.44 Caliber Preacher: A Ben Baxter Western Adventure

.44 Caliber Preacher: A Ben Baxter Western Adventure

44calpreacher-cover

A Sneak Peek into .44 Caliber Preacher

Click Here to buy .44 Caliber Preacher: Ben Baxter’s Western Adventures

Chapter One

Toward the end of June, 1884
It was a hot afternoon and the day already felt long. The unseasonable heat waves were shimmering on the horizon. The dry air smelled of sage and hot sweaty mules. The four-inch wide wagon wheels ground away at the dry cracked earth. Sagebrush, bitter brush and junipers dotted the landscape on both sides of the road. A few gray and white clouds were floating against the soft blue sky.
Clint Leeds, the brown eyed mule skinner and Ben Baxter, his brown haired partner was working as the shotgun-messenger. They rode the river together for the past six years. They had known each other for eleven years and started working together as deputy sheriffs in St. George back in ‘78.
Wiping sweat from his forehead and pushing his brown hair out of his eyes, Ben put his brown slouch hat back on. He could still feel dust and grit covering his nose and mouth in spite of wearing his large yellow handkerchief over his face. Taking a deep breath, he dabbed his forehead again. Suddenly, his attention was turned in the direction of a sound that was loud enough to be heard above the din of the six mules. He nudged his buddy Clint and pointed over his broad shoulder. Suddenly, there was a gang of fast approaching horsemen that appeared to be riding hard toward them.
This wasn’t the first time in their career as teamsters that road agents tried to dry-gulch them. Ben bent over and grabbed two sawed off doubled barreled coach guns to check their loads, then he shoved the butt of one under Clint’s thigh. He shoved the other coach gun under his own leg. He bent over and grabbed a regular length scatter gun from under their seat. He opened the breech and checked its loads. While cradling the double barrel ten gauge, he yanked out Clint’s Colt .45, opened the loading gate and checked that each of the six chambers were loaded. They were. The horsemen were riding hard toward the freight wagon, but were still out of rifle range. After putting the gun back in Clint’s holster he checked his own peacemaker to find it was fully loaded. They were as ready as they could be for a hold up. Blazes! Why does this have ta happen so much? Ben wondered. Why do they have ta go for freight wagons so much?
Clint snapped the reins a couple of times yelling “ha! Ha-ya! Yah! Yah! Git on! Go!” The six-mules steadily picked up their speed to a full gallop. The freight wagon followed suit. The wagon was swaying with a rhythm set by the gallop of the mules, occasionally bouncing as the wheels would hit a bump or rut in the road. Ben took a quick look over his shoulder and the horsemen that were chasing them were drawing closer with every passing stride. This wasn’t new to Clint and Ben. They always worked together when it came to being teamsters, and were equally skilled at handling a team and at riding shotgun-messenger. They had the unfortunate experience of being held up numerous times in the two years of their running freight.
The pounding of the approaching hooves grew louder and they could now hear the yelling and screaming of the group of highwaymen fast approaching. Both men heard the first familiar sound of a gunshot, followed by another and then another. So far, all three shots were a clear a miss. So far neither Clint nor Ben had returned fire. Experience had taught them when the time would be right. They had ammunition to waste, but they were hardened by experience. They heard another gun shot hit the side of the wagon. Glancing toward the mules, Ben saw, out of the corner of his eye, the straining head of a horse bringing up a desperado. He turned to face the rider who was quickly pulling along the side of the wagon. Ben thumbed the first hammer of the Parker long barreled shotgun, pointed it at the undulating outlaw and squeezed the trigger unleashing a ten-gauge explosion that threw the man off his horse. The horse broke away and galloped off the road and into the brush.
Without a moment to breathe, Ben noticed off to the drivers side a road agent coming up rapidly. Clint was blocking Bens shot so he stood on his feet and held onto the back rest and thumbed the second hammer of the shotgun. Still holding onto the wall, he pointed the scatter gun at the approaching desperado and squeezed the trigger. The roar of the shotgun was right next to Clint’s ear, but, in spite of the ringing in his ears and the echo of a shotgun blast in his head, he kept the mules going all out.
Clint snapped the reins again and the wagon lurched forward with a renewed vigor by the mule team. Ben dropped his empty scattergun and found the sawed-off gun that had slid out from under his leg. He cocked it and studied the road behind them. Two riders down and three more still chasing the freight wagon. Most groups of robbers would fall back and disperse by now, but those men seemed to want whatever was in the back of the wagon. Besides twelve barrels of drinking water there were some food supplies and a strong box under the front seat containing three payrolls for three of the Frisco mines. Maybe these highwaymen are after the payroll? Thought Ben.
Ben noticed one of the water barrels was pouring water from a bullet hole. He heard the ring of a ricochet near where he was gripping the back board. Instinctively, he let go of his grip and started to slide off the bench. Clint saw Ben sliding fast, but he was able to grab his partner by his gun belt holding on to him long enough for Ben to grab hold of the bench and reposition himself securely.
As a rifle shot was heard, Clint felt the mule at the front on the drivers side lurch and rear its head as it let out an anguished bray. As the mule stopped running, it threw the whole team into disarray. While Clint was snapping the reins and yelling at the mule team, they were forced to slow a little since the mule that had been shot was in their way, bumping into them as they tried to keep going. The wagon lurched and was veering to the right as it continued to slow down. A rider was gaining on the driver’s side so Clint grabbed the sawed off shotgun from under his leg as he snapped both reins with only his left hand urging the team to pick up its pace.
Ben whirled his body to the right to look for any rider who may come up on his side of the wagon. With one shot remaining in his scatter gun, he was able to point in the direction of an approaching desperado. He squeezed the trigger and the third horseman dropped to the ground screaming in agony.
Clint shot the rider that came up to his side. Ben dropped his shotgun and drew his six-shooter with a seven-inch barrel and pulled the hammer back. He stood up to look for any others. They should be riding off, he thought. He saw the last man turning his horse hard to the side as he rode away.
“He’s running away,” gasped Ben as he tried to regain his breathing. He wiped his forehead with his left sleeve. In spite of Clint’s best efforts, the mule team was slowing down as they dragged the dead mule. Clint let the mules come to a stop and when they did, he jumped off the wagon to unharness the dead mule.
Clint scurried over to the mule that had been shot. Remarkably, it was still breathing. Clint pulled out his Colt .45, and shot him in the head. No more suffering for the hard-working animal. He unharnessed the beast and unhooked him from the jerk line. Taking the reins, Ben helped Clint rearrange the mules. They each took a long drink from their canteens. Ben stood on top of the wagon bench and looked around. “I don’t see anythin, except for that last rider runnin off to the northwest. Fer as I can tell, they’s no one else out there gunnin fer us.”
“Let’s get outta here,” Clint said. “We’ve been stopped too long. Why don’t ya take the reins and drive a while, otherwise you’re likely to fall into one of them dark spells of yers.” Without argument, Ben released the brake lever and snapped the reins. “Ya, Ya,” he shouted and the wagon jerked a little as the mules pulled up tight on the harness.
“That ain’t never happened in all them dern hold ups we been through,” said Clint. “Sure feel bad bout that mule.” Clint and Ben took good care of their mules, horses and even oxen, when they used them. They did everything they could to be good to their animals. Brigham Young had taught the pioneers as they came out to Utah to treat their animals well. That lesson had been passed down the generations and Clint and Ben abided by it. Many teamsters could care less about their draft animals, not Ben and Clint.
After all that had happened to the mules, Ben didn’t push them. As they drove on, neither one spoke for a while. Clint and Ben did not like to kill anyone. In their hearts they were peace loving men, not killers. They had been forced to kill several times, but they didn’t enjoy it. In their line of work, as teamsters, they had been involved in several shootouts when they were being robbed. They had shot many, killed a few and hated it every time.
Ben figured they were about eight or nine hard miles out of Frisco and they had planned on arriving just before nightfall. Now they had one less mule they weren’t so sure they could make it before dark. They had never lost a draft animal and so they didn’t know how it would affect the rest of the team.
As Ben held the reins, Clint wiped down the guns doing a quick clean and then loaded them all. Working on the dry dusty desert floor, the gun oil attracted the dust that was kicked up by the wagon and animals. They both started to feel a little shaky and unsettled as they started calming down after that intense gunfight.
They had been on this road before and when they started down the second to the last hill they knew they were only seven miles away from the mining town. They could tell the mules were starting to blow hard and struggle.
Since there was a flat grassy area at the base of the last rise, they decided to turn in early. It was a good place to stop because it had a small creek running through the flat grass. There was some shade from a stand of juniper trees. Ben drove the mule team onto the narrow grassy area and unhitched the mules. He turned them out to graze and water. Clint unloaded the last of the grain for the mules to eat. Between unloading the rest of the grain and taking off two damaged barrels of water, the load would be lighter for the last seven miles.
Clint was busy making a fire while Ben was preparing the food for their evening meal. He noticed a jack rabbit loping along near the river which was about twelve yards away. He picked up his ten gauge and pulled one hammer back. Took aim and squeezed the trigger. The sudden roar of the shotgun made Ben jump and turned the jackrabbit into dinner. “Well, now Ben, looks like we can have somethin other than bacon and beans fer dinner, provided there ain’t much buck shot in the rabbit.” Ben went over to the rabbit and took a look at it. Almost no blood, which meant it wasn’t overly damaged from the buckshot. He skinned the rabbit by the river before bringing it to the smoky fire.
“Guess this is a popular site for stopovers. There’s three places where folks have made fires and almost all the real dry wood is gone. Guess a little smoke won’t hurt too bad.”
“Reckon not,” replied Ben. “This area has a great view and there’s plenty of grass and water for the livestock.”
Soon, the smell of coffee filled the air. They both sipped their coffee and rolled a cigarette as they waited for the rest of their meal to be done. Just as the sun was touching the horizon, casting long shadows over the camp, the meal was cooked and they started to eat.
“Clint, I reckon I’m gettin a little tired of hauling freight and all the highwaymen that want it.”
“Well, this haul is the last one on our contract with the Frisco Freight Company. Ain’t nothin keepin us here. We wanna go on, let’s go” replied Clint easily.
“We’ve been savin our money up for a spell, how much ya figure we got now?” asked Ben.
“I reckon it’s about two-thousand dollars, that’s buried. He thought a moment more and added, “plus what’s in our pockets and what we’ll get paid tomorrow.”
“Think that’s enough for startin our ranch?” asked Ben.
“Depends on how we want ta start out,” said Clint as he rubbed his hand through his scraggly blond hair. He went on, “it depends on where we want our spread to be, do we want it up north where we can get it from my grandpa for cheap and live where the winters are down right freezing or do we want to pay higher prices for land in the southeastern side of the territory where the winters ain’t as bad?”
“My vote is fer the southeast part of the territory,” said Ben as he put his brown wide brimmed hat back on.
“Me too. If it turns out, we can’t get land at a good price we could always go up north if we have to,” added Clint.
“Now we know where we’re goin, what’s next?” asked Ben. Clint was good on details.
“I’d say we could git about a hundred head of brood stock to start buildin a herd of cattle. As fer horses, it’ll depend on what we’re able to round up from the wild herds. Will we git what we want or would we be needin to breed some studs into them? We never decided if we want to get into draft horses either. I think we’d have enough to build a cabin and barn both, to start out with. It would be tight, but I think we could manage all that.”
“It might be a slow start, but we wouldn’t have no more road agents shootin at us,” added Ben as he stretched his arms and yawned.
“We might have to deal with rustlers from time to time,” remarked Clint.
“But I doubt they’ll be shootin at us first.”
“That’s likely true,” said Clint.
“I don’t like killin,” said Ben which changed the subject.
“Are you talking about today or are ya thinkin bout that bank robber five years ago?”
After a pause, Ben said, “both, I reckon.”
“But remember, you had no choice with that bank robber. Remember, I had to shoot the other bank robber? None of the killin’s you’ve done were murder, they’ve always been self defense and in the line of duty. You can’t just let a man point a loaded gun at you without defendin yerself Ben, you know that,” said Clint with a tone of exasperation. “We’ve been over this dozens of times afore. We’ve always been on the right side of the law ever-time one of us has had to shoot somebody.”
“I know . . . I know . . . it’s just that, well, it don’t make it no easier sometimes,” said Ben as he shook his head slowly while looking at the smoky camp fire. In spite of the other killings Ben had been involved in, it was mostly that first killing that bothered him the most.
Looking for a way to get Ben out of the misery he was falling into, Clint changed the subject back to the topic of ranching. “So what’re we doin bout our ranch? Do we want ta start now or keep up haulin freight for a bit more?”
“I don’t like Frisco much. Ain’t safe. I’m tired of all the shootin that goes on there and the shootin with our job, them at us and us at them. My vote is let’s start out fer our ranching days after we turn in this wagon.”
“I’m agreed. Though it won’t hurt, if we found a good last haul to make some money hauling something out of here, drop it off and keep on a goin. That’s if it’s a south or an eastward haul” suggested Clint.
“All right then, we dig up our money and get out of Frisco, one way or another and we don’t come back.”
They cleaned the camp and got ready for the morning before falling asleep under the stars. They both enjoyed the stars and pointing out constellations and making up tall tells about them. Soon Clint nodded off. Ben tossed and turned. He was falling into one of those dark places that were all to familiar with him. It took a while to fall asleep.
The morning came fast. They got their bedrolls and gear stowed away and Clint started a fire. Clint was privately grateful that they didn’t have whiskey with them. When Ben got into one of his dark moods which always followed, killing someone, he would get drunk to hide from those moods. It he had gotten drunk he wouldn’t wake up until late morning.
