone—or something—had recently passed and headed straight for it. And beyond it to another bush just going still. On a leaf of this one, I found a scrap of leather… rawhide really. Long, like it was a fringe off something.

I moved deeper into the trees, feeling like the pathfinder in one of those James Fennimore Cooper novels tracking his prey, especially after I found some long dark hairs on another bush. As I moved on, I noticed the darkness lifting. Now really curious, I darted from bush to tree as the atmosphere lightened more and more. Ahead, I caught a ray of sunshine. A clearing. A clearing lay ahead of me.

I broke through the last of the trees and was so bedazzled by the pretty glen that I failed to notice the figure standing at the far side at first. And it gave me a start when I did, I can tell you. My heart hammered against the cross on my chest so hard that I’ll swear it moved. I’m not sure, but I think maybe I gasped.

The creature raised its right hand, palm out, and called out a word I didn’t recognize. Having nothing better to do, I mimicked his hand lifting and yelled back, “Howdy.”

He stood dead still until I took a hesitant step forward, and then he did too. As we performed a weird ritual dance, he morphed into a human. Definitely a human. Man… well, boy. Probably about my age. Not one of Ma’s Romny… but an Indian.

That puckered my sphincter. Here I was alone in the woods with a wild Indian. Didn’t matter if I was garlicked to the gills, what I needed was my rifle. Heck, I didn’t even have my pocketknife. Forgot to pick it up when I left the house.

I tucked away my panic and looked more closely as we neared. No weapons. That’s good. Wait! Knife in a scabbard at his waist. Left side. Did that mean he was left-handed? Ma had some saying about off-handers too, but I couldn’t remember what it was. Nothing good, I’m sure.

That glen musta been bigger’n I thought, or else we were taking baby steps, because I had time to notice his clothing. He wore what Pa called a hairbine around his forehead holding back long, dark locks that woulda made Sara jealous. Came clear down past his shoulders. No shirt, and his shoulders looked way broader’n mine. Guess Sara’s not the only one in the family capable of envy. His trousers were buckskin with fringes—that’s where that piece of leather on the bush came from. That almost brought me to a halt.

He'd lured me here. Pure and simple lured me in. Tore off a fringe and pulled out a few hairs for me to follow. My scalp prickled like a duck’s behind.

Then I noticed his shoes. Moccasins. But not just rawhide, the tops glistened when he walked. And when we were close enough, I saw they were festooned with beautiful, colored beadwork. Sara would’ve gone green over those too. Heck, I wouldn’t mind having a pair.

I was close enough now to make out his features, and they were surprisingly pleasant. Dunno why I said surprisingly. Maybe I thought all Indians were closed and dark and brooding. This one wore a beaming smile that reached all the way to his black eyes. Never seen anyone with black eyes before. Reminded me of a hawk staring at me. I almost snickered. A smiling hawk.

He stopped just beyond arm’s length, so I did too.

Those black eyes scoured my person, and I figured he considered I was overdressed, laden with garlic and a cross and silver backed mirrors like I was. He was focusing on them, I could see.

My “vampire” lifted a hand, pointed at his broad chest, and said something that sounded like “Hookoyete.” If that was his monicker, it sure was a heavy one.

I shoved a thumb at me and said, “Jamey.”

That gave him some trouble too. “S-shamey?” he stuttered.

I shook my head. “Ja-mey, Jamey.” Then I tried out his. After a couple of tries, neither of which got it, I gave up and pointed at each of us in turn, and pronounced. “Hook. You’re Hook, and I’m Jamey.

He frowned, but his expression cleared as he understood. “Hah! Hook—” He pointed at himself first and then to me. “—Shamy.”

I nodded. If I was gonna mangle his name, couldn’t object if he did the same to mine.

We took another mutual step, which put us nose to nose. He really was a pleasant looking fellow. Looked clean too. Not dirty and smelly like some folks said the natives were. In fact, I was the smelly one of the two. He reached out and lifted my amulet to his nose and took a whiff before recoiling.

“Garlic,” I said.

He muttered an unpronounceable word I took to be his word for garlic.

“Yeah. Garlic. Scares off vampires and werewolves but apparently doesn’t work on Indians.” At his frown, I reached a conclusion. “You don’t speak American, do you?”

“’Merican? Yes. No. Thank you. Go now.”

As he made no move to leave, I took that to be a recitation of his English vocabulary. “That’s more’n I can say in your language.”

He surprised me by lifting my arm and laying his alongside it. Comparing our coloration, I gathered. He confirmed it by moistening a finger and rubbing my forearm vigorously to see if the light color came off. I knew better, of course, but he’d done it, so I did too. His darker complexion didn’t change beneath my vigorous rubbing.

That unleashed us. Giggling like teenagers—well, technically we still were, although well past the giggling age—we examined one another. He lifted off my garlic and mirrors and cross and made clear he wanted me to unbutton my shirt. I did, and he moved behind me to take it off and feel and poke and mumble aloud. That’s when it dawned on me he was trying to see if we were the same—other than the difference in our skin. He wanted to know if I was human. That gave me a tumble. Old Mrs. Jarvis at the church we sometimes attended loudly proclaimed that Indians were not. She held the same, unshakable opinion of black people.

Now here was a Red Indian trying to make the same determination of me… a white kid. I’d sure like to tell Mrs. Jarvis about that, but the old bat would probably expire if she knew I let an Indian touch me. Might be a decent trade-off.

And touch me, Hook did. He felt my back and my chest and my belly and inspected my underarms like he was buying a boy at a slave market. If he tried to inspect my teeth, I wasn’t gonna put up with it. But tit for tat, I brushed his arms away and went to work inspecting him. He let me put my hands all over him. I pinched him here and rubbed him there until I noticed something. When I touched one of his nipples, it stood up. Curious I brushed the other one. It did the same. When my mind flashed on Nettie Nixton’s boobs, I figured I’d crossed the line somehow.

Apparently, Hook wasn’t aware of any such line, because he pushed my hands away and did the same to me. When he fingered the left one, I almost jumped. I knew girls’ breasts were an “erogenous zone,” as one book called them, but sure never figured that was true for a fellow. But when hook fingered mine, I felt it down in my britches. Had he when reacted that way when I did it to him?

Then he really took me by surprise. He moved in and lapped his lip over one like he was a vampire going for blood. Indians had witches, didn’t they? Was this guy a junior apprentice witch? If so, I was a gonner. I couldn’t have moved if I’d wanted.

When he switched to the other one, I forgot about all of that and sorta reveled in the feeling. I couldn’t believe sucking on my tit was affecting another part of my anatomy, but it sure was. Down south, I was growing like crazy.

He came up for air, and we just sorta stared at one another. Sure wasn’t a smile on his face now. And it was a darned good face too. Better’n Nettie’s flashed my mind before I could stop it.

After a long moment of examining one another’s pupils, Hook put hands to his waist and slipped down his trousers. Did he want to see if we were built alike down there too?

I took a look. Lord almighty! I wish! Without thinking, I slid down my own britches and didn’t even blink when he reached for me.

Hook wanted more’n just a good look at it, lots more… and he got it too.



Looks like this “vampire’s” after something other than blood. Let your imagination suggest how many ways Jamey may have given it to him.

 See you next week.

Until then, stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

Please check out my BJ Vinson murder mystery series, a series of seven books, all related but stand alone for readers. Still, better to start with the first The Zozobra Incident.

My personal links:


Facebook: 982

X: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



 New posts every Thursday at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time. 


Blog Archive