Support Your Local Deputy: A Cotton Pickens Western


William W. Johnstone: The Greatest Western Writer Of The 21st Century

Welcome to the peaceful little town of Doubtful, Wyoming, which has more than its fair share of kill-crazy gunslicks, back-shooters, and flat-out dirty desperadoes. It also has a sheriff named Cotton Pickens, who tries his best to keep law and order without getting his head blown off before breakfast.

Doubtful's Got A New Deputy. . .For The ...

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William W. Johnstone: The Greatest Western Writer Of The 21st Century

Welcome to the peaceful little town of Doubtful, Wyoming, which has more than its fair share of kill-crazy gunslicks, back-shooters, and flat-out dirty desperadoes. It also has a sheriff named Cotton Pickens, who tries his best to keep law and order without getting his head blown off before breakfast.

Doubtful's Got A New Deputy. . .For The Moment

Cotton Pickens got where he is by virtue of a quick draw and slow wit. He knows the difference between lawbreakers you have to lock up. . .and the kind you might as well just let go. Deputy Rusty Irons, though, ain't the sharpest tool in the shed. Someone kidnapped Rusty's mail order brides. They were probably doing Irons a favor, but a deputy in love is blind.

As for the carny barkers, medicine show con artists and revival-meeting fly-by-nighters who pass through Doubtful. . .Cotton just tries to keep the traveling hucksters moving. But in one terrible moment it all goes to hell. That's when Doubtful explodes in a frenzy of killing and bloodshed. That's when a lawman like Cotton earns his pay by looking evil straight in the eye. Of course, there's also the matter of keeping his new deputy alive and in one piece.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786031160
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 3/5/2013
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 390,257
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Support Your Local Deputy

By William W. Johnstone J. A. Johnstone


Copyright © 2013 William W. Johnstone
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7860-3116-0

Chapter One

My deputy, Rusty Irons, was as itchy as a man ever gets. We were at the Laramie and Overland stage station, in Doubtful, waiting for the maroon-enameled Concord stage to roll in. Rusty couldn't come up with proper bouquets, not in the barely settled cow town of Doubtful, Wyoming, but he managed some daisies and sagebrush he had collected out on the range.

Rusty was waiting for his mail-order brides. That's right, Siamese twins, joined at the hip, from the Ukraine. He ordered just one, but they sent him the pair. He'd gotten a hundred and fifty dollars reward, offered for Huckster Bob, wanted dead or alive. Rusty got him alive, and collected, and applied the money to getting himself a wife.

And now we were waiting for the stage to roll in. It was an hour late, and maybe more.

Well, my ma always said there's nothing worse than a sweating bridegroom, and Rusty filled the bill. He had sweat running down his sides. His armpits had turned into gushers.

"Well, you get to be best man," Rusty said.

"If I don't arrest you first for bigamy," I said.

"I looked it up; there's no law in Wyoming Territory against it."

"Well, I'll arrest you for something or other," I said. "You found a preacher who'll tie the knot?"

"No, but I'm going to argue that all he has to do is marry me to one of 'em."

"What'll you do with the other?"

"I can't auction her off," Rusty said. "So she gets to be the spectator."

"They speak English?"

"Not a word. They're from Lvov, Ukraine."

"Well, that's a good start," I said. "You won't get into arguments. My ma always said the best part of her marriage was when my pa was snoring."

"Well, you're the result," Rusty said.

I wasn't sure how to take that, but thought I'd let it pass without a fistfight. His armpits were leaking worse than ever and I didn't want his sweat all over my sheriff suit and pants.

"You figure they're joined facing the same way?" I asked.

"Well, I wouldn't marry them if one was facing backwards. Here," he said, pulling out a tintype.

The image of two beautiful blondes leapt out at me. It looked like they were side by side, except they had a single dark skirt.

"This one here's Natasha, and the other is Anna," Rusty said.

"You know which one you'll hitch up with?"

"We'll toss a coin. Or maybe they've got it worked out."

"What if one wants you and the other doesn't? Or you want one and not the other?"

Rusty, he just grinned. "Life sure is interesting," he said.

Word had gotten out, and a small crowd had collected at the wooden stage office on Main Street. Some of the women squinted at Rusty as if he was a criminal, which maybe he was. One man looked like he wanted to propose to the other. But mostly they stared at Rusty, wondering what sort of twisted beast would want to marry Siamese twins. And now there were fifty of the good citizens of Doubtful, standing in clumps, whispering, pointing at Rusty as if he belonged in the bottom layer of hell.

