Sunday, December 30, 2012

THE DUDE RANCH MURDERS: by Sam James, Eighth Installment :


   They hadn't found the teenager yet, and it had been three days. The Sheriff or a deputy had been out almost everyday since then to question the guests and staff.
   Georgia could tell them nothing. She hadn't gotten too well acquainted with the young girl. Of course the question of possible murder was in everyone's mind---Suppose she had gone to meet someone and been murdered, or gone for a walk alone and been waylaid, raped, murdered, or kidnapped? Nothing like any of those things had happened around this country for years.
   She had met Paul when he had been in the Air Force. He'd become her husband's best friend. They'd all been stationed together in the same outfit until Paul had left the service to run his family's ranch. Luke had been a fighter pilot and was killed quite suddenly when his jet malfunctioned and crashed. Her grief had been inconsolable. Then Paul had written and suggested she spend two weeks on the ranch in hopes she would begin to recover from Luke's death. Paul was a good friend, a strong shoulder to lean on, nothing more.
   That night they had walked in the barn and she'd poured her heart and grief out to him. He'd put his arms around her and consoled her and told her it would pass in time. She'd told him how good he was for her, that he'd made her feel much better. She'd been surprised when she had met the woman Paul was to marry. Somehow she'd thought of Paul's marrying a wholesome, outdoor active girl like his sister Kate. With an intuition, she sensed deeper emotions in Victoria Blaine than the woman let people see, and she somehow looked familiar.
   Suddenly she remembered: A few years ago there had been a well-known model who had been indicted for the murder of her husband. Though she'd been acquitted, the scandal had almost ruined her career. Now that she thought about it, Georgia was almost positive that Victoria was that same person.
   The motive was supposed to have been jealousy. Georgia said nothing to Paul about her hunch, only that one remark about Victoria's not understanding.
   Paul had laughed it off, either not realizing or not caring one way or the other about Victoria's jealousy. Paul had never been one to cater to other persons' moods. She hoped Victoria would make him happy, if that's what he wanted. She hoped she was wrong about her.
   She was glad she had come. She felt better since Luke's death than she had at any time. She'd
always loved horses and wanted one of her own, and being here, riding, taking care of her horse, made her forget. She liked to come out after supper and brush the horse she rode, a little blue-splashed mare called Roany, with white socks and a star and a black nose. Tonight she found Roany  in a corral out back. She called the horse as she leaned over the top rail.
   Suddenly someone grabbed her around her waist and began pulling her down from the fence. Instinctively she wrenched free, turning and leaping away, her arm ready to swing. She backed off.
   Ralph Tully's lecherous grin leered at her. She shuddered. There was something unwholesome, something evil about the man.
   "Scared ya, didn't I, hot lips?" he laughed. "You got a nice shape, all right. Nice to feel." His eyes moved deliberately from her face to her breasts and on down her body, greedily undressing every inch.
   She felt color rise to her cheeks. "I'll thank you to keep your hands off me," she said icily.
   "C'mon, baby--cut the act. I seen the way you flirt with McFarland and the redskin. Y're a tart, I know what you want. I seen plenty your kinda women. You flirt 'n' tease'n'taunt an' bedevil a man, but when it comes time to deliver, you're choosy. Well, I ain't." He grinned at her and made an obscene remark about his intentions. He thought he had her cornered, but as he reached for her Georgia was too quick for him. She feigned a duck in one direction but quickly changed directions and darted around him, running for the house, shaking like a leaf.
   She should tell Paul that he had a sex maniac on the place, and no woman was safe.
   She almost collided with Bob Dixon, the detective who'd arrived two days after everyone else, an added guest. He didn't fit a dude ranch, certainly--nor a detective role, either. He was a quiet little man around five feet six, slight of build, thinning hair, a wearer of glasses. His voice and manner were always pleasant, but he'd kept mostly to himself. Several times she'd caught him looking at Paul, or in a conversation with Del La Cruz, or attempting one with Jim Rhodes, who never complied with anyone's attempts to draw him into conversation.
   It dawned on Georgia one day that Bob Dixon might be queer. After that she watched him more. She felt she'd guessed right. The mannerisms, the ways of speech were all there. Though he was polite to the women, it was the men upon whom his attention focused most of the time.
   Good grief, was everyone around here a pervert? Did people actually come to dude ranches seeking sexual prospects? Maybe there was something to Sherri Hilliard's disappearance after all. Maybe Tully'd caught her alone and raped and murdered her and hid the body!
   "Mrs. Long--You look frightened! Is something wrong?" Dixon inquired. He seemed genuinely concerned.
   "Only that Tully! He tried to accost me! I think he's some kind of sex fiend or something. Some pervert, or something! " Her fright had taken a hike. Now she was just plain angry.
   "Well really, Mrs. Long," Dixon said sternly, his eyes suddenly piercing vessels of condemnation, "You can hardly blame the man for attempting something. After all, you've been flaunting yourself quite openly."
   Georgia's mouth fell open. Criticism from this guy? Suddenly she came to her senses. She laughed shortly at how ridiculous that remark was, coming from a guy like him. She brushed past him and went up the steps into the house. Whatever had made her think she'd get any sympathy from him--a pervert himself! Only a pervert would defend another pervert!!
   The Lightfoots were in the lounge, and Georgia joined them. They were an older couple in their sixties. She liked being around them.They were both young at heart and didn't drag around like so many older people did.
   Eva Strong came in while they were talking. Georgia was in the middle of a conversation about Ralph Tully's bad habits. "So he tried it with you too, huh?" Eva said, lighting a cigarette and making herself comfortable. "It wouldn't surprise me one bit if he had something to do with that girl's disappearance. He made a pass at me and Joe walked in and gave him something to think about.
   "We came up here because we've never been on a dude ranch before and thought it would be fun. Paul's nice and Kate's great and most of the guests are neat to be around. But that Tully gives me the creeps! And I'll grant you ten to one that Dixon's a queer if I ever saw one!"
   Georgia laughed. "That's funny--I thought the same thing!"
   The Lightfoots did not exactly enjoy the sexual talk. They excused themselves and went outside for a walk.
   Eva Strong glanced at Georgia. For all the woman's manner, she seemed a decent sort. Some women couldn't help being themselves, and that was Georgia. It must be hard to lose your husband.
Joe had his faults but he was not a womanizer. He didn't flirt, either. Maybe he was just an average, dull man who didn't provide much excitement to her life anymore, but he was hers and all she had, and she'd certainly never have to worry about an affair.
   She felt rather sorry for Patty Vickers. The girl obviously didn't know she shouldn't encourage attention from a man like Ralph Tully.
   This dude ranch vacation, in fact, was providing a little spice to their lives. It was interesting--reading these people, deciphering their intentions and speculations.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

THE DUDE RANCH MURDERS, 7th installment


     I was the first to be informed that Sherry Hilliard was missing. Her roommate Patty came downstairs earlier than usual that morning and I could tell she was upset even before she spoke.
   "Kate, i'm worried. Sherri went out somewhere last nighnt and never came back. Her bed hasn't been slept in all night."
   "Are you sure? She probably just got up earlier than usual and is already outside," I said. We encouraged our guests to use first names and rotated places at meals so that everyone would have the opportunity to get acquainted and remember the time they spent here as more than just a two-week vacation on a dude ranch.
   "I don't think so. She left this." She showed me a note, which I took from her and read. She had reason to be concerned, but I needed to be certain. "When did you find this?"
   "When I came in the room last night. I tried to wait up for her but I fell asleep and slept until morning. The note was where she left it and so is her bed and jams. Her bed hasn't been slept in all night--nothing's changed! Something's happened to her--I just know it!"
   She tried to keep from crying and she couldn't keep the fear out of her eyes.
   I tried to reassure her we'd do everything we could to find out if Sherri was really missing of if she was just off somewhere and had neglected to let anyone know. I didn't really believe this myself. Nothing like this had ever happened to us before. Nobody had ever just disappeared like that. She had to be close. This wasn't the kind of country town folks wandered around in--especially at night, but I didn't mention anything that might alarm her more.

    I met Jim leading two horses towards the barn to be reshod. When he saw my look of concern he
stopped and turned, expectantly. "Yes, ma'am?"
   "Jim, did you see Sherri Hilliard after dinner last night?"
   "Why yes Ma'am, I did. I passed her as I was coming up the porch."
   "Did she say where she was going?"
   "No Ma'am, not s'peciffically. She just said she was going for a short walk out by the corrals. I let it go at that."
   Jim irritated me. It was always "Yes, Ma'am, No Ma'am, or whatever," in that polite way Southerners have that drives you up the walls because they say as little as possible to your face while inside they're either laughing at you or despising you or thinking you a fool.
    Yet I was drawn to him. I think because the man made himself such a mystery.
   His eyes peered lazily into mine. "Something wrong, Ma'am?"
  "You could sure say that, yes: She appears to be missing. Which means we'll have to call off the ride today and everything else to organize a search.
  "As if we didn't have enough soap opera drama around here!" I muttered as I turned away and went in search of Paul. We had to drop everything to get a search going. Of course we had to bring the guests in on it whether we wanted to or not. We needed every hand we had to get on it right away. So we all, guests and staff, made a thorough search of the area, barns, sheds, outbuildings, even rode out to survey the surrounding hills within walking distance  and found....exactly nothing.