Clint got out the last of the beans and bacon and put them in the iron fry pan. The fire was putting enough heat off to get the coffee started and to cook the bacon and beans. The sun was coming up on the eastern horizon, sending out yellow and orange rays of light. The air was still crisp, but warming fast. Other than the smell of the nearby mules, the air was clean and fresh. The scent of the Frisco kilns making charcoal could usually be detected for miles, but this morning the air was clean. That usually meant they were emptying the kilns and getting ready to load them up again.
As they sat around the camp fire, Ben asked, “how many barrels of water do you reckon we’ve hauled to Frisco since we’ve been runnin this route?”
“Hundreds, maybe five-hundred I’d reckon. It’s a strange thing to haul water, but we’ve had all the work we’ve wanted so I reckon it ain’t worth grumblin over.”
“I don’t guess it matters much what were haulin as long as it pays decent wages,” added Ben.
“Freightin’s been good to us, aside from the road agents and the gun fightin, but I’ll be glad to let it go,” said Clint, “get on to raisin horses.”
“Just think of it. In time we’ll have a nice ranch with two big homes, one fer you and yer family, one for me and mine. Horses ever-where and a right lot a cattle too.”
The odd five-mule team took the wagon up the last steep hill much better for having had a night’s rest. Missing the dead mule didn’t seem to be much of a trial for the remaining five. Of course, they had been able to lighten the load. As they made their way to the top of the hill Ben asked Clint. “I wonder jest how bad is the runoff from the mines? After all, the animals still drink from the river.”
“Don’t know fer sure, but I’ve heard tell a couple stories about some of the first miners gettin sick from the water. Reckon it concerns them old mine owners enough ta pay ta bring in water. Payin for water seems loco, so I reckon they’ve reason to worry,” answered Clint. “They sure ain’t goin a pay fer nothin unless they have ta.”Chapter Two
Clint and Ben crested the last hill before Frisco. As they viewed the dusty town on the horizon they saw many clapboard buildings, a few were painted, most were not. There were even some big tents serving as businesses. Beyond the main street and business areas where residential parts of town that were made up of shanties and tents. There were even blocks that were no more than campgrounds. The buildings were fairly new, but were put up in such a hurry, they looked as though one good wind storm would blow them away.
From their vantage point they could see the dirt roads leading out to the mines to the south or the soot-covered kilns on the northwest side of town. Further off, they could see a few of the limited smelters. During the week they had been gone, two new buildings had begun construction.
The town of Frisco was only a few years old. It sprang up almost overnight when silver was discovered where the Big Horn Mine now stood. Not much thought was given to the town as most of the labor went to the silver mines. The production of silver was so significant that their smelting capabilities fell short, so the mines had to send a great deal of raw ore up north. Ben and Clint often found themselves hauling raw oar to Milford so the train could take the oar to the Franklyn smelter in Murray, Utah Territory. On their return trip they would haul water barrels.
On the way down the last hill, Ben asked, “What’s the first thing ya plan to do once we get paid?”
“I feel like splurgin, I think I’ll be gettin myself a bath. Not in the mood fer a cold water shower. I reckon I’ll drop off my dirty clothes to the laundry lady over by the livery and then get a steak dinner at the Silver Frisco Café. Likely I’ll play some poker and drink some rotgut. What about you?” asked Clint.
“That’s the same as we always do, but I guess cause they ain’t much otherwise to do. Sounds good ta me,” replied Ben. “I’ll do most of drinkin in our hotel room, providin we can get a room, that is.”
“Yeah, a drunk in a card game ain’t too smart,” replied Clint.
Clint enjoyed a good drunk, but he worried about his friend bending an elbow. Ben drank to avoid going to a dark place in his mind. Being drunk gave him a place to go where he could forget. One good thing about Ben’s drinking was that he didn’t let himself play poker when he was befuddled. He would usually get himself to his room before getting sloppy.
Their wagon steadily inched toward Frisco as the temperature steadily inched up. They came to the outskirts of town and turned left. They would go around the outside of town to make their way to the freight station. In spite of the last three Marshals, there was still a lot of gunplay in the streets. Last month there were three killings during one night. No one called them murders. They might have been. They might have been killings in self defense or they may have been killed by stray bullets. No one knew and no one took the time to find out. Even with the occasional sheriff, It was a lawless town.
The town would get rowdy once the sun went down and the miners crawled out of their mine shafts. But even in the afternoon it was common to hear the occasional gun fire. Wanting to avoid random gun fire and to protect the water barrels from stray bullets they wanted to avoid driving the wagon down Main street.
Because Clint and Ben worked as a team and had a stellar reputation of getting the job done, meaning that they never lost a load to the highwaymen, they earned top dollar for every freight haul they made. They got ten dollars up front and seven dollars daily on the run plus supplies such as food and shotgun shells. In the western part of the Utah territory miners made the best daily wage of $3.50 a day. Cowboys earned $ 35.00 a month. Compared to miners and cowboys, Ben and Clint earned above average wages.
They rolled into the freight station by noon and after signing a few papers, they collected their pay and strolled on. By mid afternoon they had managed to get a hotel room. The hotel rooms filled up fast and they were lucky to get a room so easily. There were plenty of places to stay if you didn’t mind sleeping in a dusty, dirty tent that smelled of everything.
Next door to the San Francisco Mountains Hotel was a barber shop and bath house that maintained four bath tubs. The boys liked their tobacco, but they seldom splurged on cigars. They rolled their own cigarettes and got into their tubs with a fresh rolled smoke.
The bath house was whitewashed and the floorboards were wet. There were two gents soaking in the other two tubs. They were enjoying expensive cigars and sipping whiskey. After a few minutes of puffing their smokes, one of the two gentlemen broke the silence.
“My name is Wooster, Horace Wooster. This gentleman here on my right is Edward Brown.”
Clint nodded a hello and said, “I’m Clint Leeds and this here is my pard Ben Baxter,” he motioned with his head to his left. Ben added a “Howdy boys.”
“Getting ready for a night out on the town?” asked Horace.
“Yes, sir, we jest got done with a freight haul and we’re hungerin for a steak dinner and an evenin of poker and whiskey,” answered Clint with a grin. His arms were hanging out of the tub showing a line dividing his white skin from his sunburned skin.
“Sounds like a nice way to finish a job. How long were you on the road?” asked Horace.
“Eight hot days.”
“Was it a smooth haul?” asked Edward.
“Nah. We had some trouble yesterday. We were dry-gulched by some road-agents,” responded Ben as he shook his head.
“That’s too bad. How’d it turn out? You gents look all right.”
“Well . . . There was a shoot out. Five came at us and one road off,” said Clint wiping his wet blonde hair back.
“Glad you men are all right then,” said Horace as he continued to puff on his expensive cigar.
Ben dipped his cigarette into his bath water to make sure it was out before he flicked it against the bath house wall. “Like haulin freight, jest don’t care fer the shootin,” said Ben.
“Sounds like this isn’t the only time you’ve been dry-gulched?” suggested Horace.
“It happens way too often, especially in this area where a lot of payrolls are carried in strong boxes,” said Clint as he rolled another smoke.
“We’re well aware. We’re in the freight business ourselves,” said Edward nodding his head.
“We operate here in Frisco and we have some wagons in Park City,” said Horace proudly.
“What are you men doing for work? Got another job lined up or are you going to take up a little bit of mining here in Frisco?” asked Edward.
Ben chuckled a little as he shook his head sideways. “Ain’t no one gettin rich by minin, unless you discovered the mother load.”
“I agree with you Mr. Baxter,” said Horace with a smile. “My partner and I are doing well in the freighting business. We’re adding two new wagons a month to our growing enterprise.”
“What do y’all haul?”asked Clint.
“Mostly heavy ore. Our extended wagons are reinforced with side walls six to ten feet high and need between six to ten oxen to haul. We go around to various mining towns and rent out our wagons to haul ore. We’ve been in Frisco almost four months getting things running well. Then we’ll move on to the Tintic district and set up there.”
“Who runs things for y’all when you leave for somewhere’s else?” asked Ben.
“We hire someone to manage each location. In Park City, we have four people working for us. We’ve got a big operation up there. It’s also shaping up to be big here in Frisco. We got one man working for us and we might need a few more before we leave,” answered Horace.
“Do you men run your own freight wagon?”
“No. We just drive whatever they want us to,” said Clint.
“Does that include oxen?”
“No. Not unless they are trained to take a whip from the wagon seat. We’re not built for walking along side the oxen,” answered Clint emphatically.
“We’re not bull whackers,” added Ben with a grin. “Besides, it’s hard to get the oxen to run when highwaymen want to rob you,” added Ben.
“I reckon we’ve driven our last freight wagon. We’re fixin to move on in a day or two,” said Clint.
“Looks like we’ve grown tired of hauling freight,” added Ben.
Their conversation went on for a few minutes and then it wound down to a silence that was only disturbed by the sound of an errant gun shot nearby.
“We’ll be glad to leave this place. Never been in a town with this much gun play,” said Horace. Edward nodded his head in agreement.
As the four men were rinsing off the soapy water Horace Wooster said, “It’s been nice talking to you young fellers. Maybe we’ll see you around town?”
Clint and Ben nodded a so-long to them and went to the laundry forgetting their haircut and shave. A while later as the sun starting to drop, Edward Brown and Horace Wooster found themselves in a Café across main street and down a block from the barber shop.
While they were eating, Horace and Edward were talking about their next job. “I was thinking to ask Ben and Clint from the bath house to run our next wagon, but when I heard them talking about shooting four of the five highwaymen yesterday I thought better of it. It won’t do if they shoot up the men we send after them,” said Edward.
“We’ve spent so much time setting things up for the job we haven’t been looking for drivers. Now we’re getting desperate. We’ve only got this evening and tomorrow to find someone to drive the stolen wagon coming in.”
“I wish we could just send Abe and Buck on,” said Horace.
“Yeah, but we need them on the next wagon coming in. It would be nice if we could just use them, then they could ride out there a ways, leave the wagon and come back with the stolen payroll and say they were bushwhacked,” said Edward.
“So far, everyone we’ve come across already has work or they are teamsters with no experience with mules. We should take our chances with Ben and Clint,” suggested Horace.
“They said they were done with hauling freight. Besides, what if they shoot up all our men going after them?” said Horace, as he relieved a scratch on his chin.
“Maybe they were lucky. Maybe they aren’t as good as we think they are. We’re in a dire spot, we can’t afford to be picky in this late hour. For ten thousand dollars, we can afford to hire several more men to go out after them, make sure they get good and shot. I’m worried we won’t find anyone else,” said Edward desperately. “And since we won’t actually be paying them, we can offer them whatever amount they need to make sure they take the haul.”
“I guess you’re right about that. Of course, we still have to find them,” said Horace doubtfully.
“This job will be our biggest heist at ten thousand dollars. We can’t afford to let it slip through our fingers,” said Edwards.
Nodding his head in agreement, Horace said, “let’s keep our eyes out for them. Maybe we can stroll around before it gets too late and too dangerous and see if we can find them.”
“There’s an awful lot of bars here in town. It won’t be easy finding them.”
“What choice do we really have?” asked Wooster shaking his head.
Their conversation went in several different directions as they finished their dinner. They were about to pay their dinner bill when they saw Clint and Ben walk into the Café.
“Hey, look over there. There are the two young gents, we’re talking about. How lucky can we be? This is a good sign.” Horace motioned with his head towards the front of the Café.
Edward waved his hand toward the boys as Ben and Clint were looking their way. He motioned for them to come over. Clint and Ben weren’t tall at about 5 feet and six inches tall, but they had a purposeful stride that got them where they were going fast. They were standing next to Horace and Edwards table quickly.
“We were about to leave when we saw you. We have a business proposition for you men. Would you care to sit down and take your dinner with us and we can see if you’d be interested in what we have to say?”
“We’ll even pay for your meal,” added Horace.
Clint looked at Ben. Ben nodded agreement. Clint said, “we might be interested in hearing what you have to say. But remember, we’re not plannin on stickin around these parts.”
The sun was going down and the restaurant was growing dark. Some of the waitresses and other workers went around lighting candles and coal oil lamps. Soon the pleasant smell of food gave way to the odor of coal oil. Ben and Clint sat down and ordered their big steak dinner. Horace ordered a nice bottle of whiskey. Once Ben and Clint were well under way with their juicy beef steak, Horace brought up the business proposition.
“We just learned today that we have a last minute haul, we need to make day after tomorrow. It’ll be a huge load of lumber to Cedar City.”
Clint gave Ben a questioning look. “Why would you be haulin wood to Cedar City when they are paying top dollar for wood right here in the mining district?” asked Clint.
“The client needing the wood is so desperate for lumber that he is willing to pay higher prices for our lumber than wait for it in Cedar City. We’re not selling the wood, only providing the shipment. That’s all we know. They are willing to pay a bonus if they get the lumber in three days.”
“What are you using, mules or horses?” asked Ben. “Like we said, We don’t generally work with oxen.”
“Horses are faster, but it will be a hard ride so mules would be better in the long run. We’re planning on four spans of mules,” said Horace.
“I don’t know. Mules are strong and tough, but a little slower, twenty miles a day is pushing it,” said Clint. “There are a lot of rises, a mountain or two and few big hills on the way to Cedar City. If we took the job we wouldn’t be interested in pushing the animals that hard.”
“We want the bonus and there is an extra hundred dollars for the both of you in addition to a flat one-hundred dollar wage for each of you. Does that increase your interest any more?”
Clint and Ben had a hard fast rule that they would never put the health of their animals at risk unless they needed to push them for their own personal safety and for no other reason.
“We’ll do the job, but we won’t push the mules that hard. It’s not worth hurting the animals for a little extra money,” said Clint.
Both Horace and Edward raised their eyes in response to that comment. They had never dealt with teamsters this ethical. Of course, they didn’t really care. They were just making it look legitimate.

