Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Life Without Enemies Is A Life Not Lived (Wranglers' Canyon No. 6)

One of the most aggravating things about law enforcement isn't the part about catching your man or even killing him, but what comes after. Killing The Rodeo Clown was hard work, to be sure, but dragging his dead ass across town on the back of my horse and turning him over to Sheriff Frehley was even harder. I had to do it, otherwise no one would believe me about that guy.

I was just riding and praying old Clyde didn't get a hernia carrying me and that psycho bastard over his poor back, but fuck him, he's a horse. God made him that way. As we were riding through the woods in the pitch black darkness I have to confess to getting a touch of the heebie jeebies and turned around every so often to look at The Rodeo Clown, just to make sure he was really dead. I kept thinking he was going to come to and strangle me from behind, so sometimes I'd even stop riding and turn and smack his dumb ol' dead clown face.

"Hey! Stupid!" Naw, he's still dead. Stiff. Cold. Stiff, cold, dead clown in the dark. And then the thought of that shit creeped me out even more, so I kicked Clyde pretty hard with a stern, "GIDDYAP, BOY!"

I got to Sheriff Frehley's office after ignoring the townsfolk gaping at me like a bunch of loudmouth bass at the horror of a dead clown hanging from the back of my horse. Stare and stare again, folks. I'm doing all the work, not you.

After tying Clyde to the hitching post I had to lift this fat assed clown off the horse and carry him on in. There was a lot of heavy lifting going on and I was feeling mighty tired after that tussle with Chuckles, so after a few false starts I said FUCK IT and simply pushed him off the horse. He landed head first on the ground ass-over-elbows with Clyde shooting a jet of piss that luckily missed his sorry head. A dead head full of piss would be hard to explain to Sheriff.

I dragged Clowny up the wooden sidewalk and opened the front door taking him with me. Sheriff Frehley and Deputy Shugg both practically jumped out of their desks at the same time when they saw the stiff being dragged by his dead leg.

"Walker??" Frehley yelped. "What the hell?"
"Here's the jasper who killed the real rodeo clown in Tarr's show. See? He's for real. We had a tussle over yonder by the woods and I had to kill him, see? It was self defense, Sheriff. I'm no killer!"

Frehley and Shugg both walked over to inspect the dead clown from head to toe.

"Walker, give us a hand with this body", Frehley picked up the top side while Shugg grabbed the bottom.
"Get it yourself, I'm plum tired from all that killing". I sat down.

They picked him up and plopped him down on Shugg's desk, the clown's ass knocking over Shugg's coffee cup and tobacco fixings and shit.
Frehley asked me a lot of dumb fool questions while he was looking the stiff's body up and down.

"Any idea who this is?"
"Hell, no. I'm new here, remember?"
"Some of the paint on his face is all wiped off. Did you do that?"
"Yup. I was trying to figure out who he was, too".
"Any ideas?"
"Could be. I saw him dancing with Miss Willa at that big to-do the other day. Didn't know who he was then and still don't know who he is now".

Since I wasn't any help at all the two lawmen do what lawmen do best: they ignored me like I wasn't in the room and started talking to each other, treating me like I was the fifth wall.

"Who do you reckon it is, Sheriff? Could it be Hogg Stinson?"
"Naw, Stinson's a lot bigger than this fella. And anyway, Stinson's ass is always falling out of his pants".
"Haven't seen Clem Sturgis in awhile. Kinda looks like him".
"Sturgis shot himself in the face cleaning his gun last year. Couldn't be him".
"No fooling? Hmm, his wife's kinda fine...wonder if she's fixin' to get married again".
"Aw hell, ferget it, Shugg. You gotta get past five squallin' brats to get to her cootch".

There was a lot of head scratching and just as much ass scratching to boot, but they weren't getting anywhere.
"I GOT IT!" Shugg stamped his boot down hard. "It's Jedidiah McGrew!"
Frehley frowned and pushed his hat back. "Nope, nope, nope. McGrew hasn't been seen around these parts in a coon's age. T'aint him!"

Frehley turned to me and wrinkled his face impatiently. "Did you get a chance to talk to him before you killed him? What did he sound like?"
"He talked real funny like he head a cold, y'know, like he had a sore throat".

"That don't ring a bell", Frehley mumbled to Shugg, shutting me out again. "That's no help at all".
"Okay", I was getting fed up with this treatment. "I need a drink. Sheriff, you gonna press charges?"
"Of course not! Get out of here, Walker, we have official business to take care of".
"Don't let me stop you".

I moseyed over to Sailor Jerry's feeling weary and all punched out. I took a quick stool and blasted back a few shots of redeye. Jerry was banging some crazy barrelhouse piano. Tapping my feet like crazy, I looked around the saloon and saw my girls Miss Teresa, Miss Charity and Miss Clara. I smiled at them and thought it was time for a song.

