Trading Under A Different Name by Olley


For the National Authors’ Day challenge

Word count: 645

Johnny stretched his legs out towards the fire and let the heat warm his sock-clad feet while he listened to Scott talking about a fella name of Mark Twain. “Sounds just like the sort of well-travelled man of words you would admire. He in that gang of Emerson’s?”

“No, the Boston Saturday Club was before his time. There is a story he wrote that I think you might enjoy, shall I read it?” Scott was on his feet picking out a small volume from the bookcase.

Johnny squinted, some of the books Scott and for that matter, Murdoch read aloud to him were not very disguised attempts to educate him, “you sure I’ll enjoy it?”

Scott came and sat next to him and nudged his shoulder “I’d be interested in your opinion brother.”

He cocked his head to give Scott a long hard look; there had been more than one or two conversations about newspaper articles and books when he wasn’t sure his opinion had been appreciated.

“Proceed, Scott, proceed.” He managed to put a smile on his face.

Scott cleared his throat and began to read, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mr Mark Twain.”

He had not got very far when Johnny sat up straight frowning as a memory tugged at him. “Who you say wrote this tale of Jim Smiley?”

“Like I said, Mark Twain.”

Johnny took the book and looked at the cover. “Name Twain don’t mean anything to me but a story about gambling on frogs sure is familiar.”

Murdoch sat forward “Johnny, I know you have moved around in the past, by chance did you meet a Samuel Clemens, he would have been a newspaperman?”

Johnny gave the name some thought. “After I left the Mexican army I decided to try my luck the other side of the Rio, figured if I spoke only American I’d get paid more that way.  Anyways this was before I had a reputation so the jobs were swamping an’ liveries and staying away from sheriffs.”

He looked up realising Murdoch and Scott were both sat forward that look on their faces when he let slip any details of his young life. “Hey if you’re going to get angry or upset I’ll just stop now ‘cos I can’t be doing with your sympathy. Now, do you want to hear me out?”

Scott smiled at him “Come on Johnny we want to hear this.”

“Okay, I was working at a way station helping with the horses for an old guy who ran the place, had a bed in the stable and passable grub.  The stage would overnight there and this one time a newspaper fella was a passenger, he could spin a real good yarn.” He grinned first at his brother and then at Murdoch.

“Seems he was writing about travelling around and that night he told us all some of his stories, one of them was about a fella who would bet on animals but got bested on a jumping frog con.” He grinned as the memory came back. “I laughed at the ending telling him where I’d done some growing up men would bet on anything. I remember him saying it was going to be made into a book so I could read it and me telling him I read better in Spanish, he said maybe one day his book would be in that language. He was a fella who was interested in meeting different folk and going to different places.” He frowned and held the book up, “did this Twain steal his story?”

“Samuel Clemens writes under the pen name Mark Twain. It sounds to me son like you were lucky enough to meet the man in person.” Murdoch reached over and patted his knee.

Johnny laughed “Hot dang what do you know it’s not just gunfighters who trade using a different name.”


November 2019


Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or Email Olley directly.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with
Get started
%d bloggers like this: