All my writer friends I've talked with all have told me that the idea is something they're interested in and many wanted to enter but didn't have the time.
Perhaps I will try again, although I will wait until January or February after the hub bub of the holidays are over.
As a treat to you fantastic people I give you a taste of Neils Knudsen's writing. He wrote a short story based on my drawing of the Mountain man.
You'll find Neils blog by clicking here. Go stop by and say hi to him and tell him how entertaining his story is!
By Neils Knudsen
Austin came into the living room with a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream. His brothers Jordan and Nate followed with a side dish of frozen raspberries and a cold glass of fresh sun-brewed iced tea.
Austin dropped a spoon into the bowl and handed it to me. “Come on grandpa, tell us the story of Big John.”
“You drive a hard bargain.” I brought the back of my overstuffed recliner upright and set my book on the side table.
My son, Ryan, grinned sheepishly as he changed the channel to some western music. “Come on Dad, they’re old enough to know the truth about your days in the old west.”
“Ah, you put them up to this, didn’t you Guy?” I gave Ryan an accusatory glance. He dropped the controller on the coffee table, shrugged with a smirk and sat back on the couch.
I gave the boys a quick look and decided he was right. The youngest, Nate, the ‘tater’, was an avid historian for a twelve year old boy and loved real life stories. “Alright,” I said. “Hand me those raspberries, will you?”
Jordan set the frozen sour delights on the side table. Nate sloshed iced tea on my lap as he handed the cold tumbler to me.
“Sit down boys; this is a tale of dusty deserts, abject fear and giants among men.” I spooned some berries over my ice cream, took a savory bite of the sweet and sour delight and let the tension build.
I took a swig of tea to wash the dessert down.
“When I was a young man and new to Utah, I opened a saloon in the old mining town of Tooele. Back then it was just a dusty little town with gritty miners and hard mountain men. I was dumb enough to think I could handle them—I was wrong.” I watched my young audience as they sat on the floor in front of me. Their eyes were glued to me. I took a long swig of tea and then began.
The summer of 1907 was hot. Dry. Parched. Perfect. I walked out onto the covered front porch of my empty saloon with a tall glass of cool water. The view to the west was filled with the expanse of the Great Salt Lake desert—flat—white—salty—deadly.
I took a sip of water as I sat in a creaky wooden chair and leaned back against the wall waiting for some business. I fanned the heat from my face with a copy of the Tooele Transcript. Tiny dust devils curled up from the dirt street and wandered, heedless, like me, of the dangers about to befall the town which at the time seemed oddly vacant—ghostly.
A sudden breeze pushed waves of dust westward down the street and shutters clapped. A door slammed. My chair groaned as I pushed forward and came to my feet. The air calmed and I heard the loud clamor of footfalls on the rickety boardwalk somewhere to the east. I turned to see my felonious neighbor, Jim, laden with luggage heading my way.
The man was soon upon me. “Yeh got a horse?”
“Yes,” I said. “Where’s yours?”
“I’ll give yeh a hunerd dollars for it.” Jim was in a panic. He dropped his burden and dug a wallet from his baggy britches.
“Wait a minute.” I pushed the palm of my hand to Jim’s chest. “What’s wrong? What’s the hurry?”
“Where’s yer horse?” Jim waved my hand aside and shoved the money into my vest pocket.
He yanked the money from my pocket. “No it ain’t. I already looked.”
“What?” I grabbed the ratty lapels of his vest. “You were going to steal it, weren’t you?”
“Don’t matter now, do it?” He glanced over my shoulder and then pointed. “See that? He’s coming.”
“Who?” I yanked him around and looked west.
“See that whirly-wind out there? That’s Big John comin’.” He ran his hand over his stubbly head wiping the sweat off. “The man’s insane. Comes around every couple of years, knocks everything down and kills them that get in his way.”
“That is such a load of crap.” I pushed him against a porch post. “You afraid of a dust devil?”
“Dust, no. Devils, yes.” He swept his arm, gesturing to the town. “How many folks yeh seen today, eh? None, that’s what. They all be gone south to Yerika.”
I let him go. It was true, I hadn’t seen anyone until he showed up. “You’re saying one man is making that cloud of dust out there?”
“Yep, and that big buffalo he rides.”
