Freewheeler: Space Cowboy

I’ve written a short little intro to a space cowboy character I mentioned before named JD Wheeler. It was just something that came to me one afternoon and it gives a glimpse at what the character is like.


JD didn’t often wake up to the smell of clean sheets. Usually, it was the odor of a dingy bunk on his starship, or the oiled leather of a saddle he used as a pillow while working on the rodeo circuit. But this was something special: soft cotton with the hint of a woman’s perfume. As it happened, the wearer of that perfume was shaking JD firmly by the arm.

“Get up, JD!” she was saying. “Somebody’s outside askin’ for ya.”

JD opened one eye. He couldn’t remember her name, but she was leaning over him, her dark hair hanging down around her face.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied, “but I reckon they mean you harm.”

JD rolled out of the sheets in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. A rugged man in his mid-twenties, he ran a hand through his dirty blond hair while searching the floor for his jeans and shirt. Finding the pants, he slipped one leg inside while stumbling toward the bedroom window. Poking his head just around the corner, he peered outside to the three figures standing out front, one floor below. Two were humans and probably hired guns. The third was a robot and the only one JD recognized. Wearing a sombrero and a poncho covering part of his mechanical body, the robot had ill intentions written across his face, although the blaster in his hand didn’t bode well either.

“Wheeler!” he shouted. “I know you’re in there!”

“Pecosbot,” JD grumbled.

“What’s he want?” the woman asked.

“Aw, he’s just sore on account of me beating him at cards.”

“He’s a robot that gambles?”

“Not too good at it neither,” JD replied. “And a bad loser to boot!”

Having successfully pulled up his jeans and closed the large, silver belt buckle, JD snatched his cowboy hat off the ground and added “Oh, and I shacked up with his girlfriend for a spell…”

“James Dalton Wheeler!” the woman scolded. “You slept with a robot?”

“Blazes no!” JD replied. “She was human!”

He put on a blue, button-up shirt but left it open and gave the woman a kiss on the cheek as he passed her.

“I’ll be seein’ you…” he said.

Floating in the corner, a disk-shaped robot beeped and bobbed up and down in the air.

“Come on, Skeet!” JD ordered without looking and headed out the bedroom and down the back stairs.

The landscape outside was a flat plain of scrub brush and wooden fences stretching out into the distance. A hot breeze greeted JD, singeing his nose hairs and removing the last remnants of sleep.

Copyright © 2022 W. H. Mitchell

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