Two prairie vultures hung over dying prey, their beaks jagged, their eyes coal, their faces incredulous.
“Is he still going?” said Bucko, the smaller. “It’s been a week! I don’t think he’s as dying as we hoped”
“We’re wearing him down, I tells ya” said Flancho, the one with the hat. But he had his doubts about their chances: he hadn’t had a hat bath for days, and they now had vultures in turn following them. But Flancho was the leader, and mustn’t even hint there’s anything wrong.
“He’s waving at us” said Bucko. “as he does his little dance.”
“The dance of madness, Bucko, that is all. Slowly…very slowly…he tires himself out”
Bucko began to swoop down, but Flancho held fast on his tail feathers. “Where are you going?!”
“He’s asking if we want icecream? You know, why he’s in the store”
“Great, this is going to take forever. ..’
Tonight’s Wild West tale
No Crunchier Omen: Paleface can’t jump ,
The wild frontier was a tough, cruel mistress who charged 5 bucks a pop. Whoah Nelly, no wonder she’s not married. Is dollars 5 dollars a lot? I’m not a historical economics buff.
“Welcome to Little Bigsmall, West Dakota” the sign said, but everyone knew what it really meant. Sarcastic ass.
The town existed in a violent world, mostly of their own fault.
The centre octagon clock tolled three, and to mark the occasion a highwayman was hanged from the swing set.
Clunky the town drunk, and blacksmith (although slaves rarely needed the mending) remarked on the sight to Three Eyed Bill, the town lookout.
That’s the third lynching today.
You can’t say you’re against capital punishment
I’m not, but we need some other punishments too. What did that guy do?
So you killed him?
He was exposing the kids to such things. Now they can see, in plain view, that harming another achieves nothing.
Glen the sheriff stood up to talk to the dusty crowd that gathered around the gallows for the free promotional items.
We must get the rest of that gang, they robbed a train on horseback! How embarrassing, it seems a step backwards; like carjacking on roller-skates, whatever that means. That lousy gang killed our three bravest men, and Clarence: the fastest retreat on the prairie. A man so yellow-belied he actually has a yellow belly, from hiding in the sand, crying.
Hey, I’m right here!
….why aren’t you dead?
Was that the aim?
Get back out there, you coward
Not if you ask like that. Look, I can’t fight bullets today….metal allergy. I’ve got a doctor’s note.
We don’t have a doctor.
I’ve got a blacksmiths note. Its made of iron.
Aren’t you allergic?
…..ow, it hurts!
You are the most yellow bellied….
I’ve got a note for that too
The time for notes, like notes themselves, has passed….
Glen pointed at the clock to illustrate.
…it is time for some frontier justice, get the frontier guns!
The crowd grabbed their old bits of wood with glass stuck to it. Clarence wasn’t enthused.
You just put frontier in front of things when they’re rubbish
Oh shut your frontier face
Maybe if you didn’t mismanage our taxes, we’d have real guns.
I have a real gun, a nice one! See, it’s all covered in rubies. Now let’s get those injuns
No, I’m in the mood for injuns. They held you hostage, remember, without food or rope.
My captors were not the savages they appeared. The man flesh they ate was only their prey. The bones they wore were of their ancestors, for fashion. The children they hunted – for fun. The taunts – to cover their own insecurities. So, instead of fighting them, let’s just get drunk!
The saloon was calm, as was the tradition in tumbleweed country, the silence only broken (like a jaw) by the thud of fists. In more illustrious times these days only seen in flashback, the saloon’s very own piano player would tinkle out a medley of off-off broadway semi-hits before a talent scout heard him play and shot him. Then it was Two-Fingered Sean playing chopsticks every lunch time, which in turn ceased after the ivory keys were nicked despite being watched by Filbert ‘Fat-Tusk-Dentures’ Dogheir.
Now the punters made do with The Milky Bar Kid playing his theme on a xylophone. He took requests, but alas a short lifetime of milky bars had left him deaf and a jerk.
It was a town in need of a savoir, and that savoir right then and there came strolling through the saloon doors, into the saloon, through the doors.
The place went quiet. The Milky Bar Kid didn’t notice any difference.
Who’s that clown said the sheriff.
His big red lips frozen in a smile, the clown said nothing.
For a bit.
This town aint big enough for the two of us. Fatso.
….Ok, calm down
The good and the bad have been looking for you. You couldn’t circle the wagons round your waist. I can tell why he’s the LONE ranger.
Now see here Billy the..the shithead, I’m the sheriff!
Oh, I thought that was the first star at night! Fat night! Now listen here…
He drew his gun to his maximum length, and waved it about pretending it was his penis.
I’m here to shot bullets and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of bullets
…Ok. Get him!
