‘“Yore Skin’s Jes’s Soft ‘N Purty…” He Said’ by Chet Williamson

This one won’t be for everyone. 

Williamson is a solid genre guy. 

I can totally identify (with all respect to Chet, whom I don’t know personally). 

He’s the kind of reliable, decent – and that’s no insult – mid-list writer on whom the industry was once built but has dispensed with because, c’mon, who wants a writer who regularly turns out good words but doesn’t light up Instagram? Why publish someone who still actually – get him! – employs quotation marks to set out their dialogue? (God, what a miserable old fart I am.) 

‘Yore Skin’ was published in an entertaining small press anthology co-edited by Joe R Lansdale (see below) called Razored Saddles. The story is fucking brilliant. It belongs, I suppose, to that most eccentric of subgenres, the Weird Western; it is certainly horror, though it has no supernatural element. 

(By the meaningless by, I’ve been working on my own weird western novella for about fifteen years now. It guest stars Dashiell Hammett and Nathanael West. You’re excited, aren’t you? Maybe another fifteen years…) 

The Williamson story follows a man, an illustrator of frontier adventure tales, who goes in search of the romance of a true west about which he has only read. 

And ohlordymama does he find it. 

Williamson pulls not so much as a fluid ounce of punch in this sucker.  It is raw, brutal and leaves you feeling like you’ve been hit in the back of the head with an axe handle. Over and over.

I love it.

First published in Razored Saddles, edited by Joe R Lansdale & Pat LoBrutto, Dark Harvest, 1989