"There's a hoedown down by the ranch
Grab your little girl git ready to dance
Don't be shy, there's no time
When the night is right for frontier romance.....
YODELYODELYODEL-LAYWHEHOOO!!!"

I yodeled and yodeled and yodeled, my tongue all loose for yodeling and the gals all yelling and laughing. The men saw the gals liking it so they kinda cheered, too. Most of the men were married and kinda walked around all scared their wives might run in and pull them out of the saloon. Every dude knew the ladies of Jonestown hated the saloon gals.

Jerry took a liking to my yodeling and banged the 88 keys even harder whenever I'd do my hooting. It all sounded real nice. I even threw in a few whippoorwill bird noises, too. Damn straight.
"GOOOOO-WRREEEEK-OOOO!!! WOOHEEHEEWHOOO!"
The gals all swooned.

"Roping, riding, hankering and loving is all I ever do
Hold me tight like you're a gonna reach right through
Grab my heart and love me all night
Rope me in and tie me up, to boot...
YODELYODELYODEL-LAYWHEHOOO!!!"

I was really starting to enjoy myself like a crazy loon but I got real tired and just plain stopped. Jerry just kept tinkling away like a madman. Miss Teresa and Miss Charity both joined me for a drink.
"You're really putting it away, Cowboy! You feelin' alright?" Miss Charity laughed.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. I have a few questions I have to ask Miss Willa. Where is she, anyway?"
"Why?" Miss Teresa's eyes narrowed and her high steppin' blonde breasts rose angrily. "We're not good enough for you anymore?"

"No, it's nothing like that. I saw her with this fella the other day and I'm trying to get a hold of him".
Charity and Teresa looked at each other real puzzled, almost as puzzled as those two backasswards lawmen back there.
"We haven't seen Willa for awhile", Charity frowned as she grabbed a shot of sarsaparilla.
Teresa jumped at me. "Sing us another one, Crash!"

I waved her off. "Okay, okay, let me wet my whistle before I start vocalizing again".
But that chance didn't get to happen. Our not so peace and quiet was interrupted by a louder eruption.
The sound of what must have been ten horses rumbled towards the saloon, almost shaking everything in sight, and loud? It was louder than Jerry's loud-ass piano playing.

The saloon doors swung open and in marched ten hombres, and I knew right away who they were. It was that mean looking bunch that rode by while Mumblin' Pete and I did our shooting a week ago. I remembered the older guy with the beady eyes and the long, thin, scaly face. He still looked ornery as hell, so bad that even Jerry quit playing.

"Howdy. Something I can do for you fellas?" Jerry asked politely, almost knowing damned well who these boys were.

A wide, real wide like a train car wide guy stepped up to Jerry. "Are you the proprietor of this saloon, boy?"
"I am, and as you are addressing a former officer of the United States Navy I'll have you not refer to me as 'boy'".

"Someone in this town, and I mean SOMEONE, had a major altercation with the men of The Hiss Ranch and massacred them in cold blood. We aim to come right in and raze this little town of yours until we find the murderer of our men. D'you understand, nigger?"
Sailor Jerry's back straightened up to him. "I thought I told you -"

The old dude dressed in black pushed his way past the wide guy and leered at everyone with his mean old rattler face.
"One of my boys is LYING DEAD in a watering hole and I DEMAND to know who did it. You have no idea what trouble you SMALL TOWN PEOPLE got yourselves into. I'll give you 48 hours to TURN THE KILLER IN or you will SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES. You have awakened... a SLEEPING GIANT".

I looked over at Mumblin' Pete across the room, who was trying to melt into the wall like he wasn't even there. The mean-ass dude leaned straight at me, shoving his ugly face right at me.

"Are you my boy's KILLER? You have something you want to say to me?" He rasped.
I tried my best to match his stare.
"Nope, not at all. My name's Walker, and to who am I addressing if I may ask?"
His little eyes got kinda big for a second.
"I'm the one and only Clinton Hiss, owner of The Hiss Ranch, and if you had ANYTHING to do with my son Rance's death it will give me GREAT PLEASURE to kill you personally!"

Rance. That was the name of that dang Sodomite back in the prairie who had that sick little gang trying to invade my virtue. Shit. We killed Snake Face's ugly little boy.
I smiled and said, "I had not a whit to do with it, Sir".

He threw a pointed finger in the air at everyone. "FORTY EIGHT HOURS! OR SUFFER AND DIE!!!!"
The gang turned around and stomped out. It was dead silent in the saloon like all the air just dried out.
The thundering of their horses resounded again and faded out into the distance.