 

Click Here to buy .44 Caliber Preacher: Ben Baxter’s Western Adventures
“We are in a hard place. We don’t have time to find anyone else. I guess we’ll forgo the bonus if you two men will take on the job. It is still a good contract,” said Wooster as he continued to play his role. “They are paying us far more than the lumber is worth, they are desperate for the wood,” said Edward, trying to make the sell.
“We’re your men,” Ben held out his hand as did Clint. They all shook hands to seal the deal.
“We will need you to meet us by the livery stables at the end of town. We’ll have everything ready and your food supplies loaded. We’ll have you on your way as quickly as possible. We need you men there at sun up day after tomorrow.”
“We’ll be there and where do we get paid?”
“The bonus would be paid on delivery. But since that’s not an issue, you’ll need to bring your paperwork back to us for payment,” said Edward.
“We’re only takin this job cause it’s leavin Frisco. We won’t be comin back,” stated Clint.
“We’ll then, I guess we can wire you the money through the telegraph,” said Wooster with a sly grin, knowing that all talk of money and payment was a lie.Chapter Three
The light was dim and the air was filling up with smoke from the miners cigarettes and the coal oil. After they finished their large steak dinner, Clint and Ben found a good poker game. They were sharing a bottle of whiskey. Clint was letting himself get drunk and as a result, lost the last four hands of poker. He decided to quit the game. No one at the table cared if he stayed or left since he wasn’t winning. Clint remained at the table watching Ben play a few rounds.
On the next round Ben played to a straight flush and won fifty-two dollars. In spite of winning with a good hand, he was feeling dark. He was no longer interested in the game.
“I’m gettin tired out, I’ll be seein ya later,” said Ben. He started to scoot his chair back, but was stopped by the angry man to his left.
“Not so fast. You stayed long enough to take our money, now it’s yer turn to stick around long enough fer us to win some of it back.”
Hell-o-mighty man, I jest wanna get drunk. “All right,” he drawled. “I’ll stick around for a few hands, but that’s all,” said Ben with a determined tone.
“That’s better young feller, you sit right back down there and lets all play some poker.”
Just as the dealer was starting to deal the cards a gun shot rang out. It was quickly followed by another. The two gun shots caused a sudden panic in the dimly lit saloon. From he wide spread panic, everything became chaotic. People were pulling their guns or tipping over tables looking around frantically for the source of the sound. As the commotion was starting to even out, Ben got up off the filthy wood floor that was covered with sawdust and put his gun back in his holster. He grabbed his money and put it in his vest pocket. He was scanning the saloon looking for Clint, but he was no where to be found. Ben was starting to be concerned for Clint’s safety. Ben saw a whiskey bottle sitting on the bar explode as he heard another gunshot.
Ben dropped to his hands and knees again. He was growing irritated and concerned. Irritated at the senseless gun fire and concerned for Clint’s safety. Sure be glad to leave this town fer good. He pulled out his gun again, just in case. The chaos was quieting down. By now everybody was on the floor and behind tipped over tables and chairs. Ghostly shadows were on the walls and ceiling as the coal, oil lamps and candle light showed the shadows of people starting to stand and move around. One of the big mirrors was shattered.
The sheriff came in looking for the shooter. “Anyone know who the shooter was?” He yelled out. Amazingly, no one in that crowed saloon spoke out. Violence of all types was so common and many of the residents were so used to it, they tended to look the other way unless someone they knew was being hurt or killed.
After a quick look around the room the sheriff left. No investigation, no real concern. The last sheriff only lasted three weeks and was killed in broad daylight. The murderer was still at large. This new lawman wanted to work long enough to collect a paycheck. He was establishing himself to be an ineffective ornament the town could point to if someone wanted a law dog. He was the only sheriff they could get.
It took a while for Clint and Ben to find each other in the commotion as people were turning the tables upright and getting their games going again. Once they found each other they bought another bottle and left for their hotel room.
Back at the hotel they got themselves comfortable and passed the bottle back and forth. They played a few light hearted games of poker as they worked on getting drunk. Soon Clint fell asleep. After a few minutes he was breathing loudly through his nose with the occasional snort. Ben reflected on his time with Clint and all the experiences that had gone through. They had been deputy sheriffs together. They had been cowboys together and now they were teamsters. Soon they would be ranchers with a big herd of horses and some cattle.
They had lived their past with a purpose and had been saving their money together so they could start a ranch. After all those years they were finally getting ready to do it, to finally start rounding up horses and buying some cattle. In spite of falling into his dark place, he had a glimmer of hope for the first time in a long time. That glimmer of light was soon covered over by the power of the darkness that was consuming him.
Ben glanced around the room. He saw the heat stove. It was empty. These summer days didn’t need any heat. There was a stand with a water basin and a ceramic pitcher filled with water. Wonder if that water is shipped in?
His thoughts were mulling over some of the faces of those he had killed. He hadn’t always got a good look at those he shot, but of those he had seen, he remembered, especially that boy in St. George during the bank robbery. Why don’t it bother Clint bout the killin? He’s done kilt about as many as me, I reckon? Killing bothered both Clint and Ben, but with Ben’s way of thinking, it seemed to bother him more than Clint. It always irritated him that Clint didn’t seem to have a dark place. They shared so many things in common that Ben figured they should share a dark place together. Ben also wondered why he seemed to focus on his first killing more than any others combined.
His thoughts seemed to slow down and the room seemed to suddenly grow dimmer than it already was. Soon his thoughts ran together and made no sense. Then he was out. Now he could forget. Now he was at peace from the horrors of his memories.
Clint woke up long before Ben did. They were having a day off and so Clint felt like he could give Ben a little more time to sleep figuring that he had gotten to bed a lot later than normal. He knew his pard had gotten drunk by the empty bottle that was tucked under Ben’s chest as he slept face first on the mattress.
After Clint had knocked around the room doing every little thing he could, which included cleaning and oiling their guns. He got tired of waiting and started the process of waking Ben up. He jostled him around on the mattress and yelled his name. It was nine in the morning and he figured he wouldn’t be waking up anyone if he yelled Ben’s name. Even though it was a day off, they needed to make that run to dig up their money.
After a few more minutes and some heavy effort Clint got Ben up. Ben wasn’t happy about it, but then Clint reminded him that they needed to go dig up their money so they could leave Frisco once and for all.
They left some of their gear behind in their hotel room and locked the door on the way out. They took with them most of their weapons since they would be traveling back with two-thousand dollars. The dime novels exaggerated the way things were in the so-called wild west. However, Frisco, located in the southwestern part of Utah Territory, was a lawless, rowdy town. Even when they did have a lawma it didn’t amount to much. The current sheriff would barely make himself known and did as little as possible. Frisco was a dime novel town, if there ever really was one.
They knew that leaving some of their gear behind was risky. The lock on the door was solid enough, but the room door was flimsy and could easily be kicked in. They were used to taking risks. Just living in Frisco was a risk.
They were eating ham and eggs for breakfast. The eggs were so runny they daubed it up with bread. They were happy with the ham. It was tender, moist and very tasty. They were making plans to rent a couple of mounts, borrow a couple of spades and ride out behind the town to the place they had chosen to bury their money. They thought it prudent to find a place away from all the mining just in case someone stumbled upon their savings. Prospectors were always finding small mines in the San Francisco mining district. They further away, the better, they thought.

~~~

“How many more mines do you think we can hit a freight wagon before the pressure will be to great?” asked Edward.
“I would have thought we would be long gone by now. In Park City we were only able to hit four payrolls before we had to leave. We’ve hit the Indian Queen and the Imperial mines twice.”
“I wonder what the difference is between Park City and here in Frisco?”
“I’ve wondered about that. I thought after we stole the Golden Reef payroll last week the heat would have increased. It must be the no account law dog. Tarnation, I love that man,” said Horace.
Laughing along with Horace, Edward said, “in our line of work, who would have ever thought we’d love a lawman?”
“That’s got to be it. That do-nothing sheriff is a thieves best friend.”
“Even though this lawman is as dumb as a post, the mine owners are not going to stand for all this looting of the payrolls. Someone, sooner or later is going to demand something be done, then they’ll look elsewhere for a lawman, maybe even send for some Pinkerton boys. That will put pressure on us since it’s our freight wagons that are supposedly being hit on their return trips.”
“I think I might have the makings of an idea,” said Horace. “We call in a sheriff from Beaver or Milford and ask for help. Then we look like we’re more concerned than the mine owners. They won’t look at us as hard if any, real investigation happens because we are the ones that called them in.”
“I’m not so sure I like that idea, calling the law to investigate us. We’re the ones doing all the robbing,” said Edward.
“That’s the point. If we call in some legal help we’ll look innocent. Also, we can control the story. The sheriff or detectives that investigate will only know what we tell them. We’ll send them on a wild goose chase, they won’t be able to find anything and no one will suspect us in a million years.”
“Hmm. I think that maybe I like that idea. In fact, after we have Luke, Barney and Sid kill Clint and Ben, and return with the money we go to Milford and request the sheriff do something since he’s the county sheriff. We lay low for a few weeks and when they stop investigating the robberies we hit a couple of the biggest mines.”
“Good idea.”

