S.J. (Jim) BERES
a window to the world
Welcome to our website. Let me entertain you with tales of all genres, Westerns,
Action/Adventure, Romance, Book Noir, Novels, Short Stories, Collections, Sci Fi to
name a few.
If you don't see what you like, check back later or give me a holler with an idea for a new
The so-called western period in our history begins in the early 1800's with the expansionist 'Manifest
Destiny' fever that swept our country following purchases and outright theft of lands to the west of the
Mississippi River. The promise of free land and room to grow called to those pioneers with sufficient grit
and a certain fearlessness who flocked west in search of their own destiny. It was a time of unbridled
freedom and hope.
I wonder how many of us living today can fully understand the raw courage and guts it took to settle this
great land? There were no roads, supermarkets or laws. Hostile Native Americans and thieves of every ilk
preyed on the settlers. A man (or woman) was free to take all he or she could hold, by any means possible.
It was, simply, survival of the fittest, a time of might makes right. By most accounts, it was a period that
covered roughly eighty years until civilization finally put a bridle on it.
There is a certain 'romance' connected with the settling of the Wild West, just as there is about the times of
the Knights of Camelot, or the Pirates of the Caribbean. I grew up on that romance through old TV shows of
Roy Rogers, the Cisco Kid, Zorro and The Lone Ranger, and the movies of John Wayne. Also from the works
of Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour. I've often wondered why this period in time is so attractive to so many
people and I guess it's for the same reasons I'm hooked on it: Justice, and the eventual triumph of the
People are the same as they've always been, today, 100 years ago, or even 1000 years ago. Some are
greedy, fearful, introverted, extroverted, you name it, mankind (and womankind) never really change. But a
time like our Wild West accentuates our faults and attributes, brings out the worst and best in people. When
everyone wore a gun, people were more polite, watched what they said or did because the consequences
could be immediate. If you had a dispute with someone, you faced them and dealt with it, you didn't call a
lawyer or a cop, they were few and far between. When the law did catch up, in the form of Sheriff or Texas
Ranger or U.S. Marshal, justice was usually done, perhaps overdone, but there was still a balance of sorts.
Unbridled freedom leads to anarchy over time and some law is necessary to protect the weak. Some law,
maybe not as much as we have today. I believe that's why the Old West is still popular.
Joshua Block was 'born' on the Texas Gulf Coast and became a lawman by choice; either sign on, or swing
from the end of a rope. As a boy he witnessed the murder of his parents and from that point on became
obsessed with justice and retribution. Intelligent, resentful of authority, and lightning fast with a gun Josh
seemed headed down the outlaw trail until U.S. District Judge Halloran brought him into the fold.
Two other Joshua Block ideas I'm fleshing out: Watch for them in the future!
Oro Grande: Helena Lindstrom, descendant of Vikings, grew up in a lumber camp. After her father's
death, she strikes out on her own, finding a new town, caught up in gold fever, on the slopes of the Sierra
Madres. She is taken by the beauty of the locale and decides she wants to open a lumber camp there, if she
can manage to keep the town alive after the gold peters out. But right now, the gold is going great guns, until
the first shipment to Reno is hijacked. The town needs a Sheriff and Helena, never one to shirk, volunteers for
the job. Her investigation of the robbery takes many turns, and since the gold was under contract to the San
Francisco Mint, the U.S. Marshal's office is soon involved and Josh is dispatched to help.
Once and Future Marshal: Joshua Block, traveling through southern New Mexico territory, finds a
burned-out wagon and a murdered couple whose death is made to look like an Indian attack. Josh is uncertain
about the slaughter, especially when he discovers an eight-year-old girl hiding nearby. The little girl and her
parents were traveling to Las Cruces so Josh takes her there to her uncle. Riding out he encounters a violent
lightning storm on the flats and seeks cover, finding, at the last second, an abandoned Indian Kiva to hide from
the storm. The Kiva is struck by lightning and Josh is rendered unconscious. When he awakes, he finds
himself in a strange new world, Las Cruces in the 21st Century. The police disregard his story and publish
his name and picture in the newspaper hoping to find a relative who might have lost this demented cowboy.
His name strikes a chord in the memory of Dr. Mary Clarke, named for her great grandmother, and keeper of
the family history. The original Mary Clarke was rescued by a man named Joshua Block! Could this possibly
be the same man, 166 years old? How?