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Stu's Stories
Tales of the Diamond W
​  It was late December in southern Kansas. The air had just enough bite to tell me it was somewhere between zero and twenty degrees. Strands of thin ice hugged the creek banks, as if waiting for the chance to take over the water once and for all. Dry leaves still covered the ground all through the woods where bare trees allowed grey morning light to rain through. I was out for a walk, there bein nothing else to do on a Sunday morning. 

  Three does and a little fawn watched me from behind a hedge row, their eyes large and dark. We never hunted anywhere near the headquarters range, and they knew it to be a safe place. Still, their eyes were cautious.
  We hadn’t seen much of Montana Slim since our last adventure. After delivering Lily and her pals, Slim said he had some follow-up to do on the case. The last thing he had said to me was “There’s more to this than meets the eye, Cyclone, and I aim to find out what it’s all about.?

  Since then the only fun we’d had was watching Shorty and Vernon pick on each other. Shorty pulled up one day in his pick-up and stepped out with a golf club in his hand. Of course, this set the boys off on a rant.

  “Hey, Shorty,? Chip hollered, “you gonna get some checkered pants to go with that??

  Of course I couldn’t resist; “Shorty, let’s hope yer golf game’s like yer socks….a hole in one.?

  Shorty was not amused.

  “I seen ‘em on TV? he said, “one of ‘em made a hundred thousand bucks for one game of golf. Man, that’s my kind of money. I figure it’s better than playin the lottery.?

  “Shoot? said Jim, “I got three dollars and thirty cents in my pocket. That’s your kind of money.?

  As usual, Chip sounded off like a Philadelphia lawyer; “Now boys, if a chimpanzee can learn sign language, I believe Shorty can learn to hit a ball with a stick.?

  Vernon couldn’t stay out of it for long.

  “Shorty, if you don’t club yourself to death with that thing, it’ll be a modern miracle. Just try not to break any windows. We can get along without you, but them windows got to be replaced.?

Shorty scowled and took off in his pickup. About two minutes later, Montana Slim drove up. He was lookin mighty serious as he walked over to me.

  “Cyclone,? he said, real quiet like, “come inside, I want to talk to you.?

  This sorta made me nervous. I started wonderin what I’d done wrong as we stepped in the house. I decided to just keep my mouth shut ‘til I heard what he had on his mind.

  “Do you remember that guy you shot outside the ghost town??


  “Well, I’ve been trackin him pretty hard since that happened. I’ve got a strong hunch he’s the one behind that whole operation, and I think there’s more operations going on. I don’t know where it’s all headed yet, but here’s the thing; twice now, people who have come in contact with him have had some sort of strange experience. One said he came into his gun shop to buy ammo for a pistol. After he left, the shop owners aunt showed up and talked to him for ten minutes, telling him to be ready, because bad things were going to happen.?

  “Sounds like a paranoid aunt? I said, “What’s so strange about that??

  “Seems his aunt’s been dead for twenty two years.?

  Suddenly I felt like spiders were crawlin all over me. Slim went on; “The other was a woman about forty miles north of here. She saw a little plane land on her ranch a couple miles behind her house. When she drove out there to check it out, it was sitting there empty and there was no one around. No tracks, no nothing.?

  “Now that’s weird? I said.

  “That aint all. She said while she was standing there she got a strange feeling. She looked along the tree line and saw eight coyotes just standing there, staring at the plane, not moving or making a sound. She got so spooked she just got back in her truck and went back to the house and called the sheriff.?

  Did you ever get the feeling that you just turned a corner and left everything you knew behind and nothing was ever gonna be the same? I haven’t had occasion to shoot many people in my life. Now it appeared I’d shot someone who didn’t seem to bleed, who summoned up ghosts and mesmerized coyotes. As if Shorty takin up golf wasn’t weird enough.