After putting aside a writing project I always have a difficult time getting back to it. I put a western novel, tentative titled, Commitment - A Blade Holmes Novel, several months ago. Since putting it away I finished a local history book and a children’s novella. I have also went back to work on another, nearly completed western, and wrote a half dozen short stories.
What follows is the first few paragraphs of a short story from my, to be published this year, book of short western stories.
Heading West - A comical and whimsical look at travel on the Oregon Trail
Arlo Slug stuffed the front of his shirt back into his trousers, picked up his lunch bucket and whistled a tune as he walked out the front door of the Cleveland Ohio Iron Works. He’d been thinking about it for a long time and today was the day, the day to tell Isabelle his plan for the rest of their lives.
“Oregon, Oregon,” Arlo shouted as he opened the front door of their, much in need of repair, house on E street.
“Let’s go to Oregon, away from the city and the factory,” Arlo said.
Isabelle, somewhat surprised at Arlo's enthusiasm over something that they had never once talked about, smiled and said “and just what will we do when we get to Oregon, and how will we get there?”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry,” Arlo answered, “I’ve got it all worked out. It’ll be easy, hardly no work at all. We just set up there on the wagon seat soaking up the sun shine, and in no time we’ll be in Oregon, hardly no work at all.”
Seven weeks later it was spring and Arlo and Isabelle, well Arlo anyway, were ready to carry out Arlo's great plan. They tossed the last of their belongings atop a considerable pile of last minute, “we can’t get along without this,” climbed up on the weathered and cracked wooden seat of their old wagon and headed west.
Lazy and Bones, their two ancient mules reluctantly pulled the overloaded, squeaking and creaking wagon to a roll. “Yes sir-ee,” Arlo shouted, “we’re headin' west, Oregon here come the Slugs”.
Cleveland was not going to get him down, not any more, no sir, and no more shoveling coal in the Iron mill for Arlo Slug. Arlo’s mind raced and filled with happy thoughts of his soon to be new life.
The wagon was a patchwork of tacks, nails, wire, rope and twine, a relic that Arlo loved and Isabelle hated. Much to the embarrassment of Isabelle, Arlo had painted, ‘headin' to Oregon’ in bright green on the wagons back board. Arlo daydreamed of the west as he held the reins and let the arthritic mules set their own pace.
A loud, CRACK, snapped Arlo’s mind back into the present. “Two blocks from home, two blocks,” Arlo muttered to himself as he climbed from the wagon seat to the ground and surveyed the damage.
The rear wheel on the right side of the wagon had snapped one of its wooden spokes, and now looked rather more oval than round. After a nearly two-hour delay and two new wheels, one lashed to the back of the wagon, just in case, and Arlo and Isabelle were off, again.
Isabelle had fought with Arlo about this trip for weeks, finally given up a month ago, accepting the fact that they were going to Oregon. Now she reached through the knitting on her lap, patted Arlo on the knee and smiled as they rolled westward on a bright April morning. “Maybe this won’t be too bad,” she thought. But she was wrong!