The Fourth Woman: Chapter 1

“Lovelock, Nev. (AP) — Pershing County Sheriff’s Office investigators are continuing to ask the public to be on the lookout for a missing woman, Almarinda deOliveria, after finding her abandoned car in the White Horse Canyon area. She was last seen in Winnemucca on the 10th.”

Deputies confirmed that the car appeared to be ‘out of place,’ but didn’t find any evidence of foul play. There were no items found in the car to show anyone had any food or gear to sustain life in the chill of the high-desert environment.

Based on this information, the sheriff’s office  initiated a search for deOliveria. Deputies, search and rescue teams and helicopter crews spent the next several days in the canyon.

Eventually, they were able to find what they believed to be  deOliveria’s footprints about three miles past the car and further up into the hills. They also found her cell phone, and evidence she may have walked back down and out of the canyon, but no more sign of her was found.

Investigators learned that deOliveria had been on the way to Los Angeles, from Eureka, California, after a yearlong spiritual retreat and they tracked her movements using information from her bank card. Evidence showed that deOliveria had made it south of Modesto, then for an unknown reason turned and started heading east, with her last known transactions being in Winnemucca.

Family members told sheriff investigators that it was unusual for her to be in an area outside of a populated city. The family also went to Winnemucca and found deOliveria had stayed the night at a motel on January 8 and 9, and checked out on the 10th.

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office has no information on her whereabouts for the time between January 10 and the 14th. As of January 29, no further sign of her had been found by any of the several groups searching for her.

Nearly 30-years earlier as similar incident took place.


Oops! FB Jail Time

This is closed circuit for anyone, either a friend or who is following me via Facebook: I am in FB jail again for some unknown reason. Someone took a disliking to a post I made, complained and now I’m being punished. Jus’ wanted you to know. I will use my time wisely, writing and reading, but I doubt I will reflect on my error, if one can call it that, in relationship to their so-called ‘community standards.’

Finding a Better Ending

Originally, I wasn’t going to publish tomorrow’s ‘fiction’ chapter story, “The Fourth Woman,” until September. But with the possibility of landing an actual paying job, ‘there’s no time like the present.’

Did I mention, “The Fourth Woman,” is fiction?

If not, let me tell say that it’s fictional, save for unfortunate Winnescheika.  She’s a very real historical figure.

Finally, there are 11 chapters to this story. However, I wasn’t happy with the original draft of the chapter, so I wrote a new one, but have included the original as a bonus ‘alternate ending.’

That way, you decide which ending is better.

The Kiley Ranch Barbecue and Picnic

By most folks  standards, Charlie Vickers was an arrogant bully.  Lord help the cowpoke that didn’t move quick enough for him when he barked an ‘order’ or who gave Charlie even the slightest bit of lip.

He had no problem using his size as a weapon of intimidation, pushing men aside as he cussed them out with great precision. He even managed to bluff the boss-man a time or two.

The only reason anyone kept Charlie around was because he was also one of the finest cowboy’s to come out of Wyoming. If only he hadn’t known it – Charlie might have been a decent fellow.

It was the Friday ahead of the end-of-summer Kiley Ranch Barbecue and Picnic. And like every other year, the boss-man had a large steer culled from the herd and chased into a corral, where it would spend the night before finding its way to the barbecue pit.

And like every year, once Charlie got hired, it fell to the six-four, 300-pound man to kill the unsuspecting animal. Many of us believed that because Charlie enjoyed it so much, he could have been a serial killer in an earlier life.

That night, Charlie took extra time out of his evening before turning in to clean, oil and load the 30-30 that always hung on the wall above the door of the bunk house. Amos Farr and I could hardly wait for Charlie to start snoring before we hauled that gun off the wall and headed out back towards the blacksmith shop.

After the supper bell and with work finished for the day, Charlie was given the go-ahead to kill the steer. With that, he shouted for someone to bring him ‘his’ rifle, though the weapon belonged to the ranch, meaning it was really the boss-mans.

Rifle in hand, Charlie climbed over the fence, jack a shell into the chamber and took aim. The bark of the rifle caused the steer to jump and dash to the far side of the corral.

“What the hell…” muttered Charlie as he tossed the lever forward and back again. It was obviously a surprise to the big man that he’d missed such an easy shot.

Again the rifle barked, and again the steer raced across the corral, this time back to where it had started. At this, Charlie began cussing a blue-streak so loud that the women-folk came out of the ranch house and onto the front porch to see what was the matter.

With the chamber filled and rifle once again aimed, Charlie squeezed the trigger. This time instead of running, the steer backed up into the corner, butt against a corral post and put its head down.

As for Charlie, he was beyond angry. He cocked the weapon and fired again and again as he rushed the steer.

Having had enough and being both agitated and in fear, the steer jumped right at Charlie. With a flick of it’s head, its horns catching him up, the beast tossed the large man like a rag-doll over it’s back and into the post and down all four railings of the corral fence.

We all heard Charlie’s leg snap at the thigh bone as he came to rest on the ground with the steer heading to the far side of the enclosure. Though we knew he was hurt, we couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of the bully finally getting his comeuppance.

After Charlie began sounding off like a buzz-saw on a wobbly drive-shaft, Amos and I took the rifle to the shop, emptied it of it’s shells and removed the bullets from their casings. Leaving the powder in the cases, we next sealed each one up with a personally handcrafted spit-wad to keep the powder in place, followed by reloading the rifle and returning it to its spot on the wall.

When Charlie demanded that the rifle be brought to him, Amos obliged him by retrieving the weapon and handing it off to me. I, in turn, gave it to Charlie, then we stepped back to watch the fun commence.

Neither of us thought Charlie would be so full of bluster that he’d charge head-long at a woolly and scared steer fresh off the range. That’s was his doing and none of ours.

It took only a few minutes for the ambulance to arrive. Normally, one of us would’ve driven him to the hospital like we did with most injuries that didn’t involve the loss of a lot of blood, but the boss-man believed Charlie’s leg was too badly broken for anyone but professionals to care for.

Amos and me never got to attend the barbecue and picnic that year because the boss-man fired us once we admitted to what we’d done. The hardest part to take was his laughter as he recalled Charlie getting bounce by snot-blowing steer while we drew our final pay.

But in the end though, it was worth it to see Charlie taken to the hospital where I’m certain the nursing staff taught him a thing or two about manners. Most all folks with any sort of common sense know you get mouthy with a charge-nurse only once.

The Caw and the Coo

It was a very small room, certainly not big enough for two. Yet there it was with him, resting slightly outside the illumination of the single, naked bulb that burned dull, both night and day for his well-being.

It began two weeks before…

Stanley, a night foreman at the local foundry was trying to sleep. The heat of the summer day though was stifling and he found himself awake long before evening.

Wish for more sleep, he lay on his cot. As he did this, Stanley listened to the cry of what he believed to be a bird as it echoed through his open window.

It took him a few minutes to realize that the crying wasn’t jus’ that of a bird, but of a baby, too. As the baby cried, a Raven answered, attempting to calm the baby’s tears.

Soon, Stanley became aware that the Raven and the baby were cawing to one another. Frightened, he grabbed his long deceased mother’s bible and began praying, fearful that the calling back and forth was between Satan and a minion in training.

Shortly afterwards, he began hearing voices; menacing, evil, growling voices. The voices lead to a fear of shadows and other dark places, making work impossible.

Other workers watched as Stanley became obsessed with the dark and a fear of what lurked in it’s inkiness. A couple of them eventually reported his odd behavior to the local authorities, who felt inclined to take him into ‘protective custody for his own welfare.’

Now, Stanley’s trapped in the confines of an asylum, unable to escape. He knows that whatever is in his padded cell, it’s there to take his life – but it can’t save for that single, naked bulb.

“God! Help me!” he cries when the power suddenly goes out.


Joe the Camel was not ‘lost,’ as in not knowing where he was. He knew exactly where he was, though he would have been hard pressed to point out his exact location on a road map.

For others, the desert might stretch out to the horizon in all directions, miles to the nearest bit of humanity, calling such a place absolutely desolate. But to Old Joe, the endless sand-scape is his home.

That’s how ‘banishment’ goes when removed from society. He rarely gave that memory thought after so many years, but he sure could use a cigarette now and then.

A Key to Time Travel

My poor friend H.R.R. Gorman writes these wonderfully serious and thoughtful pieces of science fiction and I come along and screw’em up. In this case, H.R.R.’s three part story, “Inhabitation Machine,” which is about future time travel back in history. Thanks, H.R.R. for the indulgence.

Afan laid back in the brine. He knew well the torments of distant continuum warps.

He glanced at Jarusc, who adjusted dials, tapped view-meters, and waited for the energy to resupply the chrono-engine’s double-Amici prism. If he could have smiled, he would have, for he knew Jarusc was the better operator and not quite cut-out for such rapid transitions from one void to another.

Suddenly, he felt the anti-frictional surge race through his body followed by intense pain. That’s when Afan realized that the restroom key they so valiantly sought – was in his uniform’s pocket all the time.

Too late…