The History of West Texas According to Henry Brass

“I have a favorite sound,” he’d say. “It’s been with me a good long while. It fits in my ear so well I can hear it in my sleep.”

So begins The History of West Texas According to Henry Brass. The voice of the story is Dr. Whitten Tines, who, in 1880 at the age of twenty, finds himself working as an orderly in a tent hospital for tuberculosis patients outside of El Paso, Texas. Whitten finds himself drawn into the tales of Henry Brass, a dying patient, whose flavor, humor, precision, and penchant for the history of West Texas is deep and colorful.

Henry lived under most of the six different flags that have flown over Texas and weaves wonderful tales for his young caretaker whose own agenda is taken up by the old man. As his life rapidly fades, Henry’s stories become part fond remembrance and part confession. The stories Whitten hears range from the Alamo and repeated wars with Mexico, on to Civil War atrocities and even an expedition on camels through the southwest to Los Angeles. Each story is firmly rooted in the factual events of the time, yet seasoned with the wit of an old soldier, trapper, and patriot who knows that death from consumption is only days away.

When the last day comes, each man reaches for a unique gift to give a special friend as Whitten’s life takes a profound turn.

This piece is part of a collection of short stories and novellas that comprise The Cats of Savone, the initial installment in The Completely Abridged Series.