Young Rider of the Purple Sage

Your name is Sam, but most people call you “Partner.” You’ve been riding the range all your life. Your old hat is starting to get a little floppy. Your boots are wearing thin, out here in this dry country.

When you started this cattle drive you were fresh, wiry, and energetic. But all the dust storms, the desert heat, the dangerous river crossings, the lonely nights in the middle of the sagebrush, it’s all starting to take its toll. Life is wearing you thin, Sam.

Excuse me. I mean, Partner.

You haven’t shaved in weeks. You caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror back in Taos. You almost didn’t recognize yourself. Rugged. That’s what you were. Your stubble had turned into an area rug, your skin was sun-worn, like boot leather. You’ve lost so much weight that you resemble a San Pedro cactus. It’s all part of being a cowboy.

A few days ago you went out looking for those mares who busted free from the corral and got away. When you found them, they were halfway to Mexico. You captured them and were bringing them home when…

It happened.

(Cue melodramatic music.)

You ran into Evil Eddie. He is the most evil outlaw in the West. The fact that Evil Eddie has the same name as your little brother who just stole your LEGO NASA spaceship set is only a coincidence. Make no mistake. Evil Eddie is dastardly, the most fearsome criminal this side of the Sierras.

When you happened upon him, he was even more evil than you thought. He was busy counting stolen money beside a campfire. His gang was with him. He was laughing, and you could see his yellow teeth. That’s right, yellow teeth. Outlaws are notorious for having gum disease.

You knew where Evil Eddie’s money had come from. You’d heard all about the stagecoach robbery. Evil Eddie robbed the stage and kidnapped its two female passengers, Miss Kitty and her elderly mother, Miss Kit Kat Barre.

You found Miss Kitty tied to a tree. Miss Kitty was lovely, and you knew she needed your help.

You untied her in the darkness, when nobody was looking, and you whispered something to her. “Pssst! I’m here to rescue you, ma’am. Is your name Miss Kitty?”

She looked at you with hope gleaming in her eyes. She answered, “Actually my real name’s Amanada Blake, I played Miss Kitty for 19 years on ‘Gunsmoke’ and was eventually inducted into the Western performer’s hall of fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City before my untimely death in 1989.”

So you knew something had to be done. You’re a hero, Sam. It’s in your blood. Can a tree stop being a tree? Can a rattlesnake apply for HMO health insurance? No. Heroes are born heroes, and this is why they make more money than supporting actors.

You made a quick plan. Because this is what protagonists do. You’d been preparing for this moment your whole life by doing good, helping the downtrodden, not cheating much on your income taxes, flossing after every meal, etc.

You took on this band of dismal thugs using only your pistol. Somehow, you managed to single handedly fight all six gang members and win!

Did I say six? No. I meant 16. Make that 56. Evil Eddie has a HUGE gang of evil henchmen. Most of whom have not seen a family dentist since their fifth birthday.

When every outlaw was hogtied and you recovered every last dime from the robbery, you carried Miss Kitty and her mother back to town. And it was there that you delivered Evil Eddie to the sheriff. All the townspeople cheered for you.

What a night that was. It was one of the best of your life. There was a band (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys) playing music. They played “Take Me Back to Tulsa.” You danced with Miss Kitty, then you ate so many pinto beans that you felt like you were going to explode with joy.

And just when you didn’t think the night couldn’t get any better, you kissed Miss Kitty! Right on the lips! After you brushed your teeth, of course.


You’re a man who follows the wind, Sam. A man who was born to wander, to roam the lonesome hills, to go where duty calls, carrying with you nothing but your pride, and your Listerine anti-cavity oral rinse.

So you waved goodbye to Miss Kitty. Then you rode off into the night, admiring the stars. The stars have been keeping you company ever since you were old enough to spit, rope, ride, shoot, and sing. These stars are always reminding you that there is something big up there.

You’re a man of the dust, Sam. You ride with the breeze. The junipers, the iron-red rocks, and the purple sage are your companions. Your horse is your confidant. The sound of the earth is your song. The sun is your compass. Your only law is right. And your only obligation is kindness.

Because you are a man whose job in this world is to be strong. And when your mother wrote to me, and told me that you loved cowboys and Westerns, I couldn’t wait to sit down and write something for you. Because I’m cheering for you to beat this cancer, Sam.

You’re my hero. Partner.


  1. Karen Greatrix - March 29, 2020 6:54 am

    I’m cheering for him too.

  2. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - March 29, 2020 7:30 am


  3. turtlekid - March 29, 2020 10:55 am

    Sam will love himself as the hero of this tale!!

  4. Jackie Cooley - March 29, 2020 11:29 am

    Cheering on Hero Sam! And praying for him too.

