Joel Q. Aaron
Genre: Paranormal Western
Price: $4.99 (99c/99p through 28 August)
Convicted murderer, Jonathan Blair, conditionally trades his death sentence for a job as a court-appointed bounty hunter to bring in the members of his former gang—dead or alive. Now, only two weeks remain to find the man who killed his family. If he fails, the gallows await instead of a pardon.
Blair locates the gang member in the Rocky Mountain coal mining town of Gothic, along with a growing number of dead miners with bloodless neck wounds. The fearful townspeople turn to folklore to explain the gruesome slayings. Blair uncovers the truth behind the mysterious deaths. Demons.
An angel, seemingly more foe than friend, pushes him toward a never ending clash between good and evil. The town’s survival depends on Blair abandoning his chance of a pardon, and putting his trust in his pistols. But the thing that scares Blair the most, he and the demons have clashed before. And they’re eager for his tainted soul.
• • •
Dust and frayed threads were the dominant features of William Johnson’s clothes. Running for your life was a hard ride. Blair studied Johnson’s sunburned face. His eyes held the pain he inflicted on others. Willy wouldn’t want the life of a prisoner. This was going to end with bullets, but would not be a mercy killing.
“Jonathan Blair,” Willy said as he looked at him from across the room. His quiet voice didn’t attract much attention. Blair heard him only because he was watching him. He took several steps toward Johnson. Neither man moved their hands. Two gripping pistols. Two holding glass.
“The lawman,” Willy said with a dry laugh.
Blair scoffed at the sarcastic remark. But the words caught the attention of the people nearby.
Eyes tired, Blair shot quick glances at the men in the saloon who watched him and Willy. They didn’t recognize Blair from the old wanted posters or the stories in the Denver paper. He was far from a lawman. He was part of Willy’s gang.
Now he was trying to escape the hangman. Blair couldn’t turn down the deal—trade his death sentence for a stay of execution. If he brought in his former gang members, the state and the railroad company would let him go free. It was the railroad company’s idea—let him risk his life to arrest the rest of the gang. The company set the rules and time limit. How they got the judge to agree, Blair didn’t know and didn’t ask. He took the chance of freedom.
The men at the nearby tables got up and moved, which brought everyone’s attention to the pair of old friends.
“Trying to save your hide or your soul?” Willy asked.
“My soul’s not worth saving,” Blair said. “But I ain’t ready to die.”
“So, you’re here to kill me instead,” Willy said. “You think I need killing?”
Blair took a step within reach of the chair on his side of the table. “No one needs killing. Death just has a way of finding those who taunt it.”
Willy grinned big. “We’ve done more than taunt death.” He slowly lifted the bottle of whiskey and poured two shots. He cautiously slid one shot glass toward Blair, then raised his own, leaving a third empty glass on the table.
Blair picked up the shot glass with his coarse fingers.
“To old friends,” Willy said.
Blair nodded and lifted the glass to his nose. He inhaled—vanilla, oak and grain filled his senses with pleasure. The aroma tempted him, but he set the full shot glass back on the sweat and whiskey stained table.
Willy frowned. “Too good to drink with me now?”
“It’s not like that.” Blair said. “Haven’t had any since I left… left the gang.”
“You mean since you ran out on us in Mexico.” Willy emptied his glass. “What scared you so bad you took off like a little girl?”
The question struck Blair like a bullet. Willy’s hateful words didn’t burn, but the memory those words evoked—a scar from a forgotten wound.
As kind as Willy had been at times, he was a mean son of a bitch. All of them were. Willy’s brothers were worse. He’d already dealt with Bart. And he wouldn’t have to worry about Cliff until he got out of prison. If he got out, which was unlikely to happen.
But I’m out, aren’t I?
• • •
Joel spent his youth between the Magic Mitten and the Old South, but now resides at 9,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.
The great lake and sandy shores gave him a love of the beach, but high mountain summits are now his favorite places to watch the world. Cold streams flowing with snow melt and wild trout bring him simple pleasures and long relaxing days in the wild throwing feathers at fish. But it's his love of the South that follows him where ever he travels: sweet tea, y'all, yes ma'am, BBQ, and SEC football. As you might guess, hiking 14ers, fly fishing, and college football are the major distracters to Joel's writing. A Cubs fan from his youth, he's watched games on WGN before there was cable TV.
Many things influenced his imagination as a kid...X-Men comic books, The Twilight Zone, Star Wars, E.T., Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Stephen King, and art by Brian Froud.
Joel has degrees in journalism and management from the University of Arkansas. Woo Pig Sooie!
He spent most of the last 20-plus years in some form of communications/public relations or journalism which provided a writing outlet. But it was two other authors who continued to ask, "What are you reading" and "What are you writing" that sparked his muse to write creatively—a talent his wife says she knew I had from the beginning. One of her first gifts to Joel was a writing journal. Now, several years later, he has a few completed manuscripts.
Find Joel Online:
Website - http://www.joelqaaron.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Joel-Q-Aaron
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Joel-Q-Aaron-598312096989382
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Joel__Q
Blog - http://joelqblog.blogspot.com
Tirgearr Publishing - http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Aaron_JoelQ