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Western Short Story - Shorty Wilson

Updated on September 25, 2016

Shorty Wilson

Lori Davis spotted him right off through the plate glass window. She was waiting morning tables at Ma’s Café when he rode up on a line back dun, and tied off at the rail. It wasn’t the horse that caught her attention though. He was about the handsomest man she had ever seen, even if he was a mite small. When he pushed through the screen door, tinkling the bell and smiling at her, she felt an unfamiliar flutter in her chest and a warmth flow across her lovely cheeks.

He sat at a table against the wall, and she brought him a hand-lettered menu. He refused the menu, putting up his hand and smiling yet another handsome smile, and causing yet another flutter.

“Just tell me what’s good. I might as well start letting you decide what to feed me now, since we are to be married.”

She backed up a step and stared at him.

“What on Earth are you talking about? Marry? You just now walked in here! I’ve never seen you before this morning, and I don’t even know your name!”

He grinned at her.

“Name’s Dave Wilson, though most just call me Shorty. The minute I walked through that door and saw your pretty face, those big brown eyes, and your shiny black hair, I knew my bachelor days were over, so no sense in fighting the inevitable. And I don’t know your name either.”

Someone chuckled behind her and she realized her mouth was still open in amazement.

“I’m Lori Davis, not that it’s any of your business, and I think your breakfast should be a large slice of humble pie!”

“Bacon and eggs you say? Sounds fine with a pot of coffee and some of that fry bread I smell.”

More patrons were listening now and someone laughed out loud. Lori spun on her heel and tried to look angry, but was surprised to find herself wearing a small smile. And then she ran smack into Rance Howard. Behind him, two smirking Double H hands stood by the door.

Big Harvey Howard was one of the first men in the territory, and he had built up the Rafter Double H from a wasteland into a cattle empire, and now Rance Howard was in line to inherit from the old man. For years, the Howards had cut a wide swath, and had brooked no resistance from anyone, least of all, drifters who rode into town. Rance Howard had long ago laid claim on Lori Davis.

Howard shoved by Lori and stood in front of Shorty Wilson’s table.

“Get up!”

“Why sure!”

Shorty smiled disarmingly and Lori noticed for the first time the way his large upper arm muscles were bunched under his sleeves. He rose smoothly to his feet and ducked under the vicious straight right of Rance Howard, driving his own hard right fist deep into Howard’s gut, just under the big man’s sternum. Rance Howard turned white and doubled over, aided by Shorty’s hands behind his head, driving Rance's face down and hard into Shorty’s rapidly rising knee.

Just like that, it was over, with big Rance Howard lying on the floor, gasping for air, while his broken nose gushed blood. The other patrons, used to such sudden western violence, turned back to their breakfasts. The two hands grabbed up Rance Howard and carried him out the door, glowering at Shorty Wilson, who was back at his table and paying no attention.

Lori Davis delivered his breakfast and a warning.

“You’ve shamed Rance, and now he will kill you. You’d best leave town.”

“He said you were spoken for. What do you say?”

She looked away. “Rance Howard owns everything for miles. His word is law.”

Shorty stood and faced her, and she realized he was even smaller than she first thought. She was looking him straight in the eyes, making him no taller than she was, if as tall. Still, he was every bit a man, and his shoulders were broad and strong.

‘Well, are you spoken for Lori?”

She looked at the floor and spoke so quietly he had to strain to hear her.

“Yes, I suppose I am.”

He smiled at her. “Very well, I respect your wishes. I’ll eat my breakfast and be gone.”

She hesitated and started to reply, but changed her mind. She walked to another table and began clearing dishes, blinking back sudden tears.

...

Shorty paid the storekeeper and loaded down his packhorses. His father’s herd was some ten miles to the north, and they were low on supplies, so he had come into town. He secured the lashings and was about to mount up when he heard a low and angry voice.

‘No man marks Rance Howard and walks away.”

Shorty turned around slowly and smiled at the three men facing him. The two hands who were in Ma’s Café that morning were standing in the dust of the street, while Rance Howard was on the steps, and in the shadows of the boardwalk.

“Well, now. I must be a real dangerous man if it takes three men to face me.”

The two hands glanced at each other, and several townspeople came to their doors and onto the boardwalk, watching curiously. Across the street, a door slammed, and a tall, lean man with a shotgun sauntered to a position to the right and slightly behind the two Double H hands and Rance Howard, who spoke up angrily.

“This ain’t none of your affair, mister. It’s a private matter.”

“Reckon not. I rode in with Shorty and I’m riding out with him.”

One of the hands rubbed his jaw and glanced nervously at Rance.

“They got us sure enough boxed, boss, and that feller ain’t likely to miss with that scattergun.”

Rance Howard looked at them in disgust.

“Ride on out to the ranch and draw your time. I won’t have cowards around!”

The two hands had turned to leave when the tall man across the street barked at them.

“Leave those guns where you stand. You can pick them up tomorrow at the general store.”

Rance Howard stepped down from the porch into the street and faced Shorty, and both men were now holding their revolvers by their sides. Shorty looked at the bigger man and shook his head sadly.

“There’s no need for you to die here today, Rance. You took a swing at me and you got what you had coming. Besides, Lori says she’s spoken for, and so be it.”

“You busted my nose!”

With that, Rance raised his revolver, but fired far too quickly, hitting Shorty in the thigh. Shorty raised his own weapon and calmly shot the bigger man in the chest, once, and then twice more. Rance Howard fell dead in the dust and filth of the street.

...

“It’s a clean wound, went right on through. Bet it hurts like hell though, and that’s good. Make you think twice about such stupidity.” The doctor finished bandaging Shorty’s leg, grumbling to himself and taking swigs from a pint of whiskey.

The door flew open and Lori Davis, came in, her eyes moist and bright. She held a handkerchief to her mouth and stared at Shorty, shaking her head.

“I’ll have no more of this, David! If I’m to be your wife, you’ll not be getting shot or fighting! I won’t have it! And I won’t have you called Shorty. From now on, it’s David!”

Shorty grinned at her.

“I’m one third owner of the Three Bar ranch in Texas, Lori. I grew up fighting and shooting. But if that’s the way you want it, I’ll change my ways as best I can.”

Lori turned to the tall, lanky man who had stepped in and sided with Shorty.

“I want to thank you. Without you, David wouldn’t have had a chance!”

“Well ma’am, I didn’t have much choice. My name’s Billy Wilson, and Shorty here...I mean David, well, he’s my big brother.”

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    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi poetvix, and thank you!

    • poetvix profile image

      poetvix 6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      No doubt about it Mr. Star, you are giving western niche authors a true run for their money.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Sunnie day and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Barbara,

      Louis L'Amour? Thank you!

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      Great Story Will...I always can count on you to write the best story and it will be top notch..

      Blessings to you,

      Sunnie

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      land sakes alive as I live and breathe Will Starr you just make my heart flutter like ole Louis l'mour hisself was a standin thar!

      this one is one of my favourites :) funny/on helium today I was trying to rate these 2 articles over who is really buried in w shakespears grave/bacon or 57 others....and the articles were precisely alike :) tone rythym, flow everything...all APA style perfect...

      but you WIll

      you are sooooo much finer than old l'mour :)

      nicely done! Bravo!!

      course its my fav too cause my hubby is my David :)

      and thank goodness his Navy Seal days were over when I met him ....well cept for a few tangled strings...but then thats a story for another time :)

      love to you and yours

      barbara b

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Linda Myshrall, and thank you for the kind words!

    • profile image

      Linda Myshrall 6 years ago

      What a charmer! Sent me (far) back into the past when cowboy shows were the rage... John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Bonanza... Anyway, great story: entertaining and clever. A great way to start the day. Rated up!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, mquee, and thank you, my friend!

    • mquee profile image

      mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

      Another great and entertaining story Will, enjoyed it!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, marcoujor!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Will,

      You are a story spinner like no other for me and this tale was no exception! I loved it- thank you.

      Voted UP & AWESOME!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Genna!

      I hope you are doing well and that your personal situation improves to the point that we will see you back on HubPages sooner rather than later.

    • profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago

      Great story, Will. And I agree with Epi; you are the writer's writer!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, jponiato, and welcome!

    • jponiato profile image

      jponiato 6 years ago from Mid-Michigan

      I thoroughly enjoyed this story, but I guess I've been a fan of westerns for over 40 years. Gonna be looking up more of yours, that's for sure.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, theseus!

    • theseus profile image

      theseus 6 years ago from philippines

      "The minute I walked through that door and saw your pretty face, those big brown eyes, and your shiny black hair, I knew my bachelor days were over, so no sense in fighting the inevitable."

