Friday, June 5, 2009

A Short Story - Romance and the Texas Ranger, The Journey Home

This is the short story I wrote for the Saturday night campfire reading at the Texas Mountain Trail Writer's Retreat in April of 2009. It will be published in the Chaos, West of the Pecos, Volume 13, a publication of the Texas Mountain Trail Writers. Enjoy!

Texas Ranger Caleb Johnson slumped atop his horse, swaying to the pace of his sorrel mare. His head bobbed with the gait as he struggled to stay in the saddle and catch a few winks of sleep. It was a ritual he and Red were accustomed to. He’d ridden many miles while asleep and his horse hadn’t tossed him once. Some weeks it was the only sleep he got. Now wasn’t a good time not to be aware of his surroundings. He was alone, wounded, and weak. The pain from his shoulder injury screamed with each movement.

The captain ordered him to stay in camp until he could send him home with an escort. But, Caleb wouldn’t have it. Hell, he was shot, not dead. He’d stolen away in the middle of the night. All he wanted was to get home to Amy. It’d been five years since he’d seen her. Maybe he no longer had a wife. Rangers weren’t good marriage material and she’d not wanted him to join up. They’d had a terrible row. Her blue eyes flashed fire as she screamed, “I won’t be here when you decide to come home.”

Contrite over her scalding words, Amy wrote him faithfully at least once a month. It’d been a year now since he’d heard from her. Every time he thought he’d get home, his division was dispatched to another area and he couldn’t go. He shuddered. Was the tremor from his wound or fear? Something was wrong at home. He could feel it in his bones.

He struggled to stay awake, but fatigue, blood loss, and now with a raging fever, illness won out. His chin hit his chest and darkness clouded his consciousness. Dreams whirled through his mind—Amy on their wedding day, her shiny brown hair piled high on her head, ringlets curling around her face. Eyes spitting fire the day he left, her face red, almost as dark as the freckles that covered her pert nose. Oh, she was a corker. He loved her spit and vinegar.

Red kicked up her heels, sending him forward, jolting him awake. Like a drunk woken by the nudge of a boot, blurry eyed, he glanced around and noticed three Indian braves on the mesa top to the west, a half a mile away.

He wrapped the reins around the saddle horn, pulled his Winchester from its scabbard, and propped the butt on his thigh. He’d show them he was armed. Hell, he was so weak he couldn’t shoot a rabbit. Hopefully they hadn’t seen him swaying in the saddle like a drunk. His knees tightened around Red. She sprinted forward but didn’t break into a full gallop. Don’t let them think you’re afraid and running. They’ll be on you like ants.

War whoops echoed behind him. He raised the rifle with one arm, propping the butt at the juncture of his shoulder, turned and shot wild. A bullet slammed into his chest. He hit the packed earth. Red broke her stride and returned to him, nudging him with her nose and whinnying for him to get up.

Shouts of victory surrounded him. Red’s reins were grabbed by a young brave. She fought against the restriction but the Indian coaxed her forward, gently stroked her muzzle and whispered in her ear. Soon, she quieted and stopped struggling though she snorted and stamped her hooves in agitation at the smell of blood.

Vision fuzzy, Caleb spotted his valued star adorning the shirt of an older brave. Several men poked him with their rifles. He didn’t feel pain, only a roaring in his ears, and a calming sense of peace. The war party rode away in a flurry of triumphant shouts.

Bright light enclosed him. A form stepped out and knelt at his side. Pink lips, accompanied by a pert freckled nose and blue eyes, smiled. She leaned down and kissed him sweetly on the mouth. Her lilac scent filled his nostrils and joy filled his heart.

“It’s time, Caleb. Time for you to come home.” Amy helped him rise and took his hand. “Come, my love.” Together they walked into the light. The End

I hope you enjoyed my story. I've heard of many people who're visited by loved ones who've passed when they're near death. How about you? Leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

Linda LaRoque ~Western Romance with a Twist in Time~


  1. Hi Linda,
    What a wonderfully touching story. I loved it.

  2. I loved your story. It made me misty eyed.
    My father died in October and my mother sees him every night. They have talked to her, tired medication, and she just tells them now that she stopped seeing him. But she still does.

  3. Oh, Linda, this touched me. Wonderful story. After my dad passed away, he came to me in a dream, reassuring me all was well, and he wasn't really gone but always with us. In the dream he handed me his cane and told me he didn't need it anymore. True, this could have been me self-assuring myself, except the next morning the cane was at the bottom of my bed. No one in my family admitted to having put it there. I'm sure there is a logical explanation... but....

  4. Don't know how you did it. I can't write short stories. Usually my characters want looooong in depth plots. lol

    This is a cute story, though!


  5. Thank you for stopping by, Margaret.

  6. Mary, I firmly believe there is much about life and death we don't understand. If seeing her husband brings your mother comfort, I think we should respect that.

  7. Awesome experience, Angelica and Zi. Yes, you could have walked in your sleep and gotten the cane, but whose to say it wasn't your dad. Comfort comes in many forms. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Phyllis, when given a word count restriction, I think you just learn to write within it and the story is just one little clip rather than the whole story. I prefer to writer long too.

  9. You packed great emotion in so few words. I enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing.


  10. Thank you for stopping by, Linda. Glad you enjoyed the story.

  11. Ooooh, Linda--how sweet and touching and moving. Brought a tear to my eye--always my gauge for compliments. Celia

  12. Hi Linda!

    What a wonderful story... So sweet.

    Thanks for sharing this, I loved it.

    Chiron O'Keefe
    The Write Soul:

    PS... I'm loving your book!! Texanna and Royce are amazing!

  13. Celia and Chiron,
    Thank you for stopping by and so glad you enjoyed the story. A tear or two is great, Celia!