“Big buffalo, eh?” That piqued my curiosity. I had seen a few prairie bison on the Great Plains as I made my way to Utah and wondered what it would be like to see a really big one up close.
The cloud of dust grew bigger and closer as I watched. Jim gathered up his baggage and ran west down the street and then turned south on the road to Eureka. The cloud came closer.
I returned to the creaky old chair, picked up the town paper and made myself comfortable as I fanned warm air across my sweaty face. I glance westward. To my surprise he was almost here.
The rumble of stampeding hooves rose from the floor of the wooden porch. I lurched upright and stood. Jim hadn’t been gone five minutes and that cloud was just outside of town. For the first time I felt a bit nervous as a noise resembling thunder rolled up the street.
The porch shook. Shutters and doors clapped shaking loose grit, dust and paint from their edges. Glass cracked and shattered. I grabbed a porch post to steady myself.
A swirling devil peered through an angry vortex of dirt as it raced toward me. The massive head of a buffalo rose and fell as it led the way. Its eyes burned red hot, its nose snorted fire as the reins pulled up hard on the bit in its mouth.
The cloud of grit and dirt overwhelmed the shaggy beast, me and the world as a thunderous voice said, “Whoooaaa.”
When the dust cleared a man the size of a mountain sat upon the hump of the beast, his feet barely off the ground. In one hand he held a giant diamondback rattlesnake. In the other he held a massive puma by the back of its neck. He threw the snake down and thundered, “Staayy.” He threw the mountain lion to the ground and again thundered, “Staayy.”
He straightened his buckskin covered legs and stood, the beast still beneath him. He grabbed it by the shoulders, heaved it to the hitching post and then stepped to the front of it. A huge fist punched the fiery critter between the eyes. It fell to the ground in an instant, the eyes cooled and the fire went out.
Then he turned to me.
I gulped. Up to then I had been mesmerized by the scene, not realizing I was about to die.
He took the fur hat off his shaggy head and shook the dust away from both. The yellow eyes and white fangs of a skinned timber wolf formed the hat as two canine legs with huge paws hung down either side. The bushy gray tail swept over the big man as he put it back on.
He slapped the dust off the Indian blanket he used for a vest, ducked under the eaves of the porch and took a step toward me. He laid a hand on the big Hawkin .54 caliber flintlock pistol tucked in his belt. “Whiskey,” he said.
I pealed my fingers from the porch post and backed into my saloon. As I went through the swinging doors I turned and ran behind the bar. My shotgun lay on the shelf beneath. Before I could decide what to do with the weapon the giant was in front of me.
He slapped the top of the bar. “Whiskey.”
I forced myself to turn to the shelves of booze behind me and chose a bottle of “Robert Samuels Bourbon,” the best I had. The bottles clattered as I removed the prized spirits and picked up a shot glass.
When I turned he snatched the bottle from me, bit off the neck, chewed the glass and, with one gulp, washed it down with the whiskey. It was over too fast.
With a bar rag I dabbed the sweat and fear from my brow. “W-w-w-would y-you l-like another?”
His cold steel gray eyes stared at me for an eternity as he picked a shard of glass from his teeth. He leaned over the bar. His breath smelled of whiskey and fetid meat. I wet my pants.
“Nah,” he said. “I ain’t got time, Big John’s comin’.”
“Ah, grandpa, that can’t be true.” Austin licked the last of some ice cream from his spoon and tossed it into his empty bowl on the floor.
“Yes, it can.” Jordan jumped up and galloped around man-land on his imaginary buffalo. “I read about cowboys using buffalo.”
“No, they didn’t, Jordan.” Nate the tater uncrossed his legs and shot his jaunting brother with his imaginary buffalo gun.
Jordan keeled over, clutching his chest in a dramatic spill and rolled into his big brother.
“It still isn’t true.” Austin pushed Jordan away. “It was a fun story, though. Anyone want more ice cream?”
I held my bowl out to him. “More berries, too, please.”
“It is too, grandpa said so.” Jordan rolled over and got to his knees.
“No, it isn’t,” Nathan said. “Grandpa wasn’t alive in 1907.”
“Doh, yeh got me.” I clutched my chest. My empty tea glass tumbled to the floor.