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Dead Horse Creek
Matt Cole
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Chet Hargraves hadn’t planned on staying long when he rode into the small Montana town of Dead Horse Creek. He was just a ranch hand, line rider with no work between seasons, trapped by a pending blizzard before he could leave. But even before he had arrived his past had caught up with him. Perhaps he should have braved the blizzard and left as he was told to do.

Chet Hargraves hated to be told what to do. It became even tougher to leave when he saw Beth again. She was the woman he’s loved for so long, though she had said she could not love a gunfighter. These weren’t the best reasons to stay around yet they were all he had. Chet did not realize - yet – that the reason he was told to leave was a big range war was brewing. The war was to be fought with hired guns and killers, some of the best and worst the West had seen. Chet was one of them, albeit knowingly. Before long Chet was going to see to it that this war was ended. It would be fought here in a small Montana town along the Dead Horse Creek.

Chet Hargraves walked to the woodpile with the intent to collect several logs for the fire he had started inside. Even though winter had only just started to drop snow on the ground, Chet knew it was never early enough to get ahead of the impending blizzard. As he rummaged through the pile he saw the man. He was not a friend; some might have even described him as an enemy, but to Chet he was neither. The man ran as if something or someone was chasing him, his breath coming in gasps. “Slow down there, the fire’s inside,” Chet called out. “What’s the hurry?”

The man nearly tumbled as he came to a halt, his eyes bloodshot and wide, holding back in such fear that it made Chet even colder than he already was.

“They’re coming!” he gasped. “Jessup’s men.”

“Why are they after you, boy? Don’t you work for Jessup?”

“I wanted out…they told me there’s only one way out…and then they beat me…” He twisted in all sorts of directions as if those who were after him were now invisible. His shirt was torn and his arms had deep lacerations on them. Chet had just found something he had worked years to avoid—trouble.

“Get inside before we both freeze to death,” he said. “I’ll fix up those cuts before they get infected.”

“I must go!” The man had nearly turned himself inside out with terror. “If they catch me, I’m dead. That Johnny Annette is with ’em.”

The name Johnny Annette struck a nerve with Chet. It was a name from the past and one that Chet had hoped to never hear again. “Don’t you worry about Jessup’s men. I’ll talk with them and we’ll get this whole mess straightened out. Now let’s get those cuts tended to. Besides how far do you think you’re going to get in these conditions without a horse or gun?”

The man relented and followed Chet into the quaint line cabin. The fire was just starting to heat the one room building, the smell of coffee and soup hung in the air. “Go wash up; the basin’s over there…take that shirt off and we’ll get those wounds patched up.”

He was a small man, of medium build, and as he took his shirt off Chet noticed the dark line around his neck; it was bruising from a rope. They had tried to hang this man. Chet now was sure that trouble had indeed once more found him.

It wasn’t even ten minutes later when the sounds of horses and screaming men came from outside. The man shrieked in terror. Chet had only seen one or two men more frightened in his life. Those men were just about to lose their lives and after crying, begging, pleading and relieving themselves in their britches did they finally succumb to meet their death. A man dying is hard to watch, especially when it comes by way of gun, as those men had.

Chet picked up his rifle and placed it next to the door. He motioned for his visitor to keep quiet and to remain indoors. He then opened the door and stood to meet his new guests, all the while keeping one hand on the rifle. The riders, four in all, were waiting for Chet. The man closest to him was small, yet as deadly as a rattlesnake and—Chet knew his face all to well. As the man spoke he swung his horse, buckskin in color, quarter beauty, which was, small like Johnny, but had a broad forehead, broadside to the door where Chet stood.

“Well if this isn’t a small world. Thought you’d be dead by now.” Johnny Annette sneered, looking directly at Chet.

“Thought or hoped?”

“Doesn’t really matter, does it? I don’t like to live in the past.” Johnny laughed.

“Johnny, can we get to the task at hand? It’s cold as a wagon wheel out here,” a cowboy three horses to Johnny’s left complained. Johnny never looked away from Chet, a gunfighter knew better.

“Right, so to the point. There was a man; skinny acting all crazy, like someone was out to kill him, running this way. Did you happen to see him?”

“Yep, he’s inside.”

“Great, you just saved us more hours freezing to our saddles. Zeke, since you’re so anxious to get going, go inside and bring our friend out.”

Recommended for any western fan with lots of action, villainy and history in a setting so well described you'll feel the saddle beneath you and the dust in your nostrils. If you've ever wanted to ride beside a western hero, now is your chance. Grab up your Stetson and be ready to ride. (Anne Edwards)


“Dead Horse Creek is a book that anyone who likes the old west and a little romance will enjoy reading.”
“Matt Cole has done a fantastic job of recreating the old west and the life that the men and women lived…”
“…a wonderful read…”
Fallen Angel Reviews


"Dead Horse Creek is a book that anyone who likes the old west" Fallen Angels Reviews 5 angel recommended read.


"worth your time. The plot holds your interest and there’s a likable hero..." Lighthouse Reviews


"DEAD HORSE CREEK is an exciting Western with a hero one comes to like and admire. The author quickly paints the time and setting with a colorful and realistic brush..."

Jane Bowers
Romance Reviews Today

Fiction Books :: Westerns Books

ISBN: 1593745583
ISBN(13-digit): 9781593745585
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 172
Paper Weight (lb): 7.4

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