Thursday, March 4, 2021

Piquant (A guest post by Don Travis), Post #150

 Photo Courtesy of Clipart Library

As noted last week, JMS Books published Wastelakapi… Beloved. They have now published an ebook version of the original Cut Hand. And I just finished reviewing the first edit of the second book in the series River Otter. It should come out shortly. They intend to publish all five books in the series.

 This week, Don Travis is doing a guest post of one of his short-short stories. I believe he wrote this sometime in 2014. I like it… let’s see if you do.

 * * * * *


By Don Travis

Sometimes vocabulary—you know, words—can get you into trouble.

Let me tell you what I mean. My name is Wylie, and I’m about as different from the other kids in my class as my name is from Robert or John. I guess you could say, I’m confused. Sometimes I see Helen Hagen practicing with the other cheerleaders and I get all steamy from looking at her curves and long blonde hair. You know, feeling weird down there and ashamed someone will see and hoping she does. Okay, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, so what’s the problem?

The problem is Robby Belson, who’s the team quarterback and as pretty as Helen is… except in a different way. And he’s as curvy as she is, too… but still in a different sort of way. But my insides treat them the same. I get syrupy and weak-kneed and stutter and embarrassed around either one of them.

I’m not on the team, but I run the snack bar at the school’s field, so I’m around both the team and the cheerleaders a lot. Worse, I have classes with the two of them. And to top things off, I do better in the classes than either one. Especially, in the English class. That’s where I got in trouble.

Miss Hardesty was talking to us about vocabulary. How everyone needs a better one. How to build one. As usual, she picked on me to make her point.

“Wylie, describe Helen in one word.”

“Beautiful.” I’m sure I blushed a little, but she merely smiled.

“Come now, you can do better than that. You have a great vocabulary. Use it.”

“Lovely, alluring, glamorous.” My mouth got started, and I couldn’t stop. “Exquisite, radiant—”

“Excellent,” she interrupted. “Now describe Robby in one word.”

“Piquant,” I blurted without thinking.

Someone from the back of the room spoke into the sudden hush. “Doesn’t that mean hot and spicy?”

Ears flaming, cheeks scarlet, I nodded my head. “Y-yes.”

Thank goodness, Miss Hardesty moved on to others to make her point. I sat for the rest of the class with my head down, not daring to look at anyone.

I walked home alone feeling as low as a wad of gum on a shoe sole. Everyone stared at my back as I passed by, or at least I was convinced of that.

I followed my usual pattern of grabbing a glass of milk and a cookie to settle down at the kitchen table to do my homework. I always finished it before my folks got home. Dad was a carpenter and mom worked at a day care center.

I finished my lessons and was considering splurging on another cookie when the phone rang. When I answered it, my spirits soared through the roof.

“Wanna go for a ride?” Robby asked.

My imagination went wild as I nodded my head emphatically.

“Hey, guy, you still there?”

Realizing he couldn’t hear my head nodding, I blurted. “Sure.”

His low, sultry voice set my flesh to puckering. “Anywhere special you want to go?”

“Anywhere you want to take me.”

* * * *

I hope Wylie didn’t have one idea of the “ride,” while Robby has another. That could get a little more piquant than Wylie can handle. What do you think?

 My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:

Website and blog:



Twitter: @markwildyr

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

 Until next time.



 New posts the first and third Thursday of the month at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Wastelakapi… Beloved, Post #149

Cover Design by Written Ink Designs 

As regular readers know, last month, J M Snyder Books published an ebook version of the fifth book in the Cut Hand (now known as the Strobaw Family Saga) books. The print version is to follow soon. Now that I have the book cover to show you, I couldn’t resist giving you another excerpt.


In the following scene, John Strobaw (Medicine Hair) and his friend Winter Bird are spending the night on the range to settle down some cattle recently purchased and moved to land north of John’s Turtle Crick Farm. As they rest in twilight beside a small campfire, a lone rider approaches. It turns out to be Plenty Horses, the Lakota who shot an American army officer in the back. John’s brother-in-law Captain Gideon Haleworthy had only recently told the two of them that Plenty Horses was on trial for murder. Yet here he is. Read on.


