December 29, 2010


Stephen Bly

I ordered a triple-tall iced espresso. That’s cold coffee with about ten times the caffeine content as regular coffee. No flavoring. No milk. No nothing added. A modern hyper drink. Kind of like the dregs at the bottom of the pot of cowboy coffee, after it’s been over the campfire at least four hours.

I don’t seem to have the time to sit around the campfire anymore, waiting for the coffee to get good and strong. So I order it iced at Starbucks, even in winter. Coffee, I think, should be sipped slow. But when you’re driving down an icy road at night in a blizzard, sipping’s not always an option.

This time, however, I sat at the back table in Prescott’s Pioneer Club, staring into the Atlantic Ocean blue eyes of a wide shouldered, gray haired man wearing a dusty black cowboy hat. It had been years since I’d seen him. The creases around his eyes told thousands of tales I would probably never hear.

His coffee, straight off the campfire, swirled in a chipped, blue enamel tin cup. He wore a dusty, dark gray wool suit. At least, I think it was gray. He didn’t have a tie. But the once white shirt was buttoned at the collar. I couldn’t tell if he had shaved that morning or not. Some old boys like him look a little rough in the beard all the time.

His Colt revolver hung gentle in the well worn, double loop Mexican holster. I’ve never seen him without it. He stared at me a moment, in such a way that I wanted to shove up my hands and holler, “I surrender. Don’t shoot!”

He glanced around at the floor as if searching for a spittoon. But I knew that wasn’t it. Stuart Brannon doesn’t chew.

Stuart Brannon novel #1
About halfway through the cup of coffee, he cleared his throat. “You still writin’ them books?”

“Yep. Kind of addictive after all these years.”

“Is any of the stories true?”

“Sometimes. Depends on what windies I hear.”

He held up his cup in front of his lips as if to warm his face. “You do get things wrong from time to time.”

I slurped the last of my iced espresso. “I do appreciate your corrections.”

Brannon pulled off the beaver felt hat and laid it, crown down, on the table. “You lookin’ for another story?”


“Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Portland, Oregon, to find out what happened to Tom Wiseman?”


“Well, I’ll tell ya, but only because Tom deserves his story to be told. He was a good man. Way too good to have that happen to him.”

“When was that, Stuart?”

“Ought-five, the year of the Lewis and Clark Centennial.”

I loosed the collar of my golf shirt and leaned back in the booth. “They had a big celebration, right?”

He waved towards the front door. “Yeah, but my story begins right across the street at the Prescott post office. I got one of those lilac smellin’ letters from Harriet. When Lady Harriet Reed Fletcher sends you a lilac scented letter, it’s a dangerous omen.”

“Uh huh. What did she want?”

“Now, I said this was just the beginnin’. So, relax and have another one of those cold drinks. This story will take a while.”

And it did.

I’m writing up that whole event right now. This WIP has the working title: “Stuart Brannon’s Last Shot.” Lots of western adventure, as usual, but set mostly on a golf course. In Portland. In 1905. Should be ready for your reading pleasure in Fall 2011.

So nice of Brannon to share with me this idea for a plot…straight out of his life.  

Meanwhile, watch for Throw The Devil Off The Train in March 2010.


Follow our "On A Western Trail" blog and check out how you can be featured: 

Books for all ages, fiction & nonfiction, available at Bly Books online store: 


Elisabeth said...

Have you read Zane Grey's The Light of Western Stars? The chapter called 'Cowboy Golf' really made me laugh when I read it.

Stephen Bly said...

Elisabeth: No, I have not read this. Thanks so much for letting me know about it!

On the trail,

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Ahh. You have such a way with words. Reminds me of my brother, Jess who wrote westerns. :)