~~~
Frisco had a clap board bank. To try and create more confidence in the bank the owners kept it well painted, but it didn’t improve the lack of trust in the bank. The fact that Frisco was so lawless was one the main reasons that so few miners trusted it to keep their money safe.
Ben and Clint felt the same way. They didn’t trust the bank. Ironically, in the midst of all the lawlessness, the bank had never been robbed.
With the late start, Clint and Ben pushed their horses and traveled half way in a gallop. Near the half way mark they gave their horses a break. They dismounted and walked a spell. The sky was a vivid blue with not a single cloud. They could smell the kilns as they slow burn the fresh batch of wood. As they were walking, they started talking.
“I’ve been thinkin a bit about our ranch. I think it would be wise to cover all aspects of the horse trade. I reckon what I’m sayin is that we should add draft horses to our stock. We can raise good cattle, horses, draft horses, and maybe even a few race horses,” said Ben.
“That’s good thinkin. If a farmer came to buy some draft horses and they see we sell all kinds, then the next year he comes back for a quarter horse or a cattle horse,” yeah, I like that idea,” responded Clint with a smile.
They went on to talk about draft horses and they also discussed getting a good start from the wild horse herds in the west desert.
“I swear, all this talking about horses makes me want to dig up that money and just keep on goin, get started on our horse and cattle ranch. Maybe we could go lighter on cattle and heavier on horses. There is still a lot of good wild horse herds in the territory. We could also look into gettin some Mustangs from eastern Nevada. I’ve heard that over in Nevada they have lots of wild horses. If we don’t find what we want in the west desert we could just keep on goin into Nevada till we get all we want,” said Clint.
They had been walking at least a mile and decided to mount up. They gave their horses all the rein they wanted. They noticed that the trail has been more worn since the last time they made the trip. There were even some wagon ruts worn into the road which meant it was more well traveled than it used to be. That was a concern. Wagon traffic might mean that miners could be moving into the area. The last thing they wanted was to have miners around their buried money.Chapter Four
Clint and Ben rode the river together for more than ten years. They met ten years ago. Ben’s family had been killed by renegade Indians and their cabin had been burned. Ben had been alone for several weeks as he made his way from his pa’s farm in southern Utah, on the border of Arizona. The farm was about forty-five miles east of Kanab. Ben traveled west, on his own two feet, until he ran into Clint Leeds who brought him home to his family. After a few years, Clint and Ben lit out on their own. Their first job was working as deputy sheriffs in St. George, Utah territory.
Ben was still bothered by the loss of his family, but because Clint and his family had taken him into their home and treated him as one of their own, he managed to survive and even thrive. He and Clint were inseparable.
As they were coming up a gentle rise in the landscape Clint said, “I thought we had picked a good spot to bury our money, but all these wagon ruts on the trail mean people are making their way out here.” Clint was nervous.
“Well, at least we don’t have to worry bout it anymore. Once we dig up our savin’s and get out of here, they can mine the devil out of these here rocks for all I care,” said Ben urgently.
“I hope there’s no one over the rise,” added Clint warily.
It was over the rise where they had buried their money. At the time they chose the location for their life savings they thought it was a good place. Easy to find if you knew where to look. Far enough out that no miners would chance upon it. There wasn’t a mine within ten miles of it. They never expected to find a lot of traffic in the area, much less wagon ruts.
They got to the top of the rise and looked down into a large dish like depression. It was mostly barren with scattered sage and juniper and a stream trickled through. In the spring and early summer the stream ran high. It was early summer, but the river was already running low.
They reined in their horses and walked around the ridge until they came to the natural trail leading into the deep depression. They worked their horses slowly down the trail. There was still that one pinyon pine near the riverbank holding on to life. The blue sky was void of any clouds. The heat was relentless.
They had only visited the secret depression three times, once to bury their money and two more times to add to their loot. It had been about four months since their last visit.
They didn’t have a map where they dug their hole, they had simple coordinates. Eleven steps from the bank of the stream and horizontally even with the nearby large boulder. After a long drink of water they had unsaddled and unpacked their horses and were ready to dig.
As they started to dig Ben asked Clint, “how long’s it been since Charlotte wrote us a letter? I wonder if she’s still sweet on that feller of hers?”
After thinking for a few moments, Clint replied, “reckon it’s been three months since we last heard from her. That’s the second time you’ve brought her up this month. Are you sweet on her?”
“She’s my sister, I ain’t sweet on her,” said Ben emphatically.
“Well, you ain’t related to her by blood, . . . You know, you could marry her by law if you had a mind to.”
Shaking his head firmly, Ben said, “no, not a chance. She feels as much like my sister as Camille does.”
“Aw shucks, don’t be that way. Marry my sister and we’d be brothers-in-law to each other. That would be right nice.”
“I swear,” said Ben. “I always thought of us as brothers, shoot, more than brothers. Don’t know of nothin better than bein closer than brothers, but if they was, that would be us.”
“Yer right about that. Reckon there ain’t no word to describe us. Friend? Sure. Brother? Dang right. But there’s more to it than that.”
“Sure ain’t no one better to ride the river with than each other,” suggested Ben with a grin.
Soon Clint’s spade hit the board that was resting on top of the of the heavy leather bag of money. They cleared the board, lifted it up and pulled out a bulging leather bag they had hid their life savings in. They climbed out of the hole, dusted off the sack and opened it up. There it was, over two thousand dollars of mostly gold and silver coins along with three billfolds of green backs. Most of the money was in the form of double eagles, half eagles, eagles and a lot of silver dollars.
They took a moment to pause and rest, wiping the sweat of their faces and talking a long couple of swallows from their canteens. “I’m sure looking forward to the day we can find a good, trustworthy bank to keep this money in,” said Ben hopefully.
“It won’t matter much since we’ll be shed of most of it by the end of the year.”
“Wadda ya mean by that?”
“By then we’ll have put most of that money into horses, cattle, land, a cabin and a barn at least. That’ll take most of our money,” said Clint. Always the planner.
“Yer right about that I reckon,” said Ben jovially.
Just then, there was a faint noise that caused Clint to look up at the direction of the disturbance. “Ben, looky up yonder there . . . Behind you. . . Don’t turn around fast, easy like,” said Clint with an urgent tone of concern. The sound was growing louder and then became recognizable as the clopping of horse hooves on the ground. Ben stood up looking like he was taking a good long stretch and in the process glanced over his shoulder. There he saw on the horizon five horsemen coming their way. “Where did they come from?” asked Ben.
“I dunno. Let’s get our horses saddled up pronto. Let’s hide the money in the saddle bags as fast as we can,” said Clint urgently.
In the San Francisco mining district, there were numerous mines which meant there was a lot of silver traveling on horseback and a lot of gold and other minerals. There were many private mines and several company mines. Desperado’s could get rich by dry-gulching miners and teamsters.
“Maybe we can outrun them,” said Ben hopefully. “Ain’t in the mood to kill nobody today.”
“Think there robbers?” asked Clint, afraid he knew Bens answer.
“Can’t say fer sure,” said Ben. “My gut feelin says they likely are. Hurry up.”
“Yeah, better safe than sorry. This kinda money, I don’t want to take no chances,” said Clint as he finished stuffing the money in the saddle bags.
By the time the horses were saddled up and their saddle bags secured the horsemen had advanced to within shouting distance. They also noticed that in their haste they had left a few unimportant things scattered over the nearby ground.
“Hello the camp!” came a loud voice.
“Howdy!” replied Ben.
“Mind if we come in?”
“Come on in. Where just fixin ta leave,” said Ben loudly. They each realized that their gun belts were still hanging from their saddle horns. They each fluidly stepped behind their horses and swiftly put on their gun belts. They unhooked the leather loops around their gun hammer. In Ben’s case, his two shotgun holster rig was on his side. Clint’s was on the far side of his horse. They were trying to prepare themselves without alarming the fast approaching horsemen in case they were thieves. They weren’t afraid of the approaching men. They were afraid of a gunfight where they would end up killing those five men. They always tried to avoid trouble because they didn’t like to kill. It looked like this time they wouldn’t have much of a choice.
Normally, when someone announced themselves before coming into camp you could count on them being friendly, but this was mining country and they had more than two thousand dollars to protect. It was their life savings. As the five horsemen continued toward their camp, they noticed they were spreading out in a half circle. They had the look that was familiar to Clint and Ben, the look of outlaws. They could see their faces as the riders came closer. They had the look of hard cases. Untrustworthy men if they had to make a quick judgement, which they did.
Ben drew out both of his double barreled Parkers and handed Clint one. They both pulled back a hammer, just in case. Clint and Ben instinctively began studying the situation. The man in the middle was doing the talking. There were two rough customers on either side. This meant that if worse came to worse, Clint and Ben would have to face off against two men each with one wildcard of a man in the middle. They had decided to face the men rather than run. Either choice was risky, but staying gave them a sight more control over the situation.
“Welcome to our camp. We’re just fixin to ride on out,” said Clint.
“Looks like you been doing a little diggin there, find any gold or silver?”
Trying to appear both tough and casual, Clint said, “I guess we wouldn’t want to tell you if we did,” he smiled.
“True enough. Mind if we dismount and help ourselves and our horses to the stream?”
“Help yourselves’s, the water’s cold.”
“Looks like you two are in a mighty big hurry. You’ve left a few things behind,” said the man in the middle as he dismounted.
“I reckon that’s a might sloppy of us,” said Clint. He made no effort to retrieve the items. The unwelcome strangers seemed to notice.
Clint and Ben had been in many gunfights since the first one in St. George five years ago. They knew how each others thoughts and were able to work that to their advantage. They had been forced to kill several men and wound many others, but they had never suffered a single scratch in any of their fights. They were happy to get the men off their horses, putting them on even footing. This would be better if push came to shove.
Clint and Ben both sensed serious trouble, but they genuinely hoped that there would be no confrontation. They didn’t want to just jump on their horses and dart off, forcing the outlaws hands. Maybe they could resolve this peacefully which was always best.
“Looks like you gents have been diggin fer gold or silver or whatever they got around here. How come ya ain’t been pannin with a stream right here?”
“We ain’t miners. It’s our day off from haulin freight. Thought we’d come out and try our luck fer a few hours. Didn’t find nothin, but a few blisters,” said Clint a little to sternly.
“Yer sure welcome to our camp and our hole if you’ve a mind to. We gotta be gettin back ta Frisco,” said Ben as friendly as he could muster.
They both started to mount their horses when the boss man made a sign and the other four thieves drew their pistols. “I reckon not. You’ll not be leaving just yet. Why poke around the dirt? We’re not miners either. We can just take what you have.”
“I guess you could do just that, but ask yourself if it is worth it? We’ll not be lettin you take what’s ours. We’ll die protectin it. One or two of you might jest live, but with these ten gauge Parkers in our hands at least three of ya will go down with us. Are you ready for that?” asked Clint with a haunting tone.
As the robbers looked at Clint and Ben, they noticed that both Parkers had one hammer back. They knew what a sawed off shotgun could do and they were at the perfect range for maximum damage. They also realized they had to pull their guns, cock them, aim and then pull the trigger. The two with the scatter guns were already cocked and were already in their hands. They didn’t really have to aim as close as they were. The two men with shotguns already had the advantage of first blood. Even if they weren’t killed, they’d likely all be injured which would affect their shooting.
There was a silent span of time pass between them where the boss was eyeing Clint. Clint was returning the stare without flinching. All that remained to start the gun fight was for either side to flinch. After that, the devil would open his grave and all hell would break loose.
Knowing what his men were likely thinking, the boss man, the man in the middle wanted to motivate his boys or at least keep them from retreating. He said, “I dunno boys, they’re all sure-fired ready to protect what they got. Must be pretty valuable to risk their lives fer. I say we take a chance and see for ourselves. Ready boys? Fire!” The metallic sound of cocking guns broke the stillness in the air, but before all the triggers could be pulled, a giant roar filled the air with the sound of two ten gauges echoing in the depression. As soon as they saw two men fall to the earth, Clint and Ben thumbed the second hammer of their Parkers and they fired again. They couldn’t hear above the resulting gunfire if anyone else was hit. They couldn’t see past the thick cloud of gun smoke if anyone else fell. Everyone stopped shooting because there was no where to point their guns. No one could see more than a foot or two in front of them. Clint and Ben stepped back a few feet and got on the ground with their six-guns in their hands waiting for the smoke to clear enough to see. Being on the ground gave them an advantage because the smoke would rise as it thinned out.
Through the smoke filled air the sound of men moaning could be heard. How many men were moaning? No one knew. Soon, the clouds of gun smoke started to thin out. In the hazy air Clint and Ben looked for a man to shoot. Clint saw a shadow of a target moving away from the fight. He aimed and squeezed the trigger of his Colt .45. The roar from his gun created a volley of shots that were triggered out of fear. The air was filled again with the acrid smell of gun smoke.
Ben hadn’t fired in that last volley, but Clint had fired one shot so he popped the shell out and put in a fresh round.
“I know that at least three of you are down. If anyone is alive, tell us now and throw down yer guns, else we’ll shoot you dead when the smoke clears,” shouted Clint.
There was no reply. They both knew the odds of having shot all five were slim. They were on edge as they tried to see through the slowly dissipating smoke. The only sounds came from the horses as they nickered. Remarkably, none of the horses ran off during the gunfight.
As the cloud of smoke grew thinner, Clint and Ben grew more tense. The sense that it wasn’t over, filled them with dread. They were alert. They could only see three men stretched out on the ground. One man was rolling back and forth on the ground with both hands holding his neck. They couldn’t account for the two other men through the gun smoke. They looked at the horses counting five. They then heard a noise of boots scraping against the ground. The sound came from just behind the edge of the earth that sloped down to the stream. One of the polecats had managed to slide down the bank into the stream. Then they saw a man’s hat bobbing up and down below the embankment. They heard a voice, “I surrender, don’t shoot.”
“Throw your guns toward us,” said Clint. They both saw a gun come up and over the berm. Now there was only one man unaccounted for. Ben slowly worked his way around to their flank near the stream. Put your hands up and come on out,” shouted Clint.
They saw a hand rise up and they heard the man say, “My arm is shot up, can’t lift it, but I’m comin on up, don’t shoot.”
“Hurry up and come on out,” said Clint.
The man started to stand with his left hand raised and his right arm held against his chest. He was at an angle where Clint couldn’t see he had a revolver in his hand, but Ben could see that he had a gun and so took aim with his Peacemaker and squeezed the trigger. While hearing the roar of the gun fire they could see blood spurt from the man’s chest. He was pushed sideways before dropping to the ground. Astonished, Clint looked at Ben.
“He had a gun in his hand,” said Ben matter of factly. Clint nodded appreciation. Soon the smoke was clear enough for them to see another man down, which meant that all five were dead or dying. They looked around to find four of the outlaws dead. The only desperado that wasn’t dead was writhing in agony as he held his bloody throat. Clint and Ben were standing next to the dying man staring at him. They didn’t know what to do. There was more blood around the man’s neck and head than they had ever seen before.
As Ben was looking at the dying outlaw the expression on his face started to change. He wasn’t getting sick because of the grisly sight, he was growing in anger at that man and the other four men. Finally, Ben erupted into a rage and yelled, “Damn-it-all-to-hell! You white-livered puke! Why did you men draw on us? Why did you try to rob us? Why did you make us kill you? Why?” Ben screamed so hard his throat ran dry and he started coughing. He tried to kick the dying man in his rage, but he didn’t have stable footing. As he began to fall, Clint grabbed him and helped him stay on his feet. Soon the anger started to die as did the man bleeding from his throat.

 

Click Here to buy .44 Caliber Preacher: Ben Baxter’s Western Adventures

 

The Dreamer: Biblical Story of Joseph of Egypt — A Preview

The Dreamer: Biblical Story of Joseph of Egypt

The Dreamer is a story based on Joseph of Egypt. This historical fiction novel is available on Amazon.com. It is free to those with Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited.

Here is a four chapter preview of The Dreamer: Biblical Story of Joseph of Egypt:

