Scratches…a Dan Bardwell Western




Okay, boys and girls, so do you like a good western? Well…let me rephrase that, do you like a western with a kind of weird twist? Okay…how about one that’s free? $0, nothing, nada.

Scratches just might do it for you?

The short story (Scratches) is the first of a planned series written in support of the novel length story, Ain’t No Law in California—from Solstice Publishing and available in paperback or e reader. It (the short) will be free and available for any e reader in a short while.

Scratches starts as the Sacramento lawman—Dan Bardwell—falls from his saddle in front of the mission gates at Arroyo de la Cantua. After safely getting his man—or men rather—and riding away into the night, the lawman is awakened by a terrible buzzing which can’t be explained. With a blood moon rising across the range, he is confronted by the undead as he stands next to a little fire with a blued Navy Colt in each hand. The zombies continue to pile through the long nighttime hours until the bullets are no more.

As he lies prostrate under an unforgiving desert sun, sand blows around his form and he has a series of delirious visions, where he meets Ahote—an old Indian friend—and Father John who may or may not really be there?

Ain’t No Law in California was a labor of love that didn’t come out quite the way that I envisioned it. The story started in 2010 as a traditional western and was re-written several times. Somewhere along the way a new character emerged in the form of Dan Bardwell—the Sacramento lawman—who first showed up in the Frontier Tales short story, The Forgiven back in 2015. In 2016 we saw him again in the Dead Guns Press western anthology—Hangmen & Bullets—in both Arroyo Diablo and The Devils Hand. I chose to keep Franklin Curtis—the orphaned black boy—as his partner and the two morphed into lawmen with a five-pointed tin star pinned to their chest. Along the way, the pair went through some weird shit.

Not really pleased with the novel…I started into another as a follow-up. This one will be a hell-of-a-lot darker or I hope it will. Other than coarse language, the first story kind of leaves a YA taste in your mouth by the time you finish and it’s not what I was going after.

So although Bardwell and Curtis have seen some hard times, Ain’t No Law in California was a walk in the park compared to what they’ll now find in a post-apocalyptic Sacramento, which is really nothing more than the state of California after a nuclear war has nearly wiped humanity from the face of the earth.

Download a copy and come along for the ride. If you like a western with a weird fucking twist—like dope and zombies and, well…you name it—you just might like this one and if you do, pick up a copy of the novel, Ain’t No Law in California. I’m sure the publisher would like that and of course, I would be grateful.

If you do, don’t forget to leave a quick review.

And as always, thanks for reading.



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