Blood on the Cards

Blood on the Cards
Now available at,,, and other online vendors

Blood on the Pen

Blood on the Pen
An unpublished author gets one rejection letter too many and starts killing literary agents. Can a troubled, modern-day Texas Ranger and a meddling, young woman stop it?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Do you have a favorite fall memory linked to a train? What do you imagine you would see if you were riding a train in the fall? Join the authors of Wild Child publishing and Freya’s Bower as we Take an Autumn Train Ride through our blogs.

A Nice Young Man
by David W. Huffstetler
The cool air of late autumn and a panoramic view of trees clinging to tawny leaves brought a smile, as Eleanor stared out the window of the club car. She turned back to the knitting sprawled over the lap of her simple dress and adjusted the spectacles on the bridge of her thin nose. “Oh, my, what is that awful odor?” A plume of black smoke from the coal-fired engine stole its way through the open window, past her graying hair, and into her face. Pushing and bumping and groaning weren’t enough to close it, so she turned to the passenger riding beside her. “Young man, would you help me with this? I cannot abide the smell of smoke.”
            “Yes, ma’am, of course. Let’s see, yeah, there we go. The latch was stuck. Is that better?”
            “Indeed. Thank you. You must have very strong fingers to free that latch so quickly.”
            “Barrel making tends to strengthen the fingers, if it doesn’t break them.”
            “Are you a cooper then? Wait, let me guess. I’m good at this. You’re traveling from Nashville, as I am, and, ah, Mocker Barrel Factory. I am right, aren’t I?”
            “Very good. My brother and I spent the past three years there. That’s BJ across the aisle, the galoot with his hat pulled down. Oh, excuse me, ma’am. I haven’t introduced myself. Howard, Thomas Howard, at your service.”
            She offered her slight, gloved hand. “I’m happy to meet you, Mr. Howard. I’m Eleanor Fitzpatrick of Jefferson City, Missouri. I spent the summer visiting my sister in Nashville and now I’m headed home. I detest locomotives, but the stage is too slow and bumpy for me anymore. And, what about you, Mr. Howard? Is Nashville your home?”
            A broad smile crawled over his face. “Please, call me Thomas and no, ma’am.  I was born in Missouri, too, near Kearny. BJ and I were in business together there, but things turned for the worse, and we found work in Nashville. Now, we’re headed home to try our hand again.”
            “Oh, that’s exciting. What is your vocation?”
            “Finance. We tried to expand into Minnesota, and things went poorly, but we believe we have righted ourselves now.” He reached for his chest. “Forgive me, Eleanor. It’s an old wound from the war, and sometimes it pains me.”
            The leather seat piped a squeak, as she turned to take his hand. “You were one of our brave boys in the Confederacy, weren’t you? I knew it from your accent. What battle were you shot in, son?”
            “None. I fought in more battles than I’d like to remember, and never injured once. Then came the end of the war. I rode with a squadron of guerillas and, when we tried to surrender, some Billy Blue shot me through the lung. I suppose we weren’t fit to surrender.”
            She patted his arm and returned to her knitting. “Well, I’m happy to know you survived it and survived it well, apparently. You are a well-dressed, handsome young fellow. That’s the problem with war. It robs us of so many fine, young men and for what? It’s all a waste of life and effort, if you ask me. Of course, we should not misremember our sacred dead.”  Eleanor rocked forward, spilling her needles from her lap, as the train screeched to a stop. “What in the world?”
            He helped her gather her things from the floor. “Here you go.”
            “Why have we stopped? What do you suppose . . .”
            “Well, my guess is that there’s a stack of rocks on the track, big rocks, just around a curve by a clump of trees. The engineer probably didn’t see it in time, so he had to stop quickly.”
            “How could you know that?”
            “Pardon me, Miss Eleanor, it’s time for me to return to my chosen profession.” He swung out of his seat, stood back to back with his brother, and pulled two pistols from beneath his coat. “Stand and deliver!”
            Eleanor pulled her hands to her chest. She heard the sound of horses outside and men yelling, “Hands up.”
            The two brothers circulated through the car, collecting money and valuables into burlap sacks. Then her handsome, young man returned. He held the sack out and drew it back. “You have been pleasant company, ma’am. I’ll not take anything from you. If you’ll pardon me, we have an express car to rob.”
            “But, Thomas, how can you do this. I mean, I don’t know what to say.”
            He took her hand, kissed it, and said, “It’s not Thomas, dear lady. It’s Jesse.”





  1. That ending was awesome! Loved the story.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed the twist at the ned. Thank you for a compelling story!

  3. I rather enjoyed the story. The twist was great. Enjoyed the setting as I am a fan of western stories. Thanks for this.


Blood on the Cards - Released

Blood on the Cards - Released
Mystery, thrills,and a touch of the paranormal. Now available at,,, and other online outlets

Blood on the Pen

Blood on the Pen
Available now from Wild Child Publishing at,,, and other websites. Jack Harden is a modern-day Texas Ranger haunted by his wife’s death a year ago. But, when a murderer strikes, he is called into duty. As he battles the urge to kill the drunk driver responsible for her death and the hunger to kill himself, he now must chase a killer who wants him dead. Elsie Rodriguez is assigned to report of the murders for her newspaper and ordered to stay with Jack Harden. He’s old school, tough, and doesn’t want her there, but, despite his gruff manner, the big Ranger triggers something inside her. Something more than just her Latin temper. Can she pull him back from the edge of sanity? Or will death win again?