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Cletus Rawlins - A Will Starr Short Story

Updated on September 13, 2014
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Cletus Rawlins



He hadn’t shaved in a month because he saw no need. Nobody ever visited except the occasional cowhand looking for a meal, so what the hell did it matter? When it got too itchy, he stropped his razor, heated some water, and laboriously scraped it off. He smiled ruefully at the thought. Julie would have made him shave every day, but that was a long time ago, and Julie was now only a distant memory.

Cletus Rawlins sat on his front porch in a rough chair he made himself, idly watching the valley floor far below in the mid-afternoon. His cabin was twenty miles from the nearest town, and he liked it that way. Once every six months, he saddled up and took two pack horses to the crossing to put in supplies. Otherwise, he cherished his isolated loneliness, and the remoteness of the two hundred deeded acres of timber he called home.

He often saw deer and elk because he never hunted within ten miles of the cabin. He liked watching the wildlife, and even saw a black bear now and then. He fed a covey of quail just down the slope, and squirrels fearlessly came right up on the porch looking for a handout. They were never disappointed.

Finally, he rose and caught up his Winchester. His headache was finally receding, and the queasiness that went with it. Glancing around one last time, he was about to go feed the livestock when something caught his eye. It was a small figure slowly leading a horse along the valley trail below, and even at this distance, he could see that the horse was lame. Sighing, he went to the corral and saddled his horse. Then he roped a second horse, and headed down the hill.

The forest floor was heavy in pine needles, so he rode almost silently and was nearly on top of the stranger leading the limping horse before he was seen. The startled cry made Cletus Rawlins’ jaw drop, because the figure leading the horse was a young woman. He drew up and tipped his hat.

“Beggin’ your pardon, ma’am. Didn’t mean to sneak up on you like that, but horses don’t make much commotion on them soft pine needles. I seen you from my cabin up yonder, and that your horse was lamed up, so I come to help.”

The young woman nodded. She looked to be about twenty.

“I should not have cried out like that, but I was lost in my own thoughts when I should have been paying attention. You could just as easily have been a bear or a mountain lion.”

“Bear maybe, but not likely a lion. I’ve lived up there nigh on to ten years, and I’ve yet to see a catamount.”

He spat over his shoulder and indicated the spare horse.

“Brought you a mount. We’d best take the saddle off your mare, put it on my gelding, and head up to the cabin. You hungry Miss…?”

“It’s Miss Hungerford, and yes, I could eat.” She looked down at her feet.

“I’m afraid I left the ranch in anger, and did not prepare properly. Then Molly lamed herself, and I was in a real pickle until you came along. I thank you for coming to my aid, Mister…I’m afraid I don’t know your name either.”

She smiled, and he realized for the first time that she was a beautiful young woman.

“Yes ma’am. Name’s Rawlins. Cletus Rawlins.”

“Then I’m thanking you, Mister Cletus Rawlins.” She walked back to Molly and started removing her saddle. Cletus nodded in appreciation. She was a western woman, no doubt about that. He dismounted and went to help.

The cabin was a surprise to her. The old man was unshaven and a little unkempt, but the cabin was neat and clean, as was the small barn and corral. He had already apologized for his appearance, mumbling something about seeing no need until now. She found herself liking him more and more, as he talked. He was obviously lonely, and felt the need to talk now that he had a listener, but she found his stories to be fascinating, so listening was easy. Finally, the talk got around to her.

“My father is not an easy man, Mister Rawlins. Oh, I love him I suppose, but I’m not sure that I like him very much. My mother died bearing me, so maybe he’s bitter about that and blames me. I don’t know. All I know is that he treats me more like a maid than a daughter. In fact, as soon as I was old enough to clean house and cook, he fired old Mary, the woman he hired to raise me and keep house. She was the only mother I ever had, and he just fired her one day. I never saw her again.”

Cletus handed her a plate of beef and beans, along with a loaf of fresh baked bread. She was surprised at how good it tasted. The old man could cook.

He sat down across from her and absentmindedly rubbed his beard as he listened to her talk about her life on the Hungerford ranch. He’d heard talk himself about the Rafter H and the hard man who owned it, but it was none of his concern…until now.