* * * * *

 “I see you, Plenty Horses.”

“And I see you, Medicine Hair,” he responded in fair English. “Winter Bird.”

“Hau-we,” my friend replied.

“Climb down and share some coffee with us,” I said. “We probably have enough rabbit and some corn cakes left for a meal, if you’re hungry.”

The slender BrulĂ© dismounted and led his horse into camp. “That would be welcome.” Then, like any good horseman, he set about taking care of his mount. He unsaddled the gelding and watered him in the nearby rill before hobbling him to graze. Apparently, we had a guest for the night.

Little was said as Plenty Horses ate. He was about ten years younger than I was and relatively tall for a plainsman, yet thin. And as pleasant looking as I recalled. There was a diffidence about him, an awkwardness, a shyness.

As soon as Horses finished eating and slaked his thirst from his coffee cup, Winter Bird spoke up.

“Thought you was in the white man’s jail.”

Horses ducked his head. “I was. They let me go.”

Enough light remained to see my friend’s brows climb. “They grab you for shooting a white soldier and then let you go?”

“Uh, huh.”

“Did they bring you to trial?” I asked.

He held up two fingers. “Two times. First time six farmers said I oughta be called guilty of murder and six other farmers said I oughta be called guilty of man …man-slaugh-ter. They called it a hanging trial.”

“A hung jury,” I corrected. Plenty Horses’ English was not as good as I’d expected after five years at Carlisle. “They couldn’t agree, so they couldn’t convict. Then what?”

He answered in Lakota. “They did it again, but this time, they tried to get Star Chief Miles to come down and sit in the witness chair. They wanted him to say it was murder. He didn’t come, but he sent a captain down in his place. They got the trial started, but then they shut everything down because of what he was gonna say.”

“And what was that?” Bird asked.

“That we was at war with one another. The white men who was my law-talkers” —I took this to mean his lawyers— “tried to tell me what difference that made, but all I got was they was letting me go. That’s what counted, ain’t it?”

I nodded. “The white people have a funny justice system. Most of the time, it takes care of their own, but sometimes the bullet blows out the wrong end of the barrel. That’s what your lawyers did to them. If they held you guilty of murder, then all those soldiers at Wounded Knee were guilty of it, too.”

“How?” Horses asked.

“You weren’t guilty because you—we—were at war. And soldiers killing soldiers or warriors killing warriors during a war isn’t murder. They were bound on hanging you, but their own law got in the way and saved you from the noose.”

“That’s what those law-talkers said.” He shrugged. “So when they let me go, I started for home.” He paused and looked in my direction. “But first, I wanted to come find you.”

“Why? How can I help you?”

Horses dropped his head onto arms folded over his knees for a long moment. At length, he straightened. “I didn’t want to go to the white man’s school over there in Pennsylvania, but they sent me anyhow. I stayed there for five years. I had thirteen summers when I got there and eighteen when they let me go. And when I got home, I found out I wasn’t Indian no more.”

“And you weren’t a white man, either,” I said. “You didn’t fit any longer.”

He snorted through his nose. “I knew I wasn’t gonna be no white man. But I didn’t expect my own people to turn me out when I come back from that school. I was an outcast just like if I’d raped a man’s wife. It couldn’t of been any worse if I had. Nobody trusted me no more. I fought with you and the others at Drexel Mission, but when I went to the Bench after that, it didn’t make no difference. Nobody wanted nothing to do with me.”

I nodded again. “That’s why you killed Lt. Casey.”

He pounded his knee. “I figured if I showed them I was a warrior, maybe they’d see I was still a BrulĂ©.”

Bird took off his hat and slapped it on the ground beside him. “How come you shot him in the back? If you wanted to show you were a warrior, you shoulda faced him.”

Horses shrugged. “Wasn’t sure I was gonna do it. But when he turned around and got on his horse, I panicked about him getting away before I could stop him.”

