Frank Pyburn tossed another log into the fireplace, poured two fingers bourbon into his coffee and settled into his easy chair. With joints that ached, he ran a gnarled hand through a shock of white hair. The newest Zane Grey novel lay on the table next to his chair. He kicked off his worn boots, switched on the lamp and reached for it.
That man sure knew how to write a good western.
Frank grunted a little as he settled in and reached for the coffee. The burn felt good and warmed him on the inside.
“Ah,” he said to no one.
After he found his reading glassed under a two-day pile of newspapers, he opened the book.
Halfway through the first chapter, the sound of hooves clomping across his front porch brought him to his feet.
“Damn bears again,” he muttered. “But, since when did bears grow hooves?”
He slipped on his boots and grabbed the Winchester propped beside the door.
“Who’s out there?” He yelled.
A loud whinny cut through the cold Montana air, followed by a snort and a hoof pawing on the wood.
Frank cursed and eased the front door open two inches. He peered out with one eyeball. A saddled brown pony with no rider stamped his foot and nickered.
“Who’s out there?” Frank yelled again.
The horse tossed his head and let out a long whinny.
Frank swung the door open wide and stepped out into the porchlight, gun cocked and aimed.
The horse backed off the porch and continued to toss his head and nicker.
When Frank saw no one, he walked toward the horse and grabbed the trailing reins. “Good boy.” He patted the horse’s thick neck.
“Where’s your rider?”
The horse pulled against the reins and reared.
“Whoa, boy. Whoa.” Frank kept a tight grip on the leather.
The horse jerked against Frank’s hold and whinnied.
“You’re trying to tell me something, aren’t you, boy?” Frank peered into the cold blackness of the night. His gut told him someone was in trouble. “All right. I’ll go with you, you stubborn horse, but I’ve got to get my coat and gloves.”
He pulled on the reins and the horse followed him. “Damned if this don’t beat all. The coldest night of the year and you’re gonna drag me away from my warm fire. You better have a good reason.”
If someone was in trouble, this weather would freeze a person to death in no time.
He tied the horse to the porch rail and stepped back into the warmth of the small ranch house. He shot a longing glance at the fire, his book and the rest of his coffee while he slammed his hat on his head, slipped into his heaviest coat and gloves.
The minute he swung up into the saddle, the horse spun around and took off.
To Be Continued…