Gary Lendennie Writes an Off-the-Wall 'Tall Tale' of the Wild West

Related: Wild West

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EXCERPT: "My great-great grandfather, Rufus T. Breckenridge III was perhaps the most prolific liar and storyteller in the history of verbal communications. Either that or he had somehow acquired in his vast travels the unnatural ability to be in a number of different places simultaneously." This opening statement from the introduction to The Potentate of Walking Horse alerts the reader that a fun-loving, laugh-out-loud, maybe a little dark but always entertaining, journey through the Old West is about to begin. This story, set in the 1880s and '90s, is narrated by Rufus T. Breckenridge III on his 100th birthday. Charging straight ahead from one adventure to another (sometimes under the guidance and protection of an unknown power) this tongue-in-cheek account of how the West was really won will have the reader turning pages faster than a bottom-of-the-deck draw in a crooked poker game.

Gary Lendennie, author of this uniquely endearing novel, blends fact with fiction so well it's almost impossible to tell where one stops and the other starts. Moonshiners, space aliens, cannibals, robots, Indian magic and ambitious politicians, all play a role in this one-of-a-kind adventure. So saddle up, load your six-shooter, and enjoy the ride.

Starting in Reno in 1890, Rufus T. Breckenridge III, an unlikely hero whose mission in life is survival, exacts revenge on a former partner, a half-breed Indian named Willie Snowshoe, and is surprised by a vision that appears just in time to save his life. After the town marshal insists he take up residence elsewhere, Rufus T. hits the road where he befriends some Shoshoni Indians, encounters a space ship on the Nevada desert, and eventually hires on as a cowboy at a small ranch near Colorado Springs. After only a month, he has a run-in with the ranch foreman and finds himself on the road again - this time he heads south for the warm climate of Fort Worth. There he meets a mentor, Texas Martin, who schools Rufus T. on the skills of deception, outright fraud, and how to lie when caught red-handed.

In Fort Worth, while earning a dishonest living helping Texas cheat at cards and other activities, Rufus T. gets involved in a gunfight with an Old Acquaintance from his past. Again, a strange power intervenes to save his life. He is ordered by the sheriff to leave town and is told, "I hear Arkansas is nice this time of year." Having been kicked out of Reno, Colorado Springs and Fort Worth, our hero wanders into Arkansas where he comes upon an old Indian sitting inside a circle of animal bones; facing the morning sun in full battle dress and singing what Rufus T. believes is a kind of death chant. His name is Two Dogs; a Cherokee elder who has taken a solemn vow not to speak again until after he has met and defeated Death in battle. Rufus T. thinks the old warrior is disturbing the peace and quiet with all his caterwauling.




More On: Old Acquaintance.

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