   Which meant the Sheriff had to be called in. By that time it was coming on to night and there was no searching anything in these western hills at night, and the deputies wouldn't even get out here until too late to look anymore today. I was informed they'd be out first light, in the meantime if she showed up, call.
    As the day dragged on, a sort of fear and apprehension crept over everybody, you could feel it, and people kept calling her name and looking and we had to finally tell them to stay close to the house when night fell.
   In the meantime, I had the unpleasant task of calling her mother to tell her we couldn't find her daughter.
   And nobody slept a wink that night.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

THE DUDE RANCH MURDERS by Sam James, 6th installment


   Sherry stalked up the stairway with mixed feelings of emotion. She was put out with Patty, jealous of Paul McFarland's fiance, yet hopeful that his flirtaceous flattery might lead somewhere.
   Yet she hardly dared hope that it would. Paul McFarland flirted with every woman on the place, except, of course, his sister--even old Mrs. Lightfoot. Her problem was, she knew she was falling for him. It had to be as obvious to everyone else as it was to her. She should just cut her time short and go back home, but what would her mother say? And her friends? She and Mom had worked so hard and scrimped and saved to get up enough money so that Sherri could spend two weeks on a dude ranch, something she'd wanted to do since she was a little girl. She couldn't very well quit and go home, especially for such a dumb reason that she had a crush on the owner. Her crushes came and went and she'd just have to work it out as she always did.
   It would help if she didn't have to cope with Patty's moods. Patty made her so mad sometimes. She would take these spells where she'd get irritable and pick at every little thing Sherri did, like now. Sherri got so she didn't even want to be around her when she acted like that.
   It was dark outside and she decided to go to bed early and read or write letters or something. She had started reading the latest Louis L'Amour novel and was anxious to finish it. There had been a discussion at breakfast this morning over good books to read. Victoria Blaine had this pocket book edition she'd taken out of her book bag, an Austin Ashley thriller, something called, Murder Wears A Smile, about a jealous woman who murders every woman her fiance looks at.
   Spooky! Sherry gave a shudder. How could anyone get their kicks out of books about murder? That Victoria was a little weird, anyway, even if she was on the pages of all the glamour mags and commercials on tv and stuff. She was pretty standoffish, too, just like you'd expect a famous model to be.
   Sherri reached her room and went in. She was a little surprised to find the room dark. She could have sworn they'd left the light on when they went down to dinner. She found the switch and turned on the lights. She puttered around quite awhile before turning down the sheets and getting ready for bed. As she flipped over the pillow and reached for her pajamas she saw the note pinned to her pj's.
   Curious, she unfolded the paper.

                   Meet me in the hayloft of the big barn tonight. I need to see you.
                                      Love, Paul
                      P.S.  Don't let anyone else see this....our secret, right? Bring it with you.

   Sherri felt a peculiar rush of electric emotion, yet a small fear, a hesitation.
   Paul, wanting to see her?
   Honeypot. He'd called her that just about every time he talked to her. How come he'd pinned the note on her pj's, unless it meant he wanted something from her? She had dreamed of his arms around her, kissing her.....Would he want more....going all the way? That idea scared and excited her at the same time. She was a virgin and hadn't even let a guy pet her when the necking got too heavy.
    Something in her conscience warned her, told her this was not only wrong but foolish and reckless, but only for a brief moment did she argue with herself. This was Paul, and he wanted her.
   With the naive faith that is peculiar to teenage girls under the spell of an infatuation, Sherri tucked the note in her jeans pocket, hastily wrote a note to Patty saying she'd gone out and would be back in awhile, and left the room with a sense of excitement she didn't try to suppress.
   Not once did it occur to her that the note might not have been written by Paul McFarland, or that, instead of finding some new exciting part of life, she was going to meet her death.

   Though the bottom half of the barn was lit with night lights, the vast haymow was almost pitch black above. As she climbed the ladder and poked her head through the loft hole, she began to feel recrimination that she'd been foolish enough to come. At that point, peering off into the vast space of the dark loft, she was on the verge of scrambling back down the ladder and forgetting it.
    It was sure spooky here at night!

   "Honeypot! Over here!"
   The loud whisper had come from a section near the middle of the barn.
   "Paul?" Somehow it hadn't sounded like Paul. She couldn't be sure.
   "Over here, baby."
   "It's so dark! I can't see." Sherri had completed her climb into the loft and was now standing just beside the loft hole, almost ready to bolt, it was so spooky, and she couldn't see a thing, it was so dark. She turned to start back down the ladder when the flashlight beam suddenly snapped alive at her feet and the whispered "Just follow my light, honeypot. I'm right over here. We'll have fun, you and me. C'mon."
   And Sherri went.
   Suddenly the light flicked out and plunged her into the total darkness which is experienced just before one's night vision kicks in.
   "Paul?" Now she was scared. Really scared.
   A strong arm snaked out and caught her from behind, closing against her windpipe in a visegrip, cutting off any scream she might have attempted. She felt herself going black, getting lightheaded--
desperate to breathe. She felt herself being strangled, murdered. No! No! Help
   So easy. So gullible. The killer dropped the girl in a heap, stood over her a moment, then flicked on the flashlight, kneeling to search for and retrieve the note....stood up, pocketed it. The beam flicked over the loft to different spots, settled finally on the huge bin that let grain down the big holding tank to be funneled to the stock into individual feeders. The cover had been removed to accomodate the killer's plans, and now, standing over her inert form, the killer spoke softly: "Well, honeypot, if you're not dead now you soon will be!" With some effort the girl was hefted over the shoulder, carried a short distance, and heaved into the bin of seed.
   "Now then, you little hussy--that'll teach you to make eyes at men you don't even know. Serves you right, you little whore!"
    And with a low, insane chuckle of satisfaction, the killer pulled the lever that sent the grain cascading down the chutes just enough so that the body of Sherri Hilliard disappeared and was buried under the churning, broiling mountain of grain.
   The cover was very quietly replaced, and the night again closed into blackness and silence over everything in the loft.      

Thursday, November 22, 2012

THE DUDE RANCH MURDERS, by Sam James, 5th Installment:


    Victoria rolled over and awoke suddenly. Light strained to get in through the closed shades and curtains. The room was gray with early dawn. She reached to turn on her bedstand lamp and her hand brushed against the book she'd been reading in bed last night.
   It was Murder Wears A Smile, the latest Austin Ashley thriller. Ashley was to the readers of mystery thrillers what Louis L'Amour had become to the Western book fan: the leading author in his field. Mysteries had always been her favorites, Ashley especially. Maybe she felt the kinship more out of a sense of identification with her past, but she could hardly come to that conclusion. Even as a girl, she'd loved them.
   Her past was better let alone. Paul didn't know of it and never would, as far as she was concerned. Perhaps with Paul she could forget....she could become the real person she wanted to be---not the phony, glittering painted lady of the ads, the woman who must sell herself and her beauty and her talent in a dog eat dog effort to succeed.
   She'd succeeded in leaving something sordid behind her. She'd lost two fiances because of it. They'd found out, and had given no mercy.
   She was not a fortune hunter. The death of her first husband had left her well off. She was, however, a woman who needed a man. She knew her wants. She was well acquainted with her needs. She wanted and needed Paul, and did not want to lose him as she had lost the others.
   She didn't like Merrilee at all. (Merrilee, Kate--Whatever! Paul called his sister Kate most of the time, except when he seemed annoyed with her!)  Kate acted as though Victoria were an intruder, threatening somehow to her position. Kate was a very possessive person when it came to her rights or her authority. Well, that would only last so long: She knew how to deal with people like Kate.
   Victoria chose her clothes for the morning and got dressed. As she studied herself in the mirror, and liked what she saw, she ignored the dark side of herself. She picked up the book and tucked it into her chic drawstring bag. She wouldn't ride today. Perhaps Paul would stay home with her.....but if not, well, she was in the mood to read and the book was good. She went downstairs to the dining room where she found most of the other guests already gathered around the long plank table for breakfast. She took her place, exchanging greetings, glancing as she did so at Mrs. Long-- Georgia--who was seated next to her place. By this time coffee was being served while everyone had a chance to arrive in time for breakfast.
   She thought that Kate acted cool towards her this morning. Kate always sat at the far end of the table, and Paul at the near end, the head. Her thoughts rested on Mrs. Long, broken by the arrival of Paul, who greeted everyone and took his seat. He was always so lively in the mornings, not like most people who took an hour to wake up. But then, he'd probably been up before sunup.
   All through breakfast Victoria made a point of paying attention to Mrs. Long. Did she trust Paul? He was a flirt, yes---but he loved her and meant nothing by his flirtations. She turned back to the conversation at hand,  the subject being the reading of a page turner--books you couldn't put down.
    "Speaking of good books," she said, "I'll forego the saddle today in lieu of the printed page. Is anyone else here an Austin Ashley fan?"
   Some were, but Sherri Hilliard said, "I like Louie L'Amour, myself. He's neat. But how could anybody read a book when they've got a chance to ride a horse?"
   Ralph Tully, who'd seated himself next to Sherri,--much to her distress-- leaned over and whispered an obscene suggestion that he thought only she could hear. His ugly little eyes leered at her and his hand found her thigh under the table.
   "Mr. Tully, take your hands off me!"  She hissed back in a firm whisper. She reached down as inconspicuously as she could and removed his hand from her leg, hoping no one else had heard. Tully laughed. He had seen the way she flirted around with the ranch boss--He knew her kind, the little tart. Who did she think she was kidding, anyhow? He'd show her a thing or two when the time came.
   Sherri inadvertantly glanced at Richard DelaCruz, the Indian seated on her right at the corner of the table, next to Paul. She saw that he had seen what happened. Her cheeks flamed.
   "If he bothers you again, baby, let me know. I'll teach him some manners!" He winked at her and poured himself some more coffee.
   Sherri blushed. He was an attractive man but she'd seen him pour from a bottle into whatever he was drinking in the evenings when he thought no one was looking. His kind of flirting was polite and fun and harmless. Besides, he was too old for her, anyway.
   It was Paul she couldn't keep from thinking about. She glanced at him up the table but he was talking to Victoria and then to Georgia, across from Sherri. Mrs. Long was saying how she had read Murder With A Smile but she'd be a sport and not tell who was killing off all those women.
   "Jealousy does funny things to people," she added. They couldn't tell just how she meant it. "Lucky for you, Paul, your fiance isn't the jealous type.  Or else all we females who're mad about you might end up corpus delecti!" Her eyes twinkled into Paul's and she laughed at her own joke.
   "Ha ha," said Vikki, dryly. "You might just as well have come right out and said the Dr.'s fiance went around killing everyone he flirted with!" She didn't appreciate the joke at all, but maintained her cool.
   "Well, that let's me out," DelLaCruz laughed. "Paul didn't flirt with me, so I'm safe, right, Vikki? In case you go Lizzie Borden on us?"
   Vikki glared at him, waiting for Paul to come to her defense. Paul didn't. Instead, he laughed. He thought the jokes were funny.
   A light rose to her eyes, a hot fire of indignation. She caught herself in time. Careful, Vikki. Don't let it get the best of you. Not this time. Not again.
   She forced herself to relax.
   She would show them she could enjoy the joke as much as the next person.
   She would, no matter what effort it took.
   In spite of her self-avowal, she turned to Georgia Long, a small, baiting smile on her lips. "Are you 'mad' about Paul?
   "Why certainly I am! You should consider yourself a very lucky woman. Hang onto him while you can." Georgia returned the smile with a flair of her own.
   "I intend to," Victoria said.
   "I'd sure like to hang on to him," Sherri Hilliard said without embarassment. She was always just herself, without guile or snares, which is what made her so attractive to predators. She was really quite conservative, certainly not promiscuous. She and Patty were both moral teenagers who liked attention, a little harmless flirting, dates with boys when they could be had, and other normal things that normal teenage girls wanted. But naive enough to be embarassed when necking on dates progressed to the no-man's land of petting when the boys' hands began to rove. She honestly did not realize how strong she came on to other people nor what feelings she aroused in men, particularly.
   She wished she hadn't gotten this crush on the ranch boss. It was spoiling her vacation. All she'd planned on was riding everyday as much as she could, and having the kind of wholesome fun you could have on a ranch---and if there had been any boys her age, well, just maybe she'd get a little romance, too.
   But this stuff with older guys was getting out of hand.
   "Better look out, Vikki--looks like you've got some serious competition." Paul grinned at Vikki, then turned to Sherri and winked at her. "You'll do allright, honeypot."
   Under the table he was squeezing Victoria's hand and rubbing her leg.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another Chapter Soon

Be patient. 5th installment of The Dude Ranch Murders coming up after Thanksgiving. In the meantime, it's bedtime.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

More Dude Ranch Soon......

Too much going on. Another chapter soon.

Ages Old Bible Verse Prophetic!

Well, it's happened! The 2012 voting is over, and as usual, Washington State is racing out ahead of all the Politically correct nags: The liberal left stuck its nose under the wire and other forbidden places when its "Power Grabbers" passed two bills: Queer marriages and Mary Jane (mareewanna) are now legal.  By golly, the Bible got another one right: Quote Liviticus:
           "If two men lie together, they shall be stoned........."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monsters? +++A Poem by N.A.Vincent

Let other men discover
    Monsters in the
There are certainly some
      limits to my

If there be a shark of forty feet
    Or Monsters in
       Loch Ness
I for one don't care to see--
     I'll be content
        to guess.

If there be a Monster
     10 feet tall--
  A Sasquatch in
       the wood
I wouldn't go a lookin'
   even if I could.

If there be an
   out there
 with arms as long
    as ships--
Somebody else
   can find him
and get eaten
by his lips.

If there be a dragon
    on the isle
Who'd eat me
    in a minute..
Someone else can
  hunt him down--
His mouth won't have
      me innit.

I'll be content to know that
         these Monsters
     live somewhere--
   As long as I am safe
        at home
     and they are
   way out there!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

THE DUDE RANCH MURDERS : 4th Installment, by Sam James, aka N.A. Vincent

   I was waiting when the ride came in. The guests were exhausted but happy in spite of all the sore bottoms, aches and pains, grumbling and complaining.
   Before Victoria could dismount, I went over,  grabbed Misty's reins and led her out of hearing of the guests. Paul, having turned aside to help a guest momentarily, came up just as Vikki started to dismount.
   "I love your mare, Kate. She's beautifull!" Vikki gushed.
   "She is  my mare and you will not ride her again!"  I said.
   The surprise on her face, the perplexity, registered clearly. "Kate, I'm sorry. Paul said you wouldn't mind."
   "That's right, Kate. I had no idea you'd mind. Misty's so gentle and dependable, I didn't want Vikki to get hurt." Paul had put his arm around Vikki's shoulder.
   "Well I do mind, Paul. We have plenty of other 'dependable' horses in our string. If Vikki's going to be a part of this family she'd better have her own horse. She isn't going to ride mine."
    I had said all I was going to. I led Misty away, unsaddled, brushed her and turned her out. We always rode the last mile at a walk so the horses would be cooled out and ready to turn out when they arrived home--waiting an hour to feed them and us, so everyone had time to relax.

   That evening was hot. Just about everybody went swimming in the lake.   
Sherry Hilliard threw bread crumbs to the tame mallards that nested there. The baby ducks were old enough now to copy their parents and greedily gobbled up tidbits.
   It's peculiar among teenage girls who pal together that one is usually attractive and the other is not. Sherii was goodlooking--not spectacular--but she was cute, with a lot of personality. She flirted a lot, but it was innocent, good-natured flirting, and you could tell she didn't really mean anything by it. She was full of fun and life. She kidded Richard Del la Cruz and managed to avoid anything that would appear to be leading him on, sensing he was a ladie's man and harmless. Not so with Ralph Tully. She seemed to have the good sense to know he was not to be trusted, and avoided him whenever possible.
   She flirted with Jim, who didn't flirt back--and she flirted with Paul--who did. Even in front of Vikki, Paul couldn't resist flirting with other women. It was just the way he was. It seems strange to me that the male of the family was the charmer, the flirt. I almost never flirted coyly or without intention, unless I really liked someone. Even then it did not come natural to me, like it did to Paul.
   Patty Vickers, Sherri's best friend, could not hope to compete with Sherri. Maybe she wasn't trying to. Quiet, almost mousy, alongside the brilliant color of Sherri's personality, she was a gray speck.
Where Sherri scorned the advances of Ralph Tully, when he made a pass at Patty, she responded. Probably too few men had ever made passes at her for her to recognize the kind he was.
   Mentally, from the first, he was on my list of those who'd not be invited back. I hoped we could stave off trouble from that quarter until the two weeks were past.  Even among the guests he was not popular. You could sense it under the current in the air. This certainly wasn't turning out to be our normal, easygoing seasonal crowd.
   There was a lot of jealousy in the air. You could feel that, too.

   The Lightfoots seemed the only ones in the whole crowd who seemed to have come because of what a dude ranch had to offer in the way of recreation: They weren't preoccupied with sex or impressing someone, or jealous because somebody was paying attention to somebody instead of them.
   Excluding Jim, of course. He had disappeared, probably to extract himself form the fangs of all the females on the prowl.
   Victoria kept trying to keep Paul all to herself. She didn't realize as the host, being partners with me, he had to circulate, to provide entertainment, to keep the guests happy.

   After-dinner activity included a night of square dancing. We had Mal Decker and his band, The Rounders, up for the evening. I love square dancing. It's a time when I can let my hair down and almost be a guest instead of hostess. To my surprise, Jim Rhodes joined in the dancing. Suddenly he was in front of me, his eyes lively and laughing into mine, his hand electric as he held me. Then he was gone again and I felt my face hot, my lips too warm, and suddenly the dance wasn't fun anymore.
   I got through it and quit. My partner, Richard Del la Cruz, had to find someone else. He chose Georgia Long, who hadn't joined in the first square.
   I watched the dance from the bar. I didn't drink, but it was a good place to sit. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, even those who weren't dancing.
   Paul was having a great time. Victoria, used to having her men do her beck and call, had declined his invitation to dance, supposing that Paul would stay with her. She didn't really know Paul very well. He found himself another partner--Patty Vickers--and proceeded to teach her to square dance.
   The music was lively and Mal a good caller. The Rounders were more than good.