bookcover

The Dreamer: Biblical Story of Joseph of Egypt

Chapter 1: Evil Report

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

A stinging wind of sandy grit and blackness blew. Joseph was riding his camel flat out on the trail heading for Canaan a day in front of the family flocks, he was trying to outrun a sandstorm, but couldn’t run fast enough and was overtaken by the sand storm that swept in on the trail unexpectedly. Joseph’s innate tendency to get the job done forced his camel onward. Eventually, it became impossible to see through the dark clouds of sand where he was going.
In spite of fearing that he might lose the trail, he stopped when he found a steep hillside. He caused his camel to lay down so he could get off then tie the camel to a nearby bush. He positioned his camel just in front of himself with the hillside at his back creating as much shelter as possible. Joseph spent the rest of the day and all of the night in that same spot huddled, waiting for the storm to stop.
While stuck in that position, Joseph had nothing to do but listen to the loud wind rage by as it carried the biting sand. He was alone with his memories and thoughts. He was still upset by the terrible discovery he made when he learned that four of his brothers Dan, Gad, Naphtali and Asher along with their servants, stole sheep from smaller flocks on the other side of the hill from where the family flocks were grazing. They stole enough sheep to almost double the size of their flock. The sheep herders from the smaller flocks dared not say or do anything.
Then they went to the market to sell off a part of their flock, they sold the stolen sheep as well. They skimmed off the money from the stolen sheep and when they got home, they would divide the ill-gotten profits with their brothers, except for Joseph and Benjamin.
They left Benjamin out because he was too young to participate in herding the sheep. They left out Joseph because they knew he wouldn’t approve and he would likely give Father Jacob a report on their illegal deeds. Jacob would not abide their wicked ways.
Ever since the eldest brothers went after Shechem and his servants (for what they did to their sister Dinah), they knew the wrath of their father was terrible. They thought they were doing right by Dinah to go after Shechem, but they had no idea just how terrible the wrath of their father could be. Ever since that episode, the oldest ten brothers stayed as far away from their father as possible. They figured it would be much easier to keep Joseph out of their plans.
There was a terrible animosity between the ten older brothers and Joseph. Joseph was naturally inclined to do things that pleased his father, whereas the brothers seemed content to go their own way and didn’t care so much about pleasing their father. There was another reason for the animosity between Joseph and his older brothers.
Father Jacob, who was also called Israel because of the covenant and because he was the Patriarch, stripped the birthright from the firstborn son Reuben because he committed sin with one of his fathers’ wives.
Israel turned around and bestowed the birthright on Joseph, who was the first born son of his wife Racheal. When this happened, it added greatly to the natural divide between the older brothers and Joseph. There were many brothers who thought the birthright should have gone to Simeon, who was next in line after Reuben or to Gad, who was the first born of Zilpah, or even to Dan the first born of Bilhah. In every case, they were all older than young Joseph.
There was always pressure on Joseph with whatever he did. He lived to please his father and he was growing and maturing in his relationship with God. The other brothers didn’t seem to care so much about the God of Jacob and they hated Joseph for his relationship with both God and their father.
Joseph had decided he needed to inform Father Jacob of the evil deeds his brothers had done by stealing sheep and selling them off. He left his brothers and the flocks behind and rushed on ahead of them toward Canaan to tell his father.
Joseph was only a day ahead of the returning flock. It was even possible that one or more of the brothers might have left the flocks behind and raced after Joseph to stop him from informing their father of their misconduct. If that were the case, they could be close.
It was hard for Joseph to never get any fellowship from his brothers, but he considered the love of his brother Benjamin and the love of his Father Jacob more than enough, but still, he wished he could please his brothers and get on their good side. He just wasn’t willing to live like they did and do the things they did to win over their affection.
Now that he knew his brothers were thieves, he assumed that his father didn’t know. They might sneak around their father on occasion, but if he ever found out something bad was going on, he could put the fear of God into them. Since they were still engaged in rustling sheep, it was safe to assume that they had not yet been caught. Joseph had no idea what his brothers might do to him if they caught him before he made it home to the protection of Jacob and he didn’t want to find out.
Joseph was miserable packed between a smelly camel and the side of a foothill. The wind was causing the sand to blow hard and covering everything it touched. Even though Joseph was well covered with his thick woolen clothes and scarves, somehow the sand found its way to Joseph’s skin. It was dusty, dry and gloomy. He could barely see the camel lying down before him.
He wondered what his brothers would do to him if they caught him. Would they just threaten him? That probably wouldn’t work. They could beat him, but would they consider killing him? After all, there was a lot of hate between some of his brothers and him.
When Joseph discovered their evil deeds, they tried to bribe him with a large portion of the profits from the stolen sheep, but he refused. He overheard Dan and Asher talking about killing him after he went to sleep, but were they serious? Dan and Asher were known to be hot heads and spouting off over anything they didn’t like. Killing him would be extreme, but Joseph wasn’t so sure they were kidding.
The roaring wind storm raged on and Joseph kept pulling his clothes tightly around him trying in vain to keep the sand out. Why did Father give me the birthright? He wondered. If given the choice of carrying the mantle of the birthright or letting one of his brothers have it, he would gladly let it go. He knew it didn’t work that way and he did his best with the responsibility of the mantle because he loved and respected his father. He also loved and worshiped the God of Abraham as he was taught by his mother, and Patriarch father.
As the blinding sand storm raged on, Joseph was worried, if this storm didn’t blow over soon, the landscape could change and he could easily get turned around. He knew the basic’s of keeping his bearings, but he didn’t have the experience his older brothers had.
These massive storms could entirely change the landscape by removing landmarks and adding new ones. He was a gifted Shepard and he could do amazing things with a large flock of sheep, he just didn’t have the experience for orienteering yet. He needed to get to his father before his brothers and he needed to get there safely.
In spite of the fierce winds and the stinging sand, sleepiness finally overtook him. It wasn’t a long rest, but at the time while he was asleep, he was able to experience an unusually vivid dream where he was with all of his brothers in the fields as they were gathering and binding sheaves of grain for the harvest. He noticed that his stack of grain was bigger than any of his eleven brothers bundles and it continued to grow larger with each passing minute. As his bundle grew it was surrounded by eleven stacks of grain. One for each brother.
Once Joseph’s bundle was completely surrounded by his brothers’ sheaves they all bowed down before his stack. They bowed down over and over before Joseph’s stack of wheat as they gave obeisance to his large bundle.
At first, this concerned Joseph until he realized, surely this must be because I have the birthright and they are finally giving me the respect that it demands. While he thought, he understood the meaning of the dream, he wasn’t comfortable with the reverence they were showing his sheaf of grain.
The dream repeated over in Joseph’s mind vividly three times. When the third dream finished Joseph woke up to find the storm was over and the skies were clear. As he feared, the landscape was vastly different from the day before. He noticed the direction his camel’s head was positioned and he took out his knife and laid the point in that same direction so he wouldn’t forget which direction they were heading as he prepared to leave.
He tried in vain to shake the sand out of his clothes. He finally took out some food for both himself and the camel. While Joseph ate, he prayed to the God of his fathers and asked for divine guidance and safety on the journey. While taking a deep breath, he wrapped his scarf around his neck and head, leaving a hole for his eyes. He headed off in the direction that the knife was pointing. He hoped he could find some familiar landmarks before nightfall. He wanted to know he was on the right course to Canaan.
His camel plodded along in the loose sand. After a while, Joseph saw the heat waves coming from off the ground. He kept his eyes open for a large lone tree on top of a dune. In spite of the shifting sand, Joseph was sure that the tree would have survived the storm. He looked for that familiar landmark to verify he was on the right path home.
He thought about the dream he had and how vivid it was. It made no sense that a sheaf of grain would bow like a person to a much larger sheaf of grain, but that’s what happened in his dream. Then he thought about the need to get to Canaan before his brothers. If they got their first, they would tell father Jacob a tale that would contradict his story. He needed to get there first.
As the sun got heavy on the horizon and began its descent, Joseph saw a large sand hill with a solitary tree on the top. The hill looked like nothing he could remember, but the lone tree looked familiar. He was relieved because he had no more food and only a few drops of water left. If he remembered right, he was two full days away from his fathers’ estate in Canaan.
He pushed on and traveled until it was too dark to travel. He had no food to cook so he didn’t bother with a fire. He was still hot from a blistering day in the sun. He let his camel wander around a little before tying him up. As Joseph prepared his small camp, he thought of his brothers and their hatred toward him. Until now he had never turned on his brothers. All he had ever done was follow the teachings of his father. When the brothers were out having fun, Joseph preferred the company of his father.
He would rather have his father tell his memories of his mother and teach him things about God, the birthright and other gospel subjects than being with his brothers. There was also an age difference between him and the youngest of his older brothers and that also contributed to him seeking company other than with his brothers. In fact, his older brothers had children that were just a little younger than Joseph and he often spent time with them.
This was his first major assignment herding sheep with his brothers in a far away pasture and he was disappointed that his brothers turned out to be thieves. He was surprised at his brother’s behavior, stealing sheep and selling them. Surely he needed to let his father know what was going on.
He was only seventeen, but life didn’t seem to be turning out like he thought it would. Of course, he was young and not completely sure what life should be like. He finally drifted off to sleep.
While he was asleep, he dreamed the same dream of the sheaves and his brothers. It gave him hope when he reflected on the dream in the morning. The dream made Joseph think that it was a sign from God. Why tell him in a dream that his brothers would one day respect his birthright if Joseph was going to die in the wilderness?
He kept the few drops of water for himself, the camel would have to go dry. He knew he could go a day or two without food and water. It wasn’t wise, but he had done it before.
The night came and there was a full moon with clear skies. He decided to keep going for a while longer since it wasn’t so bad traveling at night, it was a little cooler and he could still see where he was going. Eventually, he needed to sleep so he made camp. He had the same dream as the night before, about the sheaves of grain. In the morning he started on his journey with a throat so dry it hurt to swallow.
Everything around him was stunning in its beauty. The brilliant blue sky and the several shades of tan and brown sand on the horizon with a glowing orange disc beating down on the painted landscape. Every now and again there was a lone tree or a small stand of bushes. There were sand dunes along the way. As he examined the wonderful landscape, he licked his dry cracked lips. It didn’t help. He was developing a powerful headache caused by being so thirsty and hungry. The desert was as hot as an oven they cooked bread in. But Joseph pushed on because there was so much at stake.
Later in the afternoon Joseph came upon two sets of camel tracks that came in from a different direction, but was now going in the same direction as he was. They could be from anyone, but he feared they were from two of his brothers.
How would Father Jacob react to what Joseph had to say? How would he react if his brothers got there before he did? He was used to being treated badly by his brothers, but lately, they seem to be meaner and harder toward him than they had been. Ironically, sometimes Reuben would defend Joseph to the other brothers and then other times he would be the leader in some plot against Joseph.
The sun was starting its downward decline as Joseph found himself atop of a large dune which allowed him to see for miles around. He spotted what looked like two men on camels trotting toward his father’s farm in Canaan.
For the time being, he was more relieved that he was close to home rather than being upset that his brothers would get to his father first. He was tired, thirsty and hungry. His face felt as dry as the sand around him. He coughed when he tried to swallow. He was feeling weaker by the minute. He nudged his camel homeward.
Chapter 2: Birthright

