West of the Dead Line:
The Complete Series - Episode 1 – 8
By Phil Truman
Genre: Western, HistoricalAbout the Books
This collection contains EIGHT episodes of the West of the Dead Line series.
1 – Bringing in Pike Cudgo
2 – Freed Men
3 – Runaway
4 – Redemption along the Red
5 – The Getaway of Cross-eyed Jack Dugan
6 – The Reluctant Posseman
7 – Dupery at Corncob Forks
8 – Last Will for an Outlaw
West of the Dead LineThe Dead Line, as it came to be called, was a railroad, the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas, cutting across the middle of Indian Territory. It ran straight south from Caldwell, Kansas to Fort Reno, I.T., then on down through the Cheyenne and Comanche and Kiowa lands, crossing the Red River into Bowie, Texas. It was a line on the map, a demarcation. West of it there was no law, only outlaws. On trails out there, notes would be put up on trees and posts, sort of reverse wanted posters, letting lawmen know they’d be killed if they continued their pursuits west of the Dead Line.
Throughout the 225 years of the U.S. Marshals Service, over 200 deputies have been killed in the line of duty. Of those, more than 120 lost their lives in the Indian and Oklahoma Territories between 1850 and Oklahoma statehood in 1907.
In the storied history of the American West, no place comes close to matching the dangers and mortality these federal officers faced doing their jobs. Their courage, resolve, and dedication to duty were beyond reproach... for the most part. Those who survived became titans in the legends of the West, particularly one man called Bass Reeves. These stories are fiction, but the encounters this lawman faced, and The Dead Line, were not.Red Lands Outlaw: the Ballad of Henry Starr
By Phil Truman
Genre: Western, Historical
"Truman’s storytelling shines throughout..." -- Kathleen Rice Adams, Western Fictioneers
“Red Lands Outlaw: The Ballad of Henry Starr is a well-conceived yarn about one of the last of Oklahoma’s horseback-riding outlaws. A good read.” -- Dusty Richards, a Spur and Wrangler Award winning author
“Author Phil Truman captured a slice of Indian Territory history and has woven it into an interesting period novel. Anyone who loves the history of the West will enjoy Red Lands Outlaw: the Ballad of Henry Starr.” -- Tammy Hinton, author and winner of the Will Rogers Medallion Award for Unbridled
In the last years of the tough and woolly land called Indian Territory, and the first of the new state of Oklahoma, the outlaw Henry Starr rides roughshod through the midst of it. A native son of “The Nations” he’s more Scotch-Irish than Cherokee, but is scorned by both. He never really wanted to journey west of the law, yet fate seems to insist. He’s falsely accused and arrested for horse-thieving at age sixteen, then sentenced to hang at nineteen by Judge Isaac Parker for the dubious killing of a deputy U.S. marshal, but he escapes the gallows on a technicality. Given that opportunity, the charming, handsome, mild-mannered Henry Starr spends the rest of his life becoming the most prolific bank robber the West has ever known.
Excerpt – Red Lands Outlaw, the ballad of Henry Starr
Bill Tilghman slowly brushed the whisker tips of his mustache over and over with his left thumb and forefinger, moving each from the middle of his upper lip outward, as he stared down at Henry. In all his law enforcement days, he’d never known so audacious, so brash, so prolific an outlaw as the man lying there in that bed.
Henry floated in and out of a morphine-induced haze while Tilghman stood there looking at him. Lewis Estes, his neck and shoulder and chest wrapped in bandages, in a bed across the room, lay there out cold.
“Henry,” Tilghman said in a firm voice. Getting no response, he called out the bank robber’s name again, this time a little louder.
Henry’s eyes fluttered open. He blinked several times, squinting to get his eyes and mind focused on the form standing beside his bed.
“Well, hello, Bill,” Henry slurred. “What the hell’re you doing here?”
Tilghman stopped stroking his mustache, and hooked both his thumbs in his vest’s watch pockets. “Come to arrest you, Henry.” He jerked his head to his right in a pointing gesture. “You and that other fella over there.”
