The western rails of the Transcontinental Railroad slithered across the landscape like twin serpents. They crawled over rugged mountains, and spanned deep valleys, heading east toward a pre-determined point, Council Bluff, Iowa, to meet the eastern rails. Laying the track and constructing the engineered trestles was hard dangerous work. But thousands of Chinese immigrants shouldered the burden of the heavy steel rails and the treacherous high mountain passes. Zhang Chuan, or Johnny Z as most men knew him, was determined to see his blood kin got the respect they deserved. When a group of hardcases were hired by the railroad to break a strike, Johnny Z demonstrated his skill with a pistol, and what he had learned about a relatively new German invention being used to clear the rail bed--a highly explosive compound called TNT.
Rarely do men see the wonder at their feet. The serpent is loathed and feared, confined to crawl upon its belly in the dust. Few envy the way of the snake. Serpents have no arms, legs, or feet. Yet the snake makes its way up a stone wall. It forges for prey in the grass, and even under the ground. Birds on the highest perch are even prey for a hungry serpent. No place, high or low offers safety from the snake.
Out of curiosity, a man might study the way of a serpent. When fear is set aside, there is much to be learned by observing the snake. A snake's movement is always sure, balanced and stable, a considerable feat without the use of limbs. There is a fluid, sinuous grace, inherent in each movement. Stalking, the slow methodical movement of the snake's body is a lesson in perfect muscular control. The silent stealth with which it pursues prey is the envy of any hunter. Moving swiftly, the snake is deceptively fast, flowing like water down a steep slope. Striking, the snake moves faster than the eye can follow. Control, balance, flexibility, and speed; there is much to be learned from the way of the snake.
This is just one of the proposed book covers. The image of the pistol is from a photo of a reproduction of an 1847 Colt Walker .44. The original pistol had a 9-inch barrel and weighed 4.5 lbs!