As Private Pyle so often said…
Surprises are great. Great surprises are way greater.
I’m reading the novel I, Tom Horn by Will Henry. It’s good. Yesterday, I read a scene that went more or less like this… Tom is sixteen, riding away with his buddy after business dealings at an Apache camp. Suddenly, a captive girl breaks free, dashes from the camp, yelling for Tom to come back and save her. Three Apache braves ride out after her. His buddy gallops away, screaming for Tom to leave, there’s nothing that can be done for her. She falls down. Tom whirls back, hauls ass to her, but she doesn’t get up… he skids to a halt and leaps off the horse. She has knocked herself unconscious on a rock. He suddenly has his Winchester 73 in his hand and instinctively shoots the first Indian in the face — flinging him off his horse. The second one’s horse steps in a hole and he goes down, knocked out. The third Indian passes Tom and he shoots him in his lower back, killing him. Just as Tom reaches for the girl, sees she’s Apache, she comes to — screams that the second Indian (having woken up) is sneaking up on him, and Tom kills him too. He throws her on his horse and they ride off. From out of nowhere, twenty blood-crazed Indians ride out after them!
Like the line in BLAZING SADDLES. “It was the whole Sioux nation, and, baby, they was open for business!”
And then, the girl on the horse, with a super sexy, if frightened voice, that locks Tom Horn to her for life, gives him and us one hell of a bad surprise. She tells him that one of the angry Indians is… Geronimo… Oh, hell.
Geronimo. The smartest, toughest, most frightening Indian west of Atlantic City riding hell-for-leather after our hero. So that’s one surprise. And it gets the reader’s attention. Nice writing, Mr. Henry.
THEN, as they charge further across the flats, pursued by a score of howling men, and after we sort of digest that wicked surprise, she lays the BIG one on young Tom Horn.
The girl Tom has taken from the Apaches is Geronimo’s youngest wife… Oh, fuckity fuck, fuck fuck fuck! Even better writing, Mr. Henry!!
Tom is running from the meanest guy in the Lower 48, if there were 48, which I doubt, having accidentally kidnapped THE MEANEST GUY’S WIFE!
What a great surprise. I still haven’t recovered from it!