      Loved it!Loved it!Loved it.. Loved every word,every line.More stories,please. God bless.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, livinlifegoingup!

    • profile image

      livinlifegoingup 6 years ago

      Why can't we all be straight shooters like Shorty Wilson, would save a lot of time. Good job on painting Shortys character, making him visible. Love a good western.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Annette,

      Speaking of different, have you read 'The Scent of Evil'?

    • thebluestar profile image

      Annette Donaldson 6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Another gem from the stables of WillStarr. You certainly have a good imagination my friend. Enjoyed this one, slightly different to all the others I think. x

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Epi!

      Your little love story had a twist that no one seemed to pick up! How clever.

      Thank you for your kind words!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ...well Mister Starr, after all of the accolades I've showered on you, I must say you 'also' have a real flair for character and narrative driven dialogue - your short stories are perfect tiny gems - and yes you were right about my new one She waits for you - there is really nothing mistaken about it - lol - but it is definitely epi-sly - you see I think that 'love is love' but this type of love is 'gay' and they are 'both' women - often as you know I write in an ambiguous way but in this case I gave a couple of 'obvious' clues and nobody seem to get it (yet) but you - lol - no wonder I always call you a writer's writer Detective Starr!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Cogerson,

      No, I begin with a beginning.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Another great story with another great ending....so do you think of the endings and work your way back?.....voted up

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, dallaswriter, and thank you!

      I'm sure Rance's daddy is pretty well put-out at the demise of his fair-haired boy, but the Wilson boys and our lovely Lori are long gone.

      I think.

    • dallaswriter profile image

      dallaswriter 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Great story Will and I love the ending.... isn't love just like that?? Especially in the old west. A man was a man, knew what he wanted and still walked tall being accountable. Oh and sweet Lori.... love the name:) I would guess there might be more? After all, Rance had some money and someone might miss him?

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, drbj!

      It refers to color and breeding. A dilute color with a dark tail and mane, dark points, and a line down the back.

      Here's a link:

      http://horsestories.com/breeding/dilute1.shtml

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Attempted, and thank you!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      This was a perfect Western tale, Will, and the ending was even perfect-er. Forgive my lack of Western knowledge but what type of steed is a line back?

      Rated up!!!

    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

      Hi Will what a pleasant well told tale, we all love a bit of romance and you didn't let us down. Cheers mate

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Fred,

      I mean romantic in the literary sense.

      But you knew that!

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      Ghost32 6 years ago

      Well done, Will, even if all your westerns ARE romantic. (Just realized, yeah, they are, and mine are mostly anything but.)

      Okay, coyotes are calling outside, distracted me a moment there....

      You got me going with the "little man syndrome". That type always did give me trouble, at least until I got old enough to start watching my mouth a bit.

      Worked with one--a man called Shorty--who was pretty much an idiot. We were both hired hands on a ranch, just after I graduated high school. He was...no, wait a minute. That's another Hub!

      Up and all that.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you cat on a soapbox!

      That's high praise indeed!

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Will, I loved it! Reading your work is like time travel to the old West. I get totally immersed in your stories-good thing they're short- my family would go hungry if I were into a Will Starr novel :>)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, lilyfly,

      All my westerns are romantic! :-)

    • profile image

      lilyfly 6 years ago

      Now, Sir, you've married romance to the western; Zane Grey meets Barbara Cartland? Solidly written, no misteps in tone or rythem.... really good, got to a book, if you have not already...! lily

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Dexter!

      Thank you for your kind words.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, b. Malin, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Cardisa!

      I would fight over you any time! :-)

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      Will, I learn so much from reading your stories! Two Thumbs Up!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      Never a disappointment always a good read WillStarr. Thanks for sharing!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Will, have been waiting for this! I absolutely love it and somehow wish I lived in the West and having men fight over me!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      LOL!

      Thank you, CMerritt!

    • CMerritt profile image

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      I had been craving a "WillStar" fix...and this did it.

      I never tire of your short stories Will....again, this one was fun and descriptive.

      One thing though, isn't Rance Howard the real father of Opie?..lol

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, A.A. Zavala, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Loves To Read, and I too hope for a rebirth of the American western.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Pixienot, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, dearabbysmom!

      What a nice thing to say!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Pamela99, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, marshacanada!

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      Bravo on this short story!

    • Loves To Read profile image

      Loves To Read 6 years ago

      Great read Will, you have a great gift for story writing. I really enjoyed this one and wished that there was more. I love the Old Westerns especially when there is a good love story to be told.