"Hell's bells, I need a drink", Sailor Jerry ambled over behind the bar. Miss Clara sympathetically rubbed Jerry's arm to console him. "ROUNDS FOR EVERYONE!"

Shot glasses appeared all over the bar as Jerry ran down the bar filling them up from his bottle. Mumblin' Pete grew a pair and walked over to me, taking the stool next to me, too.

"Nice little town you have here", I said to Jerry.
"Isn't it? And Sheriff and his Deputy are nowhere to be found while all this is happening".
"Where's Mayor Randall?"
"Shit. Who knows?"

I threw back a shot and looked straight at Mumblin' Pete. I leaned in and mumbled into his ear.
"Might be a real good time for us both to scram before we turn to scrambled eggs".
"Mghst rklji ji ghgd kleb uib bg jjhugdhvdhh".
"Hell yeah!"

I started tossing and turning the idea about Mumblin' Pete and me packing our sleeping bags and rags and skedaddlin' out of this ratty burg. It wouldn't take long before we'd get found out for being the killers of Sonny Boy, especially since no one in this boring little shed of a town was smart enough to kill anyone.

Not only that, we were also the new fish in town and a little weird, at least Pete was, so it wouldn't take long for these cowardly folk to start accusing us of all this shit anyway.

I smiled a phony smile at Sailor Jerry and mumbled into Pete's ear. "Just about two more shots o' this piss and we'll head on out to the hotel and skip out with our things and we'll shake these cactus-head fuckers, y'know what I mean?"
"Ght erfgd jkjiu ink opsneghu!" Mumblin' Pete chuckled.
"Sure as shittin', Hoss".

After we tossed our two final shots, I bid adios to ol' Jerry and the gals and we galloped the hell out with our cheap $2 smiles. Just to make sure we didn't make our adios too obvious we snuck down the alley behind the Jonestown General Store, the Jonestown Bakery, the Jonestown Post Office, hell and high falutin'.

"When we git on our horses we gotta keep them nags quietest as quiet can be, and then -"
"Fgkltny!" Mumblin' Pete banged against something big hanging against a wall and almost stumbled over his big clodhoppers.

"Watch where you're going, Pete!"
"Gjkl rtnvf eg jio wemin iyrt!!!" He kicked at the dark lump by the wall. I didn't know what he stumbled over but this real rancid odor wafted from it.
"What is that? It smells like -"
Pete touched it and jumped back a few feet. "GH REEE HPIJK!!!"

I lit a match to get a better look at what made my pal jump like a nervous gopher. I brought the match closer to the hanging lump and we both gasped at what we saw.

It was the already rotting corpse of Miss Willa hanging against the wall with a rope tied around her neck. One of her eyes was completely ripped out of its eye socket. Her nose had been bashed in until it looked like a bent tin can. Her hair was all pulled out and sticking out all over the place like a rag doll left out in the rain. Her once pretty dress had been ripped out wide open with burn marks and bruises all over her once pliable titties. You couldn't see her stomach any more because it was torn wide open and her intestine-type guts were falling out. Whoever did this really went to town on my former bed hostess.

"Will you look at that? Whew!" I pulled out my bandana and wrapped it around my nose and mouth. "Now that's what I call a perfectly good waste of a woman. OWW!" The match burned down to my fingers. I lit another one but got some old newspaper to burn a tiny torch to keep the flame going.

"Now who do you reckon did that to Miss Willa? Could've been that damn Rodeo Clown. I'm pretty sure Willa knew him. She probably knew too much. What do you think, Pete?"
I turned to look at Mumblin' Pete and he burst out crying.
"BAWWWW HAW HAW HAW!!!!" Tears were flowing out his eyes until his face looked like a busted out levee. It was the first time he made a noise that sounded halfway human, I gotta admit.

"Aw, Pete, I'm sorry. I forgot you took a genu-wine liking to her. Ah, that's love fer ya".
"BAWWWAH HAAHAHAWWWW!" Pete cried some more.
"Shit, amigo, she sure was good in the feathers, too. Where did you reckon her other eye went?"
"BUUUHAWAWAW!" Pete's face was wetter than the Rio Grande by this point.

"Wait a doggone minute. What's this?" I spotted a note scrawled on a piece of paper pinned to her lacy dress and pulled it off. "The killer left a note, Pete".
Pete stopped squalling for a beat or two.
"'THIS PIG IS THE FIRST OF MANY WHO WILL BE GUTTED AND SLAUGHTERED IN JONESTOWN.
JONESTOWN WILL BURN AND EVERYONE WILL BE FORCED TO DIG THEIR OWN GRAVES BEFORE THEY ARE MURDERED. YOU WILL DROWN IN YOUR OWN BLOOD!!!!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!'"

