Writing Challenge by Lori Colbo (aka Lambservant)
I love the writing prompts and challenges we receive in Hubpages. I thought I'd do one today. I am blessed to live in the Pacific Northwest (Washington state) where we are surrounded by the Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helen's, and others, lush forests, scenic ocean beaches, vast tulip fields, glorious state parks, and so much more. Oregon is also considered the Pacific Northwest so I have one photo of the ocean in Cannon Beach.
Here are my photos, all taken by me except for the bridge pic, which was taken by my son twenty-some years ago. Use one or more, and write any old way you want to: Poetry, fiction, anything at all.
I'd love to see what you've done so share it with all of us.
If you want to share I'll link it at the bottom. If you don't choose to do the challenge, I hope you will at least enjoy the scenery.
To start the ball rolling, I have written a short story at the end using photos 1 and 2. Have fun.
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The Half Wits of the Old West
Herkimer Yates pulled out an old yellow raggedy handkerchief he'd stolen off of Elmer Hoekstra's body and wiped the dirty sweat off of his face. Here he'd killed the man, thinking he had the gold on his person, only to find the man had nothing on him but a knife and the ratty handkerchief.
Timbo Clemons, his cohort, told him he was crazy. "Ya din't take the knife, Herk. If yer brains were dynamite, there wouldn’t be enough ta blow yer nose."
Herkimer and Timbo had murdered Elmer with Timbo's six-shooter, the only gun they had left. When they packed it into Elmer's horse's saddlebag, Herkimer slapped the filly affectionately a little too hard on her backside and she ran off with it. Herkimer blamed it on the horse being too skittish.
Timbo wasn't finished yet. "You went and lost our guns in a poker game. Now we can only fight with knives. And what 'er ya thinkin' takin' that filthy rag? Who knows what he done with it? Besides that, what kinda man walks around with a yella kerchief?"
Herkimer's eye twitched several times and he shrugged his right shoulder twice. He had a number of tics that annoyed Timbo no end. "Who cares what color it is, or what kinda man wears one? It's hot and dirty here in the woods, Timbo," Herkimer said. "And that there knife is so dull it couldn't cut hot butter. Besides, I already got me a knife. Take Elmer's if ya want it."
"Already got it," Timbo said, holding it up. He stuck it with the sheath over it down his boot. "Now, what 'er we gonna do 'bout findin' the gold?"
Herk spit tobacco on the ground. Some of it stuck to his chin. Timbo turned up his nose. "I say we look at his house. He lives yonder, a mile ta the west. I know cuz I heard 'im tell 'is partners fore they left him, where it was. Tol' 'em to wait there and keep an eye on the place."
Timbo took his hat off and ran his hand through his oily hair. "Well, let's git goin'," he said.
They were on foot. The brush was thick, the temperature over one hundred degrees, and their canteens nearly empty; so it made a short distance walk much longer. Finally, the house came into view far in the distance. It was no shack.
"Looks like ol' Elmer used somma that gold ta build his self a nice house," said Timbo. "Richer than possum gravy. What if he spent it all, Herk?"
"Won't know till we try." He spit a second time, soiling his shirt, which was badly stained from weeks of spitting and no washing.
"Good nite, Herk, use that rag and clean yerself. That shirt and yer face smell like an ol' mildewed saddle blanket after it's been rid on a sore back horse three hundred miles in August."
"And you smell like...aw, never mind," Herk said, wiping his chin with his shirt sleeve and his shirt with his hand. "Let's go."
At that moment two men came out of the house carrying a large bundle. They set it down and began digging a hole.
"Looks like we'll have ta wait till dark," said Timbo. "Hope they leave the shovels where we can git to 'em."
Herkimer stroked his stinking chin and squinted "We ain't waitin' till dark. We're goin' now. We got knives."
"Knives is nothin' if they got guns. I think heat's gitten ta ya," said Timbo.