Rusty, he just smiled.

"I'm glad you got me that raise," he said.

"You'll need it," I replied.

I'd gone to the Puma County Supervisors and talked them into raising Rusty's wage by five dollars, because of his impending wedlock, and his faithful service as my best and most useful deputy. That put him up just two dollars below my forty-seven a month sheriff's salary, but I didn't mind.

I saw Delphinium Sanders, the banker's wife, glaring as hard as she could manage at both of us. And George Waller, the mayor, was studying us as if we belonged in a zoo, which maybe we did. I sure didn't know how this would play out, or who'd marry whom, but it made a late spring day real entertaining there in the cow town of Doubtful.

Hanging Judge Earwig was there, too, and thought maybe he'd do the marrying if no one else would. Judge Earwig was broadminded, and didn't mind it if people thought ill of him. He might even marry both the twins to Rusty, seeing as how there wasn't any law against it. That'd come later, when the next legislature got moralistic. Or maybe Rusty could take his gals to Utah and find a Mormon cleric to fix him up, but I didn't put much stock in it. Utah had outlawed that sort of entertainment.

That stagecoach sure was late. Dry road, too. Dry spring, no potholes or mud puddles. The waiting was hard on Rusty.

"Hey, Rusty, you got a two-holer, or are they gonna take turns?" some brat yelled.

I went after the freckled punk, got an ear, and twisted it.

"Cut that out or I'll throw you down a hole and you'll stink for a week."

"Aw, sheriff, this is the best thing hit Doubtful in a long time."

"You're Willie Dickens, and your ma didn't raise you right. I let go of your ear, you promise to respect people?"

"Anything you say," Willie said, and yanked loose, smirking.

I let him go. This was turning into an ordeal for my deputy sheriff, instead of a moment of joy. It wasn't hard to tell what all of them good folks of Doubtful were thinking. This marriage would have a threesome in the bedroom.

And still no coach.

Then, about the time I was ready to head back to the sheriff office and look over the mail, we spotted the coach rounding the hill south of Doubtful, coming along at a smart clip, maybe faster than usual because them drays looked pretty lathered.

Jonas Quill, the jehu, pulled back the lines slightly, and the sweated horses gladly quit on him, while the coach rocked gently.

"Well, Rusty, here it comes," I said.

But Quill yelled at me, "We got held up, man."

"Held up?"

"Four armed men, masked."

By then the maroon door of the coach swung open, and six passengers emerged: four rumpled males, mostly whiskey drummers, and two frightened women, both gray-haired, in bonnets.

No Ukrainian Siamese identical female twins.

Rusty seemed to leak gas.

"Clear away from here," I yelled at the mob. "We got trouble."

"Where are they?" Rusty asked.

"Don't know, but we got business," I said. "Sheriff business."

"You passengers, stick close here. I'll want statements from all of you."

One woman looked annoyed and started off.

"You, too, Mrs. Throckmorton."

"I surrender to my fate," she said.

Rusty looked shell-shocked, so it'd be up to me. "Quill, tell me. What happened and what got took?"

"Nothing got took. Just the twins."

"My mind isn't quite biting this cookie, Quill."

"Three masked men on saddle horses, another in a chariot."

"A what?"

"A two-wheel chariot hung on two trotters. Man there was masked, too."

"A chariot like them gladiators used?"

"A two-wheel stand-up cart, with a lot of gold gilt and enameled red on it. They stop my coach, one has a scattergun aimed at me, and they open the door, and point at the twins, and say, 'Ladies, get out,' but the twins, they don't speak a word of English, so they prod the ladies out with their revolvers. That takes some doing, four legs, one skirt, but they get the Siamese twins out, get them into the chariot, and the man with the whip smacks the butts of those trotters and away they go, the three of them standing in that chariot."

"That's it?"

"The others wanted the twins' luggage, and they loaded it on a packhorse."

"And you didn't fight it?"

"They made us drop our weapons," one of the drummers said.

"What else did they take? The mail? Anything in a lockbox?"

"Nope," said Quill. "The foreign women and their bags."

"Did they give any reasons?"

"They said, 'Don't shoot,' we'd hit the women, and that was true. They headed due west, over some off-road route."

"Good, we'll have some tracks to follow," I said.

"Them were my brides," Rusty said.