Pete bawled after I read that little missive.
"Whoever killed Miss Willa spells real nice, I'll tell you that for sure".
"BUUUHAWAWAW!"
"Shhh, quiet, Rubberneck. Someone's gonna come runn-"

"HEY! WHAT'S GOING ON OVER THERE???" A figure in the darkness walked over, spotting us. I still had the torch lit and couldn't put it out in time.
"BUUUHAWAWAW!"
"WHAT THE HELL???? PUT YOUR HANDS UP!!!" It was Deputy Shugg with both his guns drawn straight at us. He looked horrified at the mess of Miss Willa and then back at us.

"YOU'RE UNDER ARREST, BOTH OF YOU!" Shugg yelled. "KEEP YOUR HANDS UP AND FOLLOW ME. YOU'RE UNDER ARREST FOR THE MURDER OF MISS WILLA".
The jig was up. We weren't leaving town. We were innocent, but sneaking in a dark alley makes you look guilty as hell, don't it?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy 100th Birthday Jackie Coogan

This year's Scorpio Birthday Tribute is a special one because it's not only in honor of one of my favorite silent film stars but it's also his Centennial Birthday, the one and only Jackie Coogan. F. Scott Fitzgerald once remarked that there are no second acts in life, but Coogan not only disproved that by having a second one, but an enormously popular third one.

I'll bypass a full-fledged biography on Jackie Coogan and simply talk about his work in films. Let's start with the first phase of his career as a child actor and one of the brightest lights in silent films. Many of his movies as a little kid were mostly comedies, beginning with a small part in Charlie Chaplin's short "A Day's Pleasure" (1917), one of his best. Two years later he starred in Chaplin's classic "The Kid", where Jackie plays a child raised by Charlot in a glass selling scam by smashing in windows so Charlie can sell his glass plates.

Jackie, only six years old, had a natural talent for comedy with an equal knack for drama, and his talent provided a hit for the then-troubled Chaplin, who had the smuggle prints of the film past several states from being confiscated.

A year later he starred in "Oliver Twist" opposite the legendary Lon Chaney, who played Fagin. It was said that Coogan was afraid of the wild eyed Chaney who had to things down a notch or two once the cameras stopped rolling to gain the friendship of little Jackie.

Unfortunately, prints of his classic comedy "Circus Days" (1922) are lost with a few surviving scenes available on the Warner Bros' DVD of Charles Chaplin's classic comedy "The Circus". Jackie plays Toby Tyler, a character later made famous by Walt Disney on television, however, Jackie plays the character with a better feel for slapstick than the Disney version.

At the peak of his popularity, Coogan was the highest paid child star of his time, making $2,000 a week as salary with his parents as the trustees.

What was saved, however, by Turner Classic Movies, is "The Rag Man" (1925), where Jackie plays the crafty runaway orphan Timothy Aloysius Michael Patrick Kelly, who befriends a tired old Jewish junk dealer played by the great Max Ginsberg. By now Jackie was ten and growing but still adorable and funny. His constant negotiating and wheeling and dealing with an old East Side Jew on the streets of New York is very funny.

By the mid-thirties Coogan suffered two major tragedies: (1) His father and best friend died in an automobile accident with him as the only survivor; and, (2) His discovery that his mother and step-father spent every penny of his child-star earnings. Both tragedies sent him towards a downspin complicated by heavy drinking.

A three-year marriage to Betty Grable resulted in Coogan raising the ire of MGM mogul Leo B. Mayer, who offered Coogan a 7-picture deal, which Coogan turned down and earned a blacklist from the monstrous Mayer. Coogan didn't work in films for another eight years.

It's at this point that Coogan's career becomes even more interesting, because Phase Two of the Jackie Coogan Story has our hero acting in the Fifties doing mostly exploitation schlock classics like Mesa of Lost Women, where he played the mad scientist Dr. Aranya (joined by Dolores Fuller!). Now that Coogan had lost most of his pretty hair he had the freedom to play mostly bad guys and psychos, attacking every role with nutty abandon.

A string of wild late-Fifties psychotronic dementia followed, all illuminated by Coogan's demented presence: Eighteen and Anxious, The Space Children, but he really hit pay dirt when he joined producer Albert Zugsmith's cast of off-the-wall players Mamie Van Doren, Steve Cochran, Vampira, John Drew Barrymore, Jock Mahoney, and an endless cattle call of Hollywood star babies (Harold Lloyd, Jr.!!!!)

You've seen at least two or three of these crazy films: Sex Kittens Go To College - Jackie plays a rich tycoon using an unfunny W.C. Fields voice while Mamie plays the busty, brainy college professor, The Beat Generation - Jackie's a cop who has to put on the drag during a stakeout with his partner Steve Cochran (comedy gold), Night of the Quarter Moon - directed by the great Hugo Haas!, but the magnum opus of that period has to be High School Confidential, where he plays the sinister Mr. A, resplendent in dark badass shades and heroin pusher to the high school kids at his hipster jazz club.

