Started a novella based on one of my songs.
Death on the Range
December storm of 1929
Sheriff Charles Morgan was just about to dip the toast into his runny omelette at Carmel’s Diner when Bobby Schmidt came bursting through the front door. He was obviously excited, but that didn’t mean much. Bobby could get excited if a stray dog jaywalked on mainstreet. That’s why Charles always kept Bobby’s gun locked up.
“What’s got you rattled Bobby?”
“Frank Jackson found a couple of bodies Sherrif.”
Charles set his fork down. “Whereabouts?”
“He says the ridge on the north edge of the town.”
“Frank says it don’t look that way, more like they froze in the storm last night. He figures it might be his neighbour old Ned.”
The sheriff raised his eyebrows, Ned Baker would know better than to head out into the blizzard that had struck the area last night. Besides he lived alone.
“And the other body?”
“Oh, that was his horse.”
“Geez Bobby you come in here spoutin’ off about two bodies and one was a horse!”
“Sorry boss should’ve been more specific.”
“No shit! He pushed away from the plate of undercooked eggs and burnt bacon and stood up.
“I suppose we’d better go have a look. We’ll use the horses; the car won’t get a hundred yards in that snow. You go get them saddled up, and while you’re at it, ask Jimmy Hall to hitch up his sled and join us.”
“Sure thing boss. Say, seeing as this is a murder investigation and all, can you get me my gun?”
“No son, you won’t be needing that.” I don’t need any other dead bodies to deal with today. And who in tarnation said it’s a murder? Now git!”
The storm from the previous night had been an early season blizzard that caught many by surprise. Frank Jackson had discovered the body when he was out rounding up strays, worried about them freezing.
The temperature had plunged to minus 20 Charles Morgan thought it wouldn’t take long for anyone to freeze out here.
They approached what could easily have been mistaken as a snowdrift if it weren’t for the mare’s black tail protruding. The three men brushed away the snow to reveal the horse lying on it’s side. The dead man’s left arm was draped over her neck as if comforting the beast. The Sherrif noticed some stranges things right away.
“What the hell was he doing out here?” Charles muttered.
He gently brushed the snow from the old cowboy’s face.
“Is he smiling?” The deputy exclaimed.
“It sure appears that way, Bobby.”
You boys notice anything else that’s strange?
Bobby shook his head no. Their companion spoke up. “No saddle.”
That’s right Jimmy, why the hell is his saddle missing. Did somebody take it?
They pried the man away from the animal and gently turned him over.
The sheriff noticed something clutched in the right hand. He forced open the dead man’s grips and removed an old photograph. It displayed a beautiful young woman, a tall, handsome man, and a young boy.
“Who are they?” His companions asked.
“Not sure? But I’m guessing it’s Ned and his family. I know someone who can tell us for sure.”
The someone was Reverend Jim Parker. He had been around long enough to remember everyone in the territory, and usually their history as well. He was old, older than the fellow that lay before them, but the Reverend’s memory was sharp.
They carefully moved the body to the sled and headed back to town.
“I’ll have Doc check him over, but it sure looks like he just plumb froze out there. Maybe a heart attack, but then he was smiling, wasn’t he? The crazy old guy should’ve known better.”
Sheriff Morgan didn’t suspect foul play, but the lawman in him still wanted to know why?