"Real purty, they were," Quill said. "But sure hobbled up. I can see the direction your steamy little brain's taking, Irons," the jehu said.

This was getting a little out of hand.

"Rusty, you interview the male passengers, and I'll interview these women. Meanwhile, you people, clear out of here."

But no one moved. Half the town, it seemed, had flooded in.

Rusty and I got what we could from all those passengers. Nothing was taken except the Ukrainians. No one was forced to empty pockets. No valuables ended up in bandit pockets. The robbers were young, well masked, rode easily, wore wide-brimmed hats and jeans and dirty boots. They were all polite; no apparent accents. None of them offered reasons. The Ukrainian twins went peaceably, not understanding a bit of it. They were even smiling. They were treated courteously by the bandits.

"Were they hostages? Would they be returned for a reward?" Rusty asked the drummers.

"Nope, no sign of it," said one in a black bowler.

"Who'd want female Siamese twins?" Rusty asked.

"They were real lookers," another salesman ventured.

Rusty whipped out his tintype. "These the ones?"

They studied the black-and-white a while. "Not sure, but seems so," one said.

"Did these women seem in distress?"

"Nope, they thought this was all pretty merry."

The passengers had been detained long enough, so me and Rusty cut them loose, cut the jehu loose, and headed for Turk's Livery Barn. We had some hard riding in front of us.

Chapter Two

Rusty, he wanted a posse. He was plumb irate. Them was his brides got stolen, and he was rooting around, looking for ways to hang the wife-rustlers at the nearest cottonwood tree.

"Hey, cool her off," I said. "Go saddle up and take some fixings. I'll get Critter, and we'll get this deal shut down in no time."

"Who'll run the office?"

"I'll send Burtell," I said, referring to a part-time deputy.

"I want a posse. That was Anna and Natasha got took. I want plenty of armed men."

"This'll be the easiest kidnapping we ever solved," I said. "Where can they hide? We got some dudes in a red-and-gold chariot, kidnapping beautiful Siamese twins in one skirt, and they speak Ukraine, whatever the tongue is. We got 'em cold, Rusty."

He didn't want to believe it, and I didn't blame him. He got robbed out of two real pretty gals, and a lot of real fine nights once he got hitched to one or the other or both.

But my ma, she used to say that twins were double the trouble. She'd settle for twin cocker spaniels, but not any pair that would put her out some. In truth, if we got them joined-up twins back, I wasn't sure Rusty could handle the deal.

I headed for Turk's Livery Barn, fixing to saddle up Critter the Second. The first got his throat slit, and I looked hard before I found the Second, who was meaner than the first, so it worked out all right. I don't know what I'd do with a gentle horse. Horses are like women: If they don't buck when you're riding them, they're no good.

A while later me and Rusty met up at the livery barn, and fixed to ride out.

"Shouldn't we have a buggy or a cart?" he asked.

He was thinking about how to transport the Ukrainian ladies. You can't expect Siamese twins to climb up on a horse, but maybe a pair of horses would work if they crowded close.

I noticed he was armed to the teeth, with a saddle gun and a pair of mean-looking Peacemakers hanging from his skinny hips. He was gonna get his women back, even if he burned some powder.

"You got any idea why them gals got took?" he asked.

"It sure is interesting," I replied.

Critter was out in the yard, which wasn't good. He kicked down any stall he got put into, so Turk often put him outside. I got the bridle and went after him, and sure enough, he headed for a corner in the fence and waited for me, his rear hooves itchy to land on me. I tried moving along one rail and he switched that way, so I tried the other rail, and he switched that way.

"Critter, dammit, we're going to look for some women. Or one woman. I don't have it straight. So shape up," I yelled.

He turned and eyed me, and settled down and let me bridle and brush and saddle him without trouble. Critter was a philosopher.

"Dog food," said Rusty. "He needs to be turned into dog food."

"I won't argue with it," I said.

Turk spotted us. "You going after them stage robbers?" he asked.

"That's my woman they took," Rusty said.

"Double the feedbags," Turk said. "You sure got odd tastes."

That was my private opinion, but I wasn't voicing it. Rusty was the best deputy I had, and I didn't want to rile him up.

The town watched us ride out. Word spread through town like melted butter, and now they were all watching. Mostly watching Rusty, not me, because they were seeing Rusty in a new light. What sort of man would marry Siamese twins joined at the hip? Mighty strange. The women stood along Main Street with pursed lips, and I could read their every thought.

