The founder of Tom Green County, where this story takes place.
* (play incriminating video. I know enough of Gary Clark, however, to know that if her were gay, there would be no closet in Texas big enough to hold him, not even in Tom Green County. Read further to find out why he was really busted!)
Stefanie Alison and Julie Mark Cohen have shamed Gary Clark into a confession and redemptive action. The confession? The prologue he submitted into our contest, Once Upon a Time, was not a prologue at all, but a first chapter. The penance? He has created a fo’ real prologue for your entertainment and chance at redemption.
Time for you to enter the contest yourselves, oh Literati linguists. Here is how to achieve fortune and fame, and maybe even a date with the editor-in-chief (moi)at the McDonald’s of his choice. (dutch)
Here is cowboy and keeper-of-the-bull-formerly-known-as-Bob’s act of redemption: the prologue to
Santa Fe Trek
by Gary Clark
Travis heard the steel gate slam behind him and a brass key rattled in the lock.
“Judge’ll be here next week, kid,” the sheriff said. “You don’t give me no trouble and we’ll get along just fine.” He stared at Travis, raised his right eyebrow then patted the Colt .45 on his right hip.
Walking toward the staircase, the sheriff’s heavy boots raised dust off the creaking floor. He stopped at the top of the stairs and tore May, June, and July off the Hartford Mutual calendar. Then, trudging down to his office, the wooden stairs wheezed and groaned under his huge belly. At the bottom of the stairs, a door squeak opened and slammed shut.
Travis was alone in the sweltering cellblock. The calendar showed August, 1918.
He took off his sweat soaked shirt, wiped his boyish face and looked around the cellblock. Thick iron bars divided the room into four cells with a walkway down the center – two cells on his side, two on the other side, four dust-caked windows with two steel bars in each, one window in each cell, all nailed shut.
He coughed in the stale, stifling air. The same air that had been in the cell block since it was built forty years before. The air reeked from the sweat and blood and fear of every cattle rustler, bank robber, and quick-draw murderer that had ever been held there. Travis’s smell blended into the mixture.
Rubbing the dust off his window with the heel of his fist, he stared out past the bars of the Tom Green County Jail. He watched a farm family on a buckboard loaded with commodities from the mercantile roll down the dusty street. A man and woman dressed in patched and threadbare clothes sat on the bench on the buckboard. Their skin, leathered from years of hard work in the hot west Texas sun, showed them to be older than their true age. Six barefoot, stair-step boys in patched overalls and no shirts bounced along on the back of the buckboard, dug anxiously through the boxes looking for sweet treats buried somewhere among the bare necessities.
When the buckboard rolled past Miss Charlotte’s Saloon, Travis’ eyes shifted to another farm wagon parked in front of the saloon. On the wagon, three young boys in overalls and wide brim straw hats sat at attention just as Travis and his brothers had done years before. By their tyrannical father’s command, the young boys waited in silence, staring straight forward into the blistering heat. Neither of them moved. They knew too well the consequences of disobedience.
Travis shook his head and looked up at the ceiling, “Help them. Lord. I’ve been there and I know where their lives are goin’.”
Then the smallest of the boys turned and spoke to his older brothers. They ignored him and held their straightforward stare. The young boy turned and surveyed the front of the saloon.
Travis sucked in a deep breath and beat the heels of his fists against the bars in his jail cell window, “No,” he yelled out to the young boy when he jumped down from the wagon. The boy spat on the boardwalk, cocked his head, stuck his thumbs in his pockets and strutted boldly between the swinging saloon gates.