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:27

As the horizon was about to swallow the sun, Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve brothers saw Joseph in the distance and rode out to meet him. Seeing him parched and weak, he gave a fresh crock of water to Joseph. As he tried to swallow the clean, cool water, he choked and coughed, wasting much of the lifesaving water trying to quickly satisfy his ravaging thirst. He finally got enough down his throat to perk himself up. As Joseph spurred the camel on toward the barn, he found out from Benjamin that Father Jacob was not at home. He was scheduled to arrive sometime in the next two days. This was a pleasant surprise. That meant that even though Dan and Asher had arrived sooner than Joseph, they hadn’t had a chance to speak with Israel. At least he was safe and could take some time to rest. He knew his brothers wouldn’t dare try to hurt him in his fathers’ house. Feeling safe he went into the house and ate, drank and went to sleep.
While he was asleep, he had the same dream of the sheaves. However, that dream was followed by another dream that seemed to have an even greater impact on Joseph. In his dream state his mind came upon a sea of total blackness. Then, one by one, stars started to appear until there were eleven little dots in the night sky. Shortly thereafter came a moon dimly lit in the dark expanse. Lastly, a bright sun came into view. Its radiance caused the moon and stars to shine brighter than the rest of the celestial bodies.
Joseph wondered at this dream. Why eleven stars, a moon, and a sun? What were they doing? In that dream state, Joseph floated through the vast expanse and came to where these heavenly bodies were. As he moved closer to them, they kindly moved out of his way, allowing him to pass without touching, it was as if these great heavenly bodies were showing obeisance to him, a young boy of seventeen.
It shook young Joseph seeing that such grand celestial bodies were showing such respect, even reverence to him. What could it mean? Was it similar to the sheaves he had dreamed about so frequently over the last few days? It was so much more grand and vivid than sheaves of grain that he wondered at the meaning of it all. There was one thing both dreams had in common, the first dream had eleven sheaves and the second dream had eleven stars. Was that similarity significant?
The next day came and slowly went as Joseph was, with the help of Dinah and Benjamin, nursing himself back to health. He had lost so much energy from not eating and drinking in the scorching hot desert for two days that he could hardly move. He slept a lot. When he was awake, he shared his evil report regarding his four brothers with Dinah, his older sister who was always a trusted friend and confidant.
She told Joseph to concern himself with getting rest and building up his strength. Also she advised Joseph to gain all the health and strength possible so he could be ready to lead when Father Jacob came home. She assured young Joseph that their father would believe and respect what Joseph had to say. She said it in a way that sounded like she knew more than she was letting on. She did let slip to Joseph and Benjamin that there would be a great feast for the household after Israel arrived.
Dinah’s words gave confidence to Joseph’s young and troubled mind. Benjamin was excited to see his father and to know there would be a grand celebration. Benjamin was young enough so as not to appreciate the intrigue between the older ten brothers and his favorite brother, Joseph. Later that day Gad and Asher, along with their servants brought the flock home and once they were settled in they met up with the other brothers to divide the profits of their ill-gotten gains. In their meeting, Gad and Dan spoke to Reuben about the venomous young Joseph finding out their secret plans. Reuben could tolerate losing the birthright. He could tolerate just about every crazy thing that Father Jacob required of them, but when it came to his wealth, that’s where he drew the line. He vacillated on just about everything, but he wasn’t about to let the dreamer get in their way.
They discussed how to prevent their vile younger brother from spoiling their secret plans to gain their own wealth. Reuben said that all options were fair game except for murder. Judah suggested that they take the money that Dan and Gad brought back and immediately bury it.
“Then if it becomes an issue with Father, we tell him to go ahead search our possessions and our houses and find the money that Joseph is talking about. He will not find it and we will be in the clear and Joseph will look like a fool to father.”
“That is a good idea for now, but what about the next time and time after that? I do not want to have to deal with the snake every time we make our private profits. Let us kill the boy and be done with it,” said Simeon.
“No. Murder is not an option,” said Reuben. “We can look at all other options, except killing the boy. That is not an acceptable solution.”
“How do you expect us to be free from this stinking little rat?” asked Zebulon, “if we don’t get rid of him permanently?”
Naphtali and Levi joined in the argument and within a matter of minutes there was a free-for-all in the debate. Judah looked to Reuben, the undisputed leader of the older brothers. Undisputed by all except their father.
“Do something Reuben, nothing will get done like this,” said Judah.
Just after Reuben had regained control of the hot debate, Asher spoke up, “You know as well as I do, we have to do something extreme or we will be plagued with the little rat dreamer for the rest of our lives.”
“We won’t have to. In another ten years we will have more than enough wealth to strike out on our own and be free from Grandfather Isaac and Father Jacob. Maybe sooner depending on the size of the flocks, we can get our hands on,” said Reuben.
“Until then, what do we do with Joseph?” asked Simeon.
There was another outbreak of voices and opinions, most of which dealt with killing Joseph in one fashion or another.
“All right, all right! Quiet down, everyone. Quiet down,” Reuben regained control of the rabid group. “We will consider killing the little viper when we can all be away from the homestead. We will have to have a solid plan though,” said Reuben, giving way to the demands of the mob. “Until then we stick to the plan that Judah suggested and buried the recent profits with the money we already have.”
The meeting was adjourned and everyone returned to their homes on the homestead and resumed their normal routine while Zebulon and Issachar took their money and left the homestead to bury it.
The next day when the sun was high in a cloudless sky and the bleating sounds of sheep along with the guttural sounds of the cattle were heard by Father Jacob as he made his way down from a sandy berm toward his pastoral grounds in the land of Canaan. Even though he had only been away for a few days, he was always happy to see the entirety of his temporal blessings, the vast pastures and stables for his flocks and herds. He saw at a distance his youngest son on a horse running flat out toward his caravan to greet him. Benjamin, with his dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, brought him much happiness as did his stalwart son Joseph, who was getting too old for such displays of admiration.
After a joyful reunion, Benjamin joined Jacob out in front of the caravan which was laden down with food, spices, fabric and many other household goods needed to maintain a sprawling estate along with other things that could only come from the city. After settling in, Israel sent Benjamin out with a message to every son and daughter and their families, instructing them to come to a feast that evening.
Joseph was feeling much better after taking time to rest from his harrowing trip in the sandstorm. He came to the feast early to give Israel the evil report of his four brothers, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. Father Jacob listened intently as Joseph recited all the details of the plot he had uncovered.
His response to Joseph wasn’t what he expected. “You have had the birthright for nearly two years now and though you are still just a boy, but with a mans responsibility. I expect great things from you. I expect you to be able to handle yourself among your brethren. You are strong and able both physically and spiritually. I expect you to be able to deal with your brethren and see that they do right by God and by the laws of my household. It is by handling the various issues that come up that help you develop wisdom and that takes time.”
“But Father, they have threatened my life. They have sought to kill me. Would you have me use physical force with my brothers?” asked a deflated Joseph.
“I would prefer my sons get along with each other, but I know very well that they do not. I know they are jealous of you and they do not agree with me and the Lord in giving you the birthright. There are, apparently times when you may have to use your size to put a few of them in their place. That is not the preferred way, but there are times when that may be the only way.”
“I know I am strong and big for my age, but how can I stand against four brothers at one time? That is what I would have had to do out in the fields if I were to have responded to their rustling of sheep.”
“No, no, I guess you are right about that. It is one thing to physically stand up to one or two at a time. Tonight at the feast I am making a presentation to you. I will not tell you more than that because I want you to be surprised. I expect that afterward, your brothers will see you in a different light. That may help.”
Joseph left his father wondering what had just happened. His father did not seem to be upset about the evil report and his father seemed to think that the power of the birthright should always prevail. One thing Joseph was good at was having faith in God and faith in his fathers’ teachings. Of course, now he was wondering about his father’s teachings since his father did not seem to care about the evil afoot in his household. Didn’t he care that his sons were thieves and hurting other people?
The feast was well underway and everyone was well fed and enjoying themselves. As was usual in these settings, Joseph was surrounded by many of his brothers’ wives and children. Both Joseph and Benjamin enjoyed time with the nephews and nieces. In many cases, they treated their older nephews and nieces as younger siblings.
After the servants had cleared away the dishes and stoked the fires, Father Jacob stood up and stroked his long gray beard. His presence commanded everyone’s attention.
“The reason why I have called this feast was to make a public presentation to your brother Joseph. As you know, in accordance with the Patriarchal laws and the will of God, Joseph is the legal and lawful bearer of the birthright that I have bestowed upon him. While he has held that lofty position for two years now, he has not yet received the symbol of the birthright. When the coat was taken from Reuben, it was tattered, torn and useless. I commissioned another coat of many colors and I have it now. Joseph come up here and received the symbol of your office.”
Joseph, in his youthful vigor, short beard and broad shoulders stood up tall. He walked with his head held high to where his father stood. His father held out a dazzling new coat with long sleeves and a twelve colored stripe pattern that ran from collar to hem. He helped Joseph put on the coat. It fit perfectly. The crowded hall filled to capacity with ten families erupted into a congratulatory applause, all except for the ten older brothers.
After the noise settled, Israel called on Joseph to say a few words. Joseph cleared his throat and started to speak. He wasn’t prepared to speak and wasn’t sure what to say.
He cleared his throat again, “I know that you all jokingly refer to me as the dreamer. That is all right. I do not mind. I feel the need to share a dream I have had recently. I would rather not share the dream and leave it to myself, but because of the urgency with which it was given to me, I feel the need to share it with you all.”
He set the stage for the dream and how the dream came to him in a setting from the fields where they would harvest grain.
“The pile of sheaves I had was large and all the sheaves in that pile came together as one very large sheaf of grain. It stood upright. It was twice as tall as I am. All of your small sheaves joined together into eleven smaller sheaves. They stood at the feet of my sheaf and bowed down to my bundle. Your sheaves worshiped my sheaf.”
There was a loud murmur in the audience, which came from each of the ten oldest brothers. The murmuring turned into angry catcalls. It was one thing to see their younger brother arrayed in a glorious coat of many colors. They didn’t like that, but they could deal with it. But it was another thing entirely to see him stand and tell them they would all bow down to their younger brother as if he was to be their ruler and have dominion over them.
Joseph felt awkward and insecure at his brother’s response. He turned to Israel for guidance. Father Jacob put his hands together like a spire in front of his face and bowed to Joseph encouraging him to go on with his speech.
Joseph took courage from his fathers’ response. He stood tall, squared his shoulders and raised his voice to a commanding tone which restored order to the fray.
“I can only speak to you from the feelings of my heart and the words and dreams given me from the God of Abraham.” The crowd quieted even more after hearing such a declaration.
“I received another dream after the dream of the sheaves. This dream was even more spectacular. In this dream, I saw countless stars of the heavens, and the moon. Then when the sun came out, eleven stars shone brighter than the rest. Along with the moon, they gave of their reflected light. When I came into the scene, I saw the eleven stars, the moon and the son all bow down to me and give me obeisance– ”
Joseph was cut off sharply by murmuring from the audience. Joseph turned to his father for guidance. He saw Father Jacob along with Leah, Zilpah and Bilhah and grandfather Isaac all shook their heads in disbelief.
Oh no, I’ve done it now, thought Joseph. I’ve gone too far. But what was I supposed to do? The God of my fathers gave me these great dreams to share. If I didn’t share these dreams with my family who would I have shared them with, the servants?
He looked around in the great hall and saw a commotion as the brothers were talking back and forth angrily gesturing toward Joseph. Father Jacob was still shaking his head as he spoke to Grandfather Isaac. The only people in the audience that seemed unaffected by what he had to say were the nephews and nieces scattered around, along with Dinah and Benjamin.
Seeing Dinah smiling and nodding her head reassuringly toward him gave Joseph courage. He tried unsuccessfully to get the audience’s attention.
What have I done? Why would God give me these dreams with the strong feeling to share them with my family only to have them turn on me?
In spite of the uproar, he put his trust in God that he had done the right thing. He wasn’t sure what would happen, but he knew he was correct which gave him peace. He turned to Father Jacob to see him listening to Grandfather Isaac. Jacob seemed to be agreeing with Isaac and his countenance was changing as Isaac spoke to him emphatically. Joseph stood on the stand alone commanding no one’s attention.
Joseph started to notice slowly that the audience was quieting down. He looked around to see the cause of the shift in the mood. He saw Isaac in his frail state walking with Jacob to where Joseph was standing. There was a change in the countenance of his father.
Israel motioned for Joseph to step aside. By the time Jacob was in place to speak to the crowd they were all curiously quiet waiting to hear what rebuke Jacob would give their insulting and venomous little bother.
“My children. Give an ear to my words,” said Israel, “when I heard the dream of the sheaves of grain, I was in agreement with it. It went along perfectly with the birthright Joseph has. He was entitled to receive that dream. When I heard the second dream, the dream where even me and his mother bowed down to him made me bristle at the very thought. As my dear Father Isaac reminded me, as the birthright is passed down from one generation to the next, so is the authority. While Joseph is only seventeen he is worthy of the mantle placed upon him. He is the chosen one of the God of our fathers. You will, we all will give Joseph the respect of the birthright and the mantle that comes with the coat of many colors.”
There was complete silence in the room. And for a moment, there was a peaceful spirit in the air, which didn’t last long as they all started to file out of the great hall. Outside of that hall, the murmuring and complaining erupted again as fast and sure as a wildfire.Chapter 3: Obedience

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

A month passed and it was time to round up most of the sheep and send them to greener pastures to graze. This would take several weeks of work and organization. Throughout the homestead, everything was busy. Some were gathering the flocks while others continued to shear the sheep before they left. As was customary, Israel held classes three times a week to teach his family the glorious ways of the Hebrew God.
While the other sons had never fully appreciated these opportunities to learn about God, Joseph never missed one if he was at home. As Benjamin was growing older, his interest was growing stronger in the classes. As the hour of the next class came up, Joseph told Judah, Zebulon and some of his other brothers standing nearby that he was leaving the fields and the hot dry weather to learn at the feet of his father in the comfort of a shaded garden.
“Who does that little slithering serpent think he is?” asked Zebulon.
“What he thinks he is and what he is are two very different things. That little serpent will get what’s coming to him the first chance we get,” responded Simeon as he wiped some of the perspiration from his forehead.
“I do not know how much more I can take from that rat,” said Levi shaking his fist. Judah just shook his head in disbelief.
With each passing day, Joseph’s brothers grew angrier and more hateful toward him. The only members of his fathers’ household that were peaceful toward him were his younger brother Benjamin, his father Jacob, his grandfather Isaac and his sister Dinah. After sharing the dreams he had with his family, some of his brothers’ wives started to turn on him. He was starting to feel like a stranger in his own home.
As Joseph, with his strong gait, was walking toward the garden where the lessons were held he could hear both of his brothers and some servants speak evil about him, saying, “How does he possibly think he can reign over us?” While he could reprimand the servants, there was virtually nothing he could effectively do toward his brothers. He swallowed his pride and made his way to the shaded garden, all the while wishing he could beat some humility into his brothers.
“I know it has been hard for you Joseph since I rightfully bestowed the birthright on you two years ago and now that you officially have the symbol of the birthright in the coat of many colors. It seems your brethren are even more upset with you than ever before. I’ve told you before that you need to sometimes physically stand up for yourself and that is still true. However, there are other ways to deal with those who are opposed to you. That is to love them– ”
“What?” exclaimed Joseph with a look of shock on his face. “How is that possible? It makes no sense. How can you possibly love those who hate you and abuse you?”
Warmly smiling, Israel went on to say, “There are many different types of love, the love of a friend, romantic love, a type of respect that includes love. I could go on, but the one thing that those types of love have in common is what we will talk about in today’s lesson.”
While some of Jacobs daughters, servants and daughters-in-law were in attendance, they were not permitted to speak. Only the men of the family could actively participate. Joseph and young Benjamin were the only students who could interact with Israel as was their tradition.
“There is an element of love that is more important than any other aspect of Godly attributes. The word for it is Charity. Without charity all the gifts and blessings we have are worthless.”
Looking directly at Joseph, Father Jacob went on, “You are known for your dreams. Those dreams are God’s way of using you to tell of things to come. This is a prophetic blessing. It is a great gift from God. However, if you do not have charity, then you are nothing. If you don’t prove yourself by exercising charity, then with time, your gifts and blessings from the Lord will be taken from you and you will be left to your own devices.”
Joseph’s ruggedly handsome face showed worry in the furrows of his forehead and the shallow wrinkles around the corners of his mouth and eyes. Joseph nervously ran his large, strong hands through his thick brown hair.
Sensing that Joseph was concerned, Israel went on teaching that charity was more important than faith, good works, understanding mysteries or any other godly characteristic. But charity is something that, when understood, was easily within anyone’s grasp if they were humble and sought after it.
“The special kind of love we are talking about is the attribute of being long-suffering, kind, and not puffed up in our own pride. It does not envy what others have and it does not put itself above others. We are all God’s children and he loves every one of us the same.”
Israel paused while he took a drink of fresh, cool water and he wiped perspiration from off his face. “He doesn’t always love what his children do, but he wants every one of his children to come back and live with him in the end.
“If you want to have charity, then you cannot be selfish, or think of evil things. Don’t allow yourself to be easily provoked and don’t behave unseemly. If you have charity you have hope and you are willing to believe all good things that come from God, and you are willing, no matter how hard it is to endure all things put before you.”
Even in the shade of the garden trees it was still hot and dry, just not as hot as in the fields. Joseph took a drink of water and then asked, “Father, I have always tried to do my best, but what you are teaching me seems impossible. How can a person possibly live at that level?”
“With God all things are possible. If you put forth your best efforts and keep trying and seeking after this level of living you will be richly blessed throughout your life.”
Joseph took a long, deep breath and his face seemed to relax a little as he listened to these inspired words from the family Patriarch. Joseph had learned early on that if he did not fully understand his father, he eventually would if he was patient and looked to the God of Abraham for comfort and guidance.

