The Greatest Western Writers Of The 21st Century
Young Matt Bodine and Sam Two Wolves. One is a rancher’s son. The other a Half Breed outcast. To kill one you’d have to kill them both. And that would take an army—and a whole lot of luck...
A Hundred Ways To Kill…And Twice As Many Ways To Die
Heading west to San Diego some honest pilgrims paid ten men good money to keep their wagon train safe. Soon word comes to Tombstone, where Matt Bodine and Sam Two Wolves are wearing out their welcome gambling with Wyatt Earp. The wagon train’s guards turned against their charges and headed off to Mexico with six young pioneer girls captive. Everyone knows the tortures of the damned that await the girls in the hellholes south of the border. But only Matt and Sam will do something about it.
But it’s going to take more than their bravery and shooting skills to rescue those girls from the merciless white slavers. On the way to Mexico Matt and Sam ride into a war party of Apaches. They’ll be facing outlaws and furious Apaches at the same time. For two blood brothers, the idea is to rescue those girls and blast their way North to freedom—no matter how many bullets it takes, or how many guns are shooting back...
In September 1880, some of the most dangerous
men in Tombstone, Arizona—meaning some of
the most dangerous men in the world—undertook
a desperate mission of mercy into Mexico. It began
in Cactus Patch, a small town some miles northeast
Too much whiskey, too much smoke in the air,
too many losing hands of poker: Bob Farr had had
enough of all three. He pushed his chair back from
the card table and stood up. Three men remained
seated: Joe Spooner, Don Brown, and Lee Lindsey.
“Where you goin’, Bob?” Joe Spooner asked.
“Get me some air,” Farr said.
“Going back to the ranch?”
“No, just stepping outside to clear my head.
Maybe a break will change my luck.”
It was a friendly game of poker. The four men
had been playing for small stakes. But even small
stakes are big when you don’t have much money.
Ranch hands like Bob Farr and the others worked
hard for low wages.
Bob Farr went to the front entrance of Shorty
Kirk’s small saloon. He pushed open one of the
double doors, went outside. He was in his early
twenties, of medium height, slim, wiry. Farr was a
clean-lined, clean-cut young fellow.
He felt slightly sick at his stomach. The whiskey
wasn’t sitting right, but then, Shorty Kirk’s whiskey
was none too good.
A fan of murky yellow light shone out through
the saloon doorway, spilling across the ground. A
line of horses was tied up at the hitching post at
the front of the building. Bob stepped to the side,
away from the door. Sweat misted his face. He
leaned against the wall, tilting his head back, closing
The earth moved beneath him. He had the
spins. He opened his eyes, straightening up. That
worked a little better for him. Not much, but better.
Bob rubbed his face, trying to restore some feeling
to it. He wiped his sweaty palms off on his jeans.
It was about ten o’clock. The night air was fresh
after the smoky stuffiness of the saloon. Bob Farr
breathed deeply, filling his lungs with it. After a
while, the queasiness went away.
Somewhere across the street, a dog barked. Bob
looked around. Cactus Patch was a mighty small
town, more of a crossroads with a handful of buildings
scattered around it. Some were adobe, others
wooden frame, log cabin, or sod dugout.
Cactus Patch lay on a shelf at the foot of the west
slope of a mountain overlooking Sulphur Spring
Valley in Pima County, southwest Arizona Territory.
Its nearest neighbor was Tombstone, whose silver-
rich earth had birthed a roaring mining boomtown.
Unlike many villages and settlements which had
lately sprung up around Tombstone, Cactus Patch
long predated the silver strike. A freshwater spring
sited near a mountain pass brought it into being
decades earlier, a vital part of the area’s traditional
cattle- and sheep-raising culture.
It featured a trading post, café, and two saloons,
largely serving the small ranches in the gorges and
side canyons honeycombing the foothills. It survived,
but never flourished. Its growth was held in
check by the Apaches, a dread power in the land
until recent years, and still a threat.