She finished talking, and they sat silently, sipping their coffee. Finally, Cletus Rawlins cleared his throat.

“I always figured that the best way to work a problem is to face it head on. I’m thinking that we ought to ride to the Rafter H in a few days, and have a talk with Hungerford…”

“Bob. His name is Bob Hungerford.“

“Yes ma’am…have a talk with Bob Hungerford, and see what comes of it. Then you can decide what you want to do.

He peered at her from under bushy brows.

"I'll back whatever you decide, young lady.”

There was a sudden steely resolve in the last part of what he said, and she realized that this old man was not someone who allowed others to push folks around. She watched him as he moved around cleaning up after supper, and there was no wasted motion. There was no fat on him at all, and his shoulders were broad and strong. His hands were large, and when he pulled the saddle off Molly, she saw that he did it with one hand and easily. She decided that she would go back and confront her father.

Cletus thought Molly would be healed well enough to make the trip, but while the mare was improved, she still wasn’t fit to travel, so they rode out on two of his horses. After three hours of steady riding, Cletus asked how far it was to the Rafter H.

“We’ve been on it for the last two miles. Father owns ten thousand acres outright and controls all the land for miles around. I don't actually know just how large it is. I don't think anyone knows.”

She pointed to a hazy grove of cottonwoods in the distance.

“That’s the main house and barns. There are two more houses for use during roundups, but I’ve never seen them. Father won’t allow it.”

It was noon before they rode into the cool shade of the cottonwoods and stopped in front of the big house. Several curious ranch hands ambled close enough to hear, and several more were coming from the barns and bunkhouse. Then the front door to the main house slammed, and an angry looking man walked quickly up to their horses.

“You climb down off that damned horse and get to the house, Audrey. I’ll deal with you in a minute. Where’s Molly?”

“She’s lame. This kind gentleman has her in his corral, and I’m riding his horse.”

He glared at Cletus and shook his finger at him .

“If that mare ain’t back here in a week, I’ll have you hunted down and whipped for a horse thief.”

He turned around and started to walk back to the house.

“Hello, Jimmy. It's been a long time.”

The man known as Bob Hungerford stopped in mid stride. He turned slowly around, and Audrey was astonished to see how ashen his face had become. He was staring at the old man, who was now standing on the ground with a short, double barreled shotgun in his hand and pointed in his general direction. Then the old man spoke again.

“Folks, this here feller is Jimmy Flanders, woman murderer and thief.”

He smiled, but it was not pleasant to see.

“You don't recognize me for the beard and all the years, Jimmy, but I’m Cletus, and I ain’t dead.”

The man known as Bob Hungerford felt his knees buckle, and he had to grab the hitch rail to keep from falling. His mouth was open in shock and his eyes were wild with fear.

Cletus waved the ranch hands in closer.

“I’ll want all of you to witness this. Jimmy Flanders here was once my partner up on the Yuba River, where we were washing for gold, but he was so contrary that I finally just signed my part of the claim over and went on my own. He was some put out by that because I done most of the work. After a spell, I filed another claim on an old high bench and discovered a large crack in the bedrock that was just filthy with gold. By the time I got it cleaned out, the shack where my wife Julie and I lived had thousands in gold hid here and there.”

He paused and spat over his shoulder, never taking his eyes off Jimmy Flanders.

"That last night after I finished cleaning out the crack, I woke up and saw Jimmy here standing over me with a gun to my head. That’s the last thing I knew for almost a year.”

With his left hand he lifted the shock of gray hair from his forehead, exposing a deep, dimpled scar, and the blackness of a permanently tattooed powder burn. Audrey gasped, and the ranch hands looked at each other. Cletus nodded at Jimmy Flanders.

“That’s right , Jimmy. You shot me point blank, sure enough, but I did not die. The doctor said it can happen, but it was the first one he'd ever seen. Seems the brain is funny like that. Your bullet's still in there somewhere because the doctor was afraid to take it out. Oh, I get bad headaches now and then, but I get by."

He glanced at the others.

"But my wife Julie wasn't so lucky. He shot her in the head too, and just like that she was gone. Like I said, your boss here is a woman killer.”

That brought an audible gasp. Just bothering a woman in the west usually ended in a hanging. If she was killed, it was almost certain.

Cletus Rawlins waved his hand around in a wide sweeping motion.

“All of this here was bought with my money, and so I’m taking it all back. One of you boys get a horse saddled for Jimmy here, and bring it by. He’s leaving, and he ain’t never coming back. If he does, I'll kill him on sight.”

Realization was setting in on Jimmy Flanders. All his scheming and killing would be for nothing if he just rode away. The ranch and all the power that went with it would be gone forever, and that he simply could not abide. He felt the weight of the pistol he kept under his shirt, and he began to plan his next move. He looked at Cletus and shrugged.

“I ain’t armed, so I’ll need to fetch me a gun out of the house. A man can’t just ride off like that without a gun, what with renegade Indians still about.”

Cletus watched, saying nothing.

Jimmy Flanders turned as if to go to the house, and his hand disappeared under his shirt. But he had only just started to wheel and face Cletus Rawlins when the first blast from the shotgun hit him. Even then, he still managed to raise his pistol a little, but the second blast ended his worries forever.

For a long moment, they all stood in shock at the sudden violence. Then Cletus Rawlings addressed the crew.

“He forgot that I knew about that hideout gun."

He looked around slowly at each man.

"There’s been a change in management and ownership. Y'all are all welcome to stay and work for me, if that suits you, or you can draw your pay and move on. What'll it be?”

One red-headed cowboy pulled at his lip thoughtfully for a moment and then made up his mind. “I’ll stay.’ That was followed by a chorus of others also wanting to stay on. They instinctively liked their new boss and had never been partial to the old one.

“Fair enough. Four of you hitch up a wagon then, and haul this body far away from here and bury it deep. I don’t want him buried on this ranch.”

He turned to Audrey, who was still pale with shock.

“I’m sorry you had to see that, but he gave me no choice.”

She nodded her head slowly, staring at the body.

“My father lies dead. I suppose the grief will come later, but at the moment, I feel nothing at all.”

Cletus Rawlins stepped in front of her and gently lifted her chin until she was looking into his eyes. For the first time, she realized that they were a deep Irish green, like her own

“Jimmy Flanders shot me, killed my wife, and stole my money, but even that was not the worst of it."

The tough old man's eyes filled with tears.

"He also stole my baby daughter. Her name was Audrey, and until today, I always figured he just took her off somewhere and killed her out of spite. Neither him nor her was ever seen again, and it was two long years before I was even fit to look for her."

He put his big arms around her and held her gently.

“Jimmy Flanders was not your father, Audrey. I’m your father.”

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    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, sweet Lily! ^-^

    • lilyfly profile image

      Lillian K. Staats 2 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

      With every story, Will, I just want to GO THERE, and you make it happen! Yes, I'm fine! Had a rough day, but, fine! Glad to see you still have a magic touch... love and blessings... lily

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Well thank you Bill!

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 2 years ago from Cape Cod

      I know this story has been up a while but I missed it. I'm glad that I located it now Will, because it's as fine a short story as you can find anywhere and I own a mountain of Max Brand and Louis Lamour paperbacks that I could use to prove it.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, William!

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Love that opening cabin image, as well as the great story, for course. Keep them coming! ;-)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Essie!

    • EsJam profile image

      Essie 2 years ago from Southern California

      Love myself a happy ending! Hello, I was recommended to you by Jodah (John Hansen). Ij ust wanted to let you know you he's rootin' fer ya. And now, you've got another fan, too.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Kim!

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      You are a genius when it comes to writing a western, no doubt about it. I must say, I do get lost in your stories. They are the best, Will. Keep them coming! Best wishes, Kim.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks Ed!

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      Love this Will ! Time for you to write that book aint it? , this is that good !........Ed

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Audrey, and thank you!

      But I still can't sing!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Will,

      You are the master of the western short story! Your characters are captivating and real. For some reason your description of pine needles on the ground stuck me. "The forest floor was heavy in pine needles..." With my limited imagination I would have simply said something like, uh, er, "there were lots of pine needles on the ground." LOL.

      Thanks my dear and talented friend. Lots of votes and shares. Hugs your way. Audrey

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Lady!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      What a wonderfully told tale but it is the image of the cabin that has captured my heart. Beautiful.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Michelle!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      I especially love the ending revelations! Wonderful!!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Nadine!

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Many thanks for that great read. It held my attention until the end. Lovely ending. I loved the descriptive background about the cabin being twenty miles from the nearest town, (the photo helped) Your two characters Cletus Rawlins and Audrey were very real. I saw that you won the Hubbie award for short story writing and I had to find out for myself.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Genna!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Will...

      I've already commented above, but I'm just stopping by to say, Congrats on winning the Hubbie Award. :-)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Theresa, and congratulations to you as well!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Superb writing, Will! My goodness, this is writing at its best no doubt. It grabbed me from the beginning and to the surprising ending. Hope you publish more often. I felt as though I was right there in that setting with those characters, as they come alive through your words.

      Congrats on the well-deserved Hubbie.

      Voted up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      God bless

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      And thank you, Randy.

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      I agree with your last line totally, Will! I hope to do you a good turn as well someday soon. I've learned a lot from some fabulous writers here and consider you one of the best at creating short stories on HP. Thanks again! :)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      It was my pleasure Randy, and congratulations on the best Hub of all! I concur that it was hands down, the most awesome!

      We're here to support each other, because we're all just learning the craft. Someday, we may actually know what we're doing!

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hey Will,

      I have a threefold reason for being here. First, to read your well written and always entertaining tales. Second, to congratulate you on your Hubbie Award--of which it is well deserved and made me proud for you. And lastly, for your part in making sure my "Most Awesome Hub" was read by your promotion of it on one of your own stories.

      Many thanks my friend, I truly appreciate the effort.

      Randy

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      For those of you who don't know, Ginn has put a voice to four of my stories, or perhaps more accurately, several voices. She has software that allows her to make several voices out of her own voice, and it also includes sound effects. What a thrill and a surprise to get these in the mail!

      Thank you, Ginn!

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 2 years ago

      Hey,Hey! Will, now that Cletus Rawlins has been given an audio voice, what's next????

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Nell!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      That was such an amazing story Will. I never saw that coming at the end, which proves just how good you are at these stories, nice one!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks Mike!

      You have a way of doing the same thing!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Will. I think it is great the way you pack them in in the comment section. Your stories grab the attention of the readers and they run when they see a Will Starr publication.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I saw it almost as soon as you published it!

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      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

      I'll try to do that!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Well thank you, Beth! You'll have to post a Hub with a picture of good old Cletus!

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

      Will, I wanted to let you know - our mama cat had one kitten from her litter to survive. He's a real survivor and very determined, and since he was born right after I read your wonderful story, we named him Cletus :)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, DrBill!

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      So happy we found each other! Wonderful story... looking forward to reading more of them! ;-)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you!

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 3 years ago from Lagos

      Wow! That was a wonder twist at the end. A bad man meets his death; I am proud of Cletus. He got his girl back!! :)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Ginn! There are no audios...yet!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Patriette!

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      Ginn Navarre 3 years ago

      You always amaze me with your endings. How come I can not find you telling these magnificent stories in AUDIO FORMATS?

      This ole Tempe gal an many others buy and listen to these types of devices now, even back here in the hills of W.V.

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      Patriette 3 years ago

      Great story, with a great ending, by a great writer.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Jo!

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Will, I'd forgotten what an incredible writer you are. This tale from the West kept me riveted from beginning to end.

      Nice work.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Martie! Good to see you.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Awesome story and a true Western by the one and only WillStarr :)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Mel!

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      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Once again a fantastic ending. I like your character development. You skillfully humanize Cletus for us. Look forward to reading more.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Beth!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Teaches!

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

      Will, what a beautiful story! I so enjoyed it, and love the happy ending!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I am so happy for Audrey! What a great story. I so enjoyed the read today.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Lady Guinevere!

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

      Wow what a great story. I love happy endings!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Linda, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Wow! Thank you, Mary!