No one said a word for a full minute. Then Horses roused as if waking.

“Anyway, I heard all these stories about Medicine Hair, and how him and his brother came to help their people.” He looked my direction again, although it was hard to tell because the light was virtually gone now. The campfire was small and gave little relief.

“And I heard he was raised with the whites and acted like a white. But nobody pushed him away. How come?”

I rubbed my nose to give me time to think. “I guess we went about it differently. My spiritual grandfather was the Red Win-tay, a white man named Billy Strobaw. When our tiospaye was massacred in the autumn of ’50, he took in my father and raised him as his own son. Billy was accepted by the Indians. Hell, he was an Indian in everything but blood. He paved the way for Dog Fox—that was my father’s name before he became Cuthan Strobaw—and the rest of us. River Otter, who was also a spiritual grandfather to me, made sure I understood the tribal side of myself. So I was lucky. I was able to walk in both worlds.”

“But that ended, too,” Bird said. “The army burned your farm and arrested you.”

“They only did that when a Cheyenne shot one of them at my farm. Still, what you say is true. My red blood is the cause of the greatest loss of my life. If they hadn’t burned my farm, Shambling Bear and I might not have gone to Pine Ridge.”

“You woulda,” Bird said with conviction. “Bear woulda gone, and you wasn’t about to let him go alone when trouble was coming.”

“Has anything I told you helped?” I asked Plenty Horses.

He shook his head, making his eyes glow in the feeble campfire light. “I don’t have big friends to make a way for me. I have heard of this Red Win-tay and River Otter, too. They walked tall among the people. I have to make my own way.”

“And you are man enough to do it,” I said. “This I feel in my bones. Stay with us tonight, and tomorrow we will go to our farm just a short ride to the south. You can rest up there a few days and then resume your journey. Bird and I will see that you have provisions for your trip.”

 * * * *

I have just finished editing the first book in the series Cut Hand for Snyder Books, (scheduled out soon) and was struck anew by how involved I was with these books. This series is my favorite. I had fun researching. I enjoyed writing. I even get drawn into the stories as I edit… and most writers will tell you that’s a “clinical” undertaking. Cut Hand and Billy Strobaw and Otter and John and Matthew are living, breathing friends of mine… or at least they seem that way. I hope you will accept them as such, as well.

 Again, my sympathy to my compadre for the loss of his son. He seems to be handling it as well as can be expected.

 My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:

Website and blog:



Twitter: @markwildyr

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

 Until next time.



 New posts the first and third Thursday of the month at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Douche Bag, Post #148

Photo courtesy of

In case any of my readers also go to Don Travis’s website (, you will find I have guest posted the following story on his blog this week. He suffered the unexpected loss of his older son on January 22 and was a bit discombobulated. As I result, I agreed to put the following story on his site to allow him a week’s respite. He posts weekly, whereas I post on the first and third Monday of each month. Hope you enjoy the following story.

 * * * * *


I managed to snag a summer job back home after my freshman year at Eastern New Mexico University. Lucky, gainful employment was hard to come by in this uncertain economy. Not only that, but my hometown can’t even claim 10,000 residents, every one of them scratching for a living.

Anyway, when I hired on as one of the remodel crews for Westerton’s Home Repair, I considered myself lucky. I might have liked a semi-blue-collar job, say like working in the mailroom at city hall or delivering for the local florist, but, hey, you gotta take what’s available, right?

I’m not a rough-and-tumble guy, but I figured I could hold my own with a blue-collar crew. My old man was one for years, but then, I’m not my old man. In fact, I spent more time with my mom and grandmother than any of the male members of my family. Truth be told, I’ figured out I was gay this past fall when I got involved with my first semester roommate. Can’t tell you how liberating that was. But now I’m back in this little town with a mindset of the 1940s, requiring me to go back into the closet. Wasn’t hard to do. Been doing it all my life, even if I didn’t know it at the time.

