Tales of the Weird Southwest by Robert E. Howard is a collection of six short stories. The first is about the mythical powers of a vampire. The second is a tale of the magical powers possessed by those who hate. The third is about the magical powers possessed by Indians. The last three relate to magical powers available to oppressed black slaves. All tales are entertaining with just hints of a surprise here and there. There is some violence; there are some gruesome deaths. Note the word “weird” in the title.
THE HORROR FROM THE MOUND Steve Brill was a cowboy, not a farmer. When a late blizzard destroyed his fruit, when hail destroyed his grain, and then dry weather followed by more hail destroyed his corn; he should have been looking for a reason for all the bad luck. The mound on his property probably was part of an Indian burial ground. He never thought to dig it up until a neighbor, Juan Lopez, refused to tell him the legend of the surrounding area. Juan could only tell his kids, but he had none and had no prospect of any. Juan reluctantly agreed to write the story of the legend and give it to Steve the next day. Steve agreed. But Steve cheated and decided to dig that very night; he would surprise Juan the next day. Juan was not surprised the next day. Steve should have waited.
THE MAN ON THE GROUND This is a tale of hatred between two men, a hatred so long standing that each man forgot why he hated his opponent. But now they were in a battle to the end, each one armed with a rifle, each one a good shot, and each one to make a remarkable discovery. Some hatred goes beyond death.
OLD GARFIELD’S HEART Old Garfield was called that for a reason. He was really old. In a battle where he should have died, he was revived by an Indian ghost who loaned him a new heart. The only requirement was that if Garfield died due to a brain injury, the only way he could die, the heart was to be returned to the giver. A living thing could not survive inside a dead thing. Old Caulfield died, shot through the head. Would or hero of this story keep the heart and gain all its powers? He might try.
BLACK CANAAN Canaan is the name of a town with a significant population of African Americans. Political Correctness Spoiler Alert: African Americans is not the term that describes the non-white population in this story. There are slaves and former slaves of several classes that inhabit Canaan, Goshen, and Grimesville. A revolution, led by Saul Stark is imminent. The purpose is to drive all whites out of the area and establish a black empire. Saul plans to use the power of voodoo and juju to help him win. It is essential to kill Kirby Buckner, an influential White, to break the spirit of white resistance. To do this Saul plans to use a powerful woman with juju powers to ensnare Kirby by magic. But magic can be a fickle entity; loyalty is never a certainty.
THE DEAD REMEMBER Jim Gordon killed Joel in a drunken rage. Then he killed Jezebel, Joel’s wife. Jim had heard that Jezebel was a witch, but he took lightly the curse she uttered before her death. On a cattle drive a few months later, several accidents seemed to happen only to Jim, but not to other members of the cattle drive crew. It was when they began to notice Jim’s bad luck and then avoid him that Jim’s mind began to accept that the curse was real. He began to wear his gun all the time; he kept it well cleaned. For the surprise in this story, pay attention to how Jim kept his gun clean.
PIGEONS FROM HELL Griswell woke up to see his friend Banner go upstairs in the deserted house to follow sounds of whistling. Banner came downstairs with an ax in his head, an ax that he wanted to share with Griswell. While fleeing from the house, Griswell meets Bunker, a local sheriff. Bunker initially wants to arrest Griswell for the murder of Banner, but after investigation, Bunker believes that an entity other than Griswell killed Banner. An interview with local residents found Jacob, an elderly man who had a story about zuvembies, mythical creatures from the West Indies with powers to possess and carry out revenge. But they needed a host. So, as it a zuvembie that killed Banner? If so, who was the host?