The moment I read that Pierce Burns’ daddy sold a cow back during the Depression to pay for his honeymoon, I knew he had written a book that would hold my attention. And while selling a cow to fund a wedding trip to
Burns’ self-published story of a
Fortunately, “A Few Good Horses” (Gap Creek Press, $24.95; copies may be ordered from the author’s Web site at www.pierceburns.com) is clearly the real thing, even though the 174-page hardback is full of characters and incidents that would do a novelist proud.
A good for instance is story of the night the author’s father woke up next to a dead man. In the spring of 1915, George Pierce Burns and a wealthy rancher named John Bryson traveled from
Bryson’s son lived on the place, and Burns, Bryson, and two other men bunked for the night at the son’s ranch house. Apparently, the four of them had only two beds. Burns shared with Bryson.
About , a loud noise jarred Burns awake.
“John,” he said, “were those shots?”
Bryson didn’t reply. Burns reached over to shake him awake and felt something wet and warm. When the lights came on, they saw the rancher was dead, his face covered in blood. Turns out Bryson had been shot three times, apparently by someone firing through an open window.
Burns and the other men saddled up and followed a set of horse tracks for several miles before a rain shower made it impossible to trail the killer further. Later, the sheriff arrested a man for the murder. Before he could be tried, he committed suicide in jail.
Equally compelling is the story of a family member who married the love of his life only to see her die in childbirth. On her death bed, she asked him to promise that he would never remarry and he made the pledge.
But a couple of years later, he met another pretty lady. One thing led to another and soon their wedding date was at hand. But the groom did not show up at the altar.
Ruminating on his pledge, he decided he just couldn’t break his vow to his first wife. Instead, he saddled his horse, stuffed a whiskey bottle into his saddlebag and rode off.
That, according to family story, started him on the way to his eventual alcoholism. He later changed his mind and married the woman he had stood up, but turned out his first instinct had been correct. The marriage definitely did not proceed to happily thereafter.
Based both on memory, interviews and research “A Few Good Horses” is a good read, a story-filled telling of a