I am the featured blogger on the first and second Wednesdays of each month on the Blogger platform for Western Fictioneers and Prairie Rose Publications. I will repost a truncated version of those articles for my Hello, Friday! / Friday Favorites posts on those corresponding weeks with a link to the full article.
Western Fictioneers for July: 7th gunfighter ballad in the year-long series is Running Gun by Marty Robbins.
The song was written by Jim Glaser and Tompall Glaser, recorded April 7, 1959, and released in September 1959 on the album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs.
Running Gun tells the story of a gun-for-hire outlaw who loses the draw against a bounty hunter. The ballad begins with the outlaw thinking about Jeannie, the woman he loves and left behind until he reaches the safety of Old Mexico and can send for her to meet him. The song ends with his dying thoughts of Jeannie, and his regret for causing Jeannie to waste her life loving a running gun.
In my western romance novel, The Comanchero’s Bride which, by the way, was inspired by Marty Robbins’ song Meet Me Tonight in Laredo, I wrote in a scene that is reminiscent of the confrontation between the ‘running gun’ outlaw and the bounty hunter. Here is the scene from my novel. (500 words)
Excerpt from The Comanchero’s Bride:
At the livery, Mingo remained in the shadows where he could see both ways along the street. Opening the wagon doors just wide enough to allow him to pass through, he eased his way inside. Speaking in a low soothing tone to his horses, he packed and saddled them under the moonlight coming in from two windows. Opening half the double doors, he led the two riding horses out the back, tied them to a corral rail, and returned for the packhorse.
He no more than reached the packhorse when a cold voice in the shadows stopped him in his tracks.
“Don’t turn around, Valderas.”
Mingo froze. A few more steps and he would have been on the off side of the packhorse, but where he was, he had no protection.
“I’ve got a good bead right between your shoulders. I know about your fast draw and the price on your head. I’ve also heard stories about your throwing knives, so keep your hands where I can see them.”
“You know me. But who are you? What do you want?” Mingo didn’t care. He knew the challenge from the shadows was a bounty hunter. He needed the man to talk so he could pinpoint his location.
“I came out of El Paso. A man named Jack added to the price on your head—dead or alive—and some politician is offering a pretty penny on top of that to bring in the woman you have with you. He wants her alive.”
From the sound of the man’s voice, he hadn’t moved and was off to his right. Mingo fought the urge to whirl and fire, but shooting blindly was not his way. He wouldn’t risk a wild shot that could injure a horse, and gunfire would bring others into the fray. Shadows were both his enemy and ally, depending upon how he used it.
“The way’s clear behind you, so back towards the open wagon door, and keep your hands away from your body. When I heard the talk of a Mexican man traveling with a white woman, and they were staying at the hotel, I figured I’d hit pay dirt. I was just supposed to worry you into making a wrong move. Never thought I’d be the one to catch you.
“I’m taking the woman to El Paso. You, I’m locking up in the back room of the saloon for safe keeping…unless you give me an excuse to kill you right now, which I’ve a yearning to do. I can’t miss at this range. It wouldn’t do my reputation any damage to be the man who took down Mingo Valderas.”
Now, he knew who he was up against. Earl Johns was vicious and a killer, a back-shooting coward. Mingo inched backward, buying thinking time.
“Where’s the woman, Valderas?”
“There is no wom—”
“She’s too close for your comfort.” Isabel’s voice cut through the night.
The sound of a shotgun hammer pulling back was an angry, lethal sound that made the hairs on Mingo’s arm prickle.
Until next time,
writing through history one romance upon a time