Hi guys, we have Julia Talbot popping in today with her upcoming re-release Jackass Flats, we have a brilliant guest post and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Can a traveling military man and a set-in-his-ways cowboy find a way to make things work?
Tate feels like the best part of life has probably passed him by, which is why the thirtysomething cowboy hits the bars every night. When he meets Dave, a young soldier from a nearby Army base, though, Tate figures things might be looking up. He and Dave get off to a rocky start, but Tate soon finds that he and the kid have enough in common to make things interesting.
Dave isn’t really into the whole don’t ask, don’t tell thing, and he doesn’t bother to hide his relationship with Tate from his friends. Once he realizes he should have been more careful, it might be too late. But Dave is willing to fight for Tate, even if it means taking on the military.
First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2008.
I’m Julia Talbot, and I’m here to talk about my novella Jackass Flats.
What the heck is a Jackass Flats, you ask? Well, it’s an area out between Las Cruces and Organ, New Mexico. It’s not very PC to call it Jackass Flats, partly because it’s also the name of a nuclear test site in Nevada, but also partly because folks consider it rude.
Jackass Flats was what they called it in the 70s and 80s when I was growing up there, and while Tate, the cowboy half of the couple in the book, is younger than me by a bit, he grew up there and remembers it under that name…
Anyhoo, one of the best parts about writing Jackass Flats was revisiting New Mexico. At the time I was living in Texas, which neighbors New Mexico, but I was farther away than I had been in a decade. I was missing that high desert, and the book is a loving tribute to the Las Cruces area.
So, here’s a little bit of New Mexico to get y’all in the right mindset!
The State question is red, green or Christmas. This refers to chile, spelled with an E on the end, thanks, and it goes on everything from enchiladas to pizza.
High desert means anything over 2000 feet in California. In New Mexico it’s more anything from 3500 to 7500 feet in elevation. Las Cruces is at the low end of that, but is considered high compared to the deserts in Arizona and Nevada.
Las Cruces neighbors Mesilla, a tiny burgh that has the distinction of being the singing place of the Gadsden Purchase. There’s Billy the Kid stuff everywhere, because he hid out in Mesilla, and Pat Garrett was killed just north of Las Cruces.
Las Cruces is Spanish for the crosses, and there are three on a hill just at the city limits.
Las Cruces hosts an amazing Renaissance Faire and juried art show in November. They even have a dragon in the pond!
Depending on where you are at Christmas, you will see luminarias, which are brown paper bags filled with sand and lit with a candle. In Santa Fe, though, they’re called farolitos.
New Mexico is an amazing and diverse place, and we aren’t called the Land of Enchantment for nothing. I hope y’all can see a little of it through Tate’s eyes and learn to love it.
2008—Organ, New Mexico
TATE CLAPPED his hat on his head and staggered out of Lulu’s, cursing the damned wind and snow. Why any fool would build a bar at near eight thousand feet up a ten-thousand-foot pass was beyond him. Why any man would drive all the way up there for a beer was an even more stupid question.
The worst part about Lulu’s was that the parking lot sat across the road. The road that was the only way across Organ Mountain Pass between Las Cruces and White Sands. In a snowstorm like this, a man could get hit crossing that damned road. Or worse. Hell, old man Neelan had stumbled off into an arroyo two years ago and froze himself to death.
That wasn’t no way to go.
All Tate had to do was to get himself to his old bitch of a Dodge and get back down to his little house on the edge of Jackass Flats. Oh, they called it Tortilla Flats now, all them fancy folks who were building houses. Jesus, they had Saltillo tile and stained concrete floors, steel appliances and frilly curtains.
That wasn’t his thing. Tate never had gotten that kind of life, and he was pretty unlikely to. He might just be the only cowboy left in his corner of southern New Mexico.
“Whoa, old-timer.” A big old pair of hands landed on his shoulders, a strong, solid body near knocking him down when it collided with his.
“I ain’t old,” Tate snarled, the beer making him just loose enough to welcome a fight. “Not that damned old, anyway.”
“Sorry, man. You got that old cowboy look, is all.”
Tate blinked snow off his eyelashes. “And you’re regulation. Fort Bliss or White Sands?”
“Hmm? Oh. White Sands. You need some help finding your ride?”
