The Cutting Room Floor

Author’s note:   Vengeance went through at least 25 rewrites over seven years.  A lot of lines and scenes were tossed or revised.  Here are some that got whacked or that may appear in the sequel.

Again, a line that might appear in the sequel, One Bullet Beyond Justice:

Peter, standing with Nora during a confrontation with four gunfighters: “You got enough brains to think twice?”

Any of these lines and scenes might be adapted for the sequel to One Woman’s Vengeance.  This is one for sure.

Nora held the pistol to the man’s head.  “I am so sick of men spending their lives thinking that women exist to cook, get fucked by men and have babies.  Think about this deeply and reconsider everything.  Because you’re looking at a woman who is about to kill you.”


Juanita, the Mexican madame of the small whorehouse, started out as Mexican.  I wondered if she was too much a stereotype so I replaced her with a kind, sensitive gay man who cared deeply for his girls.  But it just didn’t work.  I brought Juanita back, worked hard on her character and mildly broken English.  A couple of readers have since said she is one of their favorite characters.


Nora stirred the stew on the stove and said to Peter: ‘Women need to nurture; men need to conquer.  Our way sustains life.  Yours creates death.  Can you ever understand the difference between men and women?”


The breeze pushed at Peter’s hat as they stood on their practice range. Nora shoved a bullet with her thumb into the cartridge and let the gun cool.  “Yer into a man’s world,” Peter said.

“You’ve mentioned that  . . . several times,” she said.

He felt himself tightening up.  “Well, just askin’, if you were a man what would you be plannin’ different?”

She looked at him, then back at the chamber.  “Peter, if I were a man looking at man’s history the past few thousand years, I would do us all a favor and shoot myself.”


A totally deleted scene.

The men sat around the small table in the smokey bar that smelled of sweat, cow shit and whiskey.

“So who’s this Nora Hawks?”  One asked, studying his cards.

The other men looked at their cards in silence until one nodded.  “Woman who don’t take no shit.” He said.

“Don’t take no shit from who?”

The second man shoved a chip into the center of the table.  “Men.”

The first man studied his cards, then laid them face down on the table.  “That ain’t good.”  The other men at the table stared at their cards and nodded.  It certainly was not good.

One of the men studied his chip.  “A man who don’t take shit from men . . . you look up to him or you run . . .or you confront him face-to-face and take yer chances.”  The other men nodded again.

The man tossed his chip onto the table.  “Woman who don’t take shit from men needs to be killed.”

The other men nodded slowly, thoughtfully.  They picked up a chip and tossed it in and played out their hands.


From The Barn Scene:

She glanced at the man she’d just shot as the blood gurgled out with each breath, in little gushing bubbles like a little crimson creek. And she realized there was somehow a difference between the blood on a battlefield and the blood of a man you have carefully and purposefully murdered.


The man at the bar sipped his whiskey, then the warm beer in the mug.  “This Nora Hawks, she don’t smile when she’s shootin’.”

The man to his write nodded and puffed on his cigar.  “What I hear, the men she’s shootin’ don’t smile neither.”


How the subject of God came up again, Nora had no idea.  Sometimes she felt like Peter was playing with her.  She was beginning to think he had more Bible learning than he let on.

“So you don’t think He had a right to create a flood and wipe everybody out,” he said.  She shook her head.  He stared at the mountains.  “Seems like a pretty bold move.”

“I think it’s wrong,” she said.  ” He created the world. That doesn’t give Him the right to destroy it.”

Peter nodded, thinking it over. “Well, He was pretty mad.”

“We all get mad,” she said.  “He overreacted, and a whole world paid.”

(Revision: “If we all destroyed things when we got mad there wouldn’t be any world left,” she said.

He sniffed and scratched the back of his ear.  “It only took one of Him to do it.”

She nodded in agreement.  “Maybe so.  But I don’t think He should look at it as one of his proudest moments.”)


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