Monday, February 23, 2009

Longhorns excerpt by Victor J Banis

Longhorns by Victor J. Banis is a bawdy love story set on the Texas plains. Longhorns ranges from hard riding action and sex as hot as the blazing Texas sun to lyrical descriptions of the Old West.

In this excerpt, Buck, Les and Red have gone to a barn dance at a neighbor's farm, but the neighbor's sons do not welcome the cowboys, and the oldest of them, Ron, challenges Buck to a fight.

[Additional excerpt posted June 9, 2008]

Publisher: Running Press (July 12, 2007)
Kindle Edition (2009) sold by Amazon Digital Services


“Come on, then,” Ron said, and began to shoulder his way through the crowd that had gathered. They went out into the barnyard, a distance from the barn, so that they were mostly in shadows. Buck stripped off his shirt as he went, since it was borrowed and he would not want to give it back with no blood on it. His bandana went too, and he tossed them to the ground,and unlaced his holster, and the sheath for his Bowie, and put his weapons aside with his shirt.

Ron began to do the same, but seeing his opponent like this, he couldn’t help having some second thoughts. Parading around on the dance floor the way he had been, Buck had looked more like a frolicsome boy than a man to be concerned about, but now that he was shirtless, flexing his muscles as he waited, he looked like someone to be reckoned with.

Ron looked at some of the boys crowding around the open door of the barn. “Someone go find Brett and Tom,” he yelled,“tell my brothers to get their asses out here.”

One of the boys in the throng turned toward the barn and yelled, “Brett, Tom, Ron is fixing to kick the shit out of this half breed.”

A minute later, the two younger Hansens, neither as tall as their brother but both of them thickly built, rushed out and pushed their way through the crowd.

“Hang on, there, brother,” Tom called, and Brett said, “I’m wanting to carve me a piece of that Indian’s ass while you are at it.” Tom already had a Bowie in his hand and Brett pulled his from the sheath strapped to his legs as he ran.

They stopped abruptly. A six foot three inch cowboy had stepped directly into their path, his feet planted wide, his hands resting on the handles of his six shooters. While the brothers blinked, trying to take this in, the big red headed fellow came up to stand alongside him, hand on his gun as well.

“What you cowboys got on your mind?” Brett asked, making a show of bravado.

“We got on our mind that those two over yonder will have themselves a fair fight, one on one,” Les said. “Without no help from you two and without no knives.”

“Well, who says you got any right to say how things will be, here on our farm?” Tom asked, but he took a step back so that he was half behind his bigger brother.

“It ain’t me saying it,” Les said, running his fingers over the butts of his guns. “It is Mister Colt’s idea.”

“Maybe we could just tell you and Mister Colt to go somewhere and mind your own fucking business,” Brett said.

“You could,” Red said, speaking calmly, like a man without a care in the world, “but you wouldn’t want to if you had good sense. Some people don’t take kindly to being smart mouthed.”

Tom took another step behind his brother, and Brett swallowed hard and slipped the knife back into its sheath, but he put his hand on his gun instead.

“You ain’t scaring me none with them damned guns,” he said. “Hell, I got me a gun of my own, if you are looking for a shooting match, and I know how to use it, too,” and he started to draw it, but it hadn’t begun to clear its holster, before he saw that there were two six shooters aimed right at his middle section. Damn, he hadn’t even seen the fucking cowboy’s hands move. The other one, the redhead, his gun was still holstered, but he was grinning from ear to ear like he had just heard a
good story.

“Shit,” Brett said, shoving his gun back down into his holster, “ain’t got nothing to do with us anyway, that’s between the two of them, seems like to me. Say, Tom, I hear some of the boys have got them some Pensacola rye down back of the house, and I reckon I am feeling a mite thirsty. Whyn’t you and me go get ourselves some?”

“I could use a snort myself,” Tom said. They began to move in the direction of the corner of the house, backing up at first, and then turning and moving quickly.

“Hey, where you guys going?” Ron called after his brothers, but they didn’t answer, they just kept going, not quite running but not exactly walking either, until they reached the corner of the house and had disappeared around it.

“You come back here, Brett, Tom,” Ron called after them, and got no reply. “Damn chicken shits,” he said, and spit at his feet.