But alas, the sleaze stands alone and the well dried up for high school crime flicks so Jackie did a bunch of sporadic TV appearances for the next four years, until he reached Phase Three of his career and arguably the role he's still notorious for, the role of Uncle Fester on The Addams Family (1964).

Some of Coogan's best comedy work is on The Addams Family and a lot of fans even say he steals many of the scenes he's in because he's that good. Coogan's signature comedy shtick on the film was to stick a light bulb in his mouth and immediately have it light up. Kids would tune in every week to see what he's say and do next. He was the Soupy Sales of Goth!

The bizarre irony of the Uncle Fester character was that Coogan wore a thick sweater virtually identical to the one he wore forty years earlier in "The Rag Man", making virtually the same smiles he did back then but now older and more worn out. Also ironic about his popularity is that although he was once a child star he now had every child in America following him just like the Twenties.

But nothing spells closure to the Three Acts of Jackie Coogan's career than the day his old boss Charlie Chaplin returned to the United States after 20 years to accept a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award. Upon arrival at LAX he saw Jackie Coogan there to greet him and hugged his once young co-star. He turned to Coogan's wife and said, "Never forget that your husband is a genius". From million dollar kid to exploitation films to TV horror comedy, Jackie Coogan always delivered.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Stacks of Style

During the course of my regular forays to the textile stores in the Garment District I saw some wild material that looked outer space-like with its use of craters, drifting colors and tech stripes. It came in three colors: red, dark blue and purple, and they were applied in a slightly hippie tie dye style, but not so much that it was overpowering.

I bought the purple to make a cool top (pictured above), the dark blue for pajama bottoms, and shined on the red (too feminine). The vendor called it zombie fabric and I think Shrine sells tops made of this material, also calling it "Zombie tops". I think it looks more Outer Space than Zombie, but whatever. I thought it came out pretty well.

I've always had a problem with t-shirts because of two things that bug me about them: 1) That annoying high "Fanboy Collar" that rides so far up it practically covers your Adam's Apple. As someone who suffers from claustrophobia I find this tight collar unacceptable, and 2) Those hug bat-wing cap sleeves that jut out of your arms. Since girls for the most part wear baby tees this isn't a big problem for them, but as a guy I can't stand the baggy cap sleeves.

With that in mind I've taken to remodeling my tees by cutting the tight collar for a more boat neck collar look. The boat neck collar is more flattering because it features a nice neck and a good pair of shoulders. It makes for a more body-friendly look.

As far as the bat-wing sleeves as concerned I've taken to rolling up my sleeves and sewing them in. This gives each tee a cool retro Fifties vibe to them which I like. They also show your guns to their best advantage, and it's my opinion that a man's guns are the masculine equivalent to a woman's cleavage: a sexy reveal that isn't dirty and shows a man's hottest feature.

While American Apparel is mulling over former CEO Dov Charney back to the fold - a big step back, I think - his old promotional formula of featuring swarthy, underage girls is being foiled by, horror of horrors, using three blonde drag queens to promote their new line.

The three drag queens are RuPaul's Drag Race superstars Courtney Act, Willam and Alaska Thunderfuck. This might be the greatest F-U to the sexist, homophobic monster who ran the most offensive retail marketing campaign in fashion history.

What makes this campaign doubly amazing is that it not only supports transgender models, blasted recently by fashion curmudgeon Tim Gunn, but that it also smashes AA's previous use of underage models. T-shirts of all three models marketed by AA have gone through several printings after selling out worldwide. In-store appearances have resulting in mobbing not seen since the heyday of Victoria's Secret's "Angels" campaign.

While some people like Gunn find this perverse it's a fresh breath of air from all the Gerber Baby looking girls one is forced to look at on a daily basis. Besides, the times they are-a changin', what with TG models like Carmen Carrera and Andrej(a) Pejic treading the catwalk modeling women's wear. It's time for the men to show all those Gerber Babies how to walk the walk.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blood Sticky Fingerprints (Wranglers' Canyon No. 5)

I lifted my pistol hand and pointed my piece in Dr. Augustus Tarr's miserable face. "Fess up. Who the hell was that Rodeo Clown?"

Dr. Augustus Tarr stepped back a little scared like and his flunkies looked like they were ready to jump me. One of them might have even drawn out a piece of his own, but I couldn't tell because I had my bead on Tarr's stupid puss. The crowd shifted from cheering at me to booing Tarr. Tarr turned to face the crowd with a sheepish smile on his face.