  5. Cathi Russell - March 29, 2020 12:09 pm

    Heart smile time, Sean! My prayers are rising for Sam, aka Partner, his mom & his medical team too. ❤❤❤❤❤

  6. Gary Woods - March 29, 2020 12:30 pm

    Sam, I too love the Western Culture. It’s easy to know who the good guys and bad guys are. I’ll bet you have a lot of good guys on your side in nurses, doctors and family. They’re the ones in white or at least scrubs. You’ll have a lot of others that read you’re story that will be on your side too. They’re the ones that will praying for you.

  7. Lita - March 29, 2020 12:38 pm

    God bless you, Partner xx

  8. Sylvia from Florida - March 29, 2020 12:49 pm

    Another great one Sean…you are blessed. 🙏 thank you…

  9. Norman Purdue - March 29, 2020 12:52 pm

    What a kind thing to do for Sam. Made his day I bet. I am forwarding this to my 59 year old son John who still watches Gunsmoke.

  10. Norman Purdue - March 29, 2020 12:55 pm

    I recommend author CJ Box to you. Great stories. His protagonist is Joe Picket, a Wyoming game warden.

  11. fannieinez - March 29, 2020 12:58 pm

    Sean, this is one of your bestest yet!! Thank you for sharing Partner Sam with us. Praying that Sam will feel all of our prayers to win this gunfight against this dastardly feller named Cancer.

  12. Becca - March 29, 2020 1:29 pm

    Praying for SSM! 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  13. Phil - March 29, 2020 1:43 pm

    AWESOME! Zane Grey, Roy and Dale, Gene, and Amanda are all smiling down on you, Sean – and especially on Cowboy Sam. I have just said a prayer for him and for all those other precious children who fight the Evil Eddie called cancer.

  14. Gwen@ Monroe - March 29, 2020 2:14 pm

    We’re cheering and praying for you too Sam. You’re the real “partner” fighting this battle. Hope….that’s what I pray for you. And as for Sean……go brush your teeth. Love you.

  15. Anne - March 29, 2020 2:56 pm

    Cheers, hugs, and prayers!

  16. Sandi. - March 29, 2020 2:57 pm

    God bless young Sam with a full, complete recovery and healing from cancer. Many people are praying for you, Sam!

  17. Linda Moon - March 29, 2020 4:15 pm

    I love Cowboys and Westerns.. I watched a Western movie last night, full of cowboys, bad guys and heroes. While I was reading your post I was thinking this would be a good novel or movie. Then, I got to the end. It’s real: childhood cancer – the worst kind. I’m glad you wrote this heroic allegorical Western for Sam and shared it with us, Sean. My “Angels” will be praying for him.

  18. Patricia Gibson - March 29, 2020 6:51 pm

    Prayers lifted for Sam🙏🙏

  19. peggybilbro - March 29, 2020 7:02 pm

    Keep riding that purple sage Sam! And Sean, that was a great story! I could watch it with two hearts. A mom watching her son play it out, and my young self watching those hours and hours of afternoon westerns. And now I add a third heart. I’m watching Sam riding to face down the bad guys, because I’ve faced them down and won that battle! I’m your partner, Sam.

  20. Dawn A Bratcher - March 29, 2020 7:21 pm

    Praying for Sam and his family! 🙏🏼❤️💙🤟

  21. Glenda Hinkle - March 29, 2020 9:25 pm

    We’re ALL praying for you to beat cancer, Sam—-err, Partner.

  22. Mary M Berryman - March 29, 2020 11:35 pm

    Prayers that you will prevail, Sam, over Evil Eddie and all will be right with the world again!

  23. Ann Marie Bouchet - March 30, 2020 12:27 am

    Prayers for you, Sam….beat this evil scourge!!!!! And Sean, you’re my hero….Partner

  24. Ann - March 30, 2020 2:39 pm

    Best and beautiful ever… you are an amazing pardner…. eee haaa!!!

  25. Charles Mathers - March 30, 2020 2:47 pm

    Well pardner, you surely got that one right as rain! Now how ‘bout you saddle up ol’ Paint and we mosey over the south 40 and start brandin’ the new crop of calves. Chuck wagon be along shortly. Heard the boss got a new cook! Pretty little filly that makes a mean biscuit! Yee haw!!!

  26. Hester Guest - April 16, 2020 12:50 pm

    God Bless you, Sam! I loved this and am praying for you!

  27. Matilda Wille - May 6, 2020 10:46 pm

    My heroes have always been cowboys….named Sam.

  28. Sam Seetin - May 6, 2020 11:50 pm

    Shazam Sean! Engaging story, quirky and empathetic. Read CJ Box as suggested.

  29. Mary Hicks - May 12, 2020 9:45 pm

    Love and prayers for hero, Sam. Thanks for sharing this, Sean. God bless you and Jamie.

  30. Charles Garrison - July 3, 2021 3:58 am

    You will go far pilgrim!

  31. Cindy Neill - September 26, 2021 10:11 pm

    Yippee yi koyay, Sam! You got this!!!!

  32. Karen Madruga - September 27, 2021 10:08 am

    Does anyone know how Sam is doing?

    Brilliant writing, Sean!


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