“A haunting novel about hubris and its consequences.” —Larry McMurty, New York Times bestselling author on Snowbound
- The Business of Dying
Release Date: 2017-10-01
Collected here are ten Western short stories by Richard S. Wheeler, the award-winning author who makes storytelling look easy.
In “Mugs Birdsong’s Crime Academy,” celebrated criminal Mugs Birdsong decides to found an academy that will instruct lawmen on the ways and means of lawlessness. “The Last Days of Dominic Prince” is the tragic tale of a cattle baron and his final conflict with the forces of political correctness. “Dead Weight” introduces us to a coffin maker who constructs a work of art. And in the title story, two young men in the gold fields of California spend one last night together as one of them confronts his own imminent death.
This collection also includes “The Square Reporter,” “A Commercial Proposition,” “The Great Filibuster of 1975,” “The Tinhorn’s Lady,” “Hearts,” and “Looking for Love at a Romance Writers Convention.”
Gladstone Brass found out how to make his livelihood during the thirty years he prospected the arid wastes of the Nevada desert. He pried ore out of the few small deposits he discovered, then went to town—which he hated—only long enough to trade his bits of gold for the supplies he needed. Otherwise, he was devoted to keeping these arid, secret wastes all to himself, and that meant driving out rivals, invaders, interlopers, and adventurers. His only friend and companion was Tía María, a burro he’d caught in a desert canyon after his mule died from a snake bite. His great enemy was Bitter Bowler, a younger man, but run-down and dishonest.
One day, Brass spotted buzzards circling, and curiosity led him to investigate. He found a dead burro and an injured Bitter Bowler with his revolver trained on Brass. Bowler claimed he had broken his leg and couldn’t move. He wanted Brass’ water. When Brass refused, Bowler shot Tía María, then told him the next shot would be for him if he didn’t leave his water and supplies and get more water and something he could use for a crutch. Brass agreed and headed for Angel Cliff seep, the nearest water supply. He was debating whether he should go back to rescue Bitter Bowler when he arrived at the seep to find a stranger camped there who immediately turned, his gun pointed right at Brass.