   Later on that night I decided to make the rounds. I felt restless, vaguely a little lonely. I don't know what was coming over me lately. There was something I wanted, something I lacked. I never felt I'd ever think it a necessary thing to fall in love, marry someone, be a 'housewife'--that wasn't the life I envisioned for myself. I knew I could never leave SkyHigh, and how many men would feel about this place as I did? And how many could I trust? The land we owned was free and clear. Mom and Dad had lived here all their married lives, and the place had been in Dad's family before that.
   I always thought I was happy enough, content here with Mom and Dad and Paul, only in some ways a little more like Dad.
   I'm more like Dad was, except I have a temper that flares up every once in awhile. Dad and Paul never seemed to get mad.
   I thought about being in love and I got uneasy, thinking about it. I wasn't being fair to myself, either, and I knew it. And for the first time I found myself being a little bit jealous, something I'd always despised in other people.
  Well, you without the stick in your eye, cast the first stone! Or something like that. I laughed. I guess I could be as foolish as any other woman who ever thought she was in love.
   I saw Jim's face, looking at her while he danced, the same way he'd looked at me. I shrugged. Well, men were fickle and I'd have to work on my problem and figure out a solution for myself. I sure couldn't understand, though, how women could fall for a man's line when it was so obvious to me that's what he was handing out. Maybe Jim was different and maybe he wasn't. Paul sure wasn', I had to admit, even he had a line when it came to women.

   I climbed up into the hayloft and sat at the open loft door, looking out over the mountains and ranch. It was a clear, beautiful night, the kind that makes you glad you're alive. I would have liked to stay but it was getting late and we liked an early start to the day. I started for the ladder. The loft was dark, the wide door open on only one end.....I was almost to the ladder when I suddenly realized there was a creepy feeling along my spine, the kind you get when you realize it is pitch black and you are not alone. I heard a small thud, and I turned----
   A small white patchy shape ambled over to me and purred up against my leg.
   I reached down for the cat. "Jinks! You scared the life out of me, you little alley cat, you!" I picked her up with a lot of relief and then set her down again when I got to the edge.
   I stopped. I heard voices down below. I peered over the edge. Down the aisleway between horse stalls, I saw my brother Paul. The girl in his arms was not Victoria, by any means. In the night light I could see her clearly--Georgia Long! Why, she was almost ten years older than Paul! I could hear every word. They weren't taking pains to hide anything.
   "Paul....It's so good to see you again. You're so good for me, but...Victoria--I've watched her. She's so jealous of you. She'd never understand."
   And Paul laughed. "What she doesn't know won't hurt her. I don't intend to be hogtied and branded. Besides, we aren't doing anything to be ashamed of." Paul hugged her then. I couldn't see if he kissed her or not, because at that moment I looked over across the dark hayloft: Near the other ladder hole I saw the unmistakeable shape of a person--dark, blackly silouetted against a lighter dark of the night.
   My blood ran cold. I couldn't see who was there, man or woman, but I knew whoever it was had overheard the same thing I had.
   I didn't know what to do. I did't want Paul to think I was eaves-dropping, yet I couldn't just call out "Who's there?"   either.
   But when I looked again Paul and Georgia were gone. I heard the barn door slide open and close again and then nothing but the sound of horses sleeping. Quickly I put my foot on the ladder and began to lower myself. With just my head showing now above the loft, I glanced over. Whoever was there still was.
  "Who's there?" I called.
   But the figure moved, and slowly began to walk towards me.
   I was down that ladder and out of the barn like a bat out of hell and I didn't stop running until I was in the house.
   A little while later I was coming out of the kitchen when I heard the front door open.
  From across the darkened hallway I saw her pause, bend to brush something from her pantslegs, and then cross the room and go upstairs.
   I walked over. Wisps of hay lay on the entry rug just inside the front door.
   I had seen Victoria's face when she turned. I had the uneasy, black feeling that something terrible was going to happen......    

Monday, October 29, 2012


      Of course those of us who enjoyed comic strips in the fifties remember Pogo The Possum.
   I wasn't even thinking of him until strange things began happening in the garage in the dead of night. Loud bangs and crashes, things going bump in the night......In the morning, the stuff on the shelves in the garage had been rearranged haphazardly onto the cement floor. The cat food dishes, all eleven of them, were totally licked clean.
    Some critter was obviously sneaking in the cat door which opens from the garage to the outside, because there had been no cat fights, and all the cats looked innocent.
    The second night a large hole appeared in the unopened sack of cat food that was not in a protected bin with a lid. The next night Rascal, Mom's little dog, did her RunRunRunLikeASonOfAGun thingy, barking furiously at the cat door from the house to the garage. I switched on the light and opened the door quickly.
    There was Pogo, caught in the act. He was probably this year's juvenile (or she, I never looked), up on the shelf. Turned and looked at me and tried to scurry away. Mom's dolls are in an open box. I grabbed his tail. He grabbed the spiky hair on one doll and refused to let go.  She came up like a ventriloquist's dummy....Pogo wouldn't let go, so I let go. Figured I'd catch him next time.
    Seems I put the fear of God in him. Didn't seem he was back for a night.
    Wrong. It's been raining, and next morning the basement floor was covered with little tiny longey feet prints in wet clay stuff. Possum Feet! No sign of Pogo as I glanced around.
    The cats all looked anxious to get breakfast. Mini wasn't in her box she's been sleeping in under that shelf, but I noticed something askew on that shelf so I went over to push it back before it fell off. I was pushing it back when I glanced in the box. Pogo was sleeping curled up in the box, but peeked up when he became aware I was there.
    His neck angled quite still while his little beady eyes appraised me. I pretended I didn't see him. He took the bait and stayed "hidden", he thought. I got a flat board and slid it over the box for a lid, between the box and the shelf, then got the cat carrier. I carefully moved the box to the floor, board still pressed tight over the box. I set the cat carrier on end so all I had to do was drop him into it. Off came the lid and of course he turned to defend himself. But I took a chance he was too slow to bite me and couldn't turn his heavy little bod that quick, and dropped him into the cat carrier and clanked the lid shut.
     You'd think it would be easy enough to relocate a possum to the woods, but this here township and surrounding countryside is full of houses everywhere, and any of the roads leading into the woods are blocked off. I didn't want to set him out near any houses, and I didn't want to set him out near a road because I didn't want him to turn into RoadKill--but I couldn't get back into the woods. I must've driven a hundred miles looking for somewhere suitable, finally gave up.
    So I parked near the power line swatch, took the carrier down in a small ravine where some heavy brush grew close enough to the edge of the woods and hopefully far enough away from the road that he'd manage to make a clean getaway. Said a small prayer for Pogo and turned the carrier upright so he sorta dropped out and glided into the brush.
    If God's eye is on the sparrow--and it is-- Pogo's got it made. A new home in the wild--free and away--where the deer, the rabbits, the raccoons and possums play. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Your Life Is A Gift

"This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

When's the last day you rejoiced that God had given you life?. Did you know...the very breath of life which is in you was given to you by God upon your moment of birth?

The trails are rugged. Cliffs are steep and rocky. The canyons wide, the rivers deep, and ---oh golly, I'll never make those rapids--this river is impossible to cross! I'm here to tell ya it isn't. The same God who created the universe by the word of His mouth and who keeps it going by the same---is the same God who gave you the gift of life. The same God who loved you so much He gave His only uniquely born son Jesus.
    Now maybe He is saying that the life of someone I love very dearly is being recalled to whence it came....While the body returns to dust, the living soul who rejoices in Christ returns to the heavens above to the Father, to the very presence of God in three Persons, to dwell with Him forever in unimaginable light and perfection. We will meet in heaven one by one, to join those of His and ours who have gone before us. If you're my family or my friend, I hope, if I search Heaven for you, that I will find you.
   Yet the unrepentent soul life also lives on-- eternally separated from the God who gave it to you to whom this applies.
    But your destiny is not the beautiful realm of glory---your destiny is vividly described in the Word of God: the lake of fire, created for the devil and his fallen angels. (torment forever. Wailing and gnashing of teeth forever; unendurable burning flesh forever. No relief forever: outer darkness forever. NO LIGHT FOREVER.
     Please. Value this life Christ has given you. Next time you draw in a breath, imagine having no air, no breath of life to inhale. Contemplate your destiny. Dwell on your choice. Think about it. Consider your options---ONLY TWO: WILL IT BE HEAVEN AND LIGHT, joy and glory with Christ,---or will you choose to throw away the gift of life you''ve been given, IN THE TRASH CAN OF HELL, where never, never WILL YOUR TORMENT END AND THERE IS ONLY DARKNESS AND THE ABSENCE OF GOD FOREVER.
     Step out of God's impersonal love which caused him to sacrifice His own son for a dark world INTO THE PERSONAL LOVE HE GIVES ALL WHO BELIEVE IN CHRIST THE SON. You will step into the most wonderful personal relationship mankind has ever known---communion with God, fellowship instantly,  with the very ONE TRUE GOD, creator, savior, friend.
     Don't wait. If you die now without him, the choice is ended.
    And that, my dear friend and family---is TRUE.

