Remember The Big Fifty

Hawken small picBack in 1885, Tinker Cantwaite became overly fond of a Big Fifty. He figured if he had one he could hunt anything he wanted. The man was short on patience and mouthy about having his own Big Fifty—a common nickname for the .50 caliber […]

Ambiguity

Ambiguous2To a first-time reader, Angus looks as a character hard to pin down. Not enough about him comes out in the early pages of Ten Shoes Up. So it’s hard to say whether he’s  seeking reconciliation or company. He could be for the law, “agin” it, […]

The Importance of Gates

Angus knew something about gates—he pretty much hated ‘em.

If you’re horseback and come on a gate, it means somebody fenced you out. Can’t be a good thing, at least not in the 1880s when Angus was riding high ridgelines on the New Mexico—Colorado border. But corrals had gates. So did train yards, backyards, sluices, and […]

Take Care

Millions of people today use “Take Care” to say goodbye, so long, hope everything’s fine, and other salutations at the end of a chat, letter, email, or last hug. It’s a cliché, but it’s OK because it’s short for lots of things. It could be a warning, a fond farewell, or even a cover for […]

Don’t Hang On: Let Go Of It

Back in the day, say 1880, when you roped something that was not of a mind to stop, you had to dally your rope around the saddle horn or lose your seat, and the steer you’d intended on branding.

Could be different now, especially when it ain’t a steer you’re roped but something bigger, stronger and […]

Affective Realism—When A Gun Is Not A Gun

A recent New York Times column, provocatively entitled “When a Gun Is Not a Gun,” offers legitimate science to prove that lawmen, at least some of them literally perceive things that aren’t there. That research project sought answers to a modern conundrum. In a U.S. Justice […]

Talking Ain’t Doing

Back in Angus time, before New Mexico was a state and after lawyers showed up in Colorado, there were cowboys that talked and others that just did the job. Sometimes they fit the movie version in the 1950s—strong silent types. Angus was never garrulous. Even though he was a lawman and worked for federal judges, […]

Presumptions

When Angus pinned his first Deputy United States Marshal badge on in 1881, he had no presumptions. None about his own life and hardly any about how other people saw the world. He didn’t know the law presumed innocence, or that guilt had to be proved beyond any reasonable doubt. Truth be told, he didn’t […]

Fundamentalism

isis cowboysAs you all know, Angus, my main character in Ten Shoes Up, died in the early 20th Century. But he lives on in a funny way.

He talked mostly to his horse. I know it’s strange, but I can still hear him. Suppose that’s because I […]

Gentle the Green Ones

When Angus was just twelve or thirteen, he hired on for spring roundup on a spread running a small herd of mangy cows in the Espanola Valley south of Chama, New Mexico Territory. It was either that or the one-room school his Mom taught. He liked numbers and reading, but the Christian part gave him […]