Author Topic: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter  (Read 5092 times)

Offline Skip Slocum

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Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« on: November 25, 2013, 01:06:38 PM »
I know this is in the gallery but if you see something that doesn't feel or look right, please let me know. I love talking writers shop.  ;D I've tried to play with their diction to make their dialogue sound, 'old western' but if something isn't working, stick me.

Tools of the Trade

Jake shoveled fresh coals on the lid of his half buried Dutch oven before covering it with ash. He turned back to the deer he had hanging from the tree. Using one of his knives he cut more strips of meat to hang by the fire.

The night breeze shifted and Jake glances past his work seeing his horse’s ears twitch. A little more water onto the cloth he’d been using to wipe his knife, Jake cleaned the blood from his hands. He’s always kept at least one of his Colts unlashed but not knowing what was coming at him in the dark, he un hooked his left shooter as well.

“Hello in the camp there’s two of us – alright with you if we share your fire?”

Jake turned toward the voice and let his wrists lightly brush against the grips of his low hanging six-shooters. He gauged the man’s voice to be in his early to mid-fifties. “Come ahead stranger.” Making sure he wasn’t blinded by his fire, Jake kept a close eye on these men while they dismounted. Listening for any sounds of ambush from behind he watched them tie their horses next to his.

“Easy son, no trouble here.” There was a kind of understanding yet nervous jitter in the tone of the man’s chuckle. He was clean dressed and clean shaven – not like most one meets on the trail. The man kept his hand completely visible and unmoving as he stood by the fire. Jake flashed a wary eye and tipped his head toward the other man who was still by the horses. That man held up two old bake-ware cups. “We smelled your coffee and hoped you might have some to spare.” The younger man purposely opened the flaps of his slicker to show Jake he wasn’t armed except for the tin cups hooked on his thumbs.

These two didn’t look like they wanted any trouble but Jake knew better than to let his guard down. He nodded when the younger man pointed toward his coffee pot. “Help yourself.” Jake eased himself down on the small bolder he’d been using as a perch. “Why you out and about at this hour without your own camp?”

The older man knelt still keeping his hands near the fire. “I wanted to see who was camping on my land.”

Jake got a sick knot in his stomach. “You recon I owe you amends for this here deer or for lulling squat on yer land for the night?”

The older man smiled and shook his head. “No son, this be open range. The deer is your affair. Although a strip of that there meat that’s been tickled by the fire might taste good. As for let of the hard ground, why don’t we call your coffee and some of this stripped jerk fare and then maybe you’ll drop your shoulders a bit more and take down some of that flinch from your drawing hand?” Jake nodded. The man waited another moment then touched his hat in a sort of relaxed Cavalry salute, complete with tan gloves that went halfway to his elbows. “Major Samuel Reno – retired – at your service young fellow. Folks here about know me as plain old, Major Sam. And this is, Bill Owens – First Sergeant retired, of course, my ramrod and all around bullwhip on my spread.”

Jake nodded again then sniffed the air about the same time as the Major did. Reaching for an old bailing hook, Jake pulled the Dutch oven up out of the fire. He tipped the heavy iron kettle on its side knocking away the coals before giving the lid a twist.

Both of his guests’ eyes lit up when they saw the nest of golden brown, corn biscuits inside. Jake didn’t have to ask if they wanted any. While he used his boot knife to cut the cakes apart, both men removed their neckerchiefs and folded them neatly in their hands. After serving the Major and Mr. Owens, Jake dropped one on his plate to cool.

Major Sam was dancing the still too hot bite of corn cake he’d taken around in his mouth while grunting like a bear with a treat. He quickly washed it down with a sip of coffee. “Son, how would you like a job? I’ll pay you top dollar to cook for me and the boys, room and board-”

Mr. Owens cleared his mouth too. “A private room. Anything you need.”

“Yes anything including an assistant to fetch wood for you and wash pots and pans. Son where did you learn to cook like this?”

Jake smiled. “My mother ran a boarding house. I was the youngest of eight growing up in a town below the mining camps – had to help her cook til I left at seventeen.” Remembering home made him feel good for a moment until he remembered why he didn’t have one now and hadn’t been back to see his mother. Jake looked at the callouses on his hands, the ones that come from using a gun and nothing else. “Major, that’s a fine offer and it’s awfully tempting but . . . trouble seems to follow me and my name wherever I go.”