But soon we were trotting down the Laramie Road, heading for the ambush spot, so I could see what was to be seen, and we could see what the chariot wheels did to the turf. It should be easy enough to follow that cart, and with a little luck I'd have the bandits in manacles and heading for my lockup in a day or two.

Rusty, he sure was silent.

"What are you thinking, Rusty?"

"Maybe I won't marry after all. They'll be plumb ruined. I was marrying double virgins, and now look at it. It's a mess."

"You sure got big appetites, Rusty. Double everything—double marriage, double honeymoon, double household, double mouths to feed."

"Yeah, that's me," he said, a little smirky. Somehow he was seeing all this as proof that he was double the rest of us.

"What if they both expect babies at the same time, eh?"

Rusty was still looking smirky, so I didn't push it. Life sure was going to be interesting.

Critter loved to get out, and now he was pretty near popping along, and Rusty's nag had to trot now and then to catch up. We were riding through empty country, nothing but hills and sagebrush, and not worth anything except to a coyote. But that was Wyoming for you—ninety percent worthless, ten percent pretty fine.

It took us about three hours to reach the ambush place, well chosen to hide the ambushers behind a curve in the road. The jehu had given me a pretty good idea of it. There were signs around there, all right. Some iron-tire tracks, some hoof-prints, some handkerchiefs, and plenty of boot heel dimples in the dun clay.

Sure enough, the iron-tire tracks led straight west, off the road, over open prairie, so we followed them.

"We'll nail 'em, Rusty. How can we lose? Look at them tracks, smooth and hard."

But the tracks were gradually turning, and finally came entirely around and headed for the Laramie Road, maybe a mile south of where the ambush happened. And there they disappeared. Those clean iron-tire tracks vanished. We messed around there a while, widening out, looking for the tracks, and there weren't any. It was as if that chariot had taken off from the earth and rolled on up into heaven.

Rusty was having the same sweats as me. That just couldn't be. Big red-and-gold chariots didn't just vanish—unless through the Pearly Gates. I wondered about that for a while. Were them Ukrainian ladies taken on up?

The road had plenty of traffic showing on it, and we scouted it one way or the other, checking hoofprints, poking at ruts, and kicking horse turds, but the fact was, the kidnappers had ridden off into the sky, and were now rolling across cumulus, or maybe thunderheads, to some place or other.

"You got any fancy theories, Cotton?" Rusty asked.

He sure looked gloomy, like he had been deprived of a night with two of the prettiest gals ever born.

"We could ride on down to Laramie and see what's what," I said.

"Who'd want 'em?" Rusty asked.

"Some horny old rancher, I imagine," I said.

"Well, there's no man on earth hornier than me," Rusty said.

It was dawning on him that he'd lost his mail-order bride, or brides, I never could get that straight, and he was sinking into a sort of darkness. I thought it was best to leave him alone.

"I'll get ahold of the sheriff, Milt Boggs, and tell him what's missing, and to let us know if we got a red chariot and two hipshot blondes floating around southern Wyoming," I said.

"We catch them, what are you going to charge them with?" Rusty asked.

"Now that's an interesting question," I said. "My ma used to say people confess if you give them the chance."

"Well, she inherited all the brains in your family," Rusty said, just to be mean.

Truth to tell, my mind was on what might happen when we got back to Doubtful without two hip-tied blondes and a red chariot and a mess of crooks trudging along in front of my shotgun. They'd be telling me to quit, or maybe trying to fire me again. Seems every time I didn't catch the crook or stop the killer, they wanted to fire me. I've spent more time in front of the county supervisors trying to save my sheriff job than I've spent running my office.


Excerpted from Support Your Local Deputy by William W. Johnstone J. A. Johnstone Copyright © 2013 by William W. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of PINNACLE BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    Worst book ever!

    I could not believe this book was written by Johnstone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    This book is a hoot ! . Rusty, Cotton¿s deputy is waiting for hi

    This book is a hoot ! . Rusty, Cotton’s deputy is waiting for his mail order brides. Siamese Russian twins. LOL. I found myself laughing a lot. First they’re stolen off the stage coach, then they find them, then one wants to marry rusty and the other doesn’t. of course there the drama of the carnival people and the killings and the not so funny dark side of that life, but thru it all, the fun of seeing rusty deal with Siamese twins is very entertaining. I don’t want to give away too much because of the ending, but read it, you’ll like it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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