As far back as I can remember I’ve always wanted to write a western. I’m not that old, I was born the same year Pale Rider came out, which, is really the last great western movie. (Don’t get me started on the bloated plodding zombie of a film that is Unforgiven) but I’ve always loved them. For most of the 20th century it was every kids first exposure to Genre fiction and it’s pretty much the most straightforward storytelling structure you could have. There are really two types of westerns, a man goes on a journey, and a stranger comes to town.
But for whatever reason I’ve never been able to really make a western stick and I blame that on science fiction and fantasy. Since so much of the conventions of that genre, from Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein all the way down to Stephen King, t have been a huge influence on science fiction and fantasy and since that’s now the first genre kids my age and younger are exposed to, it’s hard to double back and look at Westerns without feeling like your doubling down on story convention.
I think that’s why the science fiction western, or weird western as some call it, has been so hit or miss. I got close with a pretty cool idea for a weird western once, but it fell apart and I took a lot of that into a spy story and it worked better. But I still would love to get that western in.
I think there is a lot of a good old western in Vienna Sky. We have manifest destiny, a boy going on a journey to a strange land, and a good showdown. He goes through all this while trying not to get shot. No spoilers, but that last thing might not work out so well.
Genre: Spy-Fy, YA, Thriller.
Publisher: Eternal Press
Date of Publication: September 1
eBook ISBN: 9781629293127
Print ISBN: 9781629293134
Number of pages: 180
Word Count: 75,000
Cover Artist: Dawné Dominique
When the world pushes you to your limits, sometimes your limits push back.
Archie thought making it out of New Jersey was a long shot. That was before an Eastern European mobster wanted to crack open his head to get the secrets inside, put there by a dead spy he barely knew.
The secrets buried in his head will take Archie across the world and into the arms of Rebecca, the girl recruited as the spy’s last asset. She has her own secrets and her own demons buried in her head. Together they learn what they are capable of in a life and death battle for love and justice.
Available at Eternal Press
“I thought we would be square by now, Scott.” He said as he wrapped an arm around Scottie. He started slowly patting down his jacket looking for scraps of anything he could take. “Nothing, man, not a thing. That’s too bad.”
“Here, I was holding this for him,” I handed him the few dollars I had on me. “That’s all, honest.” The second year senior grabbed the crumbled wad and looked me over.
“Alright, this is start.” He butted Scottie in the shoulder, nearly knocking him over. “I’ll see you later.” We heard the click of a lighter as he disappeared around the corner, not even bothering to bypass the dogs.
“I’ll get you the money, Archie,” Scottie said as he straightened himself up and we ducked around the corner. “We’ll get burgers sometime soon, my treat.”
“Yeah,” I put my hands in my then empty pockets. “So what’s with that man? You owe some goon money?”
“It’s complicated. I have it under control, Archie. I just need some extra time. You really saved my ass, man. Thanks.”
We went back inside and snuck in the free lunch line. I saw that grey lump of macaroni and did my best not to think about those buttery grilled unions and that patty covered in real melted cheese. The smell of grill seasoning was in my brain and I didn’t want to let it go because what was in front of me was the same thing I’d had all week, leftover from the year before probably.
I told Scottie everything was fine but I was still pretty annoyed. What was he doing worrying about money anyway? He’s all set. In two years he’ll be living in the city and Panzer and everything about this place will be nothing but a memory, including me.
* * * *
I skipped the bus home. I wanted to clear my head. I was tired of the bus, that parking with the rust piles, and that metallic smell filling the air. I was practically choking on it so I did the only thing that made any sense to me at that moment. I ran.
I ran flat out until cold air filled my lungs and my throat grew dry. It felt like I swallowed gravel. I could see the other kids at the burger stand enjoying their burgers and I could smell the butter on the grill, but I just kept on running.
I didn’t stop until I hit right around Seventy-fifth Street with those half abandoned office buildings. One of them was barely finished; it hung open at the time with the crumbling concrete showing through the fading paint job. I took one look at it, a building I walked by a hundred times in my life, and nearly collapsed to the ground. The pain in my head was skull-splitting. I could feel veins straining as the world spun out around me.
“C’mon,” I said as I looked for the nearest place to sit down. “Don’t be that guy. Don’t be the kid who passes out in the middle of the street. No. No, Archie.” I dug my fingers into a metal pole. “Don’t be that guy.”
And then it passed, like a tide clearing out a layer of sand on the beach, my head was suddenly clear. I pried my hand away from the pole and moved forward on shaking legs, but I just couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that something was there, something big. It whispered in the back of my skull and echoed even after I’d made my way down the block and back to our little tenement. “It’s not a tumor. I’m fairly sure it’s not a tumor,” I said as I rounded the corner to my neighborhood. “I’m like eighty-five percent sure it’s not a tumor. Seventy percent.”
My head was still spinning as I stumbled back home. I couldn’t even tell which building was mine at first. I was guided by the smell of rust and looked for the old trucks with collected debris and scrap metal hanging out the back that belonged to our super. It wasn’t until I saw those, and smelled the collecting water in his tire pile on the side of the building, that I knew I was home.
Just like every other building, ours was a pile of bricks built on top of a puddle of mud with a fire escape barely holding on at the side. Sometimes I thought about climbing that fire escape, just once. I looked up at my window without the bars on it and I knew I could do it if it wasn’t for that final jump, which was just a little too high.
I stepped on broken glass on my way up to the stoop. The pain cleared by the time I hit the door but my head still felt fuzzy. It was like a radio on static in my brain. There were flashes of that Seventy-fifth street building, with its wild thorn bushes surrounding a paved path with weeds stick through and a roof that remained unpainted. They’re flashes of me and words like “asset” and “rendezvous”, but they were only coming through the fog every once in a while as I plodded up each creaking and warped stair to our doorway.
About the Author:
Josh Sinason is a freelance writer working in the Northern Illinois area. His work has appeared as part of Chicago DIY Film Magazine. His past work includes all ages short story romances, A Linger in the Echo and Monaco Dawn.
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