Book Sample: Trouble in the Black Hills
Below is a free sample of Dave Diamond’s The Troubleshooter: Trouble in the Black Hills
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The Troubleshooter: Trouble in the Black Hills
By Dave Diamond
It was one of those afternoons that screamed trouble. A tight rope unraveling. A hawk banked against a dark cloud that cloaked a bluff near the White River. The sun was bleeding heat, and a raw wind howled out of a gully.
Slim Winner pulled his Appaloosa to a stop on the edge of the rugged Dakota Badlands–a maze of deep ravines, ribboned ridges, buttes, domes, and colored spires.
A desert in the middle of the prairie.
Slim tugged at the brim of his black Stetson and pushed it up on his forehead. His face had the markings of jagged handsomeness. Brown hair curled over the collar of his Levi’s shirt.
He’d taken a steamer from his office in Omaha to Yankton in Dakota Territory, stayed over there, bought an Appaloosa, rode north up along the Missouri, then west over the Great Plains.
Off on the horizon Slim could see the Black Hills, his destination. But he also had business in Badwater, a small town a few miles down the river.
A shot blistered the heat.
The Appaloosa wobbled and dropped to its front knees.
Slim yanked his Winchester ’73 from the scabbard and jumped off. A bullet punched the dirt next to his boots. He zig-zagged in a low crouch to a cluster of boulders, slid in and peeked up at the bluff.
All he could see was a granite outcropping at the top. He cocked his Winchester, popped up and tried to draw another shot.
A slug skipped off the rocks.
The hawk drove in behind him and hovered over the remains of a dead jackrabbit.
Then more shots.
Slim had been timing them at five a minute. Had to be a Sharps carbine. Distance and accuracy. The guns had been shipped to Kansas back in the 1850’s by Henry Ward Beecher, the famous abolitionist and preacher, in cases marked Bibles, and they had fast become known as “Beecher’s Bibles.”
But you had to reload.
Slim hugged the rocks. Bullets peppered around him. He timed them again, counted five, then he jumped up and ran into a grove of cottonwoods along the river.
Now he had the edge.
He ran fast, stumbled on a piece of driftwood, tumbled, and bounced into a tree. He got up and raced between the trees, using them as cover.
He reached the base of the bluff and stopped to catch his breath. Then he started through the trees. Halfway up they thinned out.
No shots. No action. Only one way to find out what was happening. Slim charged up the bluff without cover, moving left, right, then charging straight ahead.
Still no gunfire.
He slowed down and jogged around some rocks.
He heard the report, then felt the slug graze his left shoulder. It spun him around and knocked him down.
The bullet had torn through his shirt and cut into the skin near his shoulder bone. Not much blood. More like a bruise. Slim had been hit before, and he knew his shoulder would be sore as hell tomorrow.
If he lived through today.
He slid in behind some scrub brush. Two men started down the sides of the hill. Slim fired. The man on his left fell. The other ran to some rocks. Slim got up and rushed the top of the bluff.
A bullet just missed him.
He was thirty yards away now. The man on his right was level with him. He rose to take a look. Winner was ready. He pumped off two rounds from the Winchester. The man rolled down the bluff and slammed into a tree.
Slim climbed higher, the rifle cocked and ready. But when he reached the top, the third and last man was riding hard along the White River.
Slim sat down, took a deep breath, and inspected his wound. It didn’t hurt half as much as he thought the walk to Badwater would.
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