Excerpt: The Samaritan’s Pistol by Eric Bishop

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18114857The Samaritan’s Pistol
By: Eric Bishop
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Published: Aug. 24, 2013
Genre: Thriller

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Even among his small town neighbors, Jim is a content man. Despite the emotional baggage from his time serving in Desert Storm, he successfully runs a ranch, owns several beautiful horses, and makes extra cash as a wilderness guide for wealthy tourists. He’s a modern-day cowboy.

That is, until he runs into an ongoing mob-hit while riding in the mountains. Now, his most beloved horse is bleeding to death, three mobsters are dead from his smoking gun, and a wounded criminal is begging for his help. Jim has to make a decision. He can either high-tail it out of there, or accept a tempting offer made by the criminal—a promise of millions in stolen mafia cash for any help he gives.

Of course, only an idiot would turn down such an appealing offer when they’re marked for death anyway. Besides, Jim’s good nature cannot allow him to leave someone for dead, even a criminal.

Soon, Jim finds himself on a trip to retrieve a truckload of stolen money near the Las Vegas strip, right under the Mafia’s nose. But even if they escape with the cash, will Jim’s conservative neighbors provide sanctuary for their local Samaritan, and how far will the mafia go for revenge?

 

Excerpt

Duke stood at point, studying a spot in the trail as Jim rounded the corner. A bark, not happy or angry, but intense told Jim he was onto something.
“What you got, boy?” Jim tied Sam and the first horse in the pack string to the limb of a deadfall tree, then walked up to the energized dog. Duke often alerted him to deer or elk tracks, and Jim paid attention. It helped create a working knowledge for later in the year when the big game hunters came visiting.
Instead of animal prints, he found footprints. Four sets of tracks—two of dress shoes and two of athletic—marked the trail. The tracks headed into the woods, but stopped, turning down a shallow gully.
Someone’s got sore feet. Jim thought about the three miles to the parking lot, as he traced a dress shoe imprint with his fingertips.
Curiosity insisted he investigate. Not wanting the dog to get too far ahead, Jim decided to take Sam. The slip-knotted lead-rope undid easily from the tree, and he swung into the saddle.
“Let’s take a look,” he said, reining the horse to follow the tracks into the gully.
Two hundred yards further, Jim came around a boulder at the edge of a clearing. Three men stood there. Two were dressed in knee-length shorts and golf shirts, and one looked like a skater. The three loomed over an enormous black man, bound and bloodied. The two golfers carried handguns tucked into their shorts at the small of their backs.
Jim’s mind raced, and his eyebrows dropped into a scowl.
The victim’s hands were fastened behind his back. The largest man was winding up with the club like a woodchopper splitting firewood. Duke’s growl stopped him.
“What the?” the man said, spinning around. “Stop right there!” Jim shouted.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Step away!” Jim ordered.
The men didn’t move.
The man dropped his club. “We found him here.” The tone was friendly. “Do you have a first aid kit?”
“I said, step away!”
The man responded after looking at his two companions. “I was offering the stick to help him up.”
“With the club above your head?”
The other man—the one on the side opposite the tattooed skater—spoke for the first time. “The only way this turns out good is if you turn around and forget this.”
At least they aren’t bullshitting me anymore. “What about him?” Jim nodded at the man on the ground.
“What about him?” The tattooed young man puffed out his chest. “He’ll be okay.”
Both golfers turned to look momentarily at the tattooed young man as though he’d thrown ice water in their faces.
“His bloody clothes and messed up face don’t say so.” Jim’s neck itched, but he refused to scratch.
“He’s fine, you hick.” The young man stepped forward. “Leave while we’re in a good mood.”
“Every litter has a runt,” Jim muttered to himself.
“What did you say?” the young man demanded.
Jim didn’t respond, his eyes moving across the men’s hands, making sure not to focus for too long on any one thing.
“You have no idea what this is, you—” The man used a combination of words Jim hadn’t heard since boot camp.
“His tattoos are scarier than the language.” Jim pressured his stirrups to make sure Sam would stand. Blood pulsed through his temples and eyelids. His nose twitched and adrenaline sped his heart to twice its normal speed, but Jim focused on his military training: Watch their hands. Project strength, and if you’re lucky, they’ll back down. Under closed lips, Jim’s jaw hung loose, and he exhaled through his mouth. He decided against drawing his pistol, thinking it would make things worse.
Duke growled, baring his teeth as his hackles rose, then lunged forward with a bark.
“Call off the mutt!” the tattooed man yelled.
The man on the left grabbed his pistol, but before he could take aim, Jim drew his own weapon and fired. The bullet tore through the man’s heart.
Duke charged. The two remaining men drew, but paused, watching Duke leap on the falling body. Correcting, they brought their weapons to bear on Jim, but his second shot shattered the second golfer’s skull.
The tattooed runt shot in the same instant, missing Jim but hitting Sam high in the chest between the horse’s front legs with a dull thud that vibrated up into the saddle.
Another bullet whizzed over Jim’s head as Sam staggered. Leaping from the horse, and landing on his feet, Jim stepped toward the runt, who backed up with a fearful look. The young man shot from his heels, missing to the left. Jim shot, and the young man clutched his chest and fell sideways, his tattooed arms beneath his lifeless body.
Jim stood for a moment. He exhaled and re-holstered his pistol before dropping to his hands and knees. His stomach convulsed and he vomited his scant breakfast into the dirt. Drunk with adrenaline, the earth reeling beneath him, Jim gritted his teeth, refusing to pass out. Thinking about Sam, and Duke’s barking drowning out the ringing in his ears, he stood.
Duke growled, bolting between the three bodies, his hackles still on alert.
Sam lay on his side, head resting on the grass. The horse’s great bellow-lungs moved air through his nostrils, wiggling the stems, but as Jim sprinted toward him, it slowed.
Sam was going to die. Tears sprang to Jim’s eyes as he collapsed next to the horse.
Duke nosed the horse’s lip. After smelling his breath for several seconds, he whimpered. The scent of internal blood told him Sam would soon be gone, and he curled up next to the horse’s neck.
Jim sleeved away the tears and took aim at his dying friend; his fourth shot seemed louder than all the other three combined. Gun to his side, he wiped his eyes with his free thumb, the tears soaking into calloused, dirty skin. He remembered sleeping in the barn to witness the birth. A perfect buckskin coat surprised him coming from a brown-bay, quarter-horse mare and a jet-black, Arabian stud.
Sam was the best horse Jim had trained. Capable of running for miles, the gift of endurance from Arabian ancestors mixed with the pleasant disposition of a quarter-horse mother.
Ten minutes ago I was headed home, and now Sam and three men are dead?
He wanted to wish the reality away, and yet the ugly truth surrounded him.
Jim re-holstered the pistol, and stepped over Sam’s neck, the fury growing in his stomach projected onto everything in view. He hocked then spit some of the vomit residue from his mouth as he approached the man.
“Thanks for helping me,” the man mumbled through split lips. The words came out slowly, scarcely more than a whisper. “You saved my life.”
Jim untied the leash from the man’s swollen hands and cut the zip ties. Returning to Sam’s side, he yanked to free the saddlebags from beneath the horse’s body, which came free in a tug-o-war lurch. From the bottom of the bags he pulled his first-aid kit containing peroxide, bandages, antibiotic ointment, and latex gloves.
authorEricBishopAuthor-330x400

As a husband and Father, I do my best to keep up with my wife and four daughters. Each fall we pray for snow while riding horses through our nearby mountains. We ski on what comes until it melts. Then we inflate the rafts for a few float-trips, put shoes on the horses and start the cycle again. I’m lucky and grateful.ERIC BISHOP is known to to his friends and family as an “author version of Clint Eastwood.” As the owner of a successful marketing firm, Bishop spends most of his time on his Utah ranch writing with the music of his adolescence bouncing off the walls. When he’s not writing, Bishop enjoys spending time with his wife and four lovely daughters at his home in Nibley, Utah. Unlike Jim, Bishop hasn’t had any run-ins with the Mafia. Yet.

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