On my first day, the boss assigned me to Walsack’s crew. Julius Walsack was about as broad as he was tall, but it wasn’t fat. Overdeveloped muscles… but definitely not fat. I’d known him before I went off to college in the vague way a guy knows everyone in a small town. He had a rep for spending his days doing hard manual labor and devoting his evenings to doing hard physical exercise in the town’s one gym. About five years older than my nineteen years, he’d been somebody to say hi to when our paths crossed. Looking back, I realized that he’d scared me, or at least intimidated me with his he-man bluster. Now he was my immediate boss.

The other two members of our crew were older men I knew the same way I knew Walsack, they were faces I could put a name to. They were an amiable bunch, and I knew my way around a hammer and saw, so I fitted in right from the start. Or thought I did.

The second day, Walsack walked up to me as I was fashioning a spline miter joint for a box window and sent me to the hardware store to pick up an order. As I started up, he slapped me on the butt.

“And put a hurry on it. It’s got some stuff I need,” he yelled while tossing the keys to his pickup at me.

I caught them and hurried to the company’s truck, swiping sawdust off the rear of my jeans as I went.

Later the same day, he came up to inspect the work I was doing and stood so close his thigh lightly brushed where he’d left his handprint. I moved to the other side of the saw table and watched his eyes as he studied what I’d been doing. He suggested a small change which made sense before walking back to whatever he’d been doing.

The next day, I was hanging a curtain rod in one of the bedroom’s closets when he sauntered in to see how I was doing. While one hand tested the rod, another came to rest on my ass. I was sorta penned in, so I just brushed his hand away. He agreed I was doing a good job, and went back to his own work. Maybe I wasn’t as far in that other “closet” as I thought.

For the rest of the week, it was something every day. Once, he slipped past me in tight confines and rubbed his fly across my butt. He paused just a second, not noticeable to the others, but it definitely was to me. A couple of times when he came to make suggestions or inspect something I was cutting on the saw, his eyes weren’t on the work. They were on my crotch.

Long before the end of the work week rolled around, I considered quitting. But this was as decent-paying a job as I was going to find. Maybe I could ask for a new assignment. Of course, I’d have to come up with a reason for the request. At the end of shift Friday, he informed me that most of the guys gathered at a local bar downtown to celebrate.

“But I’m not twenty-one yet,” I replied.

“Aw, you come on. I’ll get you in.”

But he didn’t. The bouncer turned me away after eyeing my driver’s license. I glanced at Walsack, who shrugged.

“Hey, I figured every college kid had a phony ID. Too bad.”

As I turned away, he laid a hand on my arm. “I’ll get a couple of six packs, and we’ll go to my place.”

I pulled free and started walking toward my car. “No thanks. I’m tired.”


The weekend was unsettling. Most of my high school buddies had moved on, and I wasn’t interested in trying to find a date. Most of my time was spent puzzling over how to handle Walsack and thinking about my former roommate. I missed him; and I missed what we’d done. Sure wasn’t anyone in this little berg I could do that with. Except maybe Walsack. The thought made my skin crawl.

Why? He wasn’t a bad-looking dude. Sure was built. Like a brick shit house, as they say. But he was so damned… macho was the word that came to mind. Aggressively so. Wasn’t my type. I had a type? Must have because he sure wasn’t it.

I went to work Monday with my tail dragging. Not a week before, I’d been excited and anxious. Now I was dreading it. My mood must have showed, because the others on my crew-except for Walsack—asked if I was okay. He just beamed at me like a fox spotting a hen.

We’d finished last week’s job and were working at a new house. My assignment was to install paneling in the two-car garage. That meant I mostly worked alone since the rest of the guys were remodeling the kitchen. A solo job was okay by me, but it meant Walsack checked on me more often than usual.

The first couple of times were okay. He pointed out a couple of things I needed to correct and gave me some tips that made the job easier. Then he started in with his tricks. Standing too close. Putting his hand on my arm. As the afternoon went on, he grew bolder. Once, he reached over me to point to something, and his groin pressed right up against my butt. I froze, and after saying something I don’t even remember, moved away. I turned in time to see him adjust himself.