~

“Benjamin, run out into the fields and find Reuben and tell him that I want to talk to him,” said Father Jacob.
“Do I have to? It could take hours to find him. It is so hot out there. I am afraid I will roast to death. Can you wait until the evening meal to talk to him? Please?” whined Benjamin.
“I need to talk to him now, not this evening. Now, get a drink of water and go and do as you are told.”
Benjamin wasn’t happy, but at last he was obedient and ran out to find Reuben. As Benjamin feared, it took two hours that seemed like five hours to find Reuben and have him report back to Israel.
“Father. You called for me?”
“Reuben. Yes, come forward and sit down.”
Reuben dusted himself off and took a drink from the large bucket of fresh water as he stepped before Israel and sat down.
“It is time to take the flock to greener fields. You will be in charge of your brothers and the expedition.”
“Does not that job belong to young Joseph, the bearer of the birthright?” said Reuben sardonically.
“Yes, it does, but he is not going,” said Israel.
“He will never earn our respect if he does not carry his weight and work the sheep and herds with us.”
“Do not worry yourself about Joseph. He will be staying behind to manage the herds and to teach Benjamin a little about the farm and the herds. He is pulling his weight just fine.”
“Whatever you say, Father, you are the Patriarch of the family. Where would you like us to graze the flock?”
“I want you to take the sheep to Shechem. We have not used that land in years and it should be thick and well prepared for our flock.”
“Certainly you cannot be serious. I do not think it is safe for us to be there so soon after we fled out of that land,” said Reuben scornfully.
“It has been several years and if we do not make an effort to use the land someone might take it for themselves. The land is legally ours. Surely you and your brothers can handle yourselves if there is any conflict. You managed to do plenty well fighting in Shechem those many years ago. Take extra servants with you if you are afraid for your safety,” said Father Jacob.
“Very well. We should be ready within a week to depart,” said Reuben in a tone indicating that he had given up.
“Do not rustle any sheep while you are gone.”
Reuben’s eyes lit up when he heard that statement.
“Joseph told me what happened when he was out with Dan, Gad, Asher, and Naphtali. That practice had better stop or you and your brothers will be without any inheritance at all,” said Father Jacob sternly.
Reuben was furious when he heard what his father had just said. He got up and stomped out of the hall without saying anything more. That night at the evening meal he told his brothers, they would be having a meeting after they had finished eating. During dinner, Joseph and Benjamin were sitting by each other and talking.
“Joseph, you are so lucky to have memories of our mother. You and all the rest of my brothers all know their mothers. It is not fair that I do not know anything about her except for what I am told. I do not have any memories,” sighed Benjamin.
“I never thought of that. I can understand that you would be upset. I can tell you that there will never be another woman born to this earth that is as fair and lovely as our mother was,” said Joseph comfortingly.
“Beside what she looked like, what was she like?”
She was gentle and kind. I do not have as many memories of her as you might think. I was young when she died. But I do remember sitting on her lap and being held by her. She loved me and taught me some important things.”
“Do you remember what those things were?”
“Not as much as I remember how she taught me.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I remember that she taught with love and she made me feel like I wanted to do what she told me to do,” Joseph dabbed a tear away.
Shaking his head like he was starting to understand, Benjamin asked, “Do you think that could happen to me since I do not know how it felt to be in her presence?”
Joseph was not sure how to answer that question. As he thought about it, he took a sip of water and dabbed his forehead.
“For me, our Mother is a symbol of love and all that is right with the world. I feel her when I do good, and sometimes when I feel sad and alone. It is similar to how the Holy Spirit works with us.” Joseph saw the expression of a question on Benjamin’s face.
“When was the last time you did something good or right? Can you remember?” asked Joseph.
“Earlier today it seemed hotter than usual and I was tired and I did not want to finish working in a pig pen. I was ready to leave early, but I remembered a lesson that Father Jacob taught us once about honesty and so I decided to stay and finish the work.”
“How did you feel after you were finished with the work?” asked Joseph.
“Hot and sweaty.”
Joseph smiled at his response. “Other than that, how did you feel? You know, how did you feel inside?”
“Thinking for a moment, Benjamin said, “I felt strong and good inside, like I could be relied on.”
“There you go. You felt good inside. If you had quit and walked away without finishing the job you would have felt bad or guilty for not doing it right?”
“Right,” Benjamin nodded in agreement.
“Where did the good feeling come from?” Joseph asked encouragingly.
Benjamin had a look like he knew, but didn’t have the words to express it. He thought a for a few moments and then looked at Joseph silently asking for some help.
“When we do something good we get a good feeling and when we do something bad we get a bad feeling. The Holy Spirit helps us with those good feelings we have.”
Benjamin nodded as it dawned on him what Joseph was getting at. Joseph went on to say. “Like all that, when I do good or right things I feel good, sometimes from the Holy Spirit and other times it feels like a loving feeling from Mother Racheal. It looks like you are starting to understand and I think if you pray and ask the Lord to help you discern, maybe you can feel her. If you are not sure where that good feeling comes from just know that it is all the same because our Mother was deeply committed to the God of our Fathers.”
Benjamin replied by taking a deep breath and shaking his head, which indicated that he only partially understood what Joseph was telling him.
“How about you and I go talk to Father Jacob? He might have a better answer than I do,” said Joseph.
“Yes. That is a good idea. Maybe right after we are finished eating?”
“Yes, as soon as we are done eating. Now eat. My food is getting cold.”
The evening meal was over and Joseph, and Benjamin were in conversation with Father Jacob, which meant that Reuben and his brothers would have to find another place to meet. They decided to go to Reuben’s house. His house was the largest among the brothers.
“Father knows about our sheep rustling and keeping the profits,” announced Reuben angrily.
“Let me guess, Joseph got to him after all,” replied Simeon with contempt.
“Exactly. He threatened us with taking away our inheritance if we did not stop.”
“That filthy venomous little serpent,” said Asher red faced. “Who does he think he is?”
“We have to do something about him,” said Naphtali in frustration.
“He thinks he is so wonderful that he can rule over us. That will be the day,” said Issachar with a snide tone to his voice.
“Father thinks Joseph is so wonderful, such a great leader with the birthright and he cannot even keep from getting lost in a sandstorm,” bellowed Gad.
“I called this meeting,” said Reuben in a loud voice, “To tell you that we have a week to get everything ready to take the flock out to graze.”
“Where are we taking them?” asked Levi still shaking his head in animosity.
“Shechem,” answered Reuben.
“Really? That should be interesting,” replied Simeon with an evil grin on his face.
“That concerns me,” said Dan. “What we did there and how we fled so fast, do you think those people have forgotten us?”
“I hope so. I am not afraid to fight, but I would rather not,” said Judah trying to sound strong.
“Father thinks it will be all right and he thinks the grass will be thick and green and perfect for the sheep,” added Reuben.
“Well, if we only have a week to get started, then we better get ourselves a good night’s rest and get started early in the morning,” said Judah.

Chapter 4: Forgiveness

So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. Genesis 50:17

Five months had passed since Reuben led his brothers and their thousands of sheep to their seasonal grazing in Shechem. During those five-months, Joseph and Benjamin had been regularly taught more in the ways of doctrine and the ways of managing the estate. Benjamin wasn’t as interested in these topics as he was in spending time with his brother and father, but he did learn. Joseph was gaining more confidence in his responsibilities while having this extra time with his father.
After their midday meal Dinah, Benjamin and Joseph went for a walk in the shady garden with the sky a brilliant blue and long shadows cast over the garden giving them good relief from the scorching sun. They were enjoying a nice conversation with each other when Benjamin asked, “Dinah, how come you are not married?”
“Benjamin that is not a polite thing to ask,” responded Joseph. Dinah blushed.
“All of our brothers are married and all of our sisters except Dinah are married. Why is that not a polite thing to ask? I am just curious,” replied Benjamin weakly. Dinah was still blushing.
“You do not need to know that. Go over to the barn and feed the livestock,” demanded Joseph with an air of authority.
“I did not mean to do anything wrong,” replied Benjamin as he got up and left the great hall.
“Thank you for that,” said Dinah as Benjamin closed the door.
“You are welcome. I hope I was never like that when I was that young,” said Joseph.
“You were young and foolish just like Benjamin, but in different ways. It is part of growing up. I suppose we all went through something like that when we were young,” said Dinah.
“Dinah, since the topic has come up, if you do not want to talk about it, then tell me, but from what I know about your story with Shechem, I have wondered why you have not married. You did nothing wrong. So why not marry?”
“We are only suppose to marry Hebrews and since I am not a virgin, no one wants to marry me.”
“Why does that part of your life matter to anyone?”
“You are young, Joseph, maybe too young for this conversation.”
“I am young I know, but I do know about life and from what I know about your story, what happened should not be held against you.”
“Well, I was there – ”
“But from what I have heard from my brothers you were not a willing participant. Is that right?”
“That is true. I did tell him to stop and he refused. He said he wanted to marry me, but– ”
“If he really wanted to marry you then why did he treat you like that?”
“I have wondered that many times before,” said Dinah wistfully.
“Maybe what Simeon and Levi did was not such a bad thing,” observed Joseph.
“Father Jacob did not think it was a wise thing for them to do and I think I agree. I am not sure killing Shechem, and Hamor was right. I know that killing all the men in Shechem was wrong, I know that much for sure.”
“I do not know if I agree. If I was old enough and understood, I may have joined my brothers, at least in killing Shechem. Maybe not all the men in the city of Shechem, but at least the man who hurt you.”
“I have spent much time talking with Father and with my Mother Leah. I think forgiveness is a better way to go in the end, at least better than trying to exact revenge.”
“But what he did to you still affects you making it so that you are not married and not having your own kids. He really hurt you with a pain that will last your whole life,” said Joseph with a hint of rage in his voice. “How can you possibly forgive anyone who has done something like that to you?”
“Forgiveness is not easy, but it is worth it in the long run. My life is not ruined. There is more than one way to live life and who knows, I may still marry,” replied Dinah hopefully.
“Maybe you are crazy or maybe I do not understand . . . How can you forgive someone like that for what they did to you?”
“What he did to me was wrong and it was terrible, but if I did not forgive him, he would still be hurting me even to this very day. Forgiving him was a smart way to get over what he did to me.”
“Please forgive me Dinah, I am young I know it, but I am not dumb, but I just do not understand what you are saying, it makes no sense . . .” Joseph was getting frustrated.
“Forgiving means many things, but the most important parts of forgiving is to let go of what they did to you – ”
“But – ” Joseph was trying to interrupt.
“Just hear me out. Sit still and listen to me my dear young brother.”
“All right, I will be quiet, go on.”
“I could harbor all those terrible feelings from what Shechem did to me. If I hold onto all those angry feelings, then whenever I remember back, it would still hurt. I would be hurting all the time. Letting go of it and trying not to dwell on it freed me from being hurt again by him. I strive to not let what happened continue to hurt me or define me. What I am is not a victim to Shechem, but a daughter of God who has a lot to offer my family and my God.”
There were several years just after it all happened that I felt like I was under his control even though he was dead and gone. But with the advice and counsel from Mother Leah and Father Jacob, I am free from the effect of Shechem. That is my forgiveness to him. It is strange that forgiving him helps me.”
“Since you have forgiven him, does that mean he should not have been punished?” asked Joseph.
“Not at all. He should have been punished, not killed, but punished. He should not be allowed to ever do that again to any other woman.”
“So maybe killing him like Simeon and Levi did was not so bad after all. Since he is dead, he can no longer hurt any other woman,” suggested Joseph.
“Maybe all you brothers are alike after all, all you talk about is killing . . .” Dinah’s voice trailed off.
Joseph did not like being compared to his brothers. He meant what he said in the most sincere way.
“I am sorry Dinah, I will no longer mention killing Shechem. I do not want to add to your burden.”
“Let us turn the tables Joseph. We both know how rotten our brothers have been to you. Do you carry that hurt feeling around, or have you forgiven them for their meanness?”
“I do not know. I have never thought of it. I know Father has talked about forgiveness before, but not like we have today. I guess I have not fully forgiven them.”
“Do you think you should?” asked Dinah.
“Yes, I probably should. What they have done to me is far less than what has been done to you,” said Joseph thoughtfully.
“Think about it and consider fully forgiving them. I have to go help prepare the evening meal,” said Dinah as she walked up to Joseph and gave him a hug.
~

Father Jacob called Benjamin into the great hall. “Son, I need you to go find Joseph and tell him I need to see him after he was done with his work at the end of the day.”
After looking around, Benjamin found Joseph working in the barn with some cows. “Father wants to see you when your work is done for the day,” Benjamin said matter of factly.
“Do you know what he wants of me?” asked Joseph.
“He did not tell me. All he said was that he wanted to speak with you.”
“All right then, thanks for the message.” Faithful to his fathers’ wishes, Joseph went directly to his father’s house after his last job was completed.
“It has been five months since your brothers have left for Shechem, and I have not yet received word from them. They were supposed to send a servant once a month with a report on how they are doing,” said Israel with a worried tone in his voice.
“I want you to take tomorrow and prepare everything you need for a long trip and the next day rise up early and travel to the land of Shechem, and check on the flocks and your brothers and then return and bring me an update.”
“Benjamin might want to come – ”
“No!” declared Israel. “He will stay behind.”
“I will gladly do as you wish,” said Joseph eager to see if the forgiveness he had given his brothers would hold up once he saw them in person.
Joseph brought with him two servants and enough pack animals for all the required provisions. He led the small caravan. As they rode on day after day under the burning heat of the scorching sun, Joseph tried striking up a conversation with both of the servants. They were respectful yet withdrawn. In the past, he never seemed to have any trouble talking with any of the servants. This was an unusual circumstance. He wondered if he should flat out ask them why they seemed to be hesitant in speaking with them, then the thought came to him that they may have had a change of heart from all the anti Joseph feelings that his brothers had been spreading throughout the estate. The more he thought about it, the more likely it seemed. He kept to himself the rest of the trip.
Joseph had seldom experienced loneliness in the past because he always felt at home in his mind. In his mind, he felt safe, safe from the evil words and ridicule from his hateful brothers and he felt a calming, peaceful feeling as he pondered on the things of God. Sometimes in his mind, memories of his dear mother flourished.
Why has God chosen me to have the birthright? Why do my brothers hate me so badly? If they would simply follow the commandments of the Hebrew God, they would be so much happier and content, and they wouldn’t have any reason to hate me so much and to treat me so badly, Joseph thought to himself.
Joseph was eight years old when his mother Racheal died while giving birth to Benjamin. He tried hard to remember what she looked like. Sometimes he would dream about her, but in the light of day, all that was left of those dreams were great memories of love. These memories had a physical quality about them. It was as if he could feel warm inside as he thought about his mother’s love for him. He also reflected on the many things she taught him in his young life. Those that he remembered all centered around love.
Joseph wasn’t old enough to get married, but he always knew he would marry a righteous woman favored of God. He wouldn’t deliberately do anything to sin against the birthright. He knew something about the birthright that his brothers seem to overlook. The birthright blessings were not just the leadership role over the family and the flocks, herds and lands. The birthright was also a spiritual blessing.
His father told him when he gave him the birthright that is was immense responsibility. If Joseph strived to please the Lord, he would have the capacity to bare up the great responsibilities.
He yearned for a friendly relationship with his older brethren and he felt like he would do anything he possibly could to earn their acceptance, anything that is, except evil deeds. He loved his brothers dearly, but he loved God more.

