A Short Story by James D. Pratt

Copyright 2010 James D. Pratt

Smashwords Edition

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It was on a chilly September night that Ol’ Luke Turner crawled up out of his grave. Luke was the first corpse to get all restless on Boot Hill, but certainly not the last.

Like so many ne’er do wells before him, Luke had drifted westward years earlier with an empty pocket and a head full of dreams. Luke was a victim of gold rush fever but what he didn’t know was that said fever wasn’t so much a fever as a plague. Luke ended up at the frontier town of Purgatory, fancy dreams and get rich quick schemes safely intact, but in lieu of a steady supply of cash it didn’t take long for reality to set in. Fantasies he’d spent years lovingly cultivating, overflowing with fancy women, custom-tailored pinstripe suits, and exotic cee-gars as big as sausages, soon gave way to less lofty but more immediate goals like cheap whiskey and the occasional hot meal.

The one light in Luke’s miserable life was Sally, a hostess at the Last Chance Saloon. Sally wasn’t exactly in possession of the proverbial heart of gold but was still willing to grace a penniless booze-hound with a wink and a few kind words. Like Luke, Sally had seen better days but in his eyes she was Mona Lisa in a corset. Again and again, he promised her that someday soon his luck would change and come that day he would make her an honest woman and all the world would be their playground. Sally would just pat his hand and smile.

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