Member Monday: An Excerpt from Daisy Chain Killers by Jim Barrett

Welcome back to Member Monday.  This month we’re highlighting Writers Forum member authors who will be featured at the upcoming Authors Fair on November 10th at the Mt. Shasta Mall.  It’s a pleasure to welcome back author Jim Barrett.

The Convicts (an Excerpt from Daisy Chain Killers)

Jackson (Jacko) Dickson was a big man. Even when dressed in prison garb, he was a presence. He was also a “Texan” through and through; proud of his heritage—especially so in his later years which he was rapidly approaching. Many of those who knew him compared him to Lyndon Johnson, the past president of the United States, whom he closely resembled. That comparison never made Dickson happy because he loathed all politicians. They were, in his mind, the bane of American society. Dickson had reached his retirement years, but he was not spending them as he had envisioned. For one thing, he was still working, and for very little pay. He was the prison librarian at the Federal Penitentiary at El Reno, Oklahoma. But he knew better than to gripe about the job, because it had its benefits. And, in this place, there were much worse ways to spend your time.

Dickson’s work world now revolved around books. His library—yes he thought of it as his—encompassed a twelve by twenty room chock full of books—mainly paperbacks—which lined all four walls. His desk was a battered institutional grey metal affair, with only two of the five drawers still working. Behind his desk was a brass hat rack, and hung upon the rack was Jacko’s trademark—a silver belly Stetson hat. This small token of his individuality had been approved by Warden Reznak some years previously, no doubt as a reward for the prisoner not causing trouble in the cell blocks.

Dickson rose from his desk and began dusting books stocked on the metal shelves when the door swung open and a guard entered the room. He paused in his work and looked at the man in blue, noting that he had never seen this guy before. “Oh shit, a rookie,” he thought. He watched the officer out of the corner of his eye as the man strolled around the library. The cop was doing what they called a “walk through;” putting in an appearance, but apparently not interested in “tossing” the room or doing a thorough search. The officer stopped and began looking in earnest at several books. He plucked one from the shelf, opened it and riffled through the pages before returning the book to its former location.

The guard walked over to a small table, pulled up a chair and sat facing Jacko’s back. “Hey Dickson, c’mon here and sit down.”

Jacko hesitated for a moment not wanting to immediately accede to the man’s demands. He slowly set down his duster on the corner of the desk and ambled to the chair across from the officer. He hesitantly pulled the chair out, made brief eye contact, and then sat.

“Whatcha want?” he drawled.

“How long you been in here?”

“Why you askin’?”

“Jus wonderin’.”

“Twelve years.”

“What for?”

“Rico Statute—out of Montana District Court.”

“You do it?”

“Hell yes—and lots more!”

“Now that’s refreshing—someone around here actually ownin’ up to what they did,” the guard smirked as he spoke.

“Might as well—I got a life sentence and all of my appeals have been shot down.  At my age I’m only coming out of here one way.”

The conversation paused as the two men considered the implications of Dickson’s statement. Jacko broke the silence, “You new around here?”

“Yeah—been working for about six months.”

“Thought so.”

“So, how’d they get you on a Rico case? I thought that was for the heavy hitters out of Chicago?”

Jacko shrugged his shoulders wondering why he should talk to this cop. “Why not tell this guy, it isn’t going to change my circumstances,” he thought to himself.

“So, you writing a book or somethin’?” Dickson asked.

“Hell, no…just curious about how you got here.”

“You gonna take notes?”

The guard leaned back in his chair and laughed. “I ain’t that interested.”

“I got here because a banker friend of mine introduced me to this Washington farmer . . .”

Daisy Chain Killers, is available on line at, through, Barnes and or Jim will also be selling his other book Ma Duncan, which is available through and

Be sure to stop by Jim’s table at the Author’s Fair on November 10th and pick up a copy of Daisy Chain Killers to find out what happens next.


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Member Monday: Home Alone by Jim Barrett

Welcome to Member Monday!  It’s a pleasure to feature Writers Forum member Jim Barrett.

Jim Barrett

Author’s Biography:  Jim is a retired captain with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in California after nearly 31 years of service. During that time, Jim spent years in detectives, investigating all matter of crime from burglaries to murder. Jim is the author of three other published books, one optioned screen play and a collection of short stories which is soon to be published. He makes his home in Northern California and Idaho. Jim’s website is

Home Alone

by Jim Barrett

I rode saddle broncs for about eight years. Almost made it to the National Finals – that is til I met a horse called Buck-for-Luck in Red Bluff, California. That som-bitch planted me bad – broke me up so’s the doctor told me my riding days were done. Said I could climb back on, but expect to spend the rest of my life shittin’ in a diaper. Man got my attention, so I went lookin’ for other work. That’s entirely how I ended up working on the dude string. I mean, I wanted to work in the horse biz, sorta have a love of them big animals and there are just not that many opportunities out there.

Running Q Ranch hired me on. It’s up out of Ojai, in the Las Padres Forest. Nice country – but not the big tree country like Northern California but Chaparral brush, with some pines and of course the Sespe River. “The Q” as we called it was a different sorta dude ranch. Because the people who rode up there were actual deeded owners, we sent them out by themselves. Most were out of Los Angeles, and didn’t know squat about horses. But, I gotta admit, they were game to try. Of course, we gave them a short test before we put ‘em aboard. I mean real short—like if you’re lookin’ over their ears you’re probably sittin’ facin’ the right direction.

The ranch had a string of nice horses. Most were cooperative, suffered quietly through the indignities of gunsels on their back jerkin’ on their faces. But not all.

I met Bully on the second day I worked there. He was a big red half-thorough bred Gelding, stood near seventeen hands. Like I said, a big boy. Had a nice kind eye, just wanted to get along in the world best way he knew how. Now most of the folks who come out to ride are just as nice as can be. But ever so often, you get a jerk. I mean, ain’t that sorta like life. Assholes are out there. On this day, a guy shows up in a cloud of dust, driving too fast and jumps out of his BMW and wants to ride, like right now. I look him over real quick, smile to myself as I check out his shoe—penny loafers. He’s real obnoxious like, pushy—can’t wait for others who’ve been waiting before him to ride. Like I said, just being a jerk.  Pete, the other wrangler who has worked at The Q forever, nods at the man and heads into the barn. Out comes Bully, walking quietly on the lead line. Pete saddles the big horse, and says, “Have a nice ride,” as he hands him the reins.

When the man rides away, all quiet like at the walk, Pete just shakes his head and smiles to himself.  We both go back to saddling more of the string horses.

About an hour later, ole Bully comes meandering into the barn which is no big deal ‘cept there’s no rider. Pete catches him up and takes him into the barn and unsaddles him, brushes him quickly and puts the horse away in his stall. Since it’s only my second day, I’m a little concerned about this horse showing up without its passenger, so I walk in to talk to Pete.

“Ah, Pete—do we have to do something here?” I ask, all nervous like.

“Whatcha mean?”

“With Bully or the guy riding him.”

“I all ready took care of the horse,” he leaned against Bully’s stall door.

“What about…”

“The dude. Well if he don’t show up we’ll go take a look.”

I sighed, decided that if Pete, who’d worked at The Q forever, or did I already say that—wasn’t worried then I guess I shouldn’t. Still…

“Bully do that before?” I asked, now just making conversation.

“Bully? I don’t call this horse Bully. He’s known, sorta unofficially around here as Home Alone. We save him for certain folks. You’ll figure out who they are after you’ve worked here awhile.”

“Ah, I got it,” I said, turning and walking out of the barn to help a lady mount a horse.

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