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By Ed Kurtz

A Dimension W Production

Dimension W is an imprint of Crossroad Press

Digital Edition published by Crossroad Press

Smashwords edition published at Smashwords by Crossroad Press

Crossroad Press digital edition 2020

Copyright © 2020 Ed Zimmerman


This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to the vendor of your choice and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Meet the Author

Ed Kurtz is the author of The Rib From Which I Remake the World, Bleed, and other novels. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best American Mystery Stories and Best Gay Stories. Ed lives in Connecticut.


Angel of the Abyss

At the Mercy of Beasts


Blood They Brought



Dead Trash


Nothing You Can Do: Stories


The Forty-Two

The Rib From Which I Remake the World

Vengeance of Boon


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Table of Contents




Part One

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen


Part Two

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six


Part Three

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four




I conceived of this book when, gazing at the finely painted images gracing the covers of my large collection of Western paperbacks, I imagined one that didn’t feature a white man first and foremost. Instead, in my mind’s eye, I pictured my own partner, author doungjai gam, a Thai-American woman, astride her horse on the frontier. The picture was just too tantalizing to leave at that, so I wrote the novel, and as the dedication tells you, I did it for her. Accordingly, my first and biggest thanks goes to her, for inspiring me every day as an author and a human. She isn’t exactly all that similar to Boon, but there would never have been a Boon without doungjai gam.

Huge thanks are due to David Dodd and Chris Bennett for their sharp eyes, deeps wells of cultural and historical knowledge, and willingness to beat me over the head with cold, hard facts when I got things absurdly wrong. (Those things that continue to be absurdly wrong are entirely my fault for refusing to back down from my wrongness.) Boon is a substantially better book for their efforts, and I couldn’t be happier to have been granted the opportunity to work with them.

My gratitude as always to David Wilson for adding Boon to the Crossroad roster, alongside my previous books with them, Angel of the Abyss, Nausea, and Sawbones. Boon is a spiritual sibling to Sawbones (there is indeed some crossover between them), so it is only fitting that Boon should find its home with Crossroad Press.

Thanks to Allison Dickson, Errick Nunnally, John Foster, Brian Lindenmuth, and Brice McVicar for taking the time to read my early drafts and offer their insight, not to mention a few blurbs. Y’all are the best.

Last but far, far from least, my thanks to Terrence McCauley, author of the fabulous Aaron Mackey Western series, for lighting the fire beneath my posterior that took me from wanting to someday write a full-length Western novel to actually getting it done. Terry has been such a tremendous cheerleader and inspiration for my ambitions in and love for this genre, and I’m pleased as hell that he struck that match. Thanks, my friend, and long may you ride.

for doungjai gam

Part One

Red Foot

Chapter One

We were two days west of a bump in the road called Stiff Neck, Texas, when Boon told me she was a right smart parched from the trail dust. It was the first thing she’d said since the morning we rode out from that damned place and I knew her canteen wasn’t empty, so she wasn’t talking about water. To tell the truth, I was startled when she said it. I had gotten used to the quiet, and for a second, I thought someone else had appeared out of thin air to talk to me. But there wasn’t anybody else as far as I could see, and that part of the panhandle was flatter than a sunbaked johnnycake on the flushest part of God’s green Earth.

Stiff Neck might not have been the town’s proper name, if one could call it a town at all. I never did see a sign proclaiming its right name one way or another, but it was what Boon said it was called and I saw no reason to contradict her. Whatever the place was written down as on the map, there hadn’t been hardly anybody left when Boon and I arrived. Stiff Neck had two problems. The first was, the railroad did not come anywhere close to it, which choked the little settlement off from the parts of Texas that sat on the tracks. The other problem

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