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It’s a showdown in the dusty Nevada desert. A forty-five-year-old gunfighter and bounty hunter stands his ground as an immovable object. A ham-fisted, belligerent hustler using every dirty trick in the book is the irresistible force. Hundreds of bullets, thousands of miles and behind them is a trail of five dead men. 

A working friendship gone sour. A profitable partnership now dust. It was time to settle a festering score. In the afternoon sun, they dropped their gun belts and the war began.

Several weeks later, a friend comes hunting Whelihan and finds a shallow grave with the silk scarf of his woman wound tightly in the grasp. Then the friend finds the horse carcass picked clean by the crows and scavengers. The initials on saddle faintly read ‘GW.”

No tracks. No clues. Has someone bested the gunfighter or brought justice to Washburn?

Ginger Whelihan

6 foot 4, 45 years old, middle-aged gunfighter, bounty hunter, security guard, cowboy, lean, dark eyes, stubbly growth beard, rough voice.

Straight up, honest man with a reputation as a lightning fast gun-fighter that people steer clear of. An honorable man that will stand his ground no matter what. Ginger Whelihan image

Doesn’t let people push him around. Doesn’t want to give up his loner way of life.

Keeps seeing wrong being done and pushes his way in to settle and knock heads together, attracts trouble. Likes to see the damned, lost and forgotten come out on top

Second oldest of 4 boys and 2 girls. Two of the boys caught influenza 3 years ago and died.

Wants to see decent folks live free and have a good productive life.

He doesn’t know how to find a home, family, relationship.

Admires Flossie Hastings from a distance, but feels he has nothing to bring to the relationship.

Always lowers his voice and tries to speak quietly to Flossie. Craves her attention at one point.

Once the bad guys he goes up against learn who he really is, they back down, not wishing for any gunfights and secretly admire him.

He comes and goes not knowing how to ask for her affection that she wants to give.

Flossie Hastings

She was five foot five and a slender build with brownish red wavy hair held back in a little bun most times or a pony tail. Flossie Hastings was thirty years old, tougher than she looked and a good cook, baker, sewer and knitter.

Flossie Hastings imageThe day that Ginger Whelihan walked his horse into the yard with supplies from town changed her life. A trade was made of Ginger’s help around ranch in exchange for barn housing for him and his horse. 

It had been a constant struggle and worry about keeping them safe and raising Jake alone in solitude. Flossie Hastings was hesitant bordering on shyness and self-conscious about strangers and the unwanted perception of being needy or begging. Her own insecurities kept her from asking for any help from neighbors and anyone in Williams or Bradford. Brought up from solid Pennsylvania stock, it would be the last thing she wanted for people to feel sorry for her. And unbeknownst to her, they do.

Flossie had learned quite a bit in the five years together with John working the ranch. But now there were not enough hours in the day and each night when she dropped exhausted into her bed she knew she had wasted too much daylight. Yet every morning, she rose and carried on so Jake would see her as someone who never gave up. Other women who met Flossie found her a genuinely thoughtful mother, very industrious, creative and resourceful as she made do with very little. Men silently felt that she overcame odds and kept going where a lesser man give up.

Jake Hastings

Age 10 years, son of Flossie Hastings. Two years ago Jake’s father was crushed when a wagon fell on him while underneath repairing. Pneumonia settled in and Jake’s mother Flossie was distraught over a year. Mentally, Jake is still a young boy but has responsibilities of a ranch hand with feeding animals, gathering firewood and hauling water.

Jake Hastings image

Jake comes to know Ginger Whelihan as a father figure and as a man that treats Jake as a young man. They work on the ranch and at night, read together as often as possible. When a disagreement between Whelihan and Jake’s mother happens, Jake is bereft that Whelihan rides away to work in town.

Jake has a yellow lab that follows him everywhere and sleeps on the floor next to his bed. When the adults around him are not talking, Jake is the one working to keep everyone informed on what is going on.

Bert Goldman

Bert Goldman’s saloon was told to be the oldest saloon in the area. It had started out as a tent alongside the tent of the trading post. A little outpost in between two other places to be, it had sprouted up where there was money to be had for drinkable whiskey. The main saloon was large and spacious with tables and chairs scattered over the smooth plank floor. Another tale told was how it had been a shipbuilder who hammered together in the shiplap style of rough-sawn ten inch wood planks with a grooved overlap for strength. The years had seen gunfire in the saloon and several slugs were still embedded in the front of the bar.

Bert Goldman image

Bert had taken one look at the rundown business, once he was sober, and the business man in him was thunderstruck with the opportunity. He had run moonshine from the Carolinas to Texas and set up dozens of stills from the Montana territory to the gulf coast. Goldman had rolled into town with his last five dollars in his pocket. Nancy Williams gave him a job as bartender and Bert’s six foot four size and quick eye kept the roar down and the riff raff out.  Within six months they were married and the country saloon that Nancy’s father had left her started expansion under Bert’s trained eye.

Now at forty years old, he had become a fixture in this local area. They had built on a large room on to the back of the saloon and set up a copper still into it along with wooden storage kegs. Goldman grew with a reputation for decent whiskey, selling the wooden casks as far away as Santa Fe and San Francisco and gave plenty of hauling business to the freighters coming into Southern California. Before she died, Nancy had taught him to always have a pot of chili on the back of the stove and keep the hospitality tradition of a long running card game.

Nancy Goldman had died five years back after suffering from internal maladies. Unbeknownst to Bert, Nancy’s father had put a sizable amount of money into a trust for her that was never touched and it was a starched shirted lawyer that walked into the bar one day.  While he was a successful business man with an eye for opportunity, Goldman had never had this amount of money before and it moved this man to tears.

Gil Washburn

Tall man, a lean man. Dark straight hair cut short, mostly shaved. Dark eyes that sort of smiled but his mouth did not. Rough-hewn face. Stubble of beard. Broad shoulders

Thoughtful face with a jutting chin. Small dark scar on cheekbone. A broken nose from long ago. Determined look on face.

Gil Washburn image

 

Born outside Santa Fe to a mother travelling east. He grew up in big cities and became good with his fists. At sixteen he had worked the docks for two years.

He bought passage onto a clipper going around the tip of South American and worked keeping himself alive.

He cooked, dealt cards, mended harnesses and removed bullets from time to time. When he got down on his luck, his fists won some eating money and he kept going.

As a miner in the hills above Sacramento, he found modest success and stashed close to $5,000 into the bank before he ran from the vicious winter.

An old broken down prize fighter in San Francisco saw promise in the boy and trained him for eight months in the art of boxing.

Shortly after his eighteenth birthday, he won bare knuckles fight using his newly learned technique over a favorite boxer.

At dawn, the next morning he and his winnings were on a sailing ship swiftly flying over the blue Pacific water headed West.

He made four trips total across the Pacific. Now he was out of money, nursing a grudge, and looking for a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Published: Oct. 14, 2014

Words: 172,250

Language: English

ISBN: 9781310731150

Fiction  Romance  Adventure  Action Western

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