Men in the Land
Men in the Land is a compilation of stories that deal with real men. Men and their immovable foundations, their women, facing difficult and deadly circumstances, who understand the foundational basis of morality and decency, love of family, friends, and country. These men must deal with immorality, greed, and danger decisively, and sometimes violently, while maintaining their own integrity. Each man, in real life, must face similar decisions for himself. There are those who would destroy us. Men in the Land are the bulwark against destruction. Kender, Stepp, Openshaw, and Trapper White, their neighbors and friends, each, in their own way, are men who inspire us to fight, against all odds, for that which is rightfully ours. They irreversibly influence the world around them. Men in the Land are monuments to positive values, hard won, and honest achievement. They stand for something. They are granite, bigger than life, strong, and immovable. Our nation is today because there were Men in the Land.
Men In The Land They came from under the trees, out of the brush and weeds, by the side of the road in the late evening twilight, as quickly and unexpectedly as copperheads, their movements masked by the increased darkness of the overhanging trees and the sound of rushing water in the creek. Armed with pistols and knives, one grabbed the reins of the frightened saddle horse, as the two other men fastened hold on the rider. The horse was fighting a sudden ghost who had materialized out of the near darkness. Rearing in his fright and striking out with his forefeet to rid himself of the half seen demon in the flapping black coat that was trying to drag him back to the ground by the reins of his bridle. The rider was struggling with two other groping, grasping imps attempting to drag him from the saddle. Suddenly, loosening a foot from his stirrup he kicked at the head of one of the men, striking his attacker in the eye with the hobbed nailed heel of his boot. Ab Hawkins, screamed and grabbed his face momentarily then, anger overcoming his pain, he, becoming furious, returned to the fight, with a knife in his hand. Delmer Cowley had managed to stop the fighting horse in its attempt to flee. Enoch, the third man, still unwounded, and pulling on the horseman, had managed to partially unbalance and almost drag the rider from his saddle. Ab Hawkins, with the wounded eye, was now attempting to leap onto the horse behind the saddle and keep from entangling himself in the lead rope that was attached to a frightened, kicking, rearing, pack mule, meanwhile trying to stab the rider in the back with his knife. His first attempt, resulted in a painful and dangerous wound to the riders back. In his effort to evade the man behind him with the knife, the rider jumped from his horse, wrapping his arms around Bryant, the man pulling on him from the ground, struggling to unhorse him. Finding himself atop Bryant when they hit the ground, the rider, wounded, now in desperation, drove his oaken fists into the face of the man with all his might, hoping to take one man out of the fight. Bryant stopped moving, but the man with the knife, in the meantime, had leaped from his half seated position on the horse and managed to stab him in the back once more. Hawkins’ attempt to kill the man from the horse resulted in the rider falling forward on top of the motionless Bryant. Hawkins stabbed him in the back again. The rider now lay motionless. Cowley, who had been holding the horse, had released it in a general effort to help his companions and both animals had immediately fled, packs and stirrups flapping, up the road in the direction they were traveling before the attack. For some moments Cowley and Hawkins stood, shocked, almost unbelieving, at the ferocity with which the rider had instantly defended himself and the damage he had been able to inflict in such a few seconds. They had been warned. __________________________________________________________ Dan saw each man was carrying a well used squirrel gun, that he knew, seldom earned its keep killing squirrels. He instinctively knew that these men were up to no good. He also knew, Pap would be scared for his family, if their intent was to rob or threaten him. Pap, because of the risk to his family would try to negotiate with these two cut-throats. He answered them, as he continued to hang up the harness from the horses. “Pap’s gone to town for supplies and he took ol’ Rex and the cart and I’m worrying a little about him bein’ late. Which way did you fellers come in”? Tom Hicks, taken aback by Dan’s nonchalant answer, turned somewhat and glanced at his partner and in that instant Dan caught him across the shoulders with an oaken single tree. His partner started to pull the trigger of his gun, but in the split second it took him to react, a second blow, from Dan’s single tree re-arranged his face. His gun went off, into the shed roof, as he crumpled to the ground near dead from the blow across his nose. The shot brought Ma and Pap on the run from the house. Such good people always wanted to believe the bad guy was not really all that bad. Even though, he had robbed and stolen and probably killed. For some reason, they felt like the bad guy wouldn’t do it to them. He concluded that it was because such good people could have such compassion for their enemies that it made it poor business for them to try to protect themselves. __________________________________________________________________ They shot at him from above. The result was that the man, his horse, and his belongings, went down, over the cliff, and into the river. He had gone over without a sound, to the rocks below. Yet, there was no sign of him, or his horse, in the river as they had nervously peered in fear over the edge. There was no rejoicing by those gazing from the height of the great cliff. With their own eyes they had seen magic. They knew why the spirit man had disappeared this time. They had caused it. But, where had he gone? Would he come back? They had spent the last two nights in fearful suspense. The pangs of a guilty conscience, combined with a lifetime of superstition, are not the perfect prescription for childlike sleep. Cobb knew now, somewhere along the river they were hunting him. Not because they hated him, for he had given them no reason to hate him. They were searching for him, simply because they feared him. He, her guardian angel, in front of the amazed and breathless crowd, took her beautifully gloved hands into his, for a moment, then, kissed each of them, gently.
The author has a wide range of life experience: raised in a near nineteenth-century Appalachian mountain environment; an American history student and a revolutionary war descendant; a student of human characteristics and behavior, lifelong businessman, father, mountain horseman, hunter, pilot, machinist, heavy equipment operator, MSHA instructor, mine owner; and an inventor, writer, speaker, musician.
As I read through the stories unfolding on the pages before me, I could smell the forest,hear the night creatures,see the beautiful countryside and taste the wonderful home cooking described to me. I felt like I was a part of each story, pulling me in and keeping me eager for each new adventure. I rarely find a book that I truly can't put down, but this book had me from the first page, and each new story was one I couldn't wait to finish. If you want to know what a real man is, and where his heart truly lies, this is the book for you. Where family and neighbors were really there for each other, and a man and a woman depended on each other to the death. I was truly inspired by this novel and can't wait to see what this author has next.
Perfect Bound Softcover