Sample Chapter



   “The best ever? That’s a tough one.”

   “It’s not that tough. Come on. Tell me.”

   “Are we talking movies, singers, TV? What?”

   “I don’t care. You could include rodeos, on the range, or yodeling in the shower.”

   “Well, I do occasionally yodel in the shower, but I don’t reckon anyone else would include that in their best-of list.”

   “That’s a safe bet, but come on, who’s your all-time number-one cowboy?”

   Yes, I was eavesdropping, but I wasn’t really all that interested in who the guys in front of me deemed the best all-time cowboy. You and I might be able to name some contenders, but this best-ever thing was getting old.

   How many conferences, festivals, adult fantasy camps am I going to go to where people are having these same discussions? I’m hoping many more, but you’d think people would have other things to talk about while they’re standing in line. Still, here I was in the registration line for the inaugural Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, and people were putting together their best-ever lists.

   I’m not a big cowboy fan. I was out of my element. It didn’t take me long to notice I was the only person in the line not wearing cowboy boots. Most had the hat, too.

   Cowboys are one thing. Poetry is another. I’m not a big poetry guy either. I enjoy it when it’s put to music, but I still have scars from my poetry-writing attempts in English class.

   So, what was I doing in Elko in January with the falling snow, my marginal interest, and my questionable fashion sense?

   I was working. I’d been invited to be one of the “attractions.” This was a new thing for me. My books have earned me a bit of a reputation and I, along with some others, had been asked to participate in a “semi-improvisational, partially scripted” show to close the event.

   One of the people connected to the Gathering had been at the mystery writers conference in Vegas where I’d dressed up like Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and helped solve a few murders. Boots Sarandon had determined I’d give his show a certain flair and wanted me to be one of the actors. He obviously hadn’t done any investigative work into my thespian skills.