 

Living With Fibromyalgia: Memoirs — A True Fibromyalgia Story

Living With Fibromyalgia: Memoirs — A True Fibromyalgia Story

fibromyalgia_journey_coverAfter publishing the first novel about fibromyalgia written by someone with fibromyalgia, Parleys Quest, I have been asked if the story in the novel is based on my life. In response to that question I published Living With Fibromyalgia: Memoirs — A True Fibromyalgia Story which is a biography of my life as it relates to fibromyalgia. Parleys Quest is a fictional story written by someone who really understands first hand the uniqueness of the illness. Living with Fibromyalgia is a detailed memoir of my personal experiences with the illness. I hope those who read it can find some validation and inspiration from reading a different perspective about someone else’s story of the dreaded disease.

This memoir is my story of a long and painful battle to find out what was wrong with me and the initial challenge of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia with out any treatment. There was a long hard battle to get treatment and help with the chronic pain and the other fibro symptoms. It also tells through several other articles how I coped with the illness up to the present time.

What Would You Do If I Sang Out Of Tune?

What Would You Do If I Sang Out Of Tune?

Sing Out Of Tune
 “What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?” If you have fibromyalgia or some other chronic pain illness you have probably worried about people walking out on you and can relate to the question. The reason why is that anyone with a disabling chronic pain or fatigue illness feels like they are singing out of tune in the story of their life. Doing so also creates a fear of loss, especially losing your friends or family.
The following is a letter you might relate to if you’ve had a chronic pain related illness for any length of time. If nothing else it may be something, you can relate to or something that might be validating to your feelings over the years of invisible pain.  Feel free to use this note if it becomes necessary in your life to express the despair of having a chronic pain or fatigue illness and need to express yourself to those inclined to walk out on you who may not understand being out of tune.
Would You Walk Out On Me?
Singing out of tune is beyond my control when fibromyalgia presses the pause button in my life. The problem is that I have no control of when the pause button is pressed. I know it’s inconvenient to you because it is inconvenient to me. I don’t like the personal disappointment any more than you like being disappointed. I disappoint myself far more than I disappoint you. I live a life of letting myself down.
There are times when I may have made plans only to feel a flare up of fatigue, pain or other related symptoms causing me to cancel those plans. Those flare ups can be so devastating that my body won’t respond to anything or anyone’s selfish encouragement. All I can do is sing out of tune and hope for understanding, understanding that many times is hard to come by.
It’s hard to feel like I have always got to explain why I can’t make plans or keep the plans that have been made. This is especially true when I know that you are suspicious of me and my motives. Often I know that you don’t have a spirit of understanding and yet I try to please you, to go along with you, even when my pause button is being pressed over and over again.
Frequently things get to the point where I decide to withdraw rather than face the music of disappointing you or other friends or family. I can’t make you accept it, I can’t make you change your mind, only you can do that and I hope you will. In the meantime, I need to do my best to take care of myself. I’m the only one who really knows what I need and how to take care of me the way my circumstances require. Sometimes that means I need to reduce the stress in my life which means withdrawing from your life.
I have tried to explain more than once and so the question comes up how much do I really need to keep explaining when you fail to understand me? There comes a time when enough is enough.
I guess I can’t fault you from not grasping it. I still don’t believe all this is happening to me and yet I suffer every day. It’s been going on for years with no hope or no end in sight. Yes the pain and fatigue is real and yes, it is a constant every day of my life and even though it seems unbelievable, it’s real. They call this an invisible illness, but it doesn’t feel invisible to me. I see why you might not get the picture, but I still need to be understood. If you can’t or won’t accept what I’m saying, then maybe I don’t need the baggage of your unbelief and lack of acceptance in my life. Stress is a major contributor to pain and fatigue and I need to do all I can to minimize stress in my life.
A true friend would understand even if is seemed impossible to understand. Do I have a history of lying to you? No, I don’t. So why won’t you believe me? A true friend would. Family members and relatives are an act of birth, being friends is a matter of choice. I can’t stop being your family, but that doesn’t mean we have to be friends. If you choose to leave me behind or choose not to believe me then what is the point of straining over an unfulfilling relationship? You don’t even need to help me, all I want is to be understood and believed. Now you know why I sing out of tune, I just hope you won’t stand up and walk out on me.

All About The First Novel On Fibromyalgia

All About The First Novel On Fibromyalgia

After nearly two years and countless fibro flare ups, I finally finished my first novel. I hope you’ll enjoy it. I hope you find inspiration and validation from reading this novel.
I priced the book to be affordable. Where the trend in eBooks tends to be pricing books higher and higher, I took the opposite approach. For sale as an eBook on Amazon, I’ve priced Parleys Quest at $3.99 and the paperback $9.99. Also, if you’re an AmazonPrime member the cost of the eBook is free. Rather than making money on this venture, I’m looking to reach out to the vast community of chronic pain patients, especially fibrochampions.
Since I’ve been promoting the book, I have been asked many questions about the book, the process of writing it and other questions. I thought I would write an article enumerating these questions and others in a Q&A format.
Q: Why write, let alone write a novel?
A: Many of you reading this article can relate to fibro fog. In addition to fibro fog I have white matter disease which gives me a lot of memory and cognitive problems. During a conversation with a  neuropsychologist, I was educated in ways to improve my memory and cognitive functions. I was told that language arts are known to help rehabilitate memory issues of the brain.
During the ensuing conversation I specifically asked if writing was considered a language art and suitable for rehabilitation. Her answer was yes. Anything within the umbrella of writing, from keeping a daily journal to writing a book. Just so long as it is done every day. I was further cautioned that this is a slow process. Unlike physical rehabilitation, this type of therapy would take long months and years to effect an improvement.
I’ve had a life long interest in writing and had been blogging inconsistently for years. I decided I was going to give writing therapy a try. Initially I was going to do some nonfiction writing, but with some encouragement from a neighbor I decided to write creatively and eventually write a novel.
First, I had to study novel and creative writing, which was followed by a lot bad writing attempts on my part. I finally started the novel that included chronic pain and fibromyalgia. I wrote almost half of a novel when I decided that it was a good exercise, but otherwise garbage. I started over and after one hundred and fifty words realized that I was close, but still didn’t have the story I really wanted. Oops, I did it again. I started over. I finally got the story right.
PQ_front_cover_kdp_2

The very first novel written about fibromyalgia by someone with fibromyalgia

Q: So, did writing help with your memory and cognitive issues?
A: Not much the first eighteen months. I had a flash of improvement every once in a while. If I wasn’t vested in getting the story done, I might have quit trying. I was told this wasn’t a quick fix to my memory and cognitive issues.

As time went on I started to really notice some improvement. It became obvious that my memory was improving. Then, as I persevered, I continued to notice improvement, eventually even in some cognitive issues. I am doing better with passwords and many lost memories have come back to me. It has been nice to remember fond memories. It was like living them all over again. I still have a long way to go, but I am seeing steady improvement.
Q: Why write on the topic of fibromyalgia?
A:  Having had fibromyalgia for so long and knowing how frustrating it is for people to take the illness seriously, I wanted to bring fibro into the mainstream as much as I would be able to by writing a novel where chronic pain and fibromyalgia were a big issue. It’s validating to have people take you seriously when you’re afflicted with fibro and other types of chronic pain. I wanted to entertain, engage and validate those with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and chronic pain.
As the story started to take off and the characters got developed I realized that rather than having health issues as a side story, it was the story. There are other characters with other types of chronic pain to compare and contrast with fibro as well.
Q: What is the book about?
A:  Parley is married to his college sweetheart Miranda. Andy is married to the Marine Corp. Watch what happens when Parley and Andy, both heroes in their own right, suffer insurmountable physical setbacks and adversity? Watch as the quest that Parley is forced to take leads him to cross paths with Gunnery Sargent Andy Zimmerman. Can they help each other when they appear unable to help themselves? Can they each make sense of the life that is forced upon them? Will they have the strength to fight back? Does their new quest lead them to hope or more despair? Three Christians, two writers, one warrior. They only have a few things in common, one of which is chronic health problems and a mysterious pain. Can they help each other out or do their life altering trials keep them away from benefitting from each others fellowship? Find out how Parley’s Quest resolves these questions. It’s a life altering story that will inspire you and make you grateful for Christian teachings of love, hope and faith.
Q: Do you plan on a sequel?
A: I do, Fibromyalgia willing. In spite of fibro, I manage to write the first one, so I am fairly confident that I’ll write a sequel. The story of Parley is far from over.
Q: What about the inspirational quotes at the beginning of each chapter?
A: They were significant quotes I experienced while writing the book and I thought they would be nice to share. The ones written by CallahanWriter are the quotes I wrote myself while writing the book and some are even part of the novel.
Q: There’s a lot of talk about pain in the novel, not just about fibromyalgia. Why?
A: That’s a good observation. The intent is to compare and contrast the pain associated with fibromyalgia to many other types of pain.
Q: How much of your own life is in the story?
A: Parley and the other characters are very different from me and that was on purpose. The parts of me that are in the book are based on personal experiences with the pain and symptoms of fibromyalgia. I hope that’s what makes this a good book. After all, it is a novel about fibromyalgia written by someone who actually has it and can write about it first hand.

Can The Loss From Chronic Pain Be Turned To Gain

Can The Loss From Chronic Pain Be Turned To Gain

If you have had any of the chronic pain illnesses for any length of time, you have experienced loss of one type or another. Whether that loss is great or small it still hurts, leaving you feeling  empty, demoralized, unfulfilled and angry. A sense of loss can compound the mental and emotional anguish associated with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or any other type of never-ending pain.

 

PQ_BookCover_Txt_Enlarged1When dealing with these sicknesses over expanded periods of time, small victories can make a substantial difference in ones overall well being and ability to cope. Therefore, it can be worth pursuing activities that can help you achieve some victories which can help the time wasted on the sick bed seem worthwhile. Achieving small victories can, over time help chip away at the emotional drain associated with chronic illness.
A case in point is that after spending thirty-two years with fibromyalgia, twelve years diagnosed  I got into writing. Making a long story short, I recently finished my first novel. It is now published and available on Amazon.
I also found out that writing, like any other language arts, helps stimulate the brain acting like physical therapy for the brain. Since engaging in creative writing for three years I have enjoyed both the beginning benefits of my brain working better and I can remember more passwords than before. I have experienced small improvements with various memory issues. I also have something meaningful I can do during the long hours of day in and day out suffering from fibromyalgia and its many symptoms.
So if you don’t feel like writing a novel or some other type of book, then keep a journal every day or write letters. There are many ways to employ writing as a therapeutic activity for your chronic pain, fatigue or fibromyalgia. Remember that it’s not just writing that will be beneficial, any type of language arts can have the same effect.
If you’re interested and I hope you are, you can get a copy of my novel Parleys Quest from Amazon. It happens to be a work of fiction where the protagonist deals with chronic pain, fatigue and fibromyalgia as he trudges his way through the novel.
Troy Wagstaff

The First Novel About Fibromyalgia

The First Novel About Fibromyalgia

I’m back! I’m sorry for the long delay in keeping this blog up. For nearly two years I have been working on a novel. I got to a point where trying to keep the blog going and finishing the book was too much for me given the fact that I suffer from fibromyalgia. I will tell you all much more about my novel in the coming weeks. I’ll say this much.  The novel is a story where the protagonist is eventually diagnosed with fibro. It is called Parleys Quest and can be purchased from Parleys Quest.
PQ_front_cover_kdp_2
This work of fiction is the first novel that deals specifically with fibromyalgia. There have been novels, various stories and even some movies that deal with chronic pain of one type or another, but to the best of my knowledge, until Parleys Quest, there has not been any stories dealing with the challenges of fibromyalgia. This is significant to the millions of people worldwide diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
I’m glad to be back and I will now start keeping the blog active.
%d bloggers like this: