Welcome to The Written Word (TWW for short) on YAWA. This series (managed by yours truly) on our blog will be focused on the most important thing to the majority of our readers - the actual writing. Every Thursday, we will share an excerpt from someone's writing, published or not. To start, the five admins will feature sections of our own WIPs. We hope you enjoy our writing, and feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to see your own writing featured!
Welcome back to The Written Word after our short break! I'm sorry to announce that after this, TWW will be taking a bit of a hiatus - with a potential continuation in the future. To complete our series, we will be sharing a second Author Spotlight, this time featuring a follower of the YAWA blog - Justified Lawman, by Frindlesmith.
short stories, juvenile novels, and young adult novels.
Genre-wise, he writes contemporary, literary, and westerns. Frindlesmith centers his stories on complex characters in complicated situations, trying to make sense of the world. In addition to writing, he enjoys reading theology, novels, and books on writing fiction. When not doing either, he usually ends up lifting weights or doing cardio workouts. Frindlesmith blogs whenever he can at The Wordsmith Alphabetical.
Tracer Hamilton walked through the grated jail cell’s door. Seeing the low and grimy
ceiling, he replaced his Stetson. A wave of old sweat and dust slapped Tracer in the nose.
There was only a filthy cot on the left wall and an occupied chair in the middle of the room for
furniture. The seated prisoner could only be Burnett Gordon. She wore a plain grey prison gown,
her hair was matted from weeks in the prison, her brown skin was caked with dirt, and she had
eyes that seemed to take in everything they could.
So she’s the one what stole my little girl, thought Tracer, the blood rushing to his eyes.
His right hand began to sweat as he forced himself not to pull his sidearm and shoot Burnett like
a dog. Even if he didn’t fire, she’d recognize his gun in a minute, then she’d never go anywhere
with him and Tracer would spend another five years hunting for little Liberty.
“Watch her careful,” whispered Warden Jeffries behind him, “she attacked the last white
man who tried to visit her.”
Tracer tapped the Colt .45 Lightning in his hip holster. “Thanks, but I’ll be fine.”
The warden closed the door behind Tracer, leaving the only illumination source the
barred window on the opposite wall.
Burnett stood up at the sound of the door. She eyed the newcomer with suspicion,
particularly the tin star pinned to his vest. “Who are you?” she asked with a dry throat. “Why do
you look so familiar?”
Tracer clenched his jaws and tried not to swallow. She recognized him? Without his
beard? And after all these years? He nervously pinched the brim of his hat. “Name’s Hamilton,”
he said, lowering his voice to disguise it, “I’m a sergeant with the Texas Ranger Corps. I am here
to escort you to Fort Jefferson Davies.”
Burnett began to back away slowly from Tracer. Her breathing sped up. “Warden Jeffries
said I only had another month here, you can’t transfer me.”
“I ain’t tranferrin’ you.” said Tracer, raising his hands reassuringly.
Burnett, still staring at the lawman, turned her head to the side unconvinced.
“I have reason to believe that I shot and killed your brother, Ransom Gordon, around the
Mexican border, but the state needs you to identify the body. After that you may be returned here
to serve the rest of your sentence.” Tracer mentally kicked himself after saying this. No prisoner
would believe that the state of Texas would send a ranger all the way to Montana just to haul
back someone to identify a body. If Burnett didn’t smell something amiss by now. . . .
Burnett stopped backing away, but kept her distance from Tracer. “If you weren’t sure it
was my brother,” she asked slowly, “why’d you shoot him?”
“Well, there aren’t too many black men ridin’ near the border with a hat brim long
enough to cover their neck.” He waved his hand over the back of his neck.
“Then you were sure it was my brother you shot?” Burnett’s breathing returned to a
normal pace and her eyes weren’t wide with fear.
“Of course, I don’t shoot anybody without a reason.”
Burnett sat on the edge of her cot. “But if you’re sure, why do you need me to tell you if
it’s my brother you shot?”
The way Burnett emphasized the word you jittered Tracer. Was it a coincidence, or was
she hinting that she knew there were personal benefits for him if she went? “Well,” began
Tracer, pushing his hat back on his head, “I don’t need you to, but the state of Texas won’t take
the bounty off your brother’s head unless it’s clear beyond all doubt that it was your brother I
“I see. How much was on Ransom’s head?”
Tracer rubbed a callous on his thumb and stared at Burnett. Not a speck of remorse or
sorrow in her. From her face, one would think they were talking about the heat. Just what Tracer
would expect from a kidnapper. “Five hundred dollars.”
“Then you killed him for money?” she asked, turning her eyes toward the wall.
Tracer swallowed hard. If he said yes, then even someone as cold as Burnett would never
go to Texas with him. If he said no, she’d continue probing until he let something slip.
“Not just for money,” he said after some thought, “as long as another African devil has
met his maker and all the women and children of the USA can walk the streets, I’m happy.”
That should work, thought Tracer.
“His maker,” sneered Burnett contemptibly. Her arms folded and her eyes blew fire at the
“What’s that tone for? You don’t believe your brother has one?”
She shook her head.
“Don’t you believe in a higher power?”
“What higher power would that be, Mr. Hamilton?” asked Burnett with more contempt
than before. “A higher power that made my brother a prisoner for defending himself against a
white man, or put me in jail for talking back to my employer? No, Mr. Hamilton, I only believe
in one higher power and Mr. Grant outside carries it loaded on his arm.”
Excerpt from Justified Lawman