He turned back to the half-breed and took stock of his situation. Damn, what worried him the most was that the guy didn’t look like he was scared at all, even though he stood a head shorter than Ron himself. Didn’t even look nervous, in fact. What it was, actually, was he looked like he was fucking crazy, now that Ron took a good look at him. Shirtless, the half breed stood kind of in a crouch, like a cougar getting ready to spring, his muscles still shiny with sweat from the dancing he had done earlier. His eyes glittered in the moonlight, it almost seemed like there were sparks coming out of them, and the way he grinned, his teeth showing, unnerved a fellow. There was something else too, that he did just then, that Ron had never seen nobody do before. His nostrils flared as he stood there waiting, like he was sniffing the air, or something—like an animal, looking for a scent.

Ron suddenly thought of when he was a boy, and older fellows had scared him with stories of Apaches, the things they did when they were in hand fights. He had heard of one, sprang on a man and ripped the fellow’s throat wide open with nothing but his teeth. There was another tale, too, about a fellow, got into a hand fight with an Apache and had his balls clawed right off him while they was wrestling on the ground, the Apache just reached down and grabbed a hold of them fast as lightning and tore them loose before the other man knew what was happening.

Remembering, Ron felt a little shiver of fear zigzag its way up and down his spine, and all at once it felt like he was about to take a shit in his britches. Sure thing, this fucking Indian looked plenty crazy enough to have something like that in his mind. He did not much care for the idea of losing his balls, let
alone having his throat ripped open.

“Shit, I ain’t of a mind to fight with no half-breed Indian trash,” he said, buttoning his shirt up again. “I got me more important things to do.”

He turned his back and began to walk away, but you could see that he was listening for any movement behind him. Buck was motionless though, until Ron had disappeared after his brothers, walking a bit faster as he got further away.

Buck looked at Les and Red then. “I didn’t start it, Les,” he said. “Don’t be sore at me.”

“I know you didn’t,” Les said, holstering his guns.

“And I appreciate your help, boys, really, I mean it,” Buck said, donning his shirt and his bandana, and strapping his weapons on, “but I wasn’t worried about that peckerhead. I could’ve took him on with one hand tied behind my back, him and his piss ant brothers too.”

“Sound mighty sure of yourself,” Les said with a grin. “He is a pretty good sized dude, appears to me.”

“Reckon so, but he was scared shitless,” Buck said. “I could smell it on him.”

“Like them Indian horses do?” Les asked.

Buck grinned back at him. “Guess it just runs in the blood, "he said. “Anyway, once you got a fellow scared, you got him half beat already.”

“Reckon you could have whipped him, at that,” Les said.

“Didn’t mean to say that you couldn’t. Imagine you could have easy enough, as long as a fight stayed fair. We was just providing knife insurance. Ain’t got no mind to see any of my cowhands carved up by a couple of polecats.”

“I am much obliged to you for that.” Buck stepped forward and the three of them shook hands all around, in a strangely formal sort of acknowledgment of their comradeship.

“You planning on any more dancing?” Les asked.

Buck glanced at him, and toward the barn, and thought of little Maggie, but there wasn’t much likelihood now of any trips behind the barn, and he knew well enough that nothing more than that was ever going to come of it.

He looked back at Les and shook his head. “I reckon it would just cause trouble for her with her brothers,” he said.

“They won’t forget they was humiliated, and others to see it happen. And by a half breed, that will make it worse.”

“Then I expect we might as well be heading for home,” Les said.

Red said, “Unless you want to wait and dance with old Ron there and his brothers when they come back, looked to me like they was pretty light on their feet,” and they all three laughed.

* * *

When they were on the trail for home, Buck looked from one of his companions to the other. The night smelled of sage and dust, and the faint scent of something dead and decaying that came downwind at them, a stray steer, maybe, that the coyotes had brought down, but a long ways off. The air was warm and dry, and fine for riding.

He thought about the two of them backing him up the way they had, and he felt like his chest was about to bust with happiness. There wasn’t anything in the world better, the way he saw it, than to have a couple of true friends, cowboy friends.

He began to sing at the top of his lungs: “Oh, bury me not, on the lone prairie….”

“If I had known you was going to howl like a wounded coyote,” Les said, “reckon I would have let them boys cut you up back there.”

He larruped his palomino up to a gallop, and after a moment Red and Buck spurred their horses and galloped alongside him, Buck between the other two, the three of them pounding across the plains, feeling free in the way that only a cowboy can feel free, on his horse, out on the range.

Out of nowhere Les, who was not as a rule a man to show excitement, yelled at the top of his lungs, “Yippee-i-o, cowboys.”

Buck answered him by throwing back his head and giving a coyote howl, and they all three laughed, for the sheer joy of being cowboys and being alive, and riding through the summer night together, the hooves of their horses beating a steady thrumedy-thrumedy-thrum on the iron hard ground.

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