Editor’s notice: Tucson author Leo W. Banks is a longtime Arizona journalist who has written for the Arizona Every day Star, Wall Avenue Journal, Boston Globe, Arizona Highways, Sports activities Illustrated and lots of different publications.
In 2017, Brash Books printed his first novel, “Double Extensive,” which gained two Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America—for finest first novel and finest western modern novel. Publishers Weekly known as his second novel, “Champagne Cowboys,” an “glorious sequel.” In a starred overview, PW wrote: “The writing
flows simply, the dialogue is peppered with wry observations, the plot
tightly braids its seemingly disparate strands into a captivating
sample, and the characters zing with life. This clever,
pleasurable Western noir could have readers eager for extra.”
His latest ebook, launched on August 1, is “The Flying Z,” a modern-day Western that units a rancher and a girl he rescues in opposition to the forces of a drug cartel smuggling dope throughout the Southern Arizona border. The ebook is a breezy learn impressed by Banks’ love of basic pulp fiction.
The Tucson Sentinel presents the primary chapter of “The Flying Z,”” alongside an essay about writing a novel from Banks himself.
The rider picked by the tangle of mesquites, ducking and twisting to keep away from the thorny branches. When he emerged from the thicket, he stopped on the grime of Morales Street and studied the rock ridge to the south. By his calculation, the smugglers have been ten minutes away, certainly much less in the event that they hurried.
He appeared west alongside the street on the lady strolling towards him. He’d seen her earlier whereas scanning the hills with binoculars and rode arduous to get nearer, all of the whereas considering she’d get better her senses and switch again.
However she hadn’t, and he felt sure alarm.
Watching her, his breath fast within the high-desert chilly, he mentioned, “Whoever you might be, ma’am, you don’t have any thought what you’re strolling into.”
The rider sat his horse and waited. He had large fingers and a good-looking face, though his jaw, barely off-center and marred by a scar, introduced the matter into dispute. It had clearly been damaged. The pores and skin round his eyes confirmed superb wrinkles fromtime spent within the solar horseback. He had three days of whiskers, and his eyes, a placing black, have been typically remarked upon for his or her depth.
He had on a pink snap-button shirt, a canvas vary jacket with the collar up, and black Ramírez boots that had walked by mud and worse. His shaggy black hair hung beneath the brim of his beat-to-hell hat.
At that distance, solely the girl’s cowboy boots stood out. The solar hit them and sparkled from some silver ornamentation. From that alone he knew she was not from the Arizona borderlands, for no lady born of that place would put on such boots.
He had seen girls sporting related varieties on his rare visits to town, guessed them to be in model, and like most issues of present vogue, thought-about them unworthy of his time. He knew, too, that no lady conscious of the difficulty that had come to that nation would threat strolling alone.
The land had at all times been house to rattlesnakes, however in recent times it had stuffed with males who acted like them.
Listening arduous, the rider heard nothing and wasn’t shocked. The ridge would block the smugglers’ sounds whilst they moved nearer.
Morales Street went up and down, hid for a stretch, reemerged, tilted with the bottom, and hid once more. Past the street and for miles round, the tan hills rolled out, lined with brush and pancake cactus, one hill after one other separated by deep attracts that swallowed the bottom, all of the nation trying arduous and forbidding beneath the November sky.
The girl got here into view once more. Sure now that she wasn’t going to show again, the rider might wait no extra, and he couldn’t go away her. The Mexican border was two miles south. Having jumped the road, these mules have been free. No church buildings or moms in sight. Nothing to carry them again in a harmful no-man’s-land.
The rider blew into his fingers and spurred Lobo nearer.
Now conscious of the approaching clop-clop-clop, the girl hopped on her toes and waved. “I broke down!” she known as and skipped to a trot. “Thank God you got here alongside. My automobile’s caught again there. Are you able to give me a push or one thing?”
“Proper now we have to get you out of right here and quick,” the rider mentioned.
She pulled up quick and gave him a confused look. “Excuse me?”
He reined his horse round and located her a most pleasing sight. She had a mannequin’s face, contemporary and shining with youthful good well being. Her eyes have been a wealthy inexperienced, the pores and skin easy with rose circles on the cheeks.Her lengthy hair was a shiny chestnut colour, an unusual shade in that area. Her mouth was broad and full, her lips curling up on the corners. She wore a grey bolero jacket over a easy white shirt. She carried a shoulder bag with the picture of Ralph Lauren’s polo participant embossed on the aspect.
“There’s some males going to be topping that ridge any minute,” the rider mentioned and pointed. “Greatest for us to be gone once they get right here.”
“What males? What’re you speaking about?”
“Ten of them in camos backpacking masses. Their boss has a rifle and needs greater than something to get his cargo by.”
“Rifle? Oh, you imply hunters.”
“Mules. Drug smugglers.”
“Drug—what? Like within the films?”
“Like proper right here. No previews, no popcorn.”
She gazed up on the ridge with frightened eyes.
He reached down. “Seize maintain and soar on again.”
Her mouth took a cussed bend. The rider seen her boots. They have been worse than he thought, a pale pink, snakeskin,and he was proper concerning the silver ornament. The sequin inlay started on the toes and wrapped across the sides. They probablycost $1,500 at a retailer in Santa Fe with “coyote” within the identify.
Good for crossing the road to the following nightclub, not a lot for working inventory. Even with the boots, she wasn’t taller than fivefoot three.
The rider mentioned, “I don’t suggest standing right here speaking issues over.” He leaned down and wiggled his fingers. “Let’s go.”
“Let’s go? With you?” The look on her face mentioned she’d scarcely encountered an thought so unpleasant.
“Ma’am, it’s finest you do what I say.”
“Ha! I don’t suppose so, mister.”
She stomped the grime in protest and accompanied her efficiency with the final phrases in her vocabulary. Nothing the rider hadn’t heard earlier than or barked out himself a number of occasions earlier than breakfast. However he didn’t typically run into girls with such ability for the spoken phrase.
“Do you at all times cuss that means?”
She stared up at him. “Solely after I have to.”
From the highest of the ridge got here a person’s voice, adopted by others in fast succession, all in Spanish and in tones that spoke of great enterprise. The girl stiffened and threw her arms out in frustration.
“I don’t even know you. The place are we going?”
“My ranch is down the street.” He reached nearer. “I’ll journey you away from these males.”
The phrases soothed her, despite the fact that she balked on the thought of needing anybody’s safety. The voices on the ridge grew louder. She huffed in frustration as her thoughts raced by her choices, which have been precisely none.
“Dammit all.” She caught her foot within the rider’s stirrup and grabbed his wrist. She had a powerful grip, and even with that bag on her shoulder she looped her leg over Lobo’s again with ease.She sat way back to she might with out sliding off the hind finish.
“Scooch up and put your arms round my waist,” the rider mentioned.
“Do it otherwise you’ll fall off.”
“For the love of God.”
She muttered foul oaths as she wrapped her arms round his center. The rider spurred and Lobo lurched, and collectively they galloped down Morales Street.