The dude’s turned on!

Just before quitting time, he delivered the clincher. I didn’t even hear him enter the garage, but I heard the door close behind him. I ignored Walsack until he was standing behind me… too close, as usual. My mouth was open to say something when he leaned into me.


I started to move away, but his hand snaked around me and grabbed a handful. I twisted away and ended up in the middle of the garage with my fists curled.

Walsack faced me, laughing. “What’s the matter, kid?”

“Don’t ever touch me like that again!”

He shrugged. “Why not, you’re gay aren’t you?”

“What of it?”

“So you oughta like a real man feeling you up.”

“Is that what you are? A man?”

“One hundred percent New Mexico beefcake. A queer like you oughta be lappin’ up what I’m offering.”

“Tell me something, Walsack. If you’re such a man, why’re you even interested.”

His chest swelled. “I’m a man, all right. But a little change now and then don’t hurt. You oughta be flattered I find your ass kinda fetching.”

“If you’re such a man, that means you screw women, right?”

A smile played on his lips. “Ever chance I get.”

“So do you go feeling them up all the time.

Walsack scowled. “N-not all the time.”

“Why not?”

“Hell a man doesn’t make a play for every woman he meets. You know the old saying. Some will, some won’t.”

“According to that logic, you oughta feel them all up to see which ones will.”

“Hell, can’t do that.”

“How come?”

“They’d, I dunno, think I was a douche bag or something.”

I smiled. “There you go. Got it right the very first time.”

* * * *

Why is it that some people think that just because a person is gay, he or she should always welcome—or worse—be grateful for an advance from them. Do they think all gays are promiscuous? Do they think a gay should be flattered just because some guy (or gal) wants to “use” them to satisfy a curiosity about a “different kind of sex?” T’ain’t so, my friends. Some are willing to sleep around, but I wager most are not.

 My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:

Website and blog:



Twitter: @markwildyr

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

 Until next time.



New posts the first and third Thursday of the month at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Dumber’ a Dead Tree Stump (Part 2 of 2 Parts), Post #144

 Photo Courtesy of

 In the first part Frankie appeared to lust after his BFF and go find relief with Flatnose. Can this go on forever?

* * * * *


I didn’t see Darcel again until after church on Sunday when we walked down to the creek looking for something to do. When we passed the spot where I’d got with Flatnose last Friday, it was like he read my mind.

“You go look up Flatnose after we split the other day?”

“W=why’d you say that?”

“Well, did you.”

I felt my face burning, but I don’t usually lie to Darcel. And when I do, he can always tell. “What if I did?”

“Was it good?”

I was caught on a hook like that imaginary fish. If I admitted how good it was, what in the world would he think of me. If I downplayed it, he’d ask why I did it. Couldn’t risk my best friend in the whole world looking down on me. So I punted and asked, “You tell me.”

He stopped short and looked me in the eye. “Dunno. I never let him do nothing to me.”

My mouth dropped. “Come on. We been talking about Eugene for over a year now.”

You’ve been talking about him. This is the first time I’ve brought him up. And he musta come up in your estimation. You called him Eugene.”

I made a face. “Can’t get nothing by you.”

“So answer my question. Is he any good?”

“Better’n doing it to yourself.”

“That so? I been wondering….”

I waited a beat. “Wondering what?”

“Nothing. If we’re gonna make the three o’clock picture show, we better hurry.”


My dad put me to work cleaning out a storage unit he’d rented a couple of years ago to hold junk… mostly man junk, you know, hunting trophies, cartridge loading equipment, fishing rods, a canoe, and the like. His interests had shifted to bowling and golfing, so he was willing to let the other stuff go. I had no interest in fishing and did only a once-in-a-year deer hunt, so he wanted to sell what he could and trash the rest. My task was to proclaim something as sellable or as junkable. I soon got bored with it, so a lot of the sellable stuff probably got labeled as junk.

