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Author Notes

If you enjoyed the story of Brandon Keene, you might also enjoy the novel, Way of the Snake.
Way of the Snake

Outlaw Brand

Deputy Sheriff of San Juan County, Brandon Keene, had a murder to solve. Someone killed a claim jumper named Vincent Hardy. The victim’s partner, Earl Crenshaw, was missing. Death wasn’t usually a mystery in Animas Forks, Colorado. Miners died from cave-ins. During winter, the town could be buried under twenty feet of snow, and people died from hypothermia. However, the murder was a mystery.

Deputy Keene had very little experience as a lawman investigating crimes. He had more experience robbing banks. One robbery gone bad was why he hadn’t stayed in Arizona Territory. However, having pinned on a star, Brand figured he ought to do the job he was paid for. His mentor, a paid assassin named Maximilian von Rheinhardt, taught him once you accept a job, you have an obligation as a professional to fulfill the contract.

Brandon Keene had left his outlaw past behind. However, as events unfold in Animas Forks, Brand learns the past has a way of resurfacing. Upholding the law in San Juan County and bringing the perpetrators to justice could mean going to prison. Life is full of tough choices--especially for an ex-outlaw turned lawman!



Brandon Keene started riding on the wrong side of the law when he turned twelve. Of course, he didn’t do much except hold the horses when Angel “Chino” Fuentes and Tyler “Big Tree” Pine went into the bank. His mother had a sometimes on, sometimes off relationship with Big Tree. When he’d asked, she denied Pine was his father. But she was closed-mouthed about who his father was. It was a subject he learned not to discuss. Big Tree and Chino sauntered into the bank without anyone paying much attention to the pair. Cow towns always had a few saddle bums on the street, usually smelling of horses, sweat, and covered with trail dust.

No one paid much attention to the scrawny kid, either. The boy was dressed haphazardly, dirty shirt far too large for him and homespun pants ragged at the cuffs. The lace-up boots had seen better days. The roan he rode was in much better shape. It was a big horse—heavy in the chest with powerful hindquarters. Looking in far better condition than the scrawny rider, it was a far better mount than either of the horses he led by the reins. If anyone thought it odd that he stopped in the alley by the bank building, no one called him on it.

When Chino and Big Tree ran out of the building yelling for him, he went into action. He kicked the roan he was riding, dragging the robber’s mounts out of the alley beside the bank building. He flipped the reins to each man, pausing as they grabbed the leathers. Hearing the first shot, he kicked the roan and slapped its flank. “Ride, Kid,” Chino yelled as he mounted.

His horse objected to his rough jerk on the reins. The buckskin bucked, snorting in protest. Chino cussed as the animal pinched his shin against the hitching post in front of the building. Pulling back hard on the reins, he got the horse pointed in the right direction to leave town. A bank teller appeared in the doorway before he put the spurs to the buckskin. Chino snapped a shot at the man, who immediately decided to retreat into the bank’s lobby.

Big Tree grunted as he missed the stirrup as his bay mare shied. He fell flat on his face in the dust of the alleyway. Barely, he managed to cling to the reins. Spitting dirt, he managed to get a boot in the stirrup and threw his leg over the saddle. “Damn it, horse! You pull that stunt again, and I’ll sell you to an Indian for meat” Kicking the bay, he galloped after Chino and the kid.


Brandon Keene could barely read. He could write some, enough to spell his name. He had some cash, a pistol with five bullets, and a good horse. Worn-out trousers, cracked shoes, and a shirt two sizes too big rounded out the sum of his possessions. Wryly, he acknowledged it was more than he owned last week. Sighing into the night, he whispered, “Outlaw.” Shaking his head, he murmured, “At least it’s a paying job.”