My father has always been a fan of westerns. And back in the day when most homes only held one television set you could always find us watching westerns when my father was home. You can laugh if you want, but Bonanza was actually one of my favorites and I had a huge crush on Little Joe. But since I'm all about the honesty here on my blog, it must be said that my heart, regardless of how small it may have been at the time, always belonged to Adam. When I was little I'd sit on the couch with my father and hold his hand as I watched the Cartwright boys saddle up and ride away on the Ponderosa. In fact, when I visited my father a couple of years ago I still found myself sitting next to him on the sofa, holding his hand, and watching old westerns.
Well this week I've been missing my father something terrible. I'm stuck in a horrible spot in my personal life and there are days when I wish I could go back home to Oregon and sit on the couch with my father and watch westerns. But I can't. And even though he's recently told me I can come home whenever I want... I won't. Instead of packing my bags and walking away from my reality, I decided to curl up with a really good collection of western short stories by Edward A. Grainger.
I've never really read a western novel... never would have thought I'd be interested in them. My husband is a Louis L'Amour fan and is always telling me I should read the Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry. Well, like I said before, I haven't read any westerns and until this weekend I really didn't think I'd ever be interested in them.
You see, I'm not a girl with a love for all things pioneer-ish, and I hate camping. Dust in my hair, teeth, or buried under my fingernails, and using outdoor restrooms really isn't my thing. And the thought of milking my own cows and killing and skinning chickens for my next meal kind of makes me nauseous. I don't how people survived back in the day and I have no problem admitting that part of my daily thanks is for the little things I have in my life... indoor plumbing being one of them.
Yet last night as I closed the book on the last short story I read in Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, I found myself overlooking the homestead and admiring my view of the cattle on my Uncle Jack's ranch in North Dakota. I haven't been there in years and I didn't realize how much I missed playing on that property until I cracked open a book about two marshals and their adventures in the wild west.
In Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles by Edward A. Grainger, you'll find seven incredible stories detailing life in the west, and how two marshals instill justice with the gift of persuasion and strong hands. Not only will you find these two tracking and taking down the bad guys, but you'll find them questioning the law, as well.
In the story Melanie, Cash Laramie deals with the reality of the written law when he stumbles upon a little girl being abused by those that should be caring for her. He leaves the Uncle with a warning, only to return to find him abusing her once again. When the written law declares that nothing can be done, justice is served up anyway when the Uncle is found dead after going to fetch water... in the dark. My favorite line from this story is from Marshal Laramie, "when the town's people don't protect their children, then they're not fit to govern."
My favorite story in the collection was Under The Sun, co-written by Sandra Seamans. The story is told through the perspective of a woman named Delilah, who finds herself living alone after her husband is killed from injuries in a grizzly attack. She's visited by the marshals letting her know that there's an Indian on the run, and that a father seeking revenge for the death of his son is hot on his trail. After refusing to leave her home until Brave Coyote is found, Delilah tries to take up refuge in her home only to find herself annoyed at not being able to take care of her land. Venturing outside, she comes face to face with an injured Brave Coyote, the man wanted by the law, but more importantly, the man that saved her husband from the grizzly attack and brought him home to die. Seeing an opportunity to repay a debt for his kindness towards her husband, Delilah finds a way to bring closure for a town seeking justice, and freedom to an innocent man.
Another great story is Miles To Go, wherein we find Gideon Miles going out in search of a fugitive on his own, and struggling with how to explain why his devotion to law enforcement is so important even though being black keeps him from receiving the proper respect and equal pay as his colleagues. My favorite character in this story is the stable boy Keith... a boy who considers Miles a hero and hopes to one day be a marshal just like him.
The stories are written with such description that you can easily hear the sounds of the wagon wheels and the music in the saloon. Not only that, you can easily visualize life in the wild west from the feeding of the horses to the dresses on the women in the saloon. A fist fight here and a gun fight over there... stepping back in time is easy with this wonderful collection of stories.
Oh, and before I forget... these are two extremely handsome marshals, as they've both managed to the get the girl a time or two in this collection. And I'd be a total liar if I didn't admit I've got a serious crush on Marshal Laramie. Hmmm... Do you think if I find a dress like the one Lenora was wearing that Marshal Laramie will come to my rescue?
A girl can always dream...
You can find Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles HERE.
Edward A. Grainger, aka David Cranmer, is a member of the Western Fictioneers and is editor/publisher of the BEAT to a PULP webzine. His work has been published in Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Out of the Gutter, and Crimefactory to name a few. He lives in Main with his wife and daughter.