Friday, April 1, 2016

Just a Little More of JOHNNY TWO-GUNS

Dreamspinner Press brought out Johnny Two-Guns on Friday, March 18, just as promised. Already has some pretty good reviews (and one disturbing one). Before letting go, I’d like to do one more post about the book.

I write novels with a historical setting and novels that are contemporary in nature. Thus far, the historical books are a series, so each has continuing characters plus many references to other individuals whose time has passed. In the contemporary books, I try to have characters from one book do a cameo appearance in another book. For example, Wilam Greyhorse and Joseph Sixkiller from The Victor and the Vanquished show up in Charlie Blackbear. Let’s look at the principals of Charlie as they make a brief appearance in Johnny Two-Guns.

The following scene takes place in Chapter 3 of Johnny. Denver architect Roger Mackie and Johnny, his young Chippewa rider, are slowly getting to know one another when a sign advertising Blackhorse Traders catches Johnny’s eye. Roger notices his reaction and decides to take a side trip to the place. The Norman Chillers mentioned in the passage is a cousin of Johnny’s.

     I was behind the wheel again when something caught his attention. “What?”
     He threw a thumb over his shoulder. “That sign. Blackhorse Traders.”
     “You know them?”
     “Naw. But my cousin does. Met them at a powwow.”
     “You wanna stop and check them out?” 
     He hesitated. “Dunno. Think he told me it’s ten miles off the highway. On a little reservation.”
     “It caught your interest, so let’s go for it.”
     Three miles later, I exited the highway and halted at a stop sign before a two-lane state road. White letters on a green background proclaimed Flynn’s Corners to be ninety miles east, while Blue Valley lay only ten miles west. I turned right, and in no time, we entered the small town of Blue Valley. A couple of blinks of the eye, and we were through it. Shortly after that, we were on reservation land. Eventually we spotted a frame building sitting on the south side of the road, all by itself.
     “That must be it.”
     Johnny nodded. I could tell his interest in the venture was dropping fast. That shy thing, again.
     “Let’s check it out.”
     I got out of the car with my camera hanging around my neck and stepped onto a broad veranda beneath a huge sign that said Blackhorse Traders. This looked to be a wholesale place that didn’t see much tourist traffic.
     A stout, pleasant-faced young woman introduced herself as Sally and asked if she could help us. I was right, Blackhorse filled orders for Indian traders around the country, but they had a small counter of retail goods. I examined it while Johnny worked up the courage to talk to the woman. One piece caught my eye immediately, an exquisitely wrought, fifteen-inch porcupine made out of marble. But it looked poured rather than worked. Cultured marble, they call it. I picked it up and was surprised by the signature on the bottom. Joseph Sixkiller. I’d seen his work before. Stan Mancuso had two of his pieces. I’d turned to tell the clerk I was interested in the porcupine when she called out.
     “Charlie, Daniel, there’s a friend of Norman Chillers out here.”
     Two extremely attractive young men walked out of a back room. After a moment Johnny turned and included me in the introductions. A little thrill went through me when he said I was a friend, not some guy hauling him down to Arizona.
     Charlie Blackbear was the bigger of the two men. He wore his hair long and loose, and it framed a strong masculine face that was as handsome as any I had seen… until I turned to gaze into Daniel Warhorse’s dark eyes. Was he even better-looking? Hard to tell. Then my gaze fell on Johnny Two-Guns. I’d never be able to untangle that Gordian knot. I was virtually surrounded by three sexy men who made me think of things I didn’t ordinarily dwell on. Butterflies started in on my stomach.
     The two traders, both in their twenties, wore bracelets, just as Johnny did. But theirs were heavy on silver and turquoise whereas Johnny’s were coral and bone. Cultural differences, likely. The men told us how they’d come out of a mountain logging crew one season, taken their accumulated savings, and started selling Indian-made goods to traders. Signs of their success were everywhere. The showroom held quality merchandise. The two pickups out front were new. The place wore comfortably on me.
     I paid the clerk—actually introduced as the office manager—an ungodly amount for the Sixkiller figurine, while listening with half an ear to the men talk about their mutual acquaintance. Johnny’s cousin, Norman Chiller, was apparently a grass dancer of some repute. Whatever that was.
     Just as I figured I was looking at the best trio of men I’d ever seen in one place at the same time, the front door opened and another stunner walked in. I found myself shaking hands with a fellow not much older than Johnny named Aden Smith. Aden worked for the other two.
     It was hard to turn down an offer to meet the trio later at a bar in Blue Valley called the Lazy Eight. It would have been pleasant to spend a few hours in the company of such men, but I was afraid to trust myself around them with a few drinks under my belt. Why in the hell was I coming to understand things about me I’d never suspected before? After they all gathered for a couple of photos in front of the store, Johnny and I took our leave.
I sincerely hope this glimpse at my new book prompts you to want to read more of it. As always, I’m interested in your reaction. Send to Thanks for reading.

New blogs posted at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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