Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wild Happenings in the Weird West

El Diablo de Paseo Grande"El Diablo de Paseo Grande" is the third installment in Milo Fowler's Coyote Cal Weird Western series. The Coyote Cal stories share a playful, humorous undertone with Fowler's Captain Quasar stories. However, the Coyote Cal stories are decidedly darker and more gruesome. "El Diablo de Paseo Grande" finds Coyote Cal on the trail of a blood-sucking monster that's mutilating everyone's livestock. Every Western hero needs a sidekick, and Cal has two: Donna Jamison—a witch from New Orleans and "resident expert on all things weird and wicked in the Wild West"—and Big Yap—Cal's loyal, sawed-off shotgun-wielding friend "who was old enough to be his father, maybe even his grandfather." The action begins with Cal, Donna, Yap, and Manuel—their local guide from a nearby town—inside the threshold of an abandoned barn.

They'd been following a trail for the past two days, and it led straight to these lopsided doors, chained shut and padlocked as if to keep something unsavory contained inside. But that couldn't be. Whatever had sucked the life out of the animals they'd passed along the way would have had no trouble snapping through this chain, just as it had snapped the neck of every cow, horse, sheep and goat they'd counted so far.

Hanging from the rafters of the barn are at least a dozen decapitated cows with something squirming inside their distended abdomens. Manuel babbles, repeating the phrase "Hijos del Diablo," the devil's children. Donna levitates to the rafters and slices open one of the cows with her buck knife. A creature somewhere "between a frog and a baby goat" lands on the barn floor. Yap obliterates it with both barrels. After some consultation, Cal decides to burn the barn to the ground along with the creatures spawn and bring the monster to them. They move ahead with the plan, but all is not well with Cal's team. Manuel warns them to leave the barn before he runs outside to vomit and Yap is feeling a bit crowded with Cal having two sidekicks. Yap explains:

"The way I'm seeing things, there can't be two sidekicks in a story. Right now, it's feeling a mite crowded around here."

With the barn a pile of glowing embers, the monster hunters hunker down to await the monster under the light of the moon, but not everyone is on Cal's side and someone other than Cal might have to be the hero this time around.

What I like most about "El Diablo de Paseo Grande" is the way Fowler plays with the Western genre. The story has the feel of a Western TV serial, but it's more sophisticated. The characters are self-conscious of being in a story and of their respective roles.

Donna shrugged. "You're the hero."
"We're just your lowly sidekicks," Yap added with a disdainful glance in the witch's direction. "

Roles and image are important to the characters, particularly Yap, who tells Cal that "'It ain't right for a hero such as yourself to be in cahoots with somebody like [Donna].'" The characters are also conscious of the Western setting and the changing landscape. As Cal explains to Manuel, "'I learned that the days of this country being the Wild West were long past. This is the Weird West now.'"

If you're nostalgic for the old TV-series Westerns like The Lone Ranger or The Cisco Kid, but like your fiction with a weird twist, take a ride on the range with Coyote Cal.

To learn more about Milo Fowler and his writing, gallop over to his blog at


  1. Great story review :) I'm not usually much into westerns but based on this I'm intrigued. I may have to go check it out. It helps, of course, that I tend to like Milo's work, but still...

    ~ Rhonda Parrish

    1. Thanks, Rhonda. It's certainly not your average Western.

  2. Many thanks, Jeff! So glad you enjoyed it. Two new Coyote Cal weird westerns were published recently with Alchemy Press and eFiction, and I hope to write another as my W1S1 this month, muse-willing.

    1. My pleasure, Milo. More Coyote Cal, now that's good news.