This story sort of falls into the "What If" genre.
As usual constructive comments, emails, and critiques are most welcome and appreciated.
Thank you for reading this tale and I hope you enjoy the story as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
"This town ain't big enough for the both of us, you varmint," one man yelled. "Ride out or go for your gun."
"I'm tired of your loud mouth," the second man's voice replied. "Reach you sidewinder."
At the electronic beep, both men drew and fired their pistols. The onlookers couldn't tell who was fastest but they could plainly see who was the most accurate. Tyler Gibson's shot hit dead center in the target down range. His opponent's shot missed the mark, hitting the ground several feet in front of the target. A chronograph measured the speed of the draw by determining which bullet passed through its field first but the most important thing was the accuracy.
The witnesses to the contest cheered and Tyler and his friend, Charley Jones, shook hands.
They were the final contestants in the three gun section of the cowboy action shooting contest. Each man wore clothes that told the world they were cowboys. Tyler and Charley competed with rifle, shotgun, and single action pistol through the four rounds of eliminations to face off in the championship. Tyler had won the rifle portion, Charley had won the shotgun portion so they had been tied going into the fast draw and shoot portion of the pistol competition.
"Thought I'd get you for sure this time," Charley said.
"You don't practice enough to beat me," Tyler answered.
Charley shrugged, "Maybe so, I've got a wife and family to take care of but you need to get a life Tyler. All you do is write those stories of yours; if you're not writing, you're riding horses, and if you're not doing either of those you're playing cowboy at one of these action shooting contests, and pretending to be a gun slinger."
"Marshal; I'm always a marshal, trying to make the old west safe for decent folk," Tyler said and then laughed. "Besides these reenactments of the shooting styles and weapons of the middle to late 19th century and the horseback riding help with the research for my work."
"Work? Work? What work? You don't get any money from your stories. Hell you give them away by just posting them on a few sites on line and free sites at that. It's like you were still a kid. No wonder you don't have a social life," Charley continued his criticism. "Who do you think you are, Wyatt Earp?" Charley laughed at his own wit. "Why don't you get a job like the rest of the adults? At least you'd meet people who live in the 21st century."
"You know why I don't work. I invested in a college friend's idea and we got lucky. I was a 30 percent share holder in the company and when he sold out my share set me up for life."
Charley playfully punched Tyler on the arm. "I can't understand how you can spend so much time on the computer writing your western stories. Hell, I've seen you so absorbed in your writing that you wouldn't know if a bomb went off right next to you. You could at least try to publish them and get paid."
Tyler did sometimes get so involved in the plot or the action scenes or developing his characters that he sort of zoned out. He'd be writing and glance at a clock and realize how late it was. Okay, I'll just finish this scene he'd say to himself and keep writing. When he next looked at the clock, three sometimes four hours, had gone by. I can't help it, Tyler thought. When the story is flowing it's hard to stop just because I'm hungry or because I need to sleep.
Charley was correct about Tyler's stories too. Tyler wrote stories, mostly westerns, and after editing and proof reading them he posted them on three different web sites. He didn't receive anything but the enjoyment of the writing for his efforts, although Tyler did like reading the comments readers made about his work. Family members and friends who read his work all urged him to at least try to get them published in magazines and many suggested he publish a book.
Tyler would smile and thank them for the compliments and for their suggestions but as he told several of his fans, "If I were to write for pay, it becomes a job instead of a hobby. I'd have schedules to keep and have to write at someone else's direction."
"Tell you what Charley," Tyler responded to his friend. "I'll meet you at the pizza joint Saturday evening at 7. Bring your wife, Missy, and I'll pop for the pizza and beer. Now please get off my case until Saturday."
Before Tyler could leave, several young women asked for his autograph. At 30 years old and 6' his slender strong looking body made him a stereotype of the handsome young cowboy. Tyler's blue eyes and a full head of dark, almost black, hair covered by a white Stetson completed the picture.
Charley Jones didn't look like the image most people had when they thought of an old west cowboy. He was only 5'6; instead of slim he was round at 200 pounds, and he had more scalp than he did hair. But Charley was Tyler's best friend. If need be he would fight for and with Tyler against all comers.
Tyler went home to his large house in New Braunfels, Texas. The building had been in his family for more than a hundred years. Originally it had been a two room cabin but each subsequent owner had enlarged the building by making additions. Tyler's contribution had been an unattached garage and a large deck on the back of the house. His home was now a rambling 4000 square foot ranch style building. Much too large for just me, Tyler thought. But, my ancestors would haunt me forever if I sold it. Besides it's paid for and my only costs are my normal living expenses.
All during the pizza and beer Saturday evening, Tyler had a story line bouncing around in his head. More than once Charley or Missy would say something like "Earth to Tyler, come in please". Each time he would give them an embarrassed smile and apologize. After desert and more conversation Tyler paid the check and everyone left for home.
Once back in his home office, in front of his computer, he started to put his ideas into a Word document. The story was going to be about the adventures and life of a young Texas Ranger. First he wrote a short outline touching on all the important parts he'd thought of. Then he began to write the story, fleshing out the characters and filling in between the points in the outline. Tyler glanced at the time shown on the bottom of the monitor and was surprised to see he'd been typing for almost three hours.
I'll just finish this last scene, he thought. It'll be a perfect spot for a story break and to start the next chapter. Around 3 AM, Tyler fell asleep in his chair in front of the computer. Shortly, his computer also went into its sleep mode; man and computer were dead to the world.
At 4:30 AM a sort of shimmering light wave flowed through the office. Tyler grunted as the light passed over him; he seemed to fade out of and back into focus but he didn't really wake up. Eventually the early morning sun shining through the window and into his eyes did wake him.
Tyler sat up straight in his chair and stretched. Guess I fell asleep, he said to himself. He looked at his monitor screen to see the time. "Where the hell is my computer?" Tyler said out loud.
All at once the room he was in sort of jumped out at him. In place of the monitor there was a journal with a pencil lying next to it. In place of his hand carved oak desk there was a sturdy table. He was sitting on a straight back wooden chair instead of the ergonomic spring loaded office chair that he normally sat on.
The room itself was smaller than his office and instead of the big picture window facing his desk there was a small normal size one. Tyler stood and noticed that the floor was made of wooden planks instead of the bamboo floor of his office. The planks were obviously hand hewed and there were a few spaces between some of them where they didn't exactly meet.
Tyler became dizzy and grabbed the edge of the table to steady himself. Where am I, what is this place? He questioned in his mind. Walking slowly to the window he looked out on a view that was entirely different than the one he was familiar with.
His home was on a carefully landscaped three acres, sitting on a small rise with natural country side surrounding it. Tyler went to the cabin's door, threw it opened, and stepped outside. As far as he could see, there were rolling hills that were dotted with junipers trees, cedars and scrub oaks. At the foot of the rise below the cabin two separate springs flowed into a pool at the base of a rock butte.
Tyler's mind was spinning. If I didn't know better I'd say this cabin is how my house began, he thought. It looks like some of those old pictures I have. He walked around the cabin and saw a small barn with a corral attached to it. In the corral was a big black horse that whinnied at him. There were two other buildings nearby.
"Where the hell am I?" Tyler shouted at the surrounding hills.
Tyler stood staring at the country side for several minutes. Off in the distance he saw a road that ran through the upper end of the valley in front of the cabin that disappeared as it wound around a high rock bluff. "If this is my place that road is The River Road and the Guadalupe River is just on the other side of that hill," he said. "And New Braunfels is that direction," he said pointing just to the left of the rock bluff. "But if this is my house, it's not in the present time; this is the way the place looked over a hundred years ago.
.... There is more of this story ...