Hello! It`s time for Tuesday Tales again. This week I`ll begin sharing excerpts from my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, Laco Law – The Gnarled Oak. Laco Law is an M/M historical western romance, set in the fictional county of Laco, Texas in 1867. Today we`ll get to know my leading man, Clayton Moore, a bit better.
This week our word prompt is ‘Abrupt’. As this is my NaNo work, it is quite rough. I do ask that you overlook any glaring mistakes you may find.
Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thanks for stopping in!
The Gnarled Oak
What I wouldn`t give to be back home, sprawled out under a stand of mossy cypress trees, listening to pig frogs as the moon splashed white on the bayou`s surface. This wasn`t Louisiana though, it was Texas; land of cactus, coyotes, and fugitives. Sweat burned my eyes and stung the bite on the back of my gritty neck.
There was no shade to be found unless we backtracked over the furrows we had plowed up. The horse, not caring if he had to re-do a good two acres of sandy soil, tried to head to the small creek that bordered this patch of land. Land that would grow corn if my sister had her way. And Rebecca Reynolds always got her way. I smiled at the mental image of Becky as I worked at unhitching the horse from the plow. Another fly landed on my forearm.
Rebecca was as stubborn as Pete, and twice as nasty when she didn`t get her own way. How she ever talked Jeph Reynolds into marrying her is beyond me. Maybe it was because we grew up with Jeph and he always did have a sweet spot for my sister. Whatever the reason, he married her, went off to fight the Yankees at my side, and then took a musket ball to his heart mere months after enlisting.
I led Pete to the creek carefully. My boots sent up clouds of dust. Life in southwestern Texas was proving to be tough. Pete tugged hard, the smell of the muddy Laco tributary urging him to speeds that a man in spurs could never attain. Even I could taste the refreshment in my mind. We hit the creek at a jog. I released the reins. The rings on Pete`s bit collar jangled as he trotted out into the skinny river. Spring thaws further north had given the Laco a bit of a header as it ran out to sea. I dropped to one knee, my brown work trousers caked with dust and sweat. I cupped my hands then dipped into the water. It was warmer than a man would like, but beggars and choosers as they say. Me and Pete drank our fill. I sat back on my calf, my left arm hanging over my left knee.
Texas had its own beauty, I supposed. It was surely big enough for a man with a shady past to get lost in. I stared at the vista as Pete slopped across the creek searching for some forage. The wind was strong today. It carried a tint of something drastic on it. Something nasty like a thunderhead that would roll over this arid land like one of those steam locomotives that were starting to lay track towards the town of Laco. I untied the bandanna from my neck, dipped it into the water, and then laid it tenderly on my face. I could smell my sweat.
Closing my eyes I let the buzzing flies and soft sounds of Pete grazing the bank lift me away from here. The memory of Harland popped up unbidden. I let myself enjoy the mental image of a young man with green eyes, away from home just like me, scared to death of dying yet more scared to leave his brothers in grey behind. He died alongside Jeph. When we pulled out of Rice`s Station by moonlight, I retreated and kept going. I ran right home to gather up Becky and her baby boy. Sometimes, like right now, I can pull up the sight of Harland as we stole precious moments away from our confederate brothers. It`s so strong at times that I can almost taste his kisses. Almost . . .
The wind cooled material was so pleasant I had half a mind to do it again. Pete whinnied. I knew it was folly to think such things. A man of twenty like me didn`t have time to be daydreaming, not when he had a sister and her boy depending on him. Pushing to my well-worn boots I retied my bandanna around my neck. The sound of a gun shot rang out. It was shockingly abrupt and so out of place that I had a moment of uncertainty about what I had truly heard.
Then the white hot agony of a bullet to the belly ripped through me. I stumbled back, my hand instinctively going to my stomach. Pete screamed and tried to run. He collapsed in the river.
Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey
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