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  • Writer's pictureWyatt Cochrane

War Wounds Sneak Peak - click to read more

Updated: Nov 15, 2018


Read a free short sample from War Wounds. Check back for more.

Chapter 1


Thorn Marshall forced a smile and strode into the saloon. “Time to call ‘er a night boys,” he said to his men at the far end of the plank and whiskey-barrel bar.


“Awe Thorn,” Red, the taller of the two men said. “We ain’t had our turn with the girl. Them cowboys drinking at the other end got here ‘fore us.”


“How many of them have gone?” Thorn asked.


Art, the other man, grinned. “Two. Second one’s upstairs now. Jes’ four to go and then it’ll be our turn.”


“I’ll give you boys an hour.” Glee burst across Red’s face.


“We’ll be ready boss.”


An hour later, everything packed and ready, Thorn buckled the straps on his saddlebags. He didn’t mind the men having a little fun. Towns would be few and far between after tonight. His men stood in the same spot at the bar. “All right boys, time’s up,” Thorn said.


“But boss, we ain’t gone up yet.”


“I gave you an hour.”


The bartender, a giant of a man, walked over. “Drink?” he asked Thorn, holding out a whiskey bottle and a glass.


“No thanks.”


“The boys will be done soon, then you fellas can have your turn.”


“We can’t wait,” Thorn replied.


“How about a drink on the house?”


“Thanks, but no. Come on boys.”


Red looked from the bartender to Art to Thorn. “It won’t be a minute now. Please boss.”


They all looked to the wide wooden stairway as a grinning young cowboy, scampered down, followed by a heavy, older saloon girl with thin blonde ringlets.


Another young cowboy blushed and giggled “I reckon I’m next.”


“You gonna be able to get your pecker hard this time?” one of the other cowboys asked.


“I reckon I am,” the young cowboy said, his face glowing even redder.


“Hold on sweetheart,” the woman said. “Give a girl a chance to catch her breath. Bring me a drink Randolph.”


The bartender waved her over. “These gentlemen are in a hurry,” he said.


The girl squeezed Thorn’s upper arm and fluttered her eyelids. “I like this young one. Just as soon as I’m done with that last boy, I’ll be ready for you men.”


Thorn pulled away and shook his head. “Half hour. No more!”


A half hour later Thorn was back and his men still waited. “Come on. There’s a whorehouse on the edge of town. My treat.”


“Closed,” Red said. “All the girls are sick.”


The bartender moved from the other end of the bar. “Seems like they ain’t ready to leave,” he said, as he walked around the bar toward Thorn.


“They hired on to do a job!” Thorn said. “Come on boys.”


Red and Art started for the door. “Hold on men,” the bartender said. “I’ll buy you a drink while you wait. The only one needs to go is this young fellar right here.” He grabbed Thorn by the back of the arm and squeezed hard as he pushed him toward the door.


Thorn jerked away. “I don’t want any trouble.”


“It’s all right,” Red said. “You don’t wanna do that.”


The bartender grabbed Thorn’s wrist and forced his arm behind his back. “I tried to do it the nice way.” The big man lifted on the arm until Thorn’s feet left the floor, his bent elbow and shoulder carrying all his weight. Just this way, the bartender had helped many drunken cowboys from the saloon to the muddy street.


Art shook his head. “You don’t wanna do that.”


Red, his face full of concern, stepped toward to the bartender. “It’s okay. We’re all going.”


Thorn twisted, first one way and then the other, but the big man held on and lifted him even higher. Once high enough, Thorn jerked his head back, catching the big man’s nose. Blood sprayed. At the same time, Thorn kicked his legs higher than his head, then slammed them forward and down to the floor, throwing the big man over his shoulder and onto a nearby table. Splintered wood scattered around the room as the big man hit the floor and lay on his back.


As he followed Red and Art from the saloon, Thorn turned and tossed a gold eagle toward the big man, laying dazed and bleeding on the floor. “For the table.”

***

After Thorn left them, his men sat on dirty beds in the small run-down hotel room they shared. “Thorn’s too damn serious,” Red said.


“Yes sir,” Art replied, “but he sure ‘nough handled that big galoot.”


Red bent over and laughed until he coughed. “Didn’t know what hit ‘im. The ol’ Colonel taught that boy well.”


“Shoulda taught him a man’s gotta have a woman ‘for he goes on the trail.”


“Shoulda. And shoulda taught him a man needs a drink on the trail. Bet he never even thought of that.”


“Go to sleep.”


“Yep.”


Two hours later, the rhythmic sound of bed springs creaking and bed posts bouncing, on the floor above, woke Red. He shook his partner. Art sputtered and opened his eyes. “What the hell?”


Red held a finger to his lips. “Shhhhh. We’re gonna get whiskey for the trail.”


“Go to sleep! Everything’s closed. ‘Sides we promised we’d stay put.”


“He won’t even know we left and I ain’t goin’ without a couple of bottles. Come on,” Red said, slipping into his pants. “Leave your boots off, ‘til we get outside.”


A few minutes later, Red tried the back door of the saloon. “Damn it! Try that window.” Art pressed his palms against the glass and pushed. The window moved. Red grabbed his knife and pried, first one side and then the other until there was a good-sized gap. He worked the window up with his fingers.

“Git in there and open the door.”


“Why me?”


“You’re smaller. I can’t fit.”


Soon, the two men crept through the back of the saloon. Red scratched a match with his thumbnail and they tiptoed to the main hall, behind the bar. Red stretched up onto his toes, pulled three bottles of whiskey from the top-shelf, and passed them to Art. “That’s enough,” Art said, almost too quiet to hear.


Giddy, Red struggled to hold his laughter. “One more.”


“Who’s up?” the barkeep shouted from the second-floor. “Eileen?”


Red grabbed one more bottle, and they rushed out the back-door.

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