Mike Casto is “The Wandering Guru.” He travels the nation, and
sometimes abroad, like Kwai Chang Caine, teaching martial arts,
writing, and helping people when and where he can. His wife of
17+ years, Margaret Westlake, is, fortunately for both of them,
very supportive of his endeavors and their nomadic lifestyle.
New Title(s) from Mike Casto
Click on the thumbnail(s) above to learn more about the book(s) listed.
|Chicago, 1893: the World’s Fair brought
people from all over the world. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, denied
a place at the fair, rented acreage outside the fairgrounds and
played to record setting crowds—the likes of which they would
never see again. When Annie Oakley, performing with the Wild
West, tries to help a friend, it sets her on a collision course
with a serial killer who the press would later dub “The Beast of
Word Count: 21000
Pages to Print: 79
File Format: PDF
Price: $ 4.99
Annie Oakley and the Beast of Chicago
Overlooking the White City—Sunday, April 30, 1893
Annie and Cody admired the view from an observation deck
overlooking the buildings of the White City, which stood in
stark contrast to the grimy city of Chicago outside the
fairgrounds. The pearly veneers of the neoclassical architecture
gleamed in the afternoon sun, pristine and virginal, in
opposition to the sooty urban blight. Like a bride, resplendent
in her white gown, standing in the middle of a muddy street, she
held her hem at the perfect height to keep it above the muck
while still remaining modest.
Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody looked down at the petite
woman walking next to him. Her long sleeved light brown dress
complemented her dark brown eyes and long brown hair
exquisitely. Cody knew, like most of her clothes, she’d made the
dress with her own hands.
He’d always considered her an attractive woman, but thought of
her more as a little sister or a niece than with any romantic
interest. What intrigued and impressed him most, though, lay in
her ability to outshoot him, or most anyone else in the world,
for that matter.
“I concur, Annie. This is a fascinating sight to behold.”
The World’s Fair, dubbed the World Columbian Exposition to note
the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World,
would open the next morning. Cody’s Wild West show, denied a
formal slot in the Expo, had rented a parcel of land three
blocks south of the Midway Plaisance and set up shop. The show’s
performers and promoters had spent the past couple of weeks
preparing feverishly to perform two shows daily throughout the
next six months of the Expo.
At Bill’s request, and with some fancy talking, Cody’s partner,
Nate, persuaded the reluctant fair administrators to grant Cody
a sneak peek at the fairgrounds before the opening. He and Annie
had strolled through the grounds, admiring the grandeur.
Now, from their vantage atop the Manufactures and Liberal Arts
building, the Court of Honor dominated the scene before them.
Below, the Statue of the Republic overlooked the Grand Basin,
which symbolized the voyage Columbus took to the New World.
Waterways branched off the large pool and ran between the
buildings of the Court. Cody could just make out a line of
Venetian gondolas bobbing at the piers around the buildings,
waiting for the throngs of fairgoers that would descend upon
Cody thought, Seeing the White City from a gondola cruising
slowly along the waterways between the buildings would be
incredible. Louisa would love this. Unfortunately, his wife
wasn’t with him here in the White City. Nevertheless, he planned
to find time for one of those cruises once the show got under
way. His mind wandered to thoughts of his children. Arta, 27,
still lived at home, and helped Louisa take care of the house
and the precocious little ten year old Irma. Maybe I shall write
to Louisa. See if she and the girls can come visit. They should
see this ephemeral spectacle. God knows it won’t last.
Reluctantly, he dragged his mind back to the here and now. A
brisk nip rode the air, but the sun shone brightly, and cut the
chill just enough to make it pleasant. A few clouds lingered in
the blue sky. Their shadows danced like specters on the surfaces
of the white buildings as they glided overhead.
“You propose to shoot a playing card edge-on from ninety feet,
cutting it in half, then shoot the falling half at least three
more times before it hits the ground?”
“That, indeed, is what I propose. I’ve been practicing, and I
can do it consistently. It’ll be a crowd pleaser.”
His bushy mustache lifted as he smiled. “I reckon it will. I
know I shall be impressed. Let us adjourn to our shooting range
and you can, once again, amaze me while I work out some patter
for the showmanship side of things.”
As usual, Annie fluttered her eyelashes and smiled a shy little
smile at the compliment. The genuine sincerity of this
mannerism, and others like it, captivated Cody. Annie’s
magnificent stage presence stemmed from her honesty, not her
acting. This same honesty had swept Annie’s rough and tumble
husband, Frank, off his feet, and had gained her the adoration
of millions of fans all over the world.
Cody felt honored she’d chosen to work in his show and had
stayed for so long. The previous year, she and Frank had left
the show for a time and toured on their own in Europe, all
because of Lillian Smith. His own blindness to Annie’s disfavor
of Lillian rankled him still.
I really should have fired Lillian at the first signs of
jealousy from Annie. Lillian was a fine shot, and her youth
intrigued the crowds for a time. But Annie . . . well, she’s
Little Sure Shot.
Few people could work an audience as adroitly as Annie. Fewer
still could shoot half as well. Not a particularly religious
man, Cody still agreed with old Sitting Bull that the Great
Spirit had gifted Annie with supernatural shooting prowess.
Touching her temple lightly, Annie grimaced. “I’ve been troubled
by headaches quite a bit recently. I saw a pharmacy not far from
the Midway. Give me an hour or so. I need to purchase some
headache powder. Then I’ll retrieve a long gun and ammunition
from my tent and meet you in the field.”
to Annie Oakley