A Western Short Story - Bonny Sue Anderson

Bonny Sue Anderson


If I’d gone left instead of right, none of this would have happened. The easy looking trail to the left was well worn from game, cattle, and riders, so being my father’s son, I took the faint trail to the right. Pa always said a man who takes the easy way will never amount to much, although looking back on it, I’m not sure he was talking about trails.

My big gray liked to see new country, but he wasn’t all that happy about the trail to the right because it was rocky and sloped upward. He had seen the long green valley the trail to the left promised, so he snorted his displeasure at my curiosity. I ignored him, and he reluctantly gave in. It was early morning.

I was three days out of Show Low by way of Globe and headed for Tucson where I’d heard tell that the Lazy H would be looking for hands to drive a herd to the rail yards in Phoenix. But since the drive wasn’t scheduled to commence for another month, I figured to see myself some new country on the way. I nudged my gray on up the slope and he shook his head in disgust.

The big pines of the Mogollon Rim had yielded to the scrub of the high plains and finally to the lush growth of the Sonoran desert. Stands of cholla and prickly pear worshipped silently at the feet of giant saguaros with their massive, swooping arms reaching to the heavens. The rocky debris of long dead volcanoes littered the hard packed desert floor, making for treacherous footing. Now and again, a cottontail bounced out of its hiding spot, and ran a few feet, foolishly pausing to look back at the danger.

That green stretch back there was probably the Verde River Valley and I could see the west face of the Superstitions rising abruptly off the desert floor over my left shoulder. I was riding south by west which meant that the Gila River was somewhere in front of me, and I planned to camp there that night. I urged the gray up the far side of a dry wash and there she was.

The first thing I did was look all around for signs of danger, not yet realizing that the real threat was sitting up there on the seat of that buckboard. She had that curly sort of golden hair you see in tintype pictures, with eyes just as green as that valley back yonder, and they were calmly looking me over. She was pretty enough, no disputing that, but the hair suddenly stood up on the back of my neck, just like that time I heard a rattler buzzing at my feet.

“Are you going to sit there gawking or are you going to fetch up my horse?’

I was so surprised to find a female way out there that I plumb failed to notice that the buckboard poles were on the ground and the horse was missing.

“What happened to your horse?’

“Those Apaches took him, and the longer you ask fool questions, the farther you’ll have to ride to get him back, so you’d best be after them.”

“Apaches? You’d better climb down off that wagon and we’ll ride double till I get you home.”

“I’ll do no such thing! This wagon belongs to my father and I will not abandon it, nor the goods I bought at the Corners! Now you get after those Apaches at once and retrieve my horse.”

I grew up with three sisters, all contrary but none of them had anything on this young woman. I didn’t even know her name and she’d already sized me up and cast my mold.

“How many Apaches, Miss?”

“Just two.” She pointed with her whip to the east. “They left about an hour ago, and they were on foot, leading Charlie. What's your name?”

“I’m Dave Kingston. Apaches don’t ride horses much. They’ll probably kill him and eat him.” At the stricken look on her face, I instantly regretted my words. Apparently she was attached to Charlie.

“One man chasing down two Apaches is a fool’s game, Miss. They’ll be watching their back trail and set up an ambush soon as they spot me. They’re the best guerilla fighters the world has ever seen.”

“Maybe, maybe not. They also took that fresh jug of whiskey I got for Pa.”

Well now that gave me pause. Two Apaches with a full jug of whiskey more than evened the odds. By now, they were either drunk or busy getting that way. I looked off to the east and after a moment, I made up my mind.

“All right Miss, I’ll head that way and see if I can fetch your horse.”

“Don’t you think you’d best quit talking about it and be on your way?”

I could feel my jaw muscles working as I reined my horse around. I was beginning to appreciate my sisters, and they were all mean as snakes.

Those Apaches didn’t get far. I found them less than two miles off, dead drunk and passed out cold under a mesquite. They had her horse snubbed off to another mesquite. I tied them hand by foot with some spare piggin’ strings while they snored away. I took all their weapons and gathered up her horse. As an afterthought, I dragged them out in the full sun. Hangovers and a bad sunburn might convince them not to give chase when they woke up.

“Took you long enough.”

My jaws were working again. I got old Charlie back in harness and mounted up.

“How far is your home?”

“The road is just over the brow of that hill. I was on my way home when those Apaches jumped me. They led Charlie this far off the road and then left with him.”

She didn't explain why they left her behind, and after an hour of my being around her, she didn't need to.

She pointed again with her whip. “The Lazy H is about three miles down the road.’

“You live on the Lazy H ?” I was stunned. Bad news sometimes comes all at once.

“Well of course I live there! The Lazy H belongs to my father!”

Just like that, my plans changed. Someone had told me wrong on the location of the ranch, but there was no way I was going to work around this little spitfire.

“Well Miss, I reckon I’ll be on my way as soon as I get you back on that road.”

“You’ll escort me home like a gentleman! What if those Apaches come back and find me?”

“Well, I suppose that’d be their hard luck.’

Now she was mad through and through.

“That’s no sort of talk to use on a lady!”

“And I would never talk like that to a lady !”

The ride to the Lazy H was silent, and there was a sudden chill in the summer desert air. An older looking man ambled down the steps of the big house and walked toward us as I tied up the horses. He eyed me and walked up to the buckboard.

“You had me worried Bonnie Sue. You’re two hours late.’

That put a name to her face and she explained to her father what had happened, leaving out our exchange of words. Then she lifted the sack of goods out of the bed of the buckboard and out of habit, I reached for her burden.

“I can carry this. You put the horses up. Give Charlie a good rub down while you’re at it.” With that, she stalked off to the big house.

Her father watched her walk away and shook his head slowly.

“I reckon I’m to blame for the way she is. By the way, I’m Jim Anderson and the Lazy H is mine.”

He offered his hand and I took it.

“Her mother died when she was born, and a sweeter woman never lived. I gave Bonny her mother’s name…Bonny Sue Anderson. But that’s all they have in common.”

He dug a pipe out of his pocket and filled it. I pulled a match out of my shirt, struck it on the wheel rim, and offered it. He puffed the pipe into life and glanced at the house.

“She never had a woman around growing up, so she watched me. She was on a horse before she could walk, and she was already barking orders like she saw me do. The hands thought it quite the joke, especially since she seemed to know what needed to be done, so they got used to it.”

“I appreciate what you done for her son, and I’m apologizing for her rough manners. She don’t mean nothing by it, but that ain’t no excuse for being rude.”

The door to the big house slammed and Bonny stalked back our way.

“Dinner will be ready soon Pa.” She turned and looked at me “Wash up, and don’t forget your face.”

She turned and walked away a couple of steps and then hesitated. After a moment, she turned around and slowly walked back. She stood in front of me and lifted her face.

“I was some scared out there today. I thought maybe they would come back, and then you rode up. I knew right away just by looking at you that I would be all right. I’m sorry for my harsh ways. I apologize. Now go wash up for dinner.”

With that, she turned toward the house.

“Bonny Sue Anderson.”

At hearing me use her full name, she turned slowly and stared first at her father and then turned her gaze to me, her mouth slightly open in surprise.

“Your father and I are having a conversation. When we’re done, and only then, we’ll wash up and come to dinner.”

She paled and her jaw dropped. For a long moment, she stared at me, her head tilted slightly to one side. Then her mouth slowly closed, and the fleeting shadow of a smile danced on her lips.

“All right then Dave. You come to dinner whenever you’re ready. It will be waiting.”

She turned and walked toward the house, and this time, there was a slight feminine sway that wasn’t there before.

Her father watched her for a long moment, pulling off his hat and scratching the top of his head. Then he glanced at me with a new interest in his eyes.

“Well I’ll be damned.” He turned and watched Bonny Sue enter the house, closing the door softly behind her. “Well I’ll be damned,” he repeated.

Bonny Sue Kingston and I were married forty two years ago last month.


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Comments 64 comments

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

WillStarr - Another great story. This is my favorite line - "Now and again, a cottontail bounced out of its hiding spot, and ran a few feet, foolishly pausing to look back at the danger." I like the way you talk about the horse too. Very realistic and vivid writing as usual. Rated up!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Suzie...good to see you.


TimBryce 5 years ago

Will -

Suzie is correct. It's a good painting with words.

All the Best,

Tim


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I guess one has to establish who is in charge.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

I love this story and the ending made me smile.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

Love seems to come along just when a man has found himself a good job...damn! Good story Will! You had me wondering where it all was headed but I couldn't out guess ya. WB


Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 5 years ago

Rough and soooooo soft and as always the best---endings.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks all

Strong meets strong and Bonny Sue finally met her match.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

WillStarr, I really enjoyed your story. You do paint a picture with your words. Awesome/ Rated up


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Nicely done. You don't find too many western stories these days. Keep it up.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Pamela and Rob.

I have to write westerns if I want to read new ones. Louis L'Amour has died.


DIANE Reece 5 years ago

LOVED THIS ONE BILL. HAD ME SMILING ALL ALONG.

GREAT STORY LINE. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Diane


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Hiya Will, omg what a beautiful story! As usual I enjoyed reading it from beginning to end. What a lovely ending! What lovely characters! What a great storyteller you are! I'm a romantic.. I love a romantic ending. Thumbs up all the way and beautiful.

Have a nice day,

Rosie


Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 5 years ago from SE MA

Very nice, Will.

I kind of thought that's where it would end up, but it was still a fun read. I am going to FB it for my friends to enjoy.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Pcunix.

After reading your stuff, I think the Hangman may be more to your liking.


ssaul 5 years ago

hey will wish you had put me in that western short story! always imagine myself as a westerner! :)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi ssaul!

If you want to be 'in there', try 'Hired On'!


Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 5 years ago from SE MA

I had already read the hangman. That's when I started following you.

By the way, if I hadn't hitch-hiked a ride to the next town because I wanted to by a submarine sandwich, I might never have met my wife :)


Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 5 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

A very good story. Well written with the makings of a good book. I bet you can fill in those 42 years into a best seller.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

You know a lot about Apaches and apparently about women too. Although women will not admit it – and therefore pretend to be in charge - they want to be dominated by men – for they are instinctively servers of men and children. Dave surely did many things right to keep her happy and loyal for 42 years. Excellent writing WillStarr. I’m in awe!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Pcunix

So many chance encounters have drastically affected my life that I now often wonder what each new one will bring.

Fiddleman

I might give that some thought, although Empire was written along those lines.

Hi Martie!

Most early western women were hardy because they had to be, so it took a strong man to get their attention. Bonnie Sue had everyone buffaloed, including her loving father, until Dave Kingston rode into her life.


 5 years ago

great tale of picking a trail. I spent many a day in the Gila river as a kid, I think back often as I get about or read a tale with land marks and towns close to my memories, growin up was so much fun and my dad never yelped about, us not doing something 'cuz somebody would get hurt. He said be where you say your going or on the way there or coming back, be back when you say you'll be back. voted up all the way 50


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Dusty!


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

Loved your story. Sounds like Bonny Sue and Dave were good for each other.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Sally!


kimberlyslyrics 5 years ago

nice :)

lyrics


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Kimberly.

I think I'll wander over to your site and take a peek.


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 5 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you Will, for a great story hub, I appreciate you. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Faye!


AnnieRoseVA 5 years ago

Great story! I lived near those Superstition mountains for awhile and could just picture it all.

I liked your handling of the interaction between Dave and Bonny Sue Anderson. Her manners are rough from upbringing, but of course they are worse because she is scared. I totally related to that.

I'm glad she and Dave got married. I love Westerns but love a good romance in the middle of one. Well done!

I miss Louis L'Amour too - just started reading the Sackett chronicles again.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks AnnieRose

Louis L'Amour was the best.


tnderhrt23 profile image

tnderhrt23 5 years ago

well, well, Mr. WillStarr...I guess I see your point! This read like a scene out of "Lonesome Dove" which happens to be my all time favorite western movie! Even got a "western name"...WillStarr! With your profile pic, I imagine you with a six-gun on yer hip, there, Son! ok...im hooked! but you can be good at two things, ya know?


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Maybe so, Thanks tnderhrt23!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

....you are quite a lovely writer Sir Starr - I sincerely wish my dad who was my best friend could have read your work (he passed away in 1992 at 74 from cancer)

and quite a compliment I might add because he wrote 70 novels in his lifetime |(none were ever published - it was just a hobby but just the same quite an achievement)

and the first one he wrote was a memoir of his experiences as a Canadian soldier during World War II for six years. The rest were all fiction.

And yes I just received your most wonderful comment and it would be a honor for me to post it as you see fit.

Please give my respects to your wife - that is quite a line of work - and I am so proud of her!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you so much epigramman. That touched me very deeply because my own dear father passed away in 1999 without ever knowing of my secret desire to write.

I'll pass your permission on to my wife. She loved your work.


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

"If I'd go left instead of Right, none of this would have happened"...well your readers are so glad it did! What a beautiful story...a western with a Happy Ending...LOVED it!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you b. Malin!

So much of our journey hinges on seemingly inconsequential decisions. Or, more to the point, all of it does!


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Don;t even know what to say. Such beauty with suspense is not common, but, then, it's so obvious you are far from being just a writer. I've never lived in the west--just traveled there, and my husband the same. We both loved the almost harsh beauty in some places. This combined everything--beauty, harshness, suspense (yes, even the rabbit contributed greatly!). And love happy endings. My vote goes to whoever said, bet you could write a novel on those 42 years! Awesome short story.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks again Teylina.

If you like suspense, I suggest reading The Dawn Raid and The Kid's Revenge. Both are short stories.

Will


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Nice write Will. I could see that wagon and drunk Indians for sure. God bless bud.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Micky!


Ghost32 5 years ago

I'd been jumping over this one for a while, just kind of felt it was a little something special worth "saving for later". I was right.

As for chance encounters, I've come to flat out disbelieve "chance" really exists at all. My wife and I met in a Tonopah, Nevada, laundromat when I was sitting there, reading a book (as always) while my clothes dried. Nobody else around at the moment. She came diddy-bopping through the door, checked her own dryer--and bummed a quarter from me to keep the thing going.

Minutes later, she'd retrieved some change from her apartment and paid me back. Last time THAT ever happened, in cash anyway, but that was 1996 and we've been pretty well hooked at the hip ever since.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Ghost,

Why would anybody be in Tonopah? :-)


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Will, there are many elements to short story writing and every one is melded into this wonderful tale. The characters are rich and interesting the plot is faultless, the humour is applied with a silken brush, the detail is vivid the only thing i can think of replacing is my name at the bottom instead of yours. 'Show don't tell' can never be better demonstrated. PS I liked it.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you attemptedhumour for the great comment!


Maggie-May profile image

Maggie-May 5 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

This is a word whirlwind of had me to the bitter end engrossed in story. Absolutely and honestly love this. Will you are a western story teller phenomenon, and once again your ending is marvelous, but I turly crave more.. Do add the romance, it is dripping with the need to.. And, a western romance with your Bonny Sue would be spectacular, please?


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Bonny Sue is taken.

Maybe Maggie May might make a move. :-)


Maggie-May profile image

Maggie-May 5 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

Dave Kingston is the one gentleman left, so yeah, should Maggie May appear in the story she would love nothing better than to have his affections,

MM

Unless I'm really dense here and that's the final end and it was actually a representation of you and your wife...


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Maggie May will soon have her own adventures.


Maggie-May profile image

Maggie-May 5 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

Yeaaaaaay, cannot wait!

MM


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

Will, you are right. You do use all those processes I listed when you write a story- well, avoid the mistakes, sure enough. This story is sweet enough to read again, even if I do sense a tad male chauvinism peeping through. That was the Old West way, I suspect.

Love it. Simply love it. I'd visit them if I could.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi, Storytellersrus, and thank you!

No, Bonny Sue was a tough lady, so it took a tough man to earn her respect.

All my western ladies are hardy souls. They had to be.

May I suggest the 'T-J Connected War'?


Sunnie Day 5 years ago

Good Morning Will,

Up Awesome and beautiful..my favorite one yet..I keep coming back trying to read all of your stories..Hope you are doing well..thanks for a great story..I loved it!

Sunnie


Mrs. J. B. profile image

Mrs. J. B. 5 years ago from Southern California

This was brilliant. I love it. You made me want to be a part of the yester years...


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Well thank you, Mrs. J. B!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

I love westerns and you sure put the taste of sage in my mouth. Great story and voted up. I must read more of your fiction. (Dave sure married up didn't he?)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Dolores, and thank you!

Dave was just what Bonny Sue needed, so it all came out even.


theseus profile image

theseus 5 years ago from philippines

Simply loved it.

If your stories are songs, I'll probably be suffering from LSS (Last Song Syndrome) by now.Thank you for sharing your gift. God bless.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you again, theseus!


Becky 5 years ago

I went through Tonopah on Jan. 9, 1986. Ice stretched between everything. Worst ice storm in 30 years and My sister got married in Hawthorne the next day. That is why someone would be in Tonopah.

I loved this story. I figured they would end up gettin' hitched, I just couldn't see how. Good ending.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi, Becky,

Thanks for readng!


quester.ltd profile image

quester.ltd 5 years ago

well, now this thing will let me enter a comment

once again, strong man plus strong woman in territory that I love and have known for a very long time

voted up as usual

thanks for the word pictures, WillStarr


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, quester.ltd!

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