THE DUDE RANCH MURDERS: 3rd installment

  We had seemed to atrtract an unusual number of predators this year: Richard Del la Cruz looked part Indian or Spanish. He drank a lot, flirted a lot, kidded a lot and passed out a lot.  We weren't pleased to have him on the place at all, because we felt he drank too much. The ladies, however, were all delighted. He had a convincing line, I'll have to admit--and lots of charm.
  Unless you'd heard it all before.
  The widow, Georgia Long, arrived after those others. Her open honesty won me to her immediately, but as the days wore on I could see a sad thing somewhere in her depths; at times she seemed almost frightened and insecure. She was a good rider, though, and honest....a little too honest sometimes. She was an attractive, honey-blonde woman around forty. She was the only one of the female guests who could get any kind of reaction out of Jim Rhodes when she talked to him. The others flirted, connived, put on acts and everything else under the sun to get him to notice them. He didn't. Except with her. Maybe it was because she didn't coyly flirt with him, or try to make a play. I sensed more it was because he felt sorry for her than anything else.
  At SkyHigh, guests, owners, and hired hands all eat together at a long plank table. We all relax together in the Frontier Room, which anybody can use at anytime. The hired help live upstairs like the guests, unless they choose otherwise to live in the bunkhouse down by the creek that empties into the lake by the house. They come and go as they like on their own time. We find we keep help a lot easier that way. They don't quit on us and go elsewhere next season. We trust them like family and try to treat our guests that way, too.
   With this bunch it was hard. Our policy, once we'd had a guest who didn't fit in, was to be "full up" next season if that person wrote wanting to come back. It might not've been too fair a policy, but it worked for us.

   When Paul told me Victoria was coming out to the ranch for a couple of weeks, I had to ask, "As a paying guest?"
   He looked at me. "As my guest, sis. She's going to be my wife. She might as well get a taste of how she'll be living--and what's expected of her."
   I laughed.
   He looked at me as if to say, What's that for?
   "I can just see Victoria with a pitchfork in her lily-soft hands. Probably the only time she ever used one was in that hay ad she did on that commercial. She probably doesn't even know what they're for!"
   Paul threw me a dark look. "You can be awfully petty sometimes, Merrilee." I knew he wasn't too happy or he wouldn't've called me Merrilee. My middle name is Katrina, and I've been called Kate since I was a little girl. Paul always says Merrilee when he's disgusted with me.
   "Well, I just think you could've done better than Victoria Blane--She's mancrazy and she's jealous, and that's a bad combination. She wants her cake and eat it too."
   "I don't see it that way. When you find somebody you love, you'll see it differently." Now he was trying to be reasonable.
   I thought, I've already found somebody I love, only----I broke off my thoughts. There was no use thinking about it at all. I couldn't have this man and he could never have me. I was only a friend to him, that was all. And there was more.....only---.

   I went on down to the stables. Paul was going in after Victoria and this was my turn to stake out the trail riders.
   This being the first ride, everyone was going. Jim Rhodes had asked if he could ride the big black gelding, Chief. Usually that's the horse Paul rides, but when Paul had seen how good Jim rode, he said Jim could use Chief anytime Paul wasn't. We'd decided Jim would ride drag (at the end of the line of tenderfeet) and I'd lead, since Jim didn't yet know all the trails. We'd be a team, and Paul and Bud would team together.
   Victoria didn't ride and hinted she didn't intend to, so we'd have no help there. We worked each team every other day, never taking the same trail twice in that two week period. In the mountains there is no end to places you can ride. We did have our routine, though, and switched off days with every new group so the same team would not be riding the same trails all the time.
   Jim learned the trails real quick. He had a knack for landmarks, and knowing where we were. Once, later on, I jokingly told him if I didn't know better, this being the Twentieth Century and all, I'd think he was some cowboy right out of the Old West.
   He just looked at me--almost like he was observing--and said, "You like to joke a lot, don't you?"
   Well, this set me back a little, kind of made me mad, too. Anything I can't stand is sombody with no sense of humor. "So what?" I almost sneered at him.
   I didn't like the way he was looking at if I were a window and he could see clear through me.
   "Nothing," he shrugged, as if suddenly deciding he'd said too much. "Only sometimes people who joke a lot are hiding things."
   I regained my cool. Let him talk. This was the first time he'd said anything to me that wasn't business.
   "I could say the same about you," I said, "and you don't joke at all." I glanced at the guests. They were all stiff and trying to relax as much as they could on this brief stopover, before they had to climb back in their saddles again and continue on. For the most part, they were talking among themselves and enjoying the mountain air and scenery.
   Jim stroked the black's neck. He'd loosened the cinch, eased the saddle and pad back to let air on Chief's back, and now rubbed the wet area. "So you think I'm hiding something." His green eyes stared directly into mine. I couldn't quite read that look. He was kind of spooky, really, handsome as he was. He gave me a shivering feeling whenever he looked at me like that. I hadn't known him long, yet he could affect me so easily.
   "If you are that's your business," I said, "And if I am, that's mine." I tightened my cinch and led my white mare a couple of steps forward, getting ready to mount. Misty was half Arab, half Walking Horse. She was tall and graceful, with the beautiful dish face and the head of the Arab, except her face was long, like the Walking Horse. She was kind, intelligent, a good mountain horse and a pleasure to ride.
   She was all mine. Nobody rode her except me.

   What I said about Victoria, about her not wanting to ride--she even had me fooled.
   The next day while the trail ride was out I took a moment to go on out to the small pasture I kept Misty in and she wasn't there. Mad as the devil, I checked her tack. It was gone.
   I found Jim in the barn cleaning out stalls. "Where's my horse?!" I flared angerily. I could feel the color rising to my cheeks. I hd no reason to be angry at Jim, but I couldn't seem to hold it back.
   He leaned on the pitchfork, looked all around himself and the stall and said dryly, "Well it's
quite obvious I'm not riding her." Then he looked straight at me again, all amusement gone from his manner.
   "Then who is?" I demanded, his attitude making me madder by the minute.
   "For a pretty woman, you've sure got a temper." He went back to mucking the stall, without waiting for me to flare up. "You're brother saddled her for his fiance."
   "Without my permission?
   "He wiped sweat from his brow with his denim shirt sleeve. He could see how mad I still was. I should have had sense enough, though, to see he didn't want to get involved. Instead, I stood there angerily waiting. He stopped again and stood straight, looking me through with those deep green eyes of his. I'd never seen eyes so green.
   "What do you want me to say, Miss McFarland? Your brother's my boss. If his fiance insists on "that pretty white horse' (here his voice mimiced hers) and no other---I'm supposed to tell her she can't, with him standing there approving?"
   I felt oddly defeated. She had no right to my horse. I'd had Misty since she was a foal, trained her myself. She was mine, and Victoria was not going to have her.
   "I'm sorry, I seem always to be getting mad at you." But inside, I was still seething. She was not going to come here and take over.
   This ranch and business was half mine, this was my home, and she was not going to connive her way into running things.   

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Son Superior to Angels: No prophets after Christ


Author, Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, a citizen of Rome, a Jewish Pharissee, whose job was to persecute and murder Christians. Met the risen , ascended Christ in a vision on the road to Damascus, was blinded by the Light of the World, became a Christian,
     and the rest is history.
        and the present.
         and the future.

     In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

    The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, SUSTAINING ALL THINGS by HIS POWERFUL WORD.

    After he had PROVIDED PURIFICATION FOR SINS, he sat down at the right hand of the MAJESTY IN HEAVEN.
    So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
            What does all this mean?
            Before 5/4 BC, the winter of the birth of Christ, God spoke to men through prophets, of the ages to come, of the eviction of Satan from the presence of God, of the angelic conflict then to begin, of the coming of the Messiah.
       As the second member of the Trinity, Christ was equal in all attributes with God and the Holy Spirit.
       As God, He was ABOVE THE ANGELS, who are superior to mankind.
       But when, according to The Plan, He came down and became Man, he willingly subjected Himself (while retaining his Diety, but restraining the use of His power) as a slave to His purpose, becoming, as a man, lower than the angels.
     Through Christ, God made the universe. Why this becoming man is so important, and how it came to be, can be found in the free doctrinal Bible study from Berachah Church, Houston, Texas, at
     There is NO CHARGE EVER for any study materials from this site.
     Christ was born to die. His purpose was the salvation of ALL MANKIND, to defeat Satan  in the angelic conflict. (See appropriate studies at the above site)
      He rose again in triumph, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, ascended to Heaven to once again reign as Jesus Christ the Lord, who is now again higher than the angels.
     You also can enjoy God's presence--not only in this current life, but instantly, after you die.. It's simple: BELIEVE ON THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST and you WILL BE SAVED.
      No one can ever TAKE AWAY FROM  Christ's Work. It's DONE! IT'S FINISHED!! JUST AS HE SAID IN HIS DYING WORDS before He commended his spirit to God.
      You cannot lose your salvation.
      No one or anything existing can take it from you.
      No act you do will rob you of Christ's righteousness.
     No one has to intercede for you. Christ did it all. You have instant access through Him.
     There are NO LEGITIMATE PROPHETS in today's dispensation. Christ did away with that.
      Mankind has distorted and misapplied and twisted the Bible to fit his own needs:
             Mary has no power in heaven or anywhere else. Neither does any other human being whom man has made a god. Not Buddha, not Mohammad, nor any other false god.
       The laws of "journalism" can also be applied to the "law" of studying correct Bible interpretation, application, etc. : Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
     Now all at your fingertips, free of charge, all by grace, at the above site.
          AIN'T IT GREAT?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