Henry raised his head a little, and looked over at the bed where his patched up colleague lay. “I believe that there is Lewis Estes,” he said. “Guess he caught a little lead, too.”
Tilghman nodded. “Soon as you boys are able to travel, I’m taking you back to Oklahoma City to await trial. And it’s a good thing I come, too. Folks here in this town are callin’ to lynch you.”
“Why, hell, Bill, I’m crippled,” Henry responded.
“Yeah, you are that,” Tilghman said. “But Doc Hanson said he didn’t think it’d be permanent. Boy named Curry shot you in the butt. Bullet broke up your leg bone there, but the doc set it back as best he could. He thinks it’ll heal awright, but figures you’ll probably have something of a limp from here on out.”
Henry took Tilghman’s prognosis in with a solemn expression. “First time I ever been shot,” he said. “And by a damn kid to boot.”
“He’s used to shooting living things,” said Tilghman. “Butcher’s kid, I hear. Shot your partner over there, too. Some pretty fair shootin’, considerin’ what he had to shoot with.”
Henry considered all this, scrunching his eyebrows in a look of puzzlement. “I thought you’d quit marshalling, Bill. Ain’t you a politician, or something, now?”
“State senator,” Tilghman said. “But I’m also Chief of Police over in Oklahoma City. Town marshal here is an old friend of mine, so he called me. What you and your boys did was a federal crime, so you’ll have to stand trial in a federal court.”
Henry nodded. “Yeah, I reckon so,” he said.
Tilghman snorted and shook his head. “I swear, Henry. You just about beat anything I ever seen in an outlaw.”
“Why, thank ya, Bill.” A pleased smile creased Starr’s face. Coming from as renowned a lawman as Bill Tilghman, Henry considered the man’s comment a supreme compliment.
“I didn’t mean that as a tribute, Henry. I meant you’ve had several chances to straighten yourself out. When I arrested you down in New Mexico back in oh-eight, you promised me you’d never rob another bank. But in the year since you got out of Canon City Prison, there’s been a whole passel here in Oklahoma with your brand on ’em. And now you pull this double dutch.” Tilghman shook his head and laughed quietly. “I hear you were a model prisoner in Canon City. Warden even made you a trustee; sent you out as a walkin’ boss on the road gangs. But you just keep reverting back to your old ways. How many times have you been in prison? Two? Three times? This here’ll make one more.”
Henry stiffened a little. “I reckon I’ve robbed more banks than ever anyone did,” he said with pride.
“Yeah, I suppose that’s true,” Tilghman said. He pulled a chair out from the wall and sat down on it, crossing his legs. He removed his derby and wiped the sweat from the inside headband. “The question is why? You sure ain’t got nothing to show from it. And look at you now; your future prospects ain’t too bright.”
Henry stared back at Tilghman, but he didn’t have a good response. The lawman had pretty much nailed it. A reason existed as to why Henry kept on committing bank robbery after bank robbery, but he didn’t exactly know what it was, didn’t know how to express it. All he knew, he couldn’t stop doing it. He had quite a few acquaintances and relatives who drank alcohol, and the more they drank, the more they wanted. Finally, they just couldn’t do without it. Henry didn’t drink; didn’t smoke, either, but like the effect of alcohol on some of his red brothers, that’s exactly what bank robbing had done to him.
Excerpt – West of the Dead Line, the compete series – Episode 2: Freed Men
The Yankee watched Bass eat. “What’s your name, boy?” he asked.
“My momma name me Bass after her daddy. Las’ name Reeves, same as my massuh. All us belongs t’him called Reeves.”
The man nodded, still looking at Bass with his coal-black eyes. “You like bein’ a slave, Bass?” he asked.
Bass chewed another bite of jerky and put his hands out toward the fire again, thinking about his answer.
“On’t know,” he said with a shrug. “Alls I ever know. Marse Reeves, he don’t treat me bad. Give me food t’eat, place to sleep. Give me clothes. Ain’t nevuh whip me much. He mistress good to my momma and sistuh, too. They works in the house.”
“That all you ever expect to do? Ain’t you ever wanted to get free; do things you wanted to do yourself, go wherever you want to go without nobody telling you when and where?”
