In honor of the National Day of the Cowboy, I ought to be talking about traditional cowboys and how their grit, courage and honor have kept them firmly in American history – past and present. But today I’m scheduled to share an excerpt of Double Crossing, my 2012 Spur Award winner for Best First Novel (from Western Writers of America) But first…
What’s the difference between these two films of Charles Portis’ novel?
Um, can we say JOHN WAYNE? What an actor! What a great cowboy, and yes, I’m a big fan. But I’m also a huge fan of the TRUE GRIT novel, which is focused on Mattie Ross’s journey — and I was so glad to see the remake closer to the novel. Jeff Bridges did a fine job as Rooster Cogburn, too.
Charles Portis, who lives in Arkansas, did a *fabulous* job at dialogue, the setting of Indian Territory, the time frame, the specific details, and the characters from Rooster Cogburn to LaBoeuf to Mattie Ross to the hanging judge to the bandits in Lucky Ned Pepper’s gang. If you haven’t read the book, and get it!
And what about another cowboy? My hero, Ace Diamond, just happens to “resemble”PETE DUEL from the TV show Alias Smith and Jones. Uh, yeah. Sure.
I loved this show and never missed an episode. Sadly, Pete Duel struggled with depression and chose suicide before he finished filming the show’s second season. But I loved his smile, his mischievous character and thought he was a wonderful actor. And his brother Geoffrey also was an actor, and played Billy the Kid in Chisum with John Wayne!
Here’s a photo to prove it! Geoff looks a lot like his brother Pete, in fact. Photo courtesy of this website ASJCollection.com … So I can dream that “Ace” and Duke “met” at some point in the old west, right? LOL…
Okay, here’s my excerpt!! The second meeting in Omaha, when Lily takes Kate to find Ace Diamond with an interesting proposal…
Ducking under a low hanging tree branch, we crept through the stable’s open doorway. I had to stifle a sneeze at the musty scent of hay and dust. Sunlight streamed into the stalls where several horses nickered. In an empty one, we found Ace Diamond sleeping on his stomach. When I prodded him with my foot, he rolled over with a loud pig’s grunt and squinted up at us both. A glass bottle lay in the dirty hay.
“Uh, wh-what time is it? Who the devil—ouch,” he said and touched the crusty stitches on his forehead. “Dagnabbit. My head feels like a squished melon.”
“Do you remember our meeting yesterday, Mr. Diamond?” I asked. Kate peered over my shoulder. “I see you found a doctor as well as some whiskey.”
“Needed it to cut the pain.” Ace sat up and scratched his soiled shirt. “Thought you was headin’ to California.”
“I am leaving in a few hours, yes. This is Miss Kimball, she’s also traveling on the Union Pacific.” I brushed sawdust off my split skirt and jacket. “I spoke to Mrs. Burkett, your landlady, who sounded quite unhappy with you.”
“That dried-up prune?” Scrambling to his feet, he weaved sideways until grabbing the half wall. A horse nuzzled his arm. “Never satisfied, no matter what I do.”
“Not if you’re prone to drink.”
Ace rubbed his eyes with the back of one hand. “I don’t suppose this is a social call, miss. Or that you’d lend me two bits. I got a powerful headache.”
I eyed him from head to foot. A beggar would look more presentable. “You wished to go to California. Miss Kimball and I need protection on the Union Pacific. Perhaps we can come to an agreement, Mr. Diamond. Is that your real name?”
He dodged the question. “What are your terms, miss? Sorry, I forgot your name.”
“Miss Granville. I’ll provide you with a ticket now and twenty dollars when we arrive safe in Sacramento. Provided no harm comes to us, that is.”
He stared with bleary eyes. “Why would two pretty fillies need me to ride shotgun? It’s a far sight safer on a train than travelin’ by stagecoach.”
“I’m tracking a murderer—”
“Whoa,” Ace cut in, fully alert now. “Who was murdered?”