Herkimer began trekking in the direction of the house. Timbo cursed and followed behind, mumbling about Herkimer having nothing under his hat but hair.
They came out of the woods and brush and boldly walked through the pasture toward the men. While still some distance away, the men who were digging saw Timbo and Herkimer coming. They stopped what they were doing and walked out to meet them.
"Yer on our land, misters," said one with a long scar down his cheek.
"Best leave now," said the other, who sported a handlebar mustache. "Yer trespassin'."
"We mean no trouble," said Herkimer. He spoke in proper English to appear as gentlemanly, completely forgetting they looked and smelled like desert rats. "Our canteens are empty and we came to ask if we can get some water. We have a three-day ride to Bison city."
Scarface and Mustache looked at one another, trying to stifle their laughs. "Ya don't say," said Mustache. "Intrestin' since ya got no horses. Ya see any horses, Dean?" he asked his scarred friend.
"No sir, Jasper, but reckon these here are Herkimer Yates and Timbo Clemons. Look the same as on their wanted poster. Worth a hunert dollars apiece for the murder of five men."
"What I wanna know," said Dean, "is how they kilt five men with nothin' but cow dung fer brains."
"My name ain't Yates," said Herkimer, back to his sloppy way of talking. "Name's Thatcher, Wyatt Thatcher, and his here is my friend Timbo..." He winced when he realized he'd given them away.
Timbo was furious and made matters worse. "Herk, you are plumb weak North of yer ears. You trynna git us kilt?"
Dean and Jasper pulled out their pistols and pointed them right in their faces. "Hands up, boys," said Dean.
Herkimer and Timbo obeyed. Then panic came over Herkimer. He swallowed hard and glanced over at his partner. "Timbo, are we wanted dead or alive?"
"Don't much matter Herk. They got guns on us."
Herk spit again, tobacco juice dangling from his chin in a long brown saliva string.
"Ya have ta be so disgustin atta time like this?" said Timbo. "Wipe yerself off."
Herkimer's eye twitched rapidly again followed by four shoulder shrugs causing Dean to shout, "Watch yerself, Yates."
Without thinking, Herkimer swiped his chin across his shoulder. Elmer Hoekstra's beat-up yellow handkerchief fell out of his shirt pocket landing on the ground in plain sight.
Jasper and Dean looked down at it. "That's Elmer's kerchief. Whaddaya doin' with it?" asked Jasper.
"Don't know any Elmer. This here's mine," Herkimer said.
"No it ain't, it's Elmer's," said Dean. "There's a small bloodstain on the corner there. Been there ever since he cut his self shavin' couple years back. Where's Elmer? How'd you git it?"
"It's mine, I tell ya," said Herkimer. His twitching and shoulder shrugging went crazy under all the duress.
"I kin tell yer lyin'. You kilt Elmer din't ya?" said Jasper.
Dean took over. "All right, you boys are comin' with us. Keep yer hands up over yer head, no funny stuff."
The four of them walked the long distance to the house, then around back into a large shed where Herk and Timbo were tied up to a beam.
"They want ya alive, so yer gonna stay the night here. We'll head out ta turn ya in 'fore daylight," said Jasper.
"Land sakes, it's hotter than Satan's armpit in here," whined Timbo. "I cain't hardly breathe. Ya wanna take us in alive we gotta have water."
"Ya need water? We got water," said Dean. "Run get the water, Jasper." A few moments later Jasper came in with a bucket and threw the water all over Herkimer and Timbo. It was hot from sitting in the sun and they cried out.
Dean and Jasper slapped their knees and guffawed. "Just a little warm rainwater fer yer bath," said Jasper.
"We need ta drink water not take a bath," said Timbo.
"Think yer wrong there boys. Ya stink ta high heaven, but we'll git ya somethin' ta drink," Jasper said.