“You never did say what your name was, son.”

That sour knot came back. “Name’s Jake Cloddell.”

Things got real quiet around the fire until Mr. Owens spoke up. “The Jake Cloddell – bounty hunter? Jake Cloddell with over fifty brought in over the last ten years – by himself?”

Jake looked straight into the Major’s eyes before answering Mr. Owens’ question. “Yes Sir, the very same.”

Major Sam slowly took another sip of his coffee leaving his cup near his chin. “You tired of killing son?”

“I surely am.” Jake stood and took a few steps away from the fire before turning. He pulled one of his pistols and cradled it in both hands. “Sometimes I think they’re cursed. I don’t want anything to do with them anymore. Yet, with so many who think they have a score to settle or something to prove, I can’t get away from them.” Jake looked at the Major. “And now that you know . . .”

“Now that I know what son?” The Major reached over and picked up the cast iron lid from the kettle and showed it to his foreman. “Mr. Owens, let me introduce you to -” He dusted the ash away from the name on the lid. “- our new cook, Mr. Jake . . . Griswold.” He reached out. “That is if Mr. Griswold here accepts our offer.”

Jake holstered his gun and shook the major’s hand. “I would like that very much.”


Offline 2par

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 01:22:32 PM »
The actions sound about right, I don't know about the dialogue.
There are some grammar problems, but I really don't care at this point.
It sounds like a good story. I'd like to see what happens to them all...what dangers they may face in the light of Jake's former 'occupation'.

Offline bri h

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 01:30:11 PM »
Great read Skip. I enjoyed the flow of it. Nothing to change much for me, that I could see, except when the Major ses "fellow." Wouldn't it read more American as 'Feller?' Gimme more. Bri.
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline wanderer

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2013, 01:41:22 PM »
Nice story, Skip and it has a Louis L'Amour feeling to it. Always difficult to comment on how one writes western dialog but it seems fine. I like to drop the ending 'g's' and such but that is just my preference. The dialogue seems to reflect men with some education/intelligence.

All in all a very enjoyable read. Of course I favor westerns.  ;) Would like to know more about the geographical location.

JMO

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2013, 02:01:34 PM »
Hey guys, looks like this one is working better than that last one I tried.

2par -- I'm always trying to push for better dialogue.

Brian -- I toyed with that but then thought that the Major would be more educated than most his age (at the time).

Wanderer -- I love westerns too. Considered dropping 'G's and adding (') in their place. I was even going to go with ..." plane ol' Major Sam ..."
but when I did an edit and read through I figured too much might be a distraction. Pondering. Liking westerns and writing westerns seem to be two different animals.  ;D

Offline bri h

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2013, 02:08:40 PM »
Well wouldn't an educated man try to make another stranger/person more comfortable, by talking in his own language? Hence 'feller.' Till we see his true nature, for good or bad later in the tale. B
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2013, 02:12:39 PM »
That's a pretty good point. I might work with this one for a few weeks and give Matt and the Keening a rest. By developing new characters and working outside of my comfort bubble this might be what I need right now to grow a bit more. 

Offline bri h

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2013, 02:17:11 PM »
Or yuh could set a spell, order pizza and chug a few? True. True.  ;D
'Word, mah brotha.'   ;D ;D
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2013, 02:24:51 PM »
 ;D

Offline bri h

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2013, 02:55:16 PM »
I know. I was giggling as I typed it.  ;D
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 02:59:07 PM »
I like pizza and I like beer but I'm one of those who can't do them both at the same time.

Offline Kowboy

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2013, 09:52:10 PM »
Good stuff.

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2013, 11:03:27 PM »
Thank you. Now I've gotta figure some twisted stuff to do to these guys.

Offline bri h

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2013, 01:45:12 PM »
Thank you. Now I've gotta figure some twisted stuff to do to these guys.


Inundate The Range with Indians. Indians from India, not Native-Americans. Kinda twist history? I'd read it.  :) Bri
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Tools of the Trade (1,116) Story Starter
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2013, 01:46:10 PM »
 ;D ;D ;D no