About the Author

I’ve got nothing to call a resume.

I’ve worked, sure. Hard. I spent thirty years grinding along.

But while I have worked, have written, for decades, I have never yet published or shipped.

In boxes or backups are a few million words set to digital paper.

Go back farther, and you’ll get to layers of pulverized wood struck by ink and ribbon and key.

Stretch back to the stone age, and you’ll reach hand-written drafts, penned in a careful script I no longer possess the ability to replicate.

I was born and raised on a working ranch, smack in the center of Flyover, High Plains, USA.

There was a clutter of little towns around the ranch, weak-light stars on a sky map—but a close one was twenty miles off, and a real town was seventy.

You want civilization? Top-off the tank.

The farm that became the ranch, or a bit of both, began after the last shots of the Civil War. It hosted generations.

No longer. I am the last of my kind. The ranch is a lonesome place, now… a place of strays and skinny cattle.

It seems made for people who are able to be alone, who enjoy the quiet, who can hear awful silence, and survive.

The first horse I rode was “Hoss” and there was a dog named “Red” and a human-chasing cat named “Dammit” and…

Yes, I suppose you’re right… I was veritably drenched in and by the wit and wisdom of my ancestors.

Also, I picked-up something of their gin-dry sarcasm.

Maybe my kind put more effort into human names than pets and critters, but a glance at the family Bible suggests… eh, not by much.

Still, where there is life of any kind, however badly-named it may be, there is company to be had; friends to be made.

A lizard will not speak to you, but you can speak to it. That, or you can give it a voice on paper.

If you think you cannot learn a good deal from a swallow-tail or a BB gun, you are mistaken.

For one, you learn you can kill, and that you maybe thought you wanted to do exactly that—up until you did.

The same lesson in the power, the ability to provide life and death, is found in firearms, and in music, and in words.

I grew listening to the old-timers, mostly unkempt men who knew how to skin a cow, rope a post, and lie through their remaining teeth.

The bachelors would swing past as though wind-borne, then catch on a post, and they would spin yarns and complain about everything that had ruined the world, which had once been less bleak.

They were unusual souls, speaking like time was broken and their backs were next. They always leaned on something: corral fencing, tractor tires, or their arms got slung over the bed-sides of rusting pickup trucks.

Over the years, the leaning men left the world, by ones and twos, and what was left of the world without them said that I should leave, too, after a fashion.

I was to go see the blue marble. Get rich, maybe. Find myself. Find a girl. It’s all there in the Lynyrd Skynyrd albums; the liner notes.

I left. I returned. I speak now as the old-timers spoke, having learned what they knew, though it is a different way of speaking, and a different particular type of knowing. The spirit of their lives persists.

Unlike those old-timers, long planted underground, my roots broke like brittle tumbleweeds in a high wind—my roots broken by design, unstoppably fragile, and I snapped from the hard-baked ground, and moved where the wind wanted.

I have not so much moved back as grown back… I am reborn, half each of two dissimilar breeds: urban legends, rural realities.

The mix of those cultures bursts with half-formed, new life, and every printed page feels pregnant; heavy enough to heft in the hand.

That is my curriculum vitae.

If I am not always a good man, I am good with certain types of tools.

And sometimes… sometimes, I can find the right words to fit the right ideas.

The time’s coming to share what thirty years of writing looks like in the public glare. Technology as it is, the time’s come a novel can be done, cover to cover, by a single body left alone enough.

That fits the world I was born to, though the world took its sweet time to spin and tilt into position.

I see it.

I see the open window.

It will close, and it will close fast—time will bang the sill and smash the glass, too. Time? That I can rope. Time won’t stop, or slow, but I can drag along behind it, watching where it wants to go.

I count every hour now. I’m waiting, working, and few remain the days before I jump into a sloppy puddle of muddy water, boots on… ready and not.

Until then, it is like the old men used to say, leaning and spitting through their wide-foot stances: let the devil take the hindmost.

I’ll see you on the other side of never…

—WSB

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