It was two hours before they were given water to drink. Night fell and then it was cold and their clothes were still damp. Pitch dark, they were unable to see an inch in front of them until an explosion sounded from the sky and purple lightning flashed through cracks in the shed walls. The electrical storm was like nothing they'd ever seen before. The thunder was deafening and violent. The sky opened and torrential rain fell hard and fast, eventually rushing into the shed. The men began to shiver violently. At one rush of water, something got knocked over that landed right next to Timbo. He wiggled around for a long time trying to grab it with his legs to figure out what it was. It was a spade. He knew it was new by how sharp the metal felt. For the next couple of hours, Timbo worked his ropes over the edges of the spade. Finally, they snapped and fell off.
In a few moments they were free of their bonds but now they had to deal with the locked door.
"Just use the spade ta beat it open," said Herkimer. "They won't hear it cuzza the storm."
He was right. Once out of the shed they ran around like beheaded chickens, trying to figure out where to go. All at once Timbo tripped over a mound and fell flat on his face in the mud. At the next flash of lightning, they saw it was where the men had been burying the bundle earlier that day.
Timob got to his feet and jumped up and down, whooping and hollering. "This here's where they buried the gold, Herk. Let's go back and git the spade."
They found two and began digging furiously. The harder they dug, the harder it rained. They felt as though they would drown. But they persevered and finally hit the bundle. It was hard.
"We got it, Timbo. It's the gold. C'mon, let's get it outta the hole and collect our treasure."
They got it out and found it was a wooden box covered in burlap. They had to bash the box with the shovel to get it open.
"What is it, Timbo?" Herkimer asked. "I cain't see it?"
"Storm's windin' down. Cain't see it neither. We need a lantern or another flasha lightnin'. Here, I'll just feel around."
They felt around under the broken parts of the box. There were smaller bundles wrapped in burlap with something hard and heavy in them. Herkimer opened one up and felt the object.
"What is it Herk?" asked Timbo.
"This here ain't no gold. It's a pistol. C'mon, let's look at the rest, gotta be gold in here somewheres."
Bundle after bundle revealed weapons. pistols, knives, and under the pistols were several bottles of moonshine.
"These here's nothin' but barkin' irons and moonshine," said Herkimer. "Not one nugget a gold."
The rainstorm was over, and the gray light of dawn was nearing. Their hopes and dreams for gold were dashed. They were shivering violently again. Forgetting their captors would soon be coming for them they made a decision.
"Shoot, we got no use for all this," said Timbo, "It's all useless." He bent over and picked up a couple of bottles of moonshine. "Least we can git warm with this."
They went back into the shed, sat up back to back against the beam again, and drained the bottles of rotgut. Jasper and Dean came out and found the box and weapons and spades lying around in the mud.
"What the Sam Hill?" said Jasper.
"They's all here," said Dean. "Ever last one of 'em. Six hunert dollars worth of weapons, 'nother hunert for the hooch. Only two bottles missin'."
They looked at one another and began to howl with laughter.
"Halfwits cain't tell dung from wild honey," said Dean, slapping his knee.
"Cain't tell a skunk from a house cat," said Jasper, holding his gut.
"Don’t know any more about it than a hog does a sidesaddle."
They finally took all the weapons up to the house, cleaned them up and made a plan. Since Elmer was dead, they decided to leave with the stash and make some money. As they were loading up the wagon, they went to the shed to put away the spades and collect a few things. They found Herkimer Yates and Timbo Clemons lying on the ground, one on either side of the beam, empty bottles next to them.
Dean and Jasper looked down at them solemnly.
"Looks like we ain't gonna turn 'em in alive," said Jasper.
"Deader than a can a corned beef, both of 'em," quipped Dean.
They tied them up, put them in the wagon, and rode off, laughing all the way to Bison City. They made it in three days.
Well, oops. As soon as I finished this story, I noticed the photo of the lightning has power lines in it. Humor me and ignore it. Lol.
Again, please send me whatever you wrote, I'd love to see it.
© 2020 Lori Colbo