Hang on, I found some more. No, wait, that’s more gum
The crowd were rowdy and broadly written, and rose as one to fight. Sensing danger amongst the flying fists, our hero grabbed a whisky. “Back off!’ he shouted, breaking the bottle on the counter and peering menacingly. “Bugger” he said, and the bottle fell away into useless shattered shards, cutting his hand in the process.
One heavy snapped a billiards cue on his knee, the other, a billiards ball, snapped a dart. Now injured, our hero dispatched them with ease to Minnesota.
Where was I. Oh yeah, the Sherriff here’s family tree is a tumbleweed. He only knows three words, none of them real…
Yeah we get it
A few sandwich short of a picnic, so know he’s stupid AND hungry. My point is, you deserve better. This town needs a sweep, but the streets are just dirt. There’s drinking at the saloon, womanising at the whorehouse, and gambling at both. Also, the saloon doors say ‘women’
Yeah, we nicked them from the change rooms. It’s more fun now. It’s still shopping though.
Who stole them?
The dastardly Shifty McSnakeeyes, formally the quite-nice Shifty McSnakeeyes. But he’s just victim of himself, and we’re all victims of him too so we know it’s rough, he just fell on hard times and into crime after his general store stopped getting in the generals.
Call me Honest John.
I’ll call you a bad listener…
Thanks, it IS a nice nickname. I just made it up. My real name is Pongo the Silly, the Man in Technicolour
Were you born with that name?
I don’t remember that far, but I’m pretty sure my parents had to give it to me.
A drunkard looked up from his vomit. Look at your pasty face and squirting flower, but you’ve never worked out there in the prairie.
You’re drunk, partner, your nose is redder then mine, and you’re clothes are worse. But good idea. Barkeep, I need a cold stiff one to wet my whistle
I don’t do that myself, but you can try the bathroom.
I meant a drink.
Try the bathroom.
You’re awful at this
Well, I don’t get a lot of discerning customers. This is a one horse town, and he’s teetotal
Hey, he’s on the wagon!
A clown with jokes, what a shock.
The barman threw some whisky done the bar
This time in a glass” he complained “And make it a double
I aint washing two cups.
Ok, leave the bottle; I like to pretend it’s a telescope.
The barman looked out of his one good window. You’re a stranger in these parts?
You talking to me?
Sure am, partner
Hey, enough with the partner talk. You’ll have to give me more than a shot of whisky for that. Maybe a buckshot….hell, a whole 21 cannon salute.
You’re not that funny for a clown
It’s mostly physical humour, me whacking barmen with a bar. Now, give me my feed line again.
You’re a stranger in these parts?
I’m strange everywhere
Yeah, you’re not from around here.
That’s racial profiling. I’m a quarter Cherokee. They wear a lot of war-paint.
They’re not around here
They are now. I came here to avoid the draft
Good luck, those saloon doors don’t really close.
The sheriff rushed forward before the pun could fell flat.
Anyway, this is a one horse town
So I heard
Just gossip. A horse whisperer. So who gets the one horse?
Well, umm, naturally as Sherriff, I need a trusty stead. The last one robbed the bank.
How does everyone else get about?
Well, so do horses, what’s the difference.
One has four legs…
“Hey, speak for yourself” said Mutant Joe. “Take your own advice” said his other head.
Look, I know you guys do it tough. The Western genre aint what it used to be. But I came to this lonely incestuous state with my brothers (not in a gay way), 12 of us clowns crammed into one stagecoach. I had every kind of pie thrown at me, and I am here to tell the tale. So, anyone looking for trouble wants my massive shoe up their arse.
I can get that at the whorehouse.
The sheriff looked at this brash young gun carrying clown. It must have some mighty balls in his oversize trousers, and going by his shoe size that would be appropriate. There was a glint in his teeth and a look on that painted face that said he was serious. This town needed a sheriff, and The Sherriff knew just the candidate.
Ok, I’ll tell you the guy you need to become a lawman
Why do I need a guy?
He’s the mayor; every newcomer goes through him, like a cannibal on a high fibre diet. Plus, it’s all here on this town charter said the sheriff has he held up the coaster he just draw on.
But this is a boom town
I don’t make the rules
You do, the charter’s signed your name.
The mayor is Gideon Exodus.
Exodus? I thought he met his end?
No, you’re thinking of Genesis, hit with a sledgehammer right in the fruitcage.
So Gideon was never shot?
What? Is it juicy?
And bloody. He was shot, but he’s bad at death scenes so he gets away. He’s been shot more times than he can count, due to numeracy skills and many of the shots knocking off his fingers. He also avoids the bullet by always carrying a bible, in several strategic places.
Is that why the call him The Preacher?