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      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Such an incredibly awesome story!! I did not see the ending coming...I was going in another direction. Loved it!

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      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      What a wonderful story!! I really enjoyed the read. I liked the ending, too. I wish I could write like this! You are very talented.

      Voted UP, etc. and shared.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Don!

      I miss reading your stuff.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Good story, Will. It is always good to see displaced persons find each other.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I never noticed that! Good call.

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      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hi Billy you certainly got a good imagination. Was this coincidental "

      You hungry Miss…?”

      “It’s Miss Hungerford, and yes, I could eat.” Why is miss Hungeryford name rhyming with hungry LOL just thought its was funny.

      Have a bless evening

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Gypsy, and thanks for passing it on!

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      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up . A most fascinating story. Had me from beginning to end. Passing this on.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you annart for the nice compliment. Much appreciated!.

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      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      What a great story and I didn't see the ending coming! How good it is when justice prevails, with a happy ending to boot!

      I thoroughly enjoy your short stories; the scenery and characters come to life.

      Ann

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      I like it very much, Will. The ending brought out so much emotion and the the sense of all the years Cletus suffered. I see his life has come back along with all that is rightfully his. Very well done. I kept going over you story as I lay in bed before falling asleep and it has really touched me in a good way. I do not know why, but as I was drifting off to sleep, I had a vision that Cletus hired a cook and gave her authority over a kitchen helper and a housekeeper. The cook eventually became his wife. LOL, yep, I am a "happy ever after" person and you gave Cletus a happy ever after life and justice.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you so much, Pop!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Genna! Great to see you again, and thanks for the sweet comment!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Frank for the great comment!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Phyllis! I rewrote the last of the story just to make it flow a little better. Tell me what you think.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Jackie!

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      breakfastpop 3 years ago

      This one made me cry. If I can see straight I will vote it up, awesome and beautiful!!!!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      A great short-story western, etched with fascinating characters and the classic Will Starr twist. This is where you live, Will…please, don’t ever move!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      wow, Will Starr you are an able story teller

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      My gosh, Will -- this is a story that brought chills to me when Cletus told her. Not scary chills, but a sort of tender feeling of setting things right. Great story. I love it.

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      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      What a beautiful story and so well told I didn't see the ending coming. ^+

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      And your comment made my day, tirelesstraveler!

      Thank you!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      This story made my day. Thanks

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Jim!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks for the kind words, Meg!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Bill! Much appreciated.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Shuana!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, John!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Ghaelach! I'll try to publish more often. My other interests have taken too much time.

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      The Frog Prince 3 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Good to see ya in print Pardner. Nice tale told masterfully as usual.

      TFP

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      dreamermeg 3 years ago

      Wow! I think that's the best one yet. How you manage to get such a complete story in such a small space always amazes me but I am so glad that you can. :)

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know how I missed this, but I'm glad I checked. A new story by Will Starr is like the best cup of coffee around a campfire. :)

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      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, what a great story, Will! Once again, the ending was a complete surprise. All's well that ends well. Justice was served.

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      John Harper 3 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Got me again Will.... nice turn at the end.

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      Ghaelach 3 years ago

      Morning Will.

      With living in Europe I wake up to the next day while you guys in the states are fast asleep. What really sets my day off is after booting my lap-top up finding an email in the in-box form the Master of the Western story tails Mr. Will Starr with another long awaited story.

      This long awaited story about Cletus Rawlins didn't disappoint. I can only say dito to all the earlier comments Will, and say also that this story is of the same caliber with the usual twist that gets my overwhelming support.

      There seems to be a lack of good stories around at the moment and I include myself in there as well (writers block), so for me it's nice to read something to my taste.

      Well done Will and have a nice day.

      Ghaelach

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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Becky!

      Tucson is a hard town to navigate, isn't it? That's why I like Phoenix.

      How about a cookout at the Starr ranch? I make killer ribs!

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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Susan!

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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, James W. Nelson!

      I just can't leave well enough alone. ^_^

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      Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I am so happy to see another awesome story from you. It has been too long since we have heard from you. When are you coming to visit? I have been getting lost up in Tucson several times now, taking my husband to VA appointments.