Friday, June 6, 2014

West of the Dead Line #3

by Phil Truman 

Last month we took a look at the story series, West of the Dead Line, with excerpts from  Episodes 1 & 2. Number 3 came out this month - "Runaway" so I thought we'd take a look at it.

Here's the story line:
Bass Reeves defies the commands of his master with a fist to the jaw. Knowing he’d be hung without question for such an offense, the young slave flees into the night eventually ending up in Indian Territory where he is taken in and adopted by the Creek people. One night on the trail Bass and his newfound friend Jud Coldstone are set upon by a gang of thugs led by the outlaw Dick Glass. Robbed, beaten, shot, and left for dead, Reeves manages to carry his gravely wound friend back to town. While recovering Reeves is filled with a firm resolve to get the outlaw who nearly killed him, and hires on as a scout for the U.S. Marshals to seek his revenge against the desperado Dick Glass. In this excerpt, Bass and Jud have stopped to camp for the night before taking their load of fresh-made moonsine into town; here they have their encounter with Glass.

At dusk fire lights from the town started to pop up. Jud figured them to be a mile or so out, and had turned to tell Bass that when three horsemen stepped into the light of their campfire.

“Evenin’, Jud,” the middle rider said. He was a big man and black with a pink scar that cut across his left eyebrow and cheek. From his seat in the saddle the man looked to be even bigger than Bass. He sat astride a large white-faced paint and wore two Colts strapped to his thighs, but one of them he held unholstered, loosely aiming it at the campfire where Jud and Bass sat. One of his companions was a white man; the other an Indian.

“Glass,” Jud acknowledged the rider, a look of aggravation on his face. “Cap’n Turtle Moss send you out lookin’ for me?”

The man pushed the brim of his hat upward with the gun barrel, turned to look at the man on the left, then right, and laughed. The other riders joined in. “Last I seen Sam,” the man called Glass said. “He was passed out in the stable back of Dooley’s store.

“Naw, Jud, I’m out here on my own accord. Seen your fire, and come to investigate. I figured it was
one of you whiskey makers.”

Jud stared at Glass, looking pissed. Bass looked on with uncertainty. “You come out here to steal my whiskey?” Jud asked.

“You got whiskey?” Glass asked. He got off his horse and came toward the fire. Motioning the pistol at Bass he asked, “This that young nigguh run-away I been hearing about? The one Sugar George give ya?”

Bass stood, the fire reflecting in his eyes. “Ain’t nobody give me to nobody,” he said. “I’s free a nigguh as you are.”

Glass stopped and turned to look at Bass full-on. Sizing the young man up and down, he said, “Is that
a fact?” He turned to look at the other riders, then back at Bass. “Well, out here in the Territory a man don’t get free by running away and just sayin’ so, especially no slave nigguh.” As he talked, he walked up to Bass, stopping two feet in front of the younger man. The taller Glass looked down at Bass who glowered back at him.

“You got to earn that distinction, boy,” Glass continued. “You got to prove you man enough to be called a freedman.”

“How I got to do that?” Bass asked.

“Well, lots of ways, boy, lots of ways. It ain’t just one thing. First I see for you is to take this gun away from me so’s I don’t kill ya. Course, if you do that, then there’s my boys. You’d have to take care of them, too.”

“Back off, Glass!” Jud said. He’d stood by then, too, holding his rifle by the barrel. “This boy ain’t done nothin’, he’s igernant.”

Glass ignored Coldstone, looked down at Bass’s rope cinched waist where he had the Yankee Colt wedged. “’Nother way is you grab holt of that pig iron you got stuffed in your pants, and shoot all uh us before we shoot you.

“You reckon you be fast enough to do that, boy?”

Bass looked around, considering his chances.

“You could also try runnin’ off into them woods, like you thinkin’ now. You go on if you wants. I give you a minute head start. Course, that only show what a cowardly-ass run-away you really is. Once a run-away nigguh, always a run-away nigguh,” Glass said. He turned and looked at his boys with a grin. They laughed on cue.

“Yeah, I ’spect you done some runnin’ away a few times, yourself,” Bass said.

The laughter stopped. Glass turned to face Bass again, his black eyes narrow and steely. “Make a move, boy,” he said with flint in his voice.

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Like number 3, tales number 1 & 2 are available at Amazon for 99 cents.

Three more tales to be included in Volume I of the West of the Dead Line series will be released this summer:"Redemption Along the Red," "The Getaway of Cross-eyed Jack Dugan," and the signature story "West of the Dead Line."

Phil has also authored three other novels: the award-winning historical western novel,  Red Lands Outlaw, the Ballad of Henry Starra sports inspirational about small town schoolboy football entitled GAME, an American Novel; and Treasure Kills (formerly Legends of Tsalagee), a mystery/adventure in a small town.  


  1. Good stuff, Phil.

  2. Thanks, Frank. Speaking of good stuff, I'm currently reading your "Rafe."

  3. Phil, I love your excerpt. I feel like I'm right there waiting to see what in the heck is going to happen next.

  4. I appreciate you stopping by, Cheryl, and I appreciate your words. Thx, you Prairie Rose you.

  5. Great series, Phil. I'm just getting to this one.