The Family Comanchero by Josh Sippie

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We dressed like cowboys for the occasion. Furry chaps, jeans and frilly shirts we found in the attic, cowboy hats our grandpa gave us, and just like that, we were practically miniature replicas of John Wayne, and we had our dad to thank for forced exposure to all the classics. The get-up was complete. We were desperados at family Thanksgiving. 

“I’m not showing up to Thanksgiving with you two dressed like that,” Mom said. My brother and I didn’t move. We were two holstered six-shooters from full-on cowboys and there was no going back now.

“I kinda like it,” Dad said, though of course he wasn’t coming anyway. He had plans to rewatch Tombstone.

“But why?” Mom asked.

I shrugged. I didn’t know the answer to that question, though I reckoned I should come up with one soon, since I would be asked it about thirty more times before the night was over. All I knew was that I was a free-thinking 12-year-old and my seven-year-old brother would do anything I told him. Plus, he really liked John Wayne. Though he had taken a strange liking to Bruce Cabot.

“Draw,” I said, and as I flipped out my finger guns, my brother did the same.

Somehow that was all my mom needed to agree to it. 


“You’re two months removed from Halloween,” my uncle Ted, a statistician, said as he opened the door. 

“Draw,” I said, flipping my fingers. My brother shadowed.

Our cousins avoided us, but that wasn’t new. The older ones shot side-eyed glances and disappeared into the backyard and the younger ones kept glued to their mothers’ hips. Everyone dressed in their Sunday best.

“But why?” I heard someone ask mom. 

“Have you tried gramma’s green bean casserole?” she responded. 

My brother and I found our way into the basement. My Uncle Ted and Aunt Belinda were hoarders. Which worked out well for us. Lots of stuff to see. Lots of wrongs to right. They had mannequins dressed to impress and giant teddy bears, all proving the deadliest highwaymen this side of Dodge City. 

My brother and I rescued a strange blow-up doll laid precariously close to a pin cushion, we helped a stuffed unicorn out from under a weight bench, and just when I thought we’d set the world right, my little brother turns to me, a look in his eyes like I’ve never seen before.  

“Draw,” he says, and turns his finger guns on me.

Josh Sippie is a foolish mortal. His writing has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Hobart, trampset, and more. When not writing, he can be found wondering why he isn’t writing. More on Twitter @sippenator101 or

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