Since September 21 was the start of the next year of my life, I took some time to reflect and evaluate the past year. I have posted about most of the trials and tribulations of family and friends with medical issues. Also, I have posted about the lake cabin purchase and the positive effect that has been. All of these goings on have taken their toll on writing time.
Overall, I feel I am in a better place than I have been in a long time. My priorities are becoming clearer and writing is bubbling up to take on an important role going forward. In light of this revelation, I have decided to get back to the original purpose of this blog. My intention is to post more of my writing. Though I am still nervous about posting excerpts from my novel-in-progress, I have decided to share a few scenes from the MS as well as other “ideas in the works”. The plan is to post these every other week while trading off with writing tips, thoughts or concerns. Please, let me know if anything piques your interest.
The first one will be a continuation of a previous post, My Scene, a story line that began as a writing exercise. I thought the character was interesting and mixing urban fantasy with a western novel flair made me curious to write more of the story. I’m planning on this being a short story to see if the character and premise works. This short introduction sets up the initial meeting of the protagonist with his client and provides a little background.
The rain started before I left Grandfather Puma’s hogan in Tres Piedres. Grandfather Puma was a shaman who lived up in the hills a mile from the black top. The fine dust that filled the tire ruts he called a driveway turned to red clay soup. I needed the Jeep Cherokee’s four-wheel drive to get back to the pavement that led east to Taos. The rain stopped before I reached the Rio Grande Gorge so, it was little help in washing off the Jeep before I got to the turn off to Amy Hatcher’s ranch. Since it wouldn’t make much of a first impression on an Oscar-winning actress if the Wizard King’s Marshall left a pile of red mud on her blue flagstone driveway, I headed into Taos to find a car wash.
I came to a stop in the car wash stall and heard several plops, as the accumulation of New Mexico’ clay began to fall from the wheel wells. I stepped out of the Jeep and deposited the required two dollars into the machine. The power wash wand jumped as I pulled the trigger. Soon the Jeep bled red clay from every surface and every door crack. As I worked, I thought about my conversation with the shaman.
Puma was old even for a shaman. With age, comes wisdom and power. Puma was the top-tier of his profession. That made it doubly disturbing when I got the message that he needed my help because something was stalking a famous actress.
After a sweat lodge, Puma told me that whatever was stalking Ms. Hatcher, was not a skin walker. That piece of information let me breathe a little easier as skin walkers are evil and vile creatures in Native American culture. I once saw my mother shy away from open conflict with one and she is one of the nastiest wizards in North America.
Puma said that whatever the stalker was, it did use magic like a skin walker. It terrorized its victim and then fed on the victim’s fear. So far, there was no physical harm to Ms. Hatcher or her staff. However, the local animal population was dwindling and even Puma’s protection wards had not stopped carcasses from being left around Ms. Hatcher’s property. The mutilated remains were getting progressively closer to the main house and the messages attached to the carcasses carried greater threats. That’s when Puma sent word to me asking for my help. Puma was leaving the following morning to travel to Window Rock to perform spring ceremonies on the reservation. Therefore, I would be on my own until he returned in four days. That’s fine as I am used to working alone. It sounded to me like I was dealing with a black witch or a warlock. However, Puma said no normal warlock had ever broken his wards before. This did not make me happy. Before I left Puma’s, I took a few items out of an old canvas backpack I keep in the Jeep. I slipped my prayer stick and my power orb into the left pocket of my coat. A bracelet, made of silver wire twisted around seven bloodstones, went on my left wrist. I checked to ensure the stainless steel .357 magnum was loaded then, slid the worn leather holster onto my right hip. Maybe I was overdoing it a bit but, I would rather be paranoid, prepared, and alive than any of the alternatives that ended with me being dead.
Twenty minutes after I pulled into the car wash, my forest green Jeep pulled onto Highway 68 and headed north towards Ms. Hatcher’s ranch.