Not much is known for certain about the man called Bowdry. The bare facts are as follows. Sometime around 1880 he rode into Gray Buttes, Nevada—a long forgotten town—stayed for a time at the Pollard shack out in the hills and, after the old man was killed, made relentless war on the neighboring 3-Bar outfit which was run by the Wadley clan, known thieves and rustlers. Then he disappeared, to be seen no more, nor was he ever heard of again.
He was the only one who knew how so many men ended up dead in the boulder-strewn hills around the old Pollard shack, and he never told anyone, unless it was the wild and beautiful redheaded woman named Lucy Reardon.
There were those who doubted if his real name was Bowdry. Some even suspected that he was really old man Pollard’s long-lost son and that his name was Will Pollard, a mysterious gunfighter who roamed the early West. But before the stranger appeared it had never occurred to anyone that old man Pollard might have a son, and most would have laughed at the notion that he was related in any way to the legendary gunfighter who happened to have the same last name.
No one knew very much about the old man. No one even knew what his first name was. The people of Gray Buttes just called him old man Pollard or old Pollard, and smiled in a certain condescending way when they mentioned him.
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Van Holt wrote his first western when he was in high school and sent it to a literary agent, who soon returned it, saying it was too long but he would try to sell it if Holt would cut out 16,000 words. Young Holt couldn’t bear to cut out any of his perfect western, so he threw it away and started writing another one.
A draft notice interrupted his plans to become the next Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour. A tour of duty as an MP stationed in South Korea was pretty much the usual MP stuff except for the time he nabbed a North Korean spy and had to talk the dimwitted desk sergeant out of letting the guy go. A briefcase stuffed with drawings of U.S. aircraft and the like only caused the overstuffed lifer behind the counter to rub his fat face, blink his bewildered eyes, and start eating a big candy bar to console himself. Imagine Van Holt’s surprise a few days later when he heard that same dumb sergeant telling a group of new admirers how he himself had caught the famous spy one day when he was on his way to the mess hall.
Holt says there hasn’t been too much excitement since he got out of the army, unless you count the time he was attacked by two mean young punks and shot one of them in the big toe. Holt believes what we need is punk control, not gun control.
After traveling all over the West and Southwest in an aging Pontiac, Van Holt got tired of traveling the day he rolled into Tucson and he has been there ever since, still dreaming of becoming the next Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour when he grows up. Or maybe the next great mystery writer. He likes to write mysteries when he’s not too busy writing westerns or trying to find out when they are going to start making Twinkies again.
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