A three-quarter moon hung midway between the
eastern horizon and the zenith. The big, bright,
orange-yellow September moon sailed through
thin, hazy clouds.
Shops and stores were closed, dark, as were most
of the dwellings. Cactus Patch folk were early risers,
up and doing well before dawn. Inside the saloon
were a handful of men—the poker players and a
few solitary drinkers.
The street was bright where moonlight shone
down on it; shadows were black dark. Stray breezes
lifted off the western flat, blowing through the pass.
A girl ran out of an alley into the middle of
street. She stopped, looking around, as if uncertain
of which way to turn.
She was young, slim, with gently rounded curves outlined against a thin dress. Long pale hair streamed
down her back. She breathed hard, panting,
She seemed played out. She lost her footing,
tripped, and fell sprawling into the street, in a
tangle of arms and legs. The ground was hard,
stony. She cried out.
She raised herself up, looking back the way she
had come, toward the alley on the east side of the
street. Moonbeams fell on her, lighting her up in
a silver wash. She looked about fifteen. Her face
was the face of fear, dark eyes wide and staring,
mouth gaping. She seemed unaware of Bob Farr’s
There were few females in Cactus Patch, and
even fewer young, good-looking ones. Bob knew
them all by sight, and this wasn’t one of them. She
was a stranger.
Where had she come from? This was hard country,
thinly populated, and no place for young
women to be traveling alone by night. Or in the
The girl rose, swaying, stumbling. Her thin dress
was torn in more than a few places and showed a lot
of leg: long, slender calves and rounded thighs.
A man came out of the alley, rushing to her. She
gathered herself to run, but he was on her before
she could make a break.
He was a big man, solid, thick bodied, a full-
grown adult. Even by moonlight you could see he
was some twenty years her senior. Mean faced, too.
He wore a white five-gallon hat, black vest over
light-colored shirt, and chaps over denims. Shirtsleeves
were rolled up past the elbows, exposing
brawny forearms. A belt gun was holstered low on
his right side, his spurred boots showed sharp-
pointed toes. A short dog whip hung by a thong
from his left wrist.
He caught the girl by the arm, causing her to cry
out in pain. She struggled to break free. He pulled
her back, lifting her off her feet and flinging her to
the ground. He loomed menacingly over her, his
shadow falling across her.
“Got ya, you blamed hellion! Give me a good
hard run across half the county,” he said, snarling.
“No little bit of a gal gives Quirt Fane the slip! I’ll
learn ya what happens to runners—”
He lashed out at her with the short, thin whip,
the lash curling around the curve of her hip. She
shrieked, her voice weak, quavery. “Help! Help me,
He slipped his hand free of the short whip’s
looped thong and clubbed the girl with the pommel’s
knobbed end, clipping her neatly behind an ear.
The move, brutally efficient, was carried out with
smooth, practiced ease. The girl fell unconscious.
Generally, on the frontier or elsewhere, it is
wisdom not to interfere between a man and a
woman. Bob Farr had once seen a saloon girl fly
into a fury, trying to claw the eyes out of a deputy
who had just cold-cocked the pimp-husband who’d
been slapping her silly, slamming her with brutal
open-handed blows that rocked her head from side
to side, leaving her face swollen, and red-raw. It had
been a lesson to Bob about the virtue of minding
one’s own business.
But a decent, red-blooded young fellow such as
he could only stand for so much.
This was no lovers’ quarrel, nor even some particularly
fierce example of harsh family discipline.
This was way out of line. Something was wrong
Bob would have acted sooner if he hadn’t been
more than a little drunk. And from the time the girl
had run into view and the man clubbed her down,
everything happened so fast.
Quirt Fane stood with his back to him. Bob
pushed off from the wall, starting forward. He
moved quickly, long striding, light-footed. He was
on the man before the other was aware of his presence.
The big hombre outweighed Bob Farr by fifty,
sixty pounds. Bob grabbed him by the shoulder
hard and spun him around. His right fist came up
from hip level, striking out.