The Yankee waited for a response, but none came. Bass looked into the fire and chewed the jerky.
After a bit, his captor added, “Wouldn’t you like to take a piss without gettin’ another man’s permission?”
Bass looked up at him, jaw muscles moving; he turned his gaze back to the fire.
The Yankee let it go, changed the subject, shifted his weight on his butt. “’Spect there’s gonna be a fight here tomorrow. Mess of Rebs up north. Looks like old Van Dorn’s trying to get ’em around behind us. Them Texas boys of your’n look to be comin’ down the road yonder to meet us.” He gestured with the gun barrel through the dark trees. “We’ll be ready for ’em.”
“Where you from, Yank?” Bass asked.
The man stared at Reeves squarely before looking into the fire. “Kansas, mostly,” he said. “Rode with General Lane’s Jayhawkers. He didn’t much cotton to secessionists… or slave owners. Called himself an ‘abolitionist.’”
“That why you rode with him? You uh…ab-bol-lishnest?”
The Yankee threw back his head and laughed. He stood and walked out to the edge of the firelight to take his own piss, chuckling to himself as he did so.
When he came back to the fire, he sat again opposite Reeves, stirred the coals with a stick, threw on another piece of wood.
“You even know what that means, boy? Abolitionist? “
“Sho’ I does,” Bass answered, a little indignant. “It mean freein’ slaves.”
“Seems to me the only freed men is the dead ones,” his captor said. He paused to stir the fire some more, looked at Bass. “I’ve personally freed a few myself,” he said with a grin and a wink.
“Naw, I rode with Lane because he offered me the job,” he continued. “Pay wasn’t much, but it kept me out of jail. I needed that more than money at the time.
“Still, sayin’ it’s legal to own a man don’t seem right to me. Sure as hell don’t believe I’d put up with anyone claimin’ they owned me.”
Silence fell between the pair again. The haunting sound of a harmonica drifted in with the cold night air. Men’s voices echoed through the black forest; voices in calm conversation and some laughter, distant but clear like coming across a still river at night.
“”Whas yo name, then?” Bass asked. Another long pause followed before the Yankee answered.
“I got several names. Go by Haycock in this here army, William Haycock. Back in Kansas some folks called me ‘Wild Bill.’ Called me that because of the shape of my nose, made fun of how it swoops out sorta like a duck’s bill. I didn’t much like it at first, made a few callin’ me that pay. But now I believe I like it…yes sir, believe I do. You can call me Wild Bill.”
Bass nodded, and grinned back at the man. “Wild Bill,” he repeated.
“You realize I’m only telling you this ’cause you’ll be dead before sundown tomorrow.”
Bass looked cold-eyed at Haycock. “You gone kill me, Wild Bill?” he asked.
Haycock laughed again. “Naw, I ain’t gonna kill you, Bass. I’m gonna let you go. But boys see a nigger runnin’ free through these here woods, I figure one side or t’other’s bound to shoot your ass. Ain’t that what we’re fightin’ for? To set your likes free?” He cocked an eyebrow and grinned at his captive.
Bass stared back at Haycock. After a bit, he said to him, “You frees me, Wild Bill, how you know I ain’t finds myself a gun an’ free yo’ ass?”
I'm a native Oklahoman, born in the small town of Miami in 1945. I earned my bachelor's degree in English from the University of Tulsa in 1970. As a Vietnam Era veteran, I served with the U.S. Army's 7th Infantry Division near the Korean DMZ from 1967 to 1968. Fresh out of college I worked as a teacher and coach, but transitioned into the business world after a few years where I morphed into an IT geek. My wife and I live in the Tulsa suburban city of Broken Arrow where we've spent the past 30 years raising our family. Now a full-time writer, my books include GAME, a '70's era sports inspiration novel; Legends of Tsalagee, a novel of mystery, romance, and adventure in a small town; and Red Lands Outlaw, the Ballad of Henry Starr, a historical novel set in the turn of the 20th Century Indian Territory.http://www.philtrumanink.com/
Giveaway – west of the dead line
5 ebooks of West of the Dead Line