      Lonesome Dove was a real favourite and it would be good to have more clean Westerns back on the screen instead of all the rubbish they now show. Keep them coming.

      God Bless

    • Pixienot profile image

      Pixienot 6 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

      Oh Will! Big smiles.

      I kinda knew she was spoken for by David, but that end was so perfect! Big Brother indeed.

      Well written, captivating and entertaining.

      Thank you!

      Voted up and awesome and funny!

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 6 years ago from Indiana

      I'm still kind of a Hub Pages newbie, but I've been around long enough now to know it's a wonderful thing when a WillStarr title begins with "Western Short Story" -

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I enjoyed the story and loved the ending. You really write some great short stories. Rated up/awesome.

    • marshacanada profile image

      marshacanada 6 years ago from Vancouver BC

      Thanks for another good story Will Starr.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Well, thank you, always exploring!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Loved it..Loved it..You sure can spin a good story Will..Thank you for sharing.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Twilight Lawns!

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      So easy to read, Will. Thanks.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 6 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Good..rumors going around as you know I am sure...:O) Hugs G-Ma

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, G-Ma Johnson.

      Saved, copyrighted, embalmed, and pickled. :-)

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 6 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Amazing...seems you have had a lot of experiences in your lifetime...Love it...also you do have all these saved right????:O) Hugs G-Ma

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, amillar!

      True, and just a few years ago, the UN ranked dear old Scotland as the most violent country on Earth!

      Who knew!

    • amillar profile image

      amillar 6 years ago from Scotland, UK

      This is just like the Wild West of Scotland Will (otherwise known as Glasgow).

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, mckbirdbks, and thank you my friend!

      I'm really enjoying your latest..."Braids".

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Always need to wet my whistle with a shot a wiskey from a shot glass to wash the trail dust away, after reading one of your dusty tales.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Maggie-May,and you're making me blush!

      (Still thinking about a new adventure for Maggie May McAllister.)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Nan Mynatt.

      Maybe the western fiction markret will open up again. Open Range, Unforgiven, and Lonesome Dove were all big hits, so who knows?

      Thank you, my dear!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, suziecat7, and thank you for everything!

    • profile image

      Nan Mynatt 6 years ago

      I think that you ought to write for a movie on TV. Your story could easily be our next western series! The hub is very detailed and portrays the old west.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      You did it again!!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi diogenes!

      John Slaughter, famous rancher, trail driver, and skilled lawman, was a scant 5' 6", but outlaws lived in fear of him.

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      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Damn Will. I was just getting used to "Long, tall Texan," and now we find some o those dudes were short, too! Good yarn...Bob Bit extreme shooting her ex!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi John, and I think you do have a fine imagination.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Amy Becherer, and thank you so much!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, GusTheRedneck, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, SubRon7, and glad you liked it!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Diane, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Ginn Navarre!

      My cowboys sure do like their ladies!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hiya Mike!

      I hope to write a few more, God willing!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, breakfastpop! I sure do miss breakfast on weekends!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Dillion!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Alastar Packer, for that vote of confidence...much appreciated.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks, Hyphenbird. I see you have a great one going!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, applejack!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, FitnezzJim, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Susan!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      LOL @ writeronline!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, dahoglund!

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      Nadine M AuCoin 6 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

      (Will) you are the best of the bestest story tellers!!! I enjoyed this very very much! I sure hope you publish all these terrific short stories...You're name alone: Author: Will Starr(unforgettable) deserves to be on the cover of books,

      Have a great day!!

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Wish I had your imagination.... I think!

      John

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      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      No one does it better, WillStarr.

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      Gustave Kilthau 6 years ago from USA

      Will - You start and finish strong. Nice work.

      Gus :-)))

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      The third paragraph, where Shorty tells Lori "...we are to be married." that is the grabber. Once I read that I knew I was going all the way. Good job, WillStarr

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      Diane 6 years ago

      Loved the last line. Even made me chuckle and hope your working on the next one.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 6 years ago

      Oh you done it now! Adding that touch of ROMANCE nailed it for me. Because I'm the one that has 67 western romance novels in my Kindle right now. (thumbs-up)

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 6 years ago

      WillStarr - how many of these great stories do you have buried in your writers mind? They just keep coming and every one is as good as or better than the last one. This was an enjoyable read and I thank you for sharing.