THE DUDE RANCH MURDERS, by S.Vincent James (aka N.A.Vincent)

Page 3
     We did have to be careful. Even after dad died we stuck to that rule. At least I did. I sometimes wasn't so sure about Paul. Especially with Victoria. I thought it was funny, her trying to get him to notice her and his acting no different with her than he'd done with the other female guests. But when she came back again unescorted just after the rush season closed, I knew that wasn't the end of it.
     There weren't a lot of people here at all, and it seemed everywhere you looked he was showing her How-To-Do-Everything-Under-The-Sun.
     Next thing you know, Victoria left her big city modeling job and came out to the mountains where she got a job as a ski instructor at the resort not too far from us.
  After that, she was always around.
     She came frequently to Sky High. Our hired people got to know her pretty well. Our maid and cook is Dinah Bradbury. She's an older women, very efficient, who minds her own business and cooks more than adequately. She's been with us many years, living here at the ranch. We always paid her year-round wages, unlike some of the hands.
     During the season we sometimes hired extra help, who would be terminated when winter came. It's easy enough to hire people who know a lot about horses--but not so easy to get people who actually know how to work and are willing to put forth any effort. Bud Kingery is the one hand who stays year round. He's not married and is older, does his work well and never complains when some guest does something stupid that might cause him extra work. He'll laugh at a good joke, and I guess is about as easy-going as they come.
    Not so with Rhodes. He was the first to arrive that year. We had his reservations. I picked him up at the bus depot. Most people come by plane, not the bus. Some even drive out. I knew he was different when I met him at the depot. He was a goodlooking man in a firm, quiet way, with stern lines around his mouth and eyes. He had brown hair and green eyes and seemed distant, not too friendly. He didn't flirt with me, even with his eyes, like most men do when they meet me.
     He wasn't wearing any ring. He just appeared without much fuss. Even on the long drive up the mountain road he didn't say much. I tried the usual conversation designed to find out how guests will react and handle horses. Most will immediately tell you one of two things: how great they can ride, or how they've never been on a horse in their life. When I asked him if he'd done any riding, he said "Some.", and looked down the canyon on his side of the road. He wouldn't volunteer anything. All I knew was what he'd written on his reservation application. His name was Jim Richard Rhodes, he was thirty-one years old, coming alone, and at that time giving an address from a small town in Virginia. He spoke slightly with a soft southern accent, but not overly so, in fact, just traces, round and smoothed and polished, not that irritating twangy drawl so many southerners affect. I felt myself attracted to him. It isn't often you find an attractive man who isn't going around announcing one way or another how he is God's Gift.
     Jim Rhodes just didn't seem to care. When we arrived at the ranch, instead of asking to be shown to his quarters, he asked if he could first see the horses.
     He seemed partial to black horses. I could sense right off that he had a way with them. You can tell just by watching a person and how a horse reacts to him just how well he knows anything at all.
     This man did. Those horses accepted him right off the bat. I'd stayed only a moment to judge this reaction, then went in and carried his bag up to his room. Most people brought two or three suitcases apiece, as though they expected to winter over.
   His one struck me as a little strange, but then, so did he. Attractive, but strange.
   Maybe he was some murderer--a fugitive from justice! I laughed when the thought crossed my mind.
   I didn't laugh later, though, because the subject of murder turned out not to be so funny.
   One more thing about Jim Rhodes: he turned out to be so good around horses my brother offered him a job for the season. At first he said no, but then changed his mind and accepted.
   I sure was liking that man.

   We had a total of ten guests for that first two week period, not counting Jim Rhodes after he went to work for us, and not counting Bob Dixon, who came late.
   Madge Boom I liked. She was a fat, good-natured school teacher from Duluth, Minnesota. She'd grown up on a farm and had lived in the city ever since, never getting back to country life. She was still a young woman in her late twenties, and blushed a little whenever Paul flattered her lightly.
     The old couple-- the Lightfoots, Della and Oscar--had seen the horse and buggy days and had been married for fifty years, both still acting young and energetic. They'd married at fifteen, she said...which "folks did in those days".
    We even had horses to suit them. On a dude ranch you have to have quiet, dependable horses for older and younger people and those who don't know how to ride. Then you have to have a few with spirit for the good riders.
   One couple I found hard to like (but didn't show it) was Joe Strong and his wife Eva. Strong was that typical military man with the typical military mind--all authority, all business, all black or all white, no in between. People like that are hindered by themselves. He was a Sergeant of the highest degree and felt that entitled him to V.I.P. service. At Sky High, all guests are treated with equal courtesy and friendliness. We had to be careful with people like this, that we didn't offend him, yet that we maintained our own dignity and authority. Over the years you become adept at dealing with almost every type of person. In that light, he was not that much of a problem.
    They were a very tense couple: She was one of those little, compact hundred-pound women who had everything in the right places. They always seemed on the verge of arguing with one another, yet they didn't, at least not publicly. Neither one of them seemed too interested in horses, nor in the other activities we provided. They seemed to like to just sit around to see which one could get the best of the other.
    We had really hit the jackpot this season, it was beginning to look like.  If the Strongs weren't peculiar enough, Ralph Tully would have won my vote: an animalistic, hairy man whose obvious interest centered on the two teenage girls, best friends, who'd come up together from Washington State to spend their first season on a dude ranch.
   We had suspicions, and really had to keep an eye on that situation. We tried to prevent circumstances where he'd be alone with them. Somehow we had a feeling about him and didn't want trouble. His interest didn't stop with Sherri Hilliard and Patty Vickers. Any female seemed to suit him fine. He even tried his beady little eyes on me, but I, being practiced in the art of warding off wolves, managed to dissuade him artfully enough............

                                                                 to be continued........

Saturday, October 20, 2012


     It always amazes me when someone who should know me by now assumes that something I have related to him is a lie or some sort of fabrication. Think about it. You've spent your life being almost brutally, bluntly, painfully honest--a quality your friends and acquaintances should have recognized in you by now--let alone members of your own family--and yet, knowing you, knowing your disposition as a temperametal artist, writer--label what you have said--a lie.
    My honesty has always gotten me into more hot water than any lie ever could have, were I wanting to make myself look good by avoiding the truth--which I don't.
    I am many things, but one thing I am not is a liar. If I don't reply to something you have said and choose to keep my silence, do not assume that my silence is in agreement with what you have said. I may have chosen not to say anything, rather than lie to you to avoid hurting your feelings.
     If I write in the journal of my life that something happened and I put it down in detail, do not assume that, because I have a great imagination as a writer of fiction, that what my journal contains is a LIE. In my journal I don't fabricate, unless I tell you that is what I am doing. If I say it happened, it happened.
    The misadventures of my life have been such that I am thrown into the pot of stew with all kinds of veggies, meats, seeds, grasses, broths, bones, feathers, flakes--not to mention fruits. The Lord puts all kinds into the mix. I think He likes seeing how I am going to put my foot in my mouth again---not by any LIE--but by telling the TRUTH: Open mouth, insert foot. If one can be naiive at 72, I still am.
    I am further amazed that when you have lived in the same house with someone many years and you record incidents that happened which you have witnessed.....somehow the people who are friends and acquaintances seem to know an awful lot more than you do about that person, though maybe they only saw the one in question outside the home casually one or two times a year. Never mind the fact that you knew this person long before any of them......
    To some people it is highly important to be well thought of by family and friends whom they wish to impress--usually The Haves. The ones without money (The Have Nots) don't count, thus the hair comes down at home behind closed doors and everyday behaviour surfaces--usually the unseen Mr. Hyde (in moderation, of course--nothing so sinister as Murder So Foul).
   In short, you're not going to see the secrets men do (or women) behind the closed doors of their own homes--but many a journal or diary has revealed not only pleasant and humorous things, but vile and ugly actions as well. And if I choose to keep a journal and record those things, and occasionally choose to share my life behind closed doors with friends and family, do not label my journals A LIE or me A LIAR because "no one but you has ever seen any such vile behavior as you claim to have seen......."
    How do you think the evil men and women of this world have gotten away with horrendous acts against children, women and even men? Because they grimaced wickedly and bared the sharp fangs of a vampire? Certainly, they DID NOT.
    They stepped out of their homes, locked their doors behind them, strode forth with their winning smiles and their unique winning ways and drew their victims into the snare.
     I live in my life, the one that is not a lie, and sometimes horrendous things have shadowed my soul. But I can still hold up my head and say, though I have hurt many people with thoughtless and careless words and deeds--because even my soul can harbor meanness and I don't always think before I act--that I have never deliberately molested or raped a child or  killed anyone (although maybe I have driven many to suicide.......) and I have definitely not paved the road along the way by or with LIES.  My sins are many--too many--but I am amongst the forgiven who belong to Christ the King.
     Lastly, the most amazing thing about LIES, is that people who have made LYING a habit by which they plow through life, not only end up believing their own LIES but think that because THEY LIE, EVERYONE ELSE LIES also. NOT TRUE, by a long shot.
    Ending on a humorous note, a deputy Sheriff, Mike, a friend of mine, and I were discussing liars. Of course everyone knows that law enforcement agencies profile actions to determine who is lying and who is not. Having been a correctional officer, this was also catalogued in my subconscious--However, as I pointed out to Mike--NOTHING IS BLACK AND WHITE. For instance, continually darting one's eyes away from the other person is thought to be a "sign of lying". We spoke of that and I smiled. Mike is a very attractive man, and I told him, "Mike, if I were to continually stare at you while I'm trying to get a point across, I'd lose my train of thought because all I could think of was how good looking you are!" And consumate LIARS can STARE DOWN and BEGUILE the best of them!
    Think twice before you declare"YOU'RE A LIAR!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