Knobby knuckles connected with the point of
Quirt Fane’s chin, a powerful blow that landed right
on the button with an audible thud. Quirt rocked
back on his heels, knocked flat to the dirt street.
The whip fell from his hand, the hat from his head.
Quirt sat up, blood trickling from the corner of
a split, now-fat lip. He shook his head to clear it.
The girl stirred, moaning as if in the throes of a
Quirt remembered his gun and reached for it.
Bob Farr stood over him, hand resting on the butt
of a holstered gun. “Try it,” he said.
Quirt Fane thought better of it. Instead, he
raised the hand to his swollen jaw, rubbing it. “Back
“Like hell!” Bob said.
“You don’t know what you’re mixing into,” Quirt
said warningly, voice thick with menace.
“You tell me,” Bob suggested.
“You’re in over your head. Get out while you
“You’re the one who’s flat on his ass on the
“Lucky punch. You hit me when I wasn’t looking.”
“A mite different from beating up some pore
little ol’ girl, ain’t it?”
“What’s it to you? She’s my woman. Don’t go
mixing in what don’t concern you.”
“Funny, she don’t seem willing,” Bob pressed.
“Fool gal gets some crazy notions sometimes. I
got to knock sense into her,” Quirt said.
“Maybe you need some sense knocked into you.”
“And you’re the one who’s gonna do it, huh?”
“You figured wrong, sonny. Dead wrong.” Fane
then spoke as if to someone behind Bob Farr:
“Take him, Dorado!”
Bob smiled thinly, with contempt. “That dodge’s
He was brought up short by the sound of a gun
hammer clicking into place. The soft scuff of shoe
leather against street grit sounded behind him.
“You’re covered, amigo,” a voice said, with a
Bob was mousetrapped and knew it. Quirt wasn’t
alone; he had a sideman who had come up through
the alley. Quirt was grinning now, an ugly grin that
did not bode well for Bob Farr.
Bob stepped back and to the side, looking
Quirt’s sideman stood in the mouth of the alley:
A black bolero hat topped a raw-boned, hollow-
eyed face. The hat had a gold-colored hatband.
Black hair parted in the middle fell to jawline
length. He had dark shiny eyes, high cheekbones,
and a mustache with the ends turned down framing
A gun held at hip height was leveled on Bob Farr,
a golden gun. It gleamed with an unearthly glow in
It was El Dorado, “the Golden Man,” a Mexican
bandit with a golden pistol. Bob had heard of him.
Who hadn’t? A gold-crazy bandido who decked himself
out in gold ornaments: earrings, rings, bolo tie
holder, belt buckle. And a golden gun—solid gold.
“Where are the horses?” Quirt Fane asked.
“Tied to a tree in back of the buildings,” Dorado
said. He looked down at the girl sprawled motionless
in the street. “What happened to her?”
“She’s all right. She started hollering. I had to
“You can carry her, too.”
Quirt picked himself up, dusted himself off. He
slipped the whip handle thong around his left wrist,
and pulled on his hat.
“And this one?” Dorado asked, indicating Bob
Farr with a lazy wag of his gun.
“I’ll take care of him myself,” Quirt said ominously.
A man came out of the saloon: Pace Hutchins,
one of regulars. “Coming back in, Bob? Hey!
What’s going on here—?”
Pace fumbled with his gun. Dorado fired first,
the blast shattering the stillness of the night. Pace
crumpled, falling backwards through the swinging
doors into the saloon.
Bob Farr saw his chance and took it. A slim
chance, a long shot, but better than nothing. His
hand plunged for his gun.
Quirt lashed out with the whip, striking Bob
across the face, going for his eyes. Bob turned his
head away, raising his left arm to ward off the blow.
The girl was awake. Maybe she’d just come to, or
maybe she’d been shamming for a while, playing
possum. She jumped up and ran, angling across the
Bob Farr drew. Dorado shot him in the back.
Bob staggered forward. Quirt’s gun was in his
hand. He fired into Bob’s middle at point-blank
range. Bob folded, dropping.