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"These yarns are packed with vividly described gunplay."-Library Journal
"The writers have turned out concise stories that capture the essence of the time and place. Each story has a captivating twist, employing imagery in a refreshing manner. . . . Every writer has produced a jewel."-The Daily Oklahoman
"Elmer Kelton is a Texas treasure, as important for his state as Willa Cather is for Nebraska and Badger Clark for South Dakota. Kelton truly deserves to be made one of the immortals of literature."-El Paso Herald-Post
Robert J. Randisi
Don't never sneak up on a feller when he's diggin' a grave!
Sorry, but ya gave me a fright, there. They call me the Gravedigger. Welcome to Boot Hill. Reckon you're a-wonderin' what all the fuss is about, all these holes an' such. Lemme lean on my shovel here, a minute. Backbreakin' work, diggin' graves, but honest. That's what I was lookin' for when I come here in 'seventy-four. By that time Boot Hill already been here two years. Don't know 'zackly why they stuck it up here on this hill. Some say it was ta keep water from gettin' ta them, others so's ever'body could see it from miles around. Mebbe it's even so's the dead could have a good view. All I know is this is the highest point hereabouts. Coulda called it High Point Hill, I guess, but they called it Boot Hill 'cause so many of them that's buried here died with their boots on—usually from violence. 'Course, just 'cause they was shot, or stabbed, or stabbed, or killed some other violent way don't mean they was bad. No, sir. All these dead folks got their own stories to tell—if'n they could tell 'em, that is.
'Course, I reckon I could tell ya some stories, couldn't I? I need me a rest, anyways. Been expectin' some help along now, cain't be diggin' up all these graves by my lonesome. But seein' as how this here is the highest point around and I cain't see nobody comin' up ta help me yet, guess I could take a break for a spell and spin ya a yarn or two. I mean, tell ya what happened to some of these poor folks that's buried up here.
Lemme jest leave my shovel here…I'll wipe off some of my sweat with my bandana…least there's a breeze up here, most times, 'cept in like July or August…now follow me and I'll show ya some of these headstones. None of them is anythin' fancy, ya understand, mostly just some words carved onto some wood we got from breakin up packin' cases an' such. When somebody's gettin' buried up here ain't usually nobody to pay for no fancy stone. 'Sides, we ain't got no stone or marble or nothin' like that ta use, an' bringin' it in from Back East would cost too much. As for the writin' on 'em, sometimes folks jes' put somethin' simple like a feller's name…don't always know when they was born, but you kin usually tell when they died, that's for sure. Other times there's folks who get downright poetical. Lesse…not that one, jes' a date and weren't nothin' interestin' about the way he died…no, not that one, neither. Don't wanna waste yer time with borin' stories, I know you got other things ta do, and I gotta get back ta work sometime…mebbe over here…
Ah! Here's one. Come on, move in around this here marker. Ya see what I mean about the marker, jes' some ol' piece a wood with some writin' on it, but it's kinda pretty writin' and the story behind it's kinda, well, entertainin', I guess you'd say. As you kin see wasn't nobody sure when he was born, but he was planted here even afore I got here and I heard the story from the undertaker himself.
Jes' get on close enough ta read the words yore own self and I'll tell ya what happened…
Copyright © 2002 by Robert J Randisi
|Introduction: Footprints on the Hill||11|
|The Naked Gun||23|
|The Ghost of Abel Hawthorne||39|
|The Guns of Dusty Logan||83|
|The Comfortable Coffin of Miz Utopia Jones Clay||133|
|The Last Ride of the Colton Gang||183|
|The Piano Man||229|
|A Disgrace to the Badge||269|
|Planting Lizzie Palmer||299|
|A Damned Nuisance||319|