A 20th Century Western Murder Mystery
                 Written about 1979-1980

   We inherited the business together. Dude Ranching was all Paul and me--his sister, Merrilee--had ever known. We were raised on our folks' dude ranch, Sky High (named that because we were way up in the mountains). We offered privacy, scenic splendor, horses geared to fit the person, reasonable rates, and we opened earlier in the season and stayed open later than our competitors.
   We had a good reputation and a lot of times the same people kept coming back and bringing their friends. We didn't have any trouble, usually---until that summer last year somebody started killing off our clients.
   I'd like to tell you about that. Things haven't been the same since, especially with Paul gone, too. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
   Mom and Dad left us suddenly, about three years ago. Their pickup slid off our icy mountain road just before the season opened and Paul and me were left to carry on. We couldn't cancel. It was too close to people coming, and I don't think either of us ever really considered not opening the season that year. It was our business, our income. What we made in summer had to get us through the whold year. Paul sometimes worked out, though, in spite of a good season. He was too restless to stay at home all winter, except he didn't have much choice when the snow fell too heavily to clear for a few days.
    We'd always managed to keep our roads cleared. We had our own equipment. When the folks died, a lot more of the work fell on my shoulders. Not that I minded. My brother Paul was fun to work with. He was so intelligent. He knew how to do a lot of things. I was so proud of him.
   But that last summer changed things. I guess Paul was still upset over our folks getting killed. We'd all been real close. He was moodier than normal for him, plus he'd found a girl he wanted to marry, too, Victoria Blaine. She'd been engaged before, twice, and both times left the men jilted. I wondered if she'd do that to Paul, but she never did. She seemed to really be in love with him, and that was ok by me, as long as she treated him right.
   She came around a lot and helped us out. She was a brunette. Her hair was long and silky. I guess she'd been a model before she came to the mountains. She was definitely not a small town country girl, unsophisticated and all.
   My brother Paul you'd think wouldn't be her type. He's tall and has a nice enough face, but his nose is kind of crooked and his hair is thick and unruly, dark brownish red, and coarse, sort of like Robert Horton. His mouth is strong, though, and his chin has a little hole in it--the McFarland cleft. His eyes were always his best feature.
   Paul used to laugh a lot, so his face had a lot of character, even though he wasn't the handsomest man around.
   There was this thing about Victoria, though, that came to light. She was awfully jealous. In our business, a jealous person just didn't fit in. There were lots of female clients and Paul always treated them nice, even flirted a little with them, young or old, cute or ugly--it didn't make any difference to Paul; he never meant anything by it, just did it to make them feel somebody card enough to see them as interesting persons.
   I'll admit Paul was wild before he decided to settle down to the business. He always did have an eye for the pretty gals and never did seem to go with any one of them for very long.
   Until he met Victoria. She'd come out one summer as a guest with her fiance---You could sure see she had straying eyes, the way they kept straying to Paul. But for all his charm and flirty ways--he was never one to play around with someone else's woman. He flirted a little with her, no doubt enamored by her beauty, but he kept hands off.
    I don't think she was used to men treating her that way. I watched her a lot that summer....It was more like a game to me, watching all the women make a play for Paul: He wasn't just the hired hand, he was "The Boss's Son",  and then, "The Boss". But he usually was careful enough not to get involved. I heard Dad tell him once that we had a reputation to maintain, and jealous, angry guests did not come back.
   Dad told me all that, too, when it became obvious I was getting my share of the male (married or otherwise) guests' attention.
                            Two pages of Chapter One: continued sometime.........

Failure, A Poem Of Unfinished Life, by NAVincent

 For all I want to be
      I never quite am.
And what I am is
         only me,
     and nothing more.

 For all I dreamed
        I was,
  Still, I'm just a sham--
        Not even
        a shadow
        of what I
    could have been.

For all my hope is past,
        my dreams
   in shadowed times
       fled away.....

   Remains to me,
      Hope alone...
   There will come

      better day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I'll soon be posting portions from my book series, "Image Of A Perfect Son", Book One, "The Rise" at, archives 2003, N. A. Vincent. (Sam James is my Western pen name). I will post portions from book one, then subsequent parts of the remainder of the series, WHICH IS COMPLETED, to stimulate interest. I  I have about 10 or 12 books completed, and will list a lot of my work, including my poems and my credentials on my future posts. You are welcome to share my posts on Facebook or with friends.
      Watch for my poem "Monsters",  excerpts from my life story "Little Ones", tales of my misadventures, and the Grand Plan gone awry. (Mine, not God's). In the meantime, I'm off for now.


Watched an interesting news item on Int.Nt.  this morning, an interview with three respected journalists whose "snoop" job is to track down statements/ads declarations/slung mud from political opponents and parties---to determine whether or not each "charge" is TRUE or FALSE. Very interesting, what each had to say, and seemed an amiable bunch in agreement on most things. Some questions answered, and they are all open to views and news from the average Joe who has found out something (FACTS) through legitimate investigation.
     We have all voiced our laments and disgust on the content of political ads, namely, that we are SICK AND TIRED OF LIES, FALSE CHARGES, FALSE CLAIMS and "ANYTHING GOES' political campaigns JUST TO GET ELECTED. Both parties, both (anyone running for high office) candidates are guilty of deliberate misrepresentation in their campaigns. Unfortunenately, I can't remember the names of the three gentlemen. But worth seeing.
      I gave up even wasting my time listening or watching to ANY political spiel because of the very above reason. As a reasonably intelligent person.....(as those of you who know me well can testify to...ahem....ahem...) I realized long ago that most ad campaigns are either all lies, half lies, half truths, or almost no truth at all. TRUTH IS A RARE COMMODITY ON THE POLITICAL SCENE . Not so hot in the commercial area, either! No candidate should PROMISE ANYTHING. Just say he'll try to work out better solutions than we have, with the help of Congress and the citizens!. BE HONEST WITH THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES INSTEAD OF TREATING US AS THOUGH WE ARE MORONS!!!
 (Are we, in fact, Morons? We certainly are if we continue to let our government tell us when we can visit the outhouse and when we can't........

Email Test Post

This is a simple post to see how the "follow on email" feature works.  We'll see!

Monday, October 1, 2012


    A very real and present evil is threatening our country.
    The Angelic Conflict is now raging against the Shores of Our Great Nation.
    The Middle Eastern hatred of Israel and of the Name of Christ our Lord is now at our door.
    First of all, Christians: Who are we?"-- "Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Believe Jesus is Who He said He was--equal with God, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Light of the world, whose life, death, ressurection fulfilled God's plan for deliverance from sin and the salvation of mankind. Become one of us IN AN INSTANT OF BELIEVING.
     Know Your Lord and His Power!--Who He is!" --Study doctrine in depth with a pastor teacher whose main mission in life is to know the Word of God, and know "The Word" (Christ)
     One such site is . You may find other sources, but this is amidst the most accurate and most complete of any Biblical Study. The Life of Christ is now available free of charge on MP3. A fascinating in-depth study.
    We are NOT unarmed against THE EVIL which is sweeping the world.
        Was thrust into power from virtual OBSCURITY.
         Refuses to disclose where he came from, who he really is,  WHO is the source of his backing.
         What he REALLY believes!
         In his very statements, appears to "despise" the people of the COUNTRY HE RULES.
         Cannot control his wife from blurting out, during a flag ceremony, "ALL THIS FOR A DAMN FLAG......."
         Was raised a Communist.
          Was raised a Muslim.
          Appears to expend every effort to DESTROY THE FREEDOMS OF AMERICA.
          Appears to have been born in "THE MIDDLE EAST'.  (speculation?)
          Seals his records so that no American citizen has access to them. Has he something to hide?
                Endless list, see the internet, check facts against fable.
            Consider this:
                WHO is the "WE" of whom he is always GIVING CREDIT......NOT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, OBVIOUSLY. "We,......have accomplished what "we" set out to do, "we" have reached our goals, "We"......etc. etc.---IN DEARBORN, MICHIGAN, HE HAS ACCOMPLISHED HIS GOALS? THE STONING OF CHRISTIANS----IN AMERICA? IGNORED BY THE POLICE---NO, NOT IGNORED---AIDED AND ABETTED BY A VERY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY  sworn to protect "ALL" citizens and THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, THE RIGHT TO PURSUE LIBERTY AND HAPPINESS.!!!!
           It is my opinion that THE ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD, THE ARAB BILLIONS, ARE CONTROLLING THIS PRESIDENT. (And, if God is allowing this to discipline us, then GOD HELP AMERICA,  WE SHALL FALL.
       CHRISTIANS, IT IS UP TO US to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, that God will not let us fall under THE 5TH CYCLE OF DISCIPLINE, WHICH BEFALLS ANY GODLY NATION WHICH TURNS ITS BACK UPON HIM. Particularly, LET US NOT abandon ISRAEL, NOR TURN AGAINST HER, FOR OUR NATION , which has enjoyed BLESSING, will suffer an ACCURSED future under ungodly control.
    Get in the fight! IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?

