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In 1854 three teenaged girls are lost in tens of thousands of square miles in someone else’s land, a land where the Teton Lakota, the Brule, the Oglala, the Hunkapapa, the Absaroka, and the Arapaho have lived forever. No one knows they are missing. They are followed by an eighteen year old kid, alone, who, if not dead himself, certainly under any circumstances is not prepared to track them through an inhospitable, unforgiving land where “the only good white man is a dead one.”

The girls, ages fourteen, seventeen and eighteen, are the sole survivors of a massacre suffered by their parents in the Wind River Mountains, central Nebraska Territory. They are forced to live among a “civilized” people where hanging the scalps of their enemies from the lodge poles of their dwelling is a badge of honor, an example of bravery, courage, and fierceness in battle.

This is the story of their “escape,” their growing up, making adult decisions, and surviving on the northern plains of the Nebraska Territory in 1854. They hope they are being sought by Zeke, another teenager, who may not have been killed with their parents, but their hope isn’t well supported. He, too, would be alone, if he survived–more alone than they. They, at least, have each other.

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Eleven pregnant mares are missing, lost in the Big Horn mountains above Crystal Creek. They are the property of eighteen-year-old Alejendra Rodriguez–Alex for short. Alex’s grandmother sends her to Henry, an old man, broken, bent, burdened with promises difficult to keep. Old he might be, but he still has the ability to track a skunk across a flat rock.  Some say he could do it at midnight on a rainy day. It is 1917. Henry, sitting on the porch of the Neeley Hotel, has surely seen better days. She asks him for his help. He hesitates. His reluctance is born of age and worn-out body parts.  His reticence  is overcome by an ancient promise. Somehow he gets himself off the porch. What the old man uncovers is much more than missing mares. He finds himself butting heads with a man driven by an obsession for power, a prize winning stud horse, and hired assassins.   The lives of Henry and Alejendra are complicated by an unsuspecting young cowboy, whose heart is captured by a girl whose image dwells at the edge of his every thought.  Young men do crazy things when they think they’re in love.

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 Who was the Crow Woman and why did her sudden death anger the man called Pistol? And who was the man called Pistol? Their story unfolds in Southern Montana in Crow Territory, not too many years after Custer’s encounter with the Indians. It is a time when, if a man wanted to stay alive, he needed vigilance and a shotgun, and in Pistol’s case, a good knife. He also needed friends watching his back. Luckily, Pistol had all three.

Josiah Edwin Kern came to the Pryor Mountain country of Montana Territory because his younger brother wrote him a letter. Four years later all that he found were tracks: a cabin, a barn, a water system–things his brother built. There was also a grave, certified to be his brother’s grave, occupied by a dead man with a bullet lodged in his brain. Who killed his brother and why?

Death affects different men differently. Taking his sorrow with him, he finds a new life, a new name, a new set of problems. Josiah Kern is a man caught between Spanish gold, another man’s prejudice, the death of his younger brother, and the needs of his newly acquired family.

When the lives of his people are threatened, a man with a shotgun tends to use it. For Pistol, no one, not his friends and acquaintances, not common thieves, not even the U.S. Army, can keep him from his errand of justice.

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In September 1873 they hit him over the head, knocking him senseless. They hit him from behind while he was standing in a saloon in San Francisco celebrating his fortieth birthday. John Jacob Hannon isn’t a patient man, isn’t forgiving, and doesn’t take kindly to being forcibly dragged off to sea. He stood 6′ 1″ in his stocking feet, and weighed a little over two hundred pounds.

Shanghaied three years, Hannon’s first priority is escaping his forced labor and ending the lives of his captors. His second is retrieving his horse and the gear he left at a small café in Chinatown and leaving town. What he does not know is that a young nineteen-year-old Chinese girl, also running for her life will accompany him. Su Lin is far from home, her name on an assassin’s list, her hired death payment for an unrightable wrong. Unwittingly, he is forced to care for her, to protect her from the men who are coming after her.

The irony is that she doesn’t want to be with him–“a demon white”–and he doesn’t want to be saddled with “no woman.” But there they are, running for their lives, together. Running, distrusting each other, trying to survive in an inhospitable land and lurching toward an unrecognizable, uncertain future, they encounter more than their share of bad luck. Gunfights, murder, abuse and intolerance rise up to meet them on their journey to Northern Arizona and safety.

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NO TIME TO TRUST is the story of Joe.  It is set in the year 1878 in Montana.  It is a story replete with victims, vengeance, duty to family and honor.  Joe is  introduced to the reader having no name, no past, no knowledge of who or where he is.  Unconscious—the  victim of a shooting—with a head wound that deprives him of his long term memory and very nearly his life,  Joe struggles to put the pieces of his life’s puzzle together.
Initially through dream sequences and later, through fragments of memories, unusual events, and encounters, he learns that he is a gunman, a son, and a brother.  A witness to his father’s murder, Joe grows up to become a killer with a penchant for vengeance.  His father’s death forces him into the role of protector and provider for his mother, younger brother and sister, and ultimately judge and jury.

Two men are pivotal to Joe’s development as a gunfighter.  Foster Smith is a Western man—the real deal.  His co-hort, Brigham Larson, is the storekeeper from whom Joe learns the skills of gunmanship in his early teens.  It is their wisdom and Old West rules that reside in his head and guide his decision making.

Seeking answers to the attack on his life, Joe stops at what appears to be an abandoned farm.   The sole resident is a  seven year old child, Millie.  Her father’s dead body lies in the yard.  It is around Millie’s fate that the story swirls.   It is in her defense that Joe is thrust into a hunt and a showdown with the murderer.

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SHORT STORIES OUT OF KANE is an assortment of true accounts of life in Kane, Wyoming during its brief seventy year existence. They are stories of hope, youth, and independence as well as hard work, endurance, and pathos. The people depicted herein often had little or nothing, yet they sustained themselves and family through sheer determination to survive. Their stories deserve telling.

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