Anyway, that took two weeks out of my summer during which I saw little of Darcel, but when the Great Man Cave Selloff was over, I looked him up after his shift at Save a Bundle Grocery, where he had a part time job and we headed for the park to toss a football for a while. Tired of that, we ended up doing what we usually did, lying in the grass and talking. Darcel was a great talker. A conversationalist, even. So I let him do most of the talking until he strayed onto a subject that sparked my interest… like flying, for example. I really wanted to learn to fly and had started saving to take lessons last year. I didn’t have a real job, but my dad was an engineer who worked out of an office in our house, and he kept me occupied running errands, making copies, and the like, so I salvaged a few coins every month for the fund.

Eventually, I sat up beside him—I usually managed to do that at least once—and took a gander at my buddy, especially his groin area. He rattled on for a while until he finally said something that snagged my attention.

“Huh?” I sounded dumber’n a dead tree stump.

“I said, you’re gonna go looking for Flatnose, aren’t you?”

I could feel my cheeks and the back of my neck burning “Why’d you say that?”

He stretched lazily. “Every time you give me that look, I know you’re getting horny.”

“W-what look?”

He sat up beside me. “Whenever we’re lying here in the park, you always sit up and start eyeballing me. Gives me the creeps.”

I swallowed hard, trying to get over a dry throat. “I get tired of just lying—”

“Don’t give me that. You want a better look.”

“Why’d you say that?”

“Because you always end up at my crotch.”


“Don’t deny it. I got eyes. And then you go look up Flatnose.”

My whole head seemed like it was afire then. I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything.

“Lie down,” he suddenly ordered.


“Lie down. It’s my turn to take a look.”

My muscles must have given up on me because before I knew it, I was on my back looking up at a blue sky. His blue eyes started at my head and moved down me like ground penetrating radar. Or more accurately, cloth penetrating radar. I felt like I was stark naked beneath his stare. And, of course, I started reacting.

“Wow. It moved.”

And it moved again, growing and crawling up my belly. And there wasn’t a damned thing I could do about it save for covering it with my hands. They twitched,

“Oh, no,” he said. “Fair’s fair. I didn’t cover myself.”

“But you weren’t—”

“Getting a hard-on? No, but I thought about it.”

He watched for a full minute while I reached maximum effort.

Then he shifted his gaze to look me full in the eye. “You know what I don’t understand?”

I grunted something that even I didn’t understand.

“Why do you think we need Flatnose?”

I swallowed so hard I gulped. “You mean….”

“I mean there’s you, and there’s me. Why do we need somebody in between us.”

“Oh, Jeez, Darcel! Do you mean….” I didn’t seem capable of finishing sentences anymore.

“I mean I know a place a couple of miles up the creek where nobody ever goes. And—”

I scrambled to my feet, probably making my condition apparent to anybody who happened to be looking. “Your car or mine?”


As we raced for his Chevvy, I couldn’t believe how much time we’d wasted this summer. I really was dumber'n a dead tree stump.

 * * * *

Was he dumber’n a dead stump post or just afraid to make the first move and possibly lose his friend? Some will look at it one way; some with look at it another. You make your own mind up.


My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:

Website and blog:



Twitter: @markwildyr

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

Until next time.



 New posts the first and third Thursday of the month at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Dumber’ a Dead Tree Stump (Part 1 of 2 Parts), Post #143

Photo Courtesy of 

Today, I’d like to return to storytelling. There follows a short (two part) short story that I hope you’ll like.

* * * * *


I was on the hunt for Flatnose Kelly. Usually the town queer wasn’t hard to find, unless he was hid off somewhere with one of his tricks. His real name was Eugene, but everyone called him Flatnose because he usually had it tight up against someone’s belly when he did his thing. Dunno what he got outa doing things like that for guys, but I guessed he liked it or else he wouldn’t a done it.