My Body Ain't The Highway!

     I am slowly coming awake, aware that the grey dawn of morning is rising. I don't want to get up, warm and snuggled beneath the open window under the covers....But something insistant niggles: I'm on my side, when Someone at the Foot of the Bed begins the journey along the ridge of my curved body.....This someone  is light.....Mini or Player--not heavy, like Tramp, or Buddy, my Maine Coon, or "medium", like Batman.....In annoyance I shift my body to shake Whoever off. Whoever clings at first, then obediently drops to either side of me: This is my morning ritual activating: Somehow they sense I am awake, and like an abundance of loving children gathering at Mom's bedside, with giggles, urging: Time to Get Up! Time to Get Up!--they are on time, as scheduled. Any number of 9 cats, six of which regularly sleep on my bed. (And I thought, when I acquired my full-size bed---I'd have more room, Ha. I guess it's me they like, not the bed). Scooby Do, my rescued abused Giant Orange, is not to be overlooked, but either he has more sense than to tread the ridge, or knows he must wait his turn. Since this morning trek tends to hurt my arthritic bones, I wobble the ridge from side to side, up and down, trying to dislodge the Traveler.... No matter what, I can't seem to get the idea into the heads of the others that my body is NOT the highway to my face!
     It's so funny how they "vie" for my attention. Player, the small Siamese who sleeps in the crook of my neck, knows she is my fav, but still, I try to convey that to each of them. Mini, my small striped shorthair, who sleeps by my shoulders, instantly lays herself across my chest and shoulders to bar All Comers, and stares firmly but regally from her high position, warning trespassers that at the moment, I am hers. Wild Thing, the cross-eyed Siamese, holds back, wanting so badly to be mine. Tramp, the black American longhaired Bobtail, is in the mix advancing. Batman, my Tuxedo, gives up and jumps off the bed, only to be replaced by Kitling, half Ragdoll, who has begun coming in at night. And so it goes, a pet and a word to each one, and then,
     "Ok, Enough, Enough!"
     I am reluctantly up. They have succeeded.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hurrah for Canada!

I was enlightened and thrilled that at least ONE country had the guts to STAND ALONE AGAINST THE ENEMY! Canada closed its Tehranian (Iran) embassy both in Tehran and in Canada, giving the enemy 5 days to withraw from Canadian soil!!
Pity it wasn't our own country, which is now bending over backwards to kiss enemy behinds.

When will the people of this country WAKE UP TO THE FACT that we are under seige, in WARFARE--and our LYING LEADERS are in CAHOOTS with the enemy!!!
The ENEMY is in Satan's camp. The CONSTITUTIONAL FREEDOMS are in God's camp. More later.

Evil in Heavenly Realms

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of darkness of this world, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms...." Ephesians 6:12....
What are these heavenly realms?
 Once upon a time, a long time ago, this true account of the beginning of angels was recorded in The Word of God. (the Holy Bible). Angels were created long before the time of  mankind, one above all others, Lucifer, a bright, shining, most gorgeous creature who decided to be like Christ, and to take Christ's place upon the throne. Using his freewill God gave him, he rebelled against God, which became the first sin, when he chose to battle the Lord rather than submit. He was cast out of Heaven as part of his sentence, and 1/3 of the created angels chose to accompany him in his rebellion. He became Satan.
Angels never die. So where did these angels go, and what happens--where are they now?  The cast out angels now are called demons, and they are as real and active in today's world as they were since the beginning of their rebellion. Loyal angels who chose to remain with God, formed God's warriors against these rebellious warriors.
Angels are gigantic, powerful, male creatures with powers above those of the human race, though NONE can do anything THE LORD HIMSELF does not allow. Like man, their powers are limited, unlike God, whose powers are unlimited.
An airline pilot reports for work, ready to take the controls of a gigantic flying machine. His co-pilot, both reasonably capable men, joins him. They go to the plane. The crew of hostesses and pilots board. Passengers board. Doors close.
In the tower, an aircraft controller directs the plane as to its takeoff procedure, and soon, if all goes well, the plane is airborne.
It's a sunny, bright day. Out the windows the pilot sees blue sky and maybe a few clouds here and there. Passengers see their reflections in the window, then the sky. They see nothing out there in that empty space.
But all around them in the invisible realm, an army is at work: some Christians have boarded the plane. Their angelic protectors are nearby, sitting on the wings or inside the craft, or flying above, or doing their job in which manner thay have chosen. Unbelievers, still in Satan's camp and sharing in the condemnation,  are also being watched, and two forces are wrestling over them: the army has been deployed: the angels of God are busy defeating the demonic force, and in some cases, lose a battle when a human rejects Christ for the last time, but winning, until that end is come. Still more angels are protectors of the families and friends not making the journey.
Other angels are watching over the controller in the tower, to do God's bidding in making sure all goes according to plan there. Other angel messengers are being deployed to take care of God's business everywhere in the world. There is no place they cannot go and no place they cannot be under God's direction, in the pursuit of His decrees and ultimate plans. Still more angels are battling evil in the nations of the world, protecting humans against the wiles of the murderous Satan. In dark continents, in boardrooms, in churches, hospitals, any place on earth a human has chosen to seek the Lord.
Still other angels are carrying home the dying loved ones who belong to Christ, who are now and forever will be, face to face with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
So, then, the unseen, invisible warfare is all around you. Stop and think, and ponder, whose side do you choose? Christ's army, or Satan's? Who is the ultimate winner? Can you now step outside your door, or board a flight, and not think that an invisible warfare is going on in your very presence---for your soul, if you are not saved, for your protection, if you are--and other reasons of God's?
Lastly, a memory from the past: 1955, a 16 year old boy troubled, tormented, confused. Belonging to Christ but having committed a terrible crime: Now escaped from the mental institution, making his way home back in the woods. His mother and sister return anxiously from town, hoping he is still ok. They turn into the road that winds back into the woods, baby brother sleeping on the girl's lap. She is 15, and her brother has been her best friend all their lives. She is as hurt and troubled as he is, and doesn't know what to do or how to act or how to deal with the emotions of them both.
Home is two buildings in a clearing in the woods---a small cabin, living quarters, and a barn-shaped tool shed lower floor, sleeping quarters upstairs. They arrive to a quiet yard, no sign of life, wondering where the son and brother is. Mom says she will look upstairs. In the cabin, the girl lays the sleeping baby on the single cot in the room.
Suddenly her mother's cries and piercing screams shatter the quiet. The girl runs to the rescue, thinking her mother has been attacked: Across the clearing, up the stairs......Shattered: An awful scene: Her mother wailing, her brother hanging lifelessly from a rafter.....
They take him down. Mother tries to apply resusitation, mouth to mouth, but it is plain he is dead. His eyes are glazed over, his body cold. Go for help, Mom says. The girl jumps on her horse in a wild dash through the woods to the nearest neighbors.
All is over. Her brother is taken away. They spend the night at Mom's sister's' house, under the black shadow of a hillside, in a darkest of dark nights.
The girl is wide awake, sharing the small room with her two cousins. She is devastated, numb, falling into a fitful sleep.
Suddenly wide awake: What is that sound, who are those? The room is lit up: Hundreds of gigantic, beautiful angels are singing and rejoicing....a peace comes.....
And as quickly as they appeared, they are gone.
In the morning, bitter, Mother remarks on a pastor's ignorant comment, that there was no hope for her son. Mom says, "If he didn't go to heaven, I don't want to go."
I tell her, "Mom, he is with Jesus. And then I tell her what I have seen in the night. What the cousins slept through and did not see".
I tell her this is God's reassurance to us that my brother is with Him.
That Christ, when He said on the cross "It is finished"---it is and was: His righteousness saved us. No man nor angel nor idea nor any other thing can undo what Christ did for us, in dying. No man with limited powers can undo the work of God, who has unlimited powers and the final say.
Once that line is crossed from unbelief into belief, the pact is forever.