What he could see of the kid was just big all over. Big old down jacket, big shoulders, eyes glinting some light color under the single street lamp outside the bar.
“I’m fine,” Tate said, stepping back, and then promptly stumbling over something. Goddammit.
“Uh-huh. Come on, buddy. I’m a lot more solid against the wind. You’re kinda lean.”
Well, that was the nicest way anyone had ever told him he was a skinny ass. “I wouldn’t mind a hand crossing the road.” Hell, he wasn’t above admitting that the wind felt fierce.
“Sure. Come on.” Taking his arm, the Army kid hauled his butt across the wind- and snow-battered asphalt, helping him stay a lot steadier than he would have otherwise. They just missed a big SUV whizzing by, throwing up a wave of slush.
“Well, this is it,” he said, waving at his truck. “Thanks, son.”
The man peered down at him, craning to get a look under his hat. “You’re right, man. You’re not that old. Look, you gonna be okay to drive home?”
The beer and cold were making him stupid. That was Tate’s only excuse. He fumbled for his keys, his creaky old fingers hurting something fierce. He dropped the goddamned keys, too, looking like an idiot.
“Shit. I don’t know, kid. I might ought to just sleep it off in my truck.”
“You’ll freeze to death.” He could almost see the wheels turning in the kid’s head before a little cell phone came out. “Hey, Ram. Can you pick me up…? Where do you live, man?”
“Jackass Flats. I’m out past the last housing development, right up near the spring.”
“Shit, man, that’s B. F. Nowhere. No, Ram, I wasn’t talking to you. So, you know that ranch road before you start up to Organ? Pick me up there, will you? No, I’m driving someone home. Thanks.”
“You don’t have to drive me home,” Tate said, wondering where he’d lost control of his day. Probably when he’d decided to go have a beer.
“I’d feel better.”
They had a little standoff, but Tate finally handed over his keys, struggling around to the passenger side. They got in the cab, and the silence was jarring. Weird.
“You got a name?” Tate asked, finally breaking it right in two.
“Dave. So back down the mountain, huh?”
“Yep. I’m Tate.”
The big truck roared to life, pulling smoothly, even in the snow. The kid was all muscle, but the truck had a surprising finesse in his hands. Or maybe it was the other way around. The dash lights glowed, making eerie shadows on the guy’s face, and Tate suddenly wondered if he’d just been abducted by an alien. In his truck.
He chuckled, the sound old and rusty.
“What?” Dave asked, glancing over, making him look even less like he had a neck.
“This ain’t Roswell, you know. Even if it is New Mexico.”
“Uh-huh. I can read a map. Hell, I can read a topo and tell you where you are within two inches. I think I get that.”
“Now, now, no need to snarl, son. I was just wondering if you was an alien.”
He got a long stare, the truck drifting a little. “No, sir. I’m just a regular Army stud, taking you home. You drink a lot all the time, or just in snowstorms?”
“Shee-it.” Warming up made him sleepier, if that was possible, and a hell of a lot stupider. “I just like to forget my troubles for a bit. Ain’t no crime in that.”
“Nope, but if you do this a lot, you might think about being nicer to the folks who pour you into bed.”
They hit the curve on the way down the mountain, the one you rounded and saw the whole of the Doña Ana valley spread out before you like a sea of light, making Cruces look way bigger than it was. The truck skidded a little, and Tate perked up. “She ain’t got antilock brakes, man. Pump them a little.”
“Got it. Thanks.” The kid righted them just fine and kept on a’going, keeping them between the lines with surprising skill.
“Where you from, you can drive in the snow like this?” Tate asked, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. Wouldn’t do for him to slur his words that way, not one bit.
“Colorado. Not too far up the road, huh?”
“Whereabouts?” Tate had gone fishing up on Grand Mesa a few times, gone to the stock show in Denver once.
“Out around Greeley, actually.”
“Yeah? I hear it’s stinky there. Feed lots.”
“You get used to it. Is this your turn?”
Damn, that had been fast. Tate usually had to creep home from Lulu’s, and it seemed to take hours, even though it was a damned short drive, really.
“No, the next one. That one dead-ends.”
They turned off nice and easy, the truck only sliding the tiniest bit, and Tate made a mental note to yell at the old bitch when there wasn’t anyone around to hear. She never purred so sweetly for him.
Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Samhain Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com