Today, I was kinda hard up because me’n my buddy Darcel had hung around all afternoon, and the sight of him laying flat of his back in the grass at the park wouldn’t get outa my mind. His shirt and pants—shorts actually—had just laid right close to his body outlining things so it didn’t take much imagination to figure out what was beneath them. Course, we’d gone skinny dipping lotsa times, so I knew what everything looked like for real, but every once in a while a sight like that just stirred me up. And that’s why I was looking for Flatnose.

I found him down by the creek holding a fishing line over the water. Don’t think it even mattered to him if he got a bite, much less caught a fish. Flatnose was one strange dude. He was a couple of years older’n me and Darcel, and he was all right in the looks department, but no one claimed him as a buddy because of what he done. To be fair about it, I don’t really know who he did it for. I mean, you heard talk around the high school, but sometimes talk’s just that, talk. I didn’t believe half the guys when the claimed to get to home base with this girl or that gal. Far’s I know, it could be that way with Flatnose too. All I can tell you for sure was that three or four times, he’d sent me to the moon. He always claimed I had a good one, but that was probably just talk. I’d seen just about every guy in school necked as a jaybird in gym class at one time or another, and they all looked about the same. Some longer, some fatter, but let’s face it, a prick is a prick.

“Hullo, Frankie,” he said when I plopped down beside him on the bank. “Where’s Darcel?”

I shrugged. “Off somewhere doing his own thing, I guess. We’re not joined at the hip, you know.”

He looked at me through pale gray eyes and gave a half-smile. “Might as well be. Probably like to be joined a different way, truth be told.”

“Now why’d you say that?”

He shrugged back at me. His cork bobbed in the water, but he paid it no mind. You see Darcel, you know Frankie’s not far behind.”

I poked out my lower lip and nodded. “Yeah, we’re good friends. Buddies.”

“Just not the way you’d like.”

“Why you always talk to me like that?” I demanded, my blood rising.

“See one, you see the other. What else can I think?”

“No wonder you don’t have any friends.”

“Sure I got friends. Got one sitting here right beside me.”

“Crap,” I said and flopped on my back.

Like I hoped he would, he laid a warm hand over me.

“And my friend’s got a friend. A big friend.”

I just kept my mouth shut and let him do what I knew he was gonna do. I kinda jumped when he pulled me out of my stretch pants, but lordy, did my eyes fly open when he put his mouth on me. Wasn’t anything felt much better’n that. Not even bagging a six-point buck during deer season. I just sucked air and let him have at it.

When it was over—all too soon for me—he pulled my stretch pants back in place, but I just lay there, my bones gone soft and my muscles syrupy. After a while, I stretched like I was just getting up in the morning and yawned.

“Thought the Sandman got’cha for a minute,” Flatnose said.

“Nah. But it felt like I was waking up.” I kinda shook my head. Every other time Flatnose had pinged my pong, I couldn’t wait t get outa there. Now I was talking to him. “What do you get outa that?” I asked.

He shrugged—something else he was good at—and thought for a minute before answering. “I dunno. Making you feel good makes me feel good.” He swiped his face with a freckled hand. “You know, for a few minutes there, nobody matters more to you than me. What I’m doing for you, you know. It’s kinda special. And that makes me special.”

He pulled in his line, and I saw there wasn’t a worm on it. That nibbling fish had gotten the whole worm without getting hooked. I thought about that for a minute.

Was I getting the worm, or was I getting hooked?

 * * * *

Frankie seems to have maneuvered the first part of the story okay. He gets excited by his friend and gets his ashes hauled by someone else. What gives?

 My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:

Website and blog:



Twitter: @markwildyr

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

 Until next time.


 New posts the first and third Thursday of the month at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Season’s Greetings to One and All, Post #142

Photo Courtesy of

A sincere thank you to all who reached out with sympathy and understanding over Stan Rhine’s recent death. He was a heck of a guy.

 Today, I’m doing an unscheduled posting simply wishing all my readers a very happy and careful holiday season. Regardless of how you celebrate it, the last seven days of December seems to be a special time for everyone.

But during all of our revelry, let’s not forget the victims of COVID-19, the casualties of war, or those who suffer hunger and other diseases, or simply the separation from family and friends. This is a difficult time for billions around the world. Keep them in your prayers and tip a drop of your libation as an offering to those who are no longer with us.

Thank you for another moment of self-indulgence, but this is something I wanted to say to all of you.

 * * * * *

I will not post for New Year’s celebration but will return to my First and Third Monday schedule for the new year. And I’ll have something a little spicier than these last two posts.

 Stay safe and be happy.

 My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:

Website and blog:



Twitter: @markwildyr

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

 Until next time.



 New posts the first and third Thursday of the month at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Mourning the Loss of a Friend and a Colleague, Post #141


Please bear with me while I express my personal grief at the loss of a good friend. Indulge me, if you will.

Today, I don’t want to post a story, or cite from a novel, or talk about the wonderful state of New Mexico. I want to tell you about a friend and fellow writer. Dr. J. Stanley Rhine was a retired University of New Mexico professor, whose field was Forensic Anthropology. He spent a good part of his career traveling the western states visiting archaeological sites, examining bones to determine how ancient peoples lived and what they ate. After the notorious riot in the New Mexico State Penitentiary that took place February 2 and 3 in 1980, he was called in to identify some of the thirty-three dead inmates, some of whom were horribly mutilated. I cannot help but believe the experience of viewing “fresh kills” for the purpose of identification was much more traumatic than examining the dry bones of yester-century, but given his intensely laid-back personality, I doubt if it raised his heartbeat an iota. In fact, I could see him become far more animated at discovering something new from a dusty old bone from the 1700s. Not that he wasn’t empathetic—he was—but he viewed things as a scientist.

Stan was a standout in a crowd. Tall and wiry, he stood ramrod straight with a shock of white hair worn in the Mark Twain style and a thick white Samuel Clements mustache and was instantly identifiable. He spoke in a soft, low voice that required close attention to keep from losing what he was saying… and usually when he spoke, what he said was worth understanding and retaining. He wrote in a similar manner, a tight, small, cramped hand that almost required a magnifying glass to read. In fact, he belonged to a luncheon group of writers who completed the meal with a series of round robin stories (where each member adds a sentence or thought and passes the story to the next reader for like treatment), and one of our members sometimes carried just such a glass to read Stan’s contribution. Stan unfailingly added a moment of wit to each such story.

Retired, he maintained an office at UNM where he wrote short stories with clever O. Henry twists. I often told him he spent seven hundred words just to deliver a ten-word surprise. He was a perfect blend of wit and wisdom.

A member of our Wordwrights Writing Group that met for years at the North Domingo Multicultural Center, Stan wrote authoritative articles on Western railroads and published two volumes of his short stories, Talking Dogs, Singing Mice and Other Shaggy Dog Stories and An Omnium Gatherum (both available on Amazon). The titles are a perfect expression of Stan’s complexity.

Part of that complexity is demonstrated by the fact that while he was quite loquacious when speaking of other people and their efforts, few among the group of around forty people or so who attended our Wordwrights class knew little about his personal life, he held those details close. His instructions for his own disposal after death were typical: No funeral, no memorial service, no nothing. But everyone… and I mean everyone liked and respected Stan Rhine.

Tragically, Stan suffered a fall on Wednesday, December 9, which resulted in a skull fracture. Other problems developed, and Stan passed away in the morning hours of Sunday the 13th. According to his wife Sue, he was sedated and in no pain.

He will be missed by all who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sue and his family. Rest in Peace, Stan.


A further note. This identical lament is posted in the Don Travis blog as we both knew, respected, and loved Stan.

The usual jumble of links and sources have been deleted, although I’ve retained the motto as it is something San agreed with wholeheartedly.

 * * * * *

Goodbye, Stanley. Dear readers, I’ll be more in a mood to return to my usual type of posts by New Year’s Day. Thanks for indulging me.

 My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:

Website and blog:



Twitter: @markwildyr


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

 Until next time.



 New posts the first and third Thursday of the month at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.