No, it’s because he’s the preacher. And he doesn’t like Long-Nose.
People say that to a man of the cloth?
Man of the hanky more like, and never to his face
But that’s where the nose is! What else could you be referring to?
His ears, they’re huge
Why don’t you call him Big Ears?
He’ll hear us. And its copyright Enid Blyton
Not yet it’s not.
…what’s my next line?
Don’t worry about it, the new chapters starting anyway.
Can I be in it? I’ll just stand at the back, scowl at the right times. I can play Injun!
We don’t have the costumes
No worries, I’ll just take my shirt off, and put lipstick on my face. Come on, I could use the work; the wife’s got an audition for a Jules Verne vehicle (a hot air balloon I think), but we have to travel to Mysterious Island for it. And as you know, space gun tickets to vague locales aren’t cheap, so….
Yes yes, alright, the publisher doesn’t pay by the word. Just get something from wardrobe and keep your trap shut.
And stop using up the good font
That night, our hero sat around the campfire of the Kicking Duck tribe, and a lederhosen polka musician standing at the back scowling without any lines.
“Is Gideon Exodus here? No. Ok, guess I’ll keep looking”.
And so he did, until the tribe kicked him out for snooping in their underwear. Kicking things was how they got their name.
Our hero made the long, sandy treck to Dead Man’s Trouser Mountains, alone bar for his dry thoughts and a 1973 Pittsburgh Penguins mascot.
‘No, no more pay-checks’ our hero scolded.
As the disheartened ice hockey icon skulked away, plush head under arm, our hero peered into the cave he so sought and so found.
His voice echoed through the caverns. ‘Hello, hello hello hello hello’. Like that. He began to walk in, as the hello went for a second round. “hello hello hello”
right right right right
Another voice began at the other end. “Go way, go away, Go Away, GO AWAY”
“What?” His question echoed “what what what what what what whup whup WHUP”. His echo had been replaced with a boomerang, hitting out hero in the noggin, as a crinkly prospector jumped out overalls flap waving in the breeze.
Hello Old Timer
Its the 1800’s, we’re all old
Gideon I assume
You do, my name now is Old Man Magulie. I came here to avoid the draft
But the cave has no doors. Have we done that joke?
Not that draft you idiot.
I don’t think he’ll do a draft
The civil war draft! Brother against brother, brother against ‘brotha’, sister against society’s expectations. All fighting for that most sacred pursuit: gold.
Freedom I think
And what buys freedom?
And does sports ability get at the Olympics?
But why are you in a cave?
I was dragged by some bobcats dag-nabbit. They wanted a wife. I run a dating workshop ‘Prospecting for Love’. Say, speaking of which, I’ve got some old love letters I’d like you to read to me. This one’s 50 years old, I’ve never had the guts to read it
…buy one pick get one free, only at Nicks Pick and Stick Stack Shack, formally Robert’s.
Try another one
Um, ok, this one is from ‘Clara’
She was my sweetheart! I thought she didn’t love me!
That’s understandable. Ok, here goes ‘Dear Old Man Magoolie….’
Who would thought think that nickname would stick
“I do so miss your smile, your…abs, and you’re hard….’ I can’t read this
Just sound it out
No, I mean…
You’re not Chinese, are you? Please, I’ve got a glass jaw, a glass eye, and the other needs glasses. My bones are tired, my arms ache, and are filled with bullets.
But its…. you know, sex
I don’t know, no
Well, you will soon. Clara certainly is well read on it. There’s some crude drawings of…of crude drawings
I wonder where she is now
Six feet under, probably
Six feet? Who did she marry?
It doesn’t say. But then how could it. Look, just come back to Little Bigsmall. The town needs a taxpayer like you.
That’s just it, I’m poor like a jug. I once had it all, my shaft-digging business turned out to be a real goldmine. But then I put my entire fortune on this sure-fire horse, Misfire. If anything, all that gold made it go slower! Oh why didn’t I become feather miner! Go into the family business.
I too have a sob story, if it helps
I don’t see how
Why, because I’m a clown? Racist. You see, it was all back when I was still in the circus. I was a big shot, a high flyer, a star attraction: I was a human cannonball, a trapeze artist, and a gravity manipulator, and stunk at the all. So they made me the fire marshal of the third ring. The lions had this smoking act, the tamers would ‘tame them’ with positive reinforcements to get them to quit. Anyway, one day something went wrong, there was a bucket of confetti incident…basically I choked. Well, the lions did, but they had bad lungs anyway, and one had accidently swallowed the trainers stool.
If I go back with you, will you shut the hell up?
Will he go? Will he shut up? Only the next issue will tell.
Next week, in Strange Bi-Curious Tales Magazine: Yes, to both questions