Sheriff Frehley cautiously ran out towards the standoff, yelling, "EVERYBODY PUT DOWN YOUR GUNS - RIGHT NOW!!! I AM STILL THE LAW HERE, SWORN IN BY THE GOOD PEOPLE OF JONESTOWN!"
Hell no, I didn't put down my gun, and Tarr pointed angrily at me.

"Elroy, I want this madman arrested for the murder of my finest rodeo performer, the Armored Bullock of Festus County!"
"You talkin' about the bull?" Sheriff frowned.
"That was the best rodeo bull I ever had and this cold blooded murderer killed him! Arrest him right now!"

The crowd booed Tarr even more. Hot damn, they were all on my side. I put my gun down to get even more sympathy from the folks.
"Aw hell, Gus, I can't arrest a man for killing a beast. A whore, maybe, a church minister, hell yeah, but a damn bull, no soap!"
"I stand to lose a lot of capital profit on account of this rapscallion's unforgivable transgression!" he pointed again. I wanted to take his pointing finger and shove it so far up his ass he'd pick his nose every time he farted.

"Sheriff, I'm losing a lot of blood", I piped in. "I'm getting kind of dizzy. Are you gonna arrest me or aren't you?"
Sheriff Frehley looked around and spotted Mumblin' Pete standing by the cattle chute.
"HEY YOU! MUMBLES! TAKE YOUR COMPADRE HERE TO THE SAWBONES DOWN THE ROAD, PRONTO! YOU SAVVY?"

Mumblin' Pete ran out to me and put his arm around my shoulder and escorted me off the field. The audience cheered me like I was a hero.
Dr. Tarr cussed his ass off. "Well, now I've seen everything! You're gonna let that cold blooded killer go scot free like that?"
"Lookit, Gus, I'm not filing charges, and your boys need to carry that beast off the field lickety split. I suggest you burn the carcass just like the Almighty commanded Moses in the Good Book".

Tarr's face burned redder and redder and the last thing I heard him yell was that he was disowning Sheriff as his cousin. That's life! Well, not for the bull.

Pete hustled himself a wagon and carefully lay me on it.
"Jufg dbhi wex joiyu whsiojkt!" He ordered. Since I couldn't figure what the fuck he just said I reckoned I'd just face the music and behave like a slave.

Pete rode out of the town a ways and saw a little house with a sign out, "Hiram McSweeney, Licensed Physician".

Pulling the wagon over, Pete hopped off and knocked frantically at the front door. A little man opened it, and Pete got kinda caught up in the moment.
"GHKP GRET!!!! VCOPYI HRRDSD!!!"
"Vot? A man iz bleedink to death, you say? Nu, bring him in!"

Pete came back and pulled me off the wagon and dragged in. The little guy was bald, thin, had blue eyes and wore a white coat. He stared at me very intently.
"Put him on the table there!"

Pete put me on the doctor's table, all nice and papered. The doctor looked at my face and clothes all smeared in blood.
"What may I ask happened? Are you running from the law, Mister?"
"Walker's the name, Crash Walker. Sheriff Frehley sent me here. Just rode a bull at the rodeo and it got all hog wild on me".

The doc lit a couple of lanterns in his office and looked me over. He poked me here and there and asked me if this hurt or if that hurt. Mumblin' Pete just stood there holding his hat in his hand, pivoting one foot over the other like frog tryin' to decide if he wanted to jump off a lily pad or not. He was makin' me nervous.

Doctor McSweeney then applied a bunch of ointments and stuff over my scratches, bruises and gashes. He'd mumble a little weird talk every now and then.
"What are you sayin'?"
"A little German, Mr. Walker, it's nothing", he waved his hand away.

"German? I thought you were Irish", I winced at my bull gore ribs being fiddled with.
"Irish? No", he laughed, unrolling a bunch of bandages to put over my cuts. "I'm German. You don't mind, do you?"
I shook my head.
"No, medicine I couldn't practice in the smaller towns. Jews from Eastern Europe can't get work around here, so an Irishman I became. It's not killing anybody".

"So you're not really Hiram McSweeney?"
"To you cowboys, yes", he whispered. "To my closest friends, Chaim Moskowitz. I need the business, do you understand?"
"Sure, Doc! Gyuh!" I groaned as he tightened the gauze around my battered ribcage. I jumped off the exam table, my body sore as hell.

"Stay off your feet, buckaroo!" Now it was the Doc's turn pointing fingers and shit. "And no whiskey! A glass of tea, you hear?"
Mumblin' Pete laughed.
"Tea?" I moaned. "Shit!"

"Take him home", Dr. Moskowitz ordered Pete.
"Hik fgedi wetuidj jdjdobn, jegdghxh tyr ioppp?"
"Yeah, how much?" I asked.
"Nothing, go home, and remember. Hot tea!"
Pete chortled again as we moseyed out the door.
"Thanks Doc!"

