Penny Duncklee

Bull by the Tale


John Duncklee's short stories examine men and women from the Spanish Colonial era to the twentieth-century American West. Men in "The Developers" and "Padre Mirandi" face similar problems although they live centuries apart. Each suffers from human weakness and failings and affairs that end with surprise pregnancies.

Three stories involve mining and miners: "The Miner" is no longer convinced he will soon find that rich vein of silver in the Arizona mountains his instincts promise with each round of blasting, "Soul of the Hob-Nailed Boot" is what remains of a Arizona miner fighting eviction from his claim by the U.S. Forest Service, and a man and wife con artist team ends up on the wrong end of the scheme in "The Mines of Magdalena."

Young men travel far from home in "Two Gold Coins".  The two young Spaniards who go to Nueva España, escaping their unwanted futures as fisherman, carry the "Two Gold Coins." They find the adventures they seek and more; one, a wife and the other, death.  Antonio, the son of a poor Mexican farmer, assumes responsibility for going north to earn money to support his parents and siblings in Mexico. Leaving everything he cares about, he crosses the border, working from Arizona to Idaho and back through California until it is time to return home, courtesy of U.S. Immigration.

"The Last Breakfast" is served to Wyatt Earp, the James and Clanton gangs, Cole Younger, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy--numerous western characters that return to Tombstone in the late twentieth century. They discover a world different than they had lived in previously, and when the local newspaper editor takes a group photo, he discovers changes in them also.

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Penny Duncklee