The Day I Lost My Innocence

follow the stone, emmett love, john locke,I was twelve years old, excited, knowing Pak-a-Sak had the new comic books on display.

I’d outgrown Archie, Richie Rich, Donald Duck and Casper years earlier, and very recently and reluctantly, Superman, Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, and Batman. I was older now. Wouldn’t be cool to get caught scanning the comic book racks.

But there was one I couldn’t’ give up. One I still clung to. One I was willing to sneak out and purchase, quickly and quietly, like a thief in the night.

Kid Colt.

I loved Kid Colt like a ten-year-old loves puppies. The Kid was cool. Only needed one gun. Had a horse named Steel, and a back story that’d make you cry. Well, maybe not cry. But, you know. The Kid lived by a creed (a Donovan Creed, you ask?) The Kid was an outlaw, wrongly accused. Went from town to town, always one step ahead of the law. Everywhere he went, he’d right a wrong.

Great stuff.

It’s eight a.m. Saturday morning, my friends asleep. I enter the store, do a quick walk-through, pause briefly to see where my comic is situated on the display rack. Can’t spend too much time at the rack, you know. Check the soft drinks, then the candy. I’d be less nervous buying condoms, tampons, a Playboy, or beer. Because those things a guy can laugh about with his buddies. Not comic books. Comic books are things that make your buddies laugh at you!

I rush to the display, grab my Kid Colt, set it on the counter with a dime and two pennies. No eye contact. Put the book in a bag and I’ll be on my way. But no. Counter guy picks up my book. In a voice dripping with condescension, says, “Wow! Kid Colt! Fastest gun in the west! Fastest horse ever lived! And looky here,” he says, pointing to the cover. “He’s surrounded by a dozen men, guns blazing all around, but Kid Colt shoots them all!”

While he’s saying all this, and more, I’m shrinking, mortified, horrified. He ends it with the dreaded, “Aren’t you a little old for this stuff?” I stand there, saying nothing. He takes my coins, says, “Want a bag?” I nod, take it, and rush out the store.

I was crushed. He’d found my weakness, and made me suffer for it. My cheeks were on fire like Johnny Storm, Fantastic Four. Once home, I climbed on my bed, opened the cover of my beloved Kid Colt. Read a few words, stopped, stood, gathered all my comics, added this one to the pile, and lovingly placed them in the trash can.

I’d lost my innocence.

February, 2011.

That’s when I published, against the advice of everyone I know, a Western Adventure titled Follow the Stone. People said “Westerns are dead. If you publish a Western, you’ll lose the audience you’ve worked so hard to build.” They said, “If you must write the damn thing, at least use a pen name!”

I wrote the book. Put my real name on it because…well, because I’m proud of it. You say you don’t like Westerns? I hope to change your mind. I’m writing a series of John Locke Westerns, meaning, Westerns with a smirk. In doing so, I’m reclaiming a piece of my youth.

A few years back, my daughter’s friends thought she was too old to like certain types of toys. So my wife and I took her into toy stores and pretended we were picking out toys for younger kids. “I’m sure she’d like this one!” our daughter would say, with bright, happy eyes. Years later, we did the same for our son. When their friends came over, we’d put these “kid toys” in a box. We kept their toy secret all that time, and I wouldn’t tell you now, except that we’re friends, you and me. I think you understand why I wanted my kids to enjoy their youthful indulgences as long as possible.

Which brings me to why I’m telling you all this: I want you to download my Western for only 99 cents, a friendship rate.

You know Donovan Creed, and I’m honored you like him. There’s only one Creed, only one Callie. But the same author who brought Creed and Callie to the dance has lovingly crafted a whole new group of friends you need to meet. This ain’t your grandpa’s Western–it’s totally cool and hip and funny. You’re gonna love Emmett, Gentry, Shrug, and the rest of the gang.

I guarantee it.

Did I mention it’s the #1 Western on Amazon/Kindle? Has been, for six weeks now. But don’t read it because it’s popular. Read it because it’s fun.

Give it a try. Find your childhood smile.

Here’s the link. Click it now, before the world gets you sidetracked: Follow the Stone


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