********************

Anybody who says Sailor Jerry ain't a square fella never lived a day in their life. Why, Jerry brought some of his girls over top our hotel room to attend to my needs. They were a lot more fun nursing' me than that tired old Mumblin' Pete.

Each gal was more pretty than the last one. There was Miss Teresa, a tall blonde with a full figure. A full figure means the front filled out and the back side filled out and the hips held everything in place real nice.

There was Miss Charity, a brunette with golden eyes and she smelled like a field of flowers and laughed a lot. Holy cow! Then there was Miss Odessa, a flaming red head, she was kinda shy but she looked like a match about to start a fire. The best nurse was Miss Clara, a half-Chinese thing with big black hair and high heel boots who liked taking my sleep drawers off and rubbing lotion all over my body. I don't think Miss Willa fancied her too much.

"You got off easy compared to the other dudes who volunteered for Tarr's show. They usually get killed by that razor blade bull of his", Miss Charity said.
"No fooling".
Miss Teresa picked it up. "Tarr's been through these parts plenty of times but this time you got the best of him. You killed that dad blamed bull of his. He's mighty steamed!"

"Yeah, well he picked the wrong pigeon to mess with, know what I mean?"
"You don't know the half of it. After the show they found the regular man who played The Rodeo Clown bound up in his own underwear under a wagon with his throat slashed", Miss Charity leered. "From ear to ear!"
"So that wasn't his Rodeo Clown. It was some damn fake", I added things up.

"Sheriff and Tarr and some of Tarr's boys are out in the fields looking for that Rodeo Clown. He's probably hiding out somewheres".
"Which way did you say they were headed?"
"They went towards the mountains".
"They reckon he's hiding out somewhere up there", Miss Teresa concluded. I quietly chuckled to myself.

The reason I chuckled to myself was because lawmen always pick the wrong time, the wrong approach and the wrong direction to get their man. It's like they went to some school house in Dumbass Land to learn how to do everything wrong. There was no way this crazy clown was hiding out in the mountains. They'll never find him but I know I can.

After the girls were gone tinkering with me and fondling my unawares, I had to refuse Miss Clara's advances to spending the night rubbing my wounds so I could hit the bloody trail searching for my would-be attacker.

It was a night made bright by moonlight, my going in the opposite direction of the search party. They were clearly wasting their time running towards the mountains. I went further down the road looking for more deserted parts.

The way I see it, this was the type of sidewinder who didn't get enough killing done. He had his fun with the rodeo hand in Tarr's show, but then he'd been denied by me, so he needed some more kills to satisfy his blood lust. Guaranteed.

I rode my horse slowly down the main path going by the clean, proper homes, voices and sounds getting quieter and quieter. Lights going dimmer and dimmer as I rode down the road. Finally all that was left was silence and the glowing light of the moon briefly illuminating trees and bushes and casting shadows over every little nothing.

Clyde loped slower and slower until he finally stopped right by a burned-up looking school house. The wooden slats were rotted out from the tinder being dry and charred to Jack Fuck.
"What's wrong, you dumb horse? Keep trottin'", I kicked his sides and pulled at his bridle.

Clyde trotted three steps more and the stopped again.
"What the heck, boy? Let's go!"
I kicked again. Clyde then began trotting around the school house. What the hell? As we trotted around the school house I peered through the window just for the hell of it.

I couldn't help noticing that there was a dim light coming out of the classroom, like the flicker of a candle.
"Alright, Clyde, have it your way". I tied the reins against a tree branch behind the place and crept quietly to the back of the school house.

I gently tried the door knob and lucky boy, it turned. I crept into the classroom and indeed, there was a candle burning. It flickered all around the room, casting shadows of everything against the beat wooden walls.

The room stank of some kind of loco weed being smoked, puffed heartily by a man with tufts of hair sticking up in spikes. His back was turned to me so he didn't catch me staring at him smoking and guzzling a bottle of whiskey.

His back still turned to me, he rasped loudly. "If you've come for me you should have brought help, Cowboy. You're too cut up to do any fighting".
He stood up and turned around to face me. He still had the pale white makeup on with that twisted smile on his face.
"But it doesn't matter anyway because I'm going to chop your head off".

He picked up something that looked like a wheat thresher and grinned madly.
"Bringing in the sheaves...."
I reached for my gun and got nothing. I must have left my holster behind at the hotel. How stupid can I be?

"Give yourself up. Everybody's out looking for you", I advanced slowly towards him. "They know what you did".
"Come...get....me!" he laughed, swinging the scythe around. You could hear it slicing the air.
I threw a canteen at him and he hit it hard, making it fly across the room.

Bored with the game, he advanced towards me with the scythe, swinging it wildly. I picked up a fistful of salt that was laying by some rotting meat and blew it right into his eyes.
"Auggh!" He reached for his eyes, blinking wildly, making the scythe clatter down on the floor.

I saw a buck knife laying right by the rotting, raw meat he was eating and picked it up. I saw a shadow of him jumping on top of me and wrestling my arm holding the knife.
He squeezed my wrist holding the blade and banged it hard over and over again on the floor.

"Give...up! You're going to die, anyway!"
I pulled my legs up and kicked him real hard in the bread basket, knocking all the air out of him.
"I'm taking you in on behalf of the fair people of Jonestown".

He pounced on me again and I tried swinging the knife at him but he threw a hard punch at me. I let go of the knife and it was lying loose on the floor, waiting for one of us to pick it up. The Rodeo Clown grabbed it and dove right at me, so I did an old circus trick. I picked up a chair and pushed him back with it like a lion tamer.

"You can't hold things off forever. You're....going...to die!"
I smashed the chair into his face, and then next thing I knew he was lying on the floor thrashing around with his arms reaching for the knife, which was now stuck through his throat. He was bleeding profusely from his Adam's Apple. The chair hammered the knife into him like nails into a wooden board.

I leaned over him and just to make sure he'd suffocate real good I sat on his chest. He choked real heard on the blood flooding his throat from all that.
"Hiss...Hiss....Hiss...will get you!" he rasped, his breath racking something awful.

"Kiss? What? Who's gonna get kissed?" I frowned sourly.
"The Hiss Ranch wants vindication. You will be first to die", The Rodeo Clown writhed in agony. He coughed up blood a few times and then finally expired.

I took a close look at the stiff and wondered what he looked like without all that fancy makeup, so I grabbed a kerchief and wiped the grease off his face. The face looked kinda familiar but I couldn't quite place it at first. I wiped a lot more, took off that crazy wig he wore and tried real hard to figure out who this dude was.

And then it dawned on me. It was that funny feller who danced with Miss Willa the other day and gave me and Pete those dirty looks and all. He disappeared at some point and I reckon that's when he killed the real rodeo clown and then tried to axe me, too. The son of a bitch.

Who was he, amd why did he take such a liking to killing people all over town? How much did Miss Willa really know about him?

Well, one thing's for sure. When I get back to that hotel I'm gonna ask Miss Willa a lot of questions about this guy. Between what she knows and what I don't know a whole lot of questions are going to be answered.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dirty Boots (Wranglers' Canyon No. 4)

Before I go any further into my story I want to tell you about Jonestown itself. A lot of the shenanigans happened around the center of town, where you had the saloon, hotel, jail, City Hall (a little bitty tower), horse stall, barbershop, post office, general store, a "parlor" and other provisions, and then a little yonder down a ways you had people's homes where the grass was greener and the air was cleaner. Standing in the center of all these homes was the school house and the church, all white and wooden. A little further yonder by the end were all the farms and stuff like that.

Folks were awful quiet and didn't seem to mind much. It didn't bother me at first, only most of the folks out there acted kinda slow, like they didn't catch much no matter how bad things got. Like rabbits. Like sheep. It was mighty funny, like if you lit a match under folks it would take them ten minutes to catch on and say "Ouch".

So there I was, standing around with the key to the city in my hands, catching my breath after singing "Campfire" and getting ready to roll into some Jim dandy yodeling when I saw the rodeo heading straight into town like a dad-blasted bat out of hell.

"Well, I'll be -" Mayor Frehley pushed his cowboy hat back of his head. "Well, I swear if I wasn't a dreamin' that's my cousin comin' a few weeks earlier than he was supposed to. I'll if I'm wrong may the Lord blast my ass to the next canyon!"

Unfortunately, he wasn't near wrong. Clouds of dust were flying every which way and wagons with bright colored paint saying, "DOCTOR TARR-NATIONAL'S RODEO, RIDING AND ROPING DAREDEVILS UNLIMITED".

"I'd like to sing another song-"
"Later, Walker, that's my cousin's show comin' in front and center", Sheriff Frehley beamed.
"Zyxxx?" Mumblin' Pete frowned.

"Well, thanks for the honor folks but I best be moseying' along", I smiled with my teeth and edged towards the lip of the stage to jump off. A very strong hand clutched my arm with a steely grip.
"Nonsense, Mr. Walker, you're going to show us all that fancy riding' you been jawin' about so much", Mayor Randall grinned with his teeth clenched. I could have punched him in his fat gray ass.

The wagons circled a spell and then finally stopped behind the crowd. A few of the horses had feed bags strapped around their maws and the rest popped some smelly chips out their big, round behinds. It smelled stronger than Samson pushing down the marble pillars of Babylