Coming at you from E-Volve Books is WELCOME TO HELL: AN ANTHOLOGY OF WESTERN WEIRDNESS, edited by the maestro of all things Sasquatch, Eric S. Brown.
First take a look at this cover. I think it’s one of the best my work’s ever appeared under to date.
Reminds me a still from the opening credits of a Leone movie.
I’m told the title of the anthology is a direct reference to the words the stranger paints over the Lago town sign in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, a movie I’m a tremendous fan of.
My own offering, BIGFOOT WALSH, takes place inFredericksburg,Texas around 1849. A troop of Texas Rangers rides into town seeking one German doctor Wilhelm Keidel, to accompany them. They have received reports of Comanche Indian depredations in the hill country, and want to bring a doctor along as they investigate the remote settlements in case of wounded survivors.
Discovering a burned out cabin with its goods and weaponry largely untouched but its horses brutally butchered and womenfolk stolen, the Rangers are also joined by legendary Texas Ranger Lieutenant ‘Bigfoot’ Walsh (no relation to real-life ‘Bigfoot’ Wallace, though they are acquainted), a tremendously large and hairy individual who is said to be of Lithuanian extraction. He rides no horse, goes barefoot upon a pair of huge feet, and sports a Brand Rifle loaded with a broomstick lance, a weapon usually reserved for killing whales.
He also dismisses the Rangers’ assertion that they are tracking Comanche Indians, pointing to a set of overlarge tracks in the mud. Their quarry is something altogether more dangerous, something Walsh himself has a certain connection to….
Fredericksburg is a real community, called Fritz Town by the old-timers, as it was established soon after the Mexican War by German immigrants, and named for Frederick of Prussia.
Fredericksburg was interesting and perhaps totally unique in their dealings with the local Penateka Comanche tribe, in that they settled for peace early on, and enjoyed a lasting armistice the surrounding Texans did not.
One cool tradition dating back to the signing of the treaty which purportedly continues inFredericksburgtoday is the lighting of bonfires on the surrounding hilltops during Easter Eve.
During the negotiations, the Comanche camped on hilltops all around Fredericksburg, and their fires could be seen at night. To alleviate the fears of their children, the German mothers told them the fires were the Easter Bunny boiling eggs to be painted for the morning’s hunt.
Dr. Wilhelm Keidel, who appears in my story, really was the first licensed doctor practicing in Gillespie County. A veteran of the Mexican War himself (in the First Texas Foot Rifles), he also became the county’s first Chief Justice, and founded the nearby town of Pedernales. He never refused treatment based on creed, race, or loyalty, even during the War Between The States, and was called ‘Butcher Knife’ by the Comanche whom he often treated (maybe something is lost in the translation).
Chief Santa Ana (who is mentioned in BIGFOOT WALSH) of the Penateka Comanche was a modestly renowned war chief, having participated in the Council House Fight and the Great Raid Of 1840, in which the Comanches burned out two anglo cities and conducted bloody raids all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Nevertheless, he was one of the instrumental parties of the Penateka band in the signing of the Meusabach-Comanche treaty inFredericksburg.
In 1849 the Penateka Band dissolved, reportedly due to a severe outbreak of cholera (which Dr. Keidel and the Germans of Fredericksburg were also dealing with at that time). Chief Santa Ana was one of the victims, though his son Carne Muerto (Dead Meat) survived and joined the Kwahadi Band of Quanah Parker.
My story says different, of course…
The climactic scene of the story takes place on Enchanted Rock. AKA Spirit Song Rock, it’s a huge pink granite monadnock where the renowned Texas Ranger Captain John C. Hays supposedly singlehandedly held the high ground against a superior force of Comanches in 1841.
Legends about the area say that Comanche and Tonkawa bands held sacrifices on its summit in prehistoric days, and that it was a portal to other worlds. There is also a story of a Spanish priest who fell into a hole in the rock and was lost in underground tunnels for days, where he encountered hordes of mystical beings before finding his way out again.
Just a few of the real life ingredients that went into BIGFOOT WALSH.Now go pick up the anthology and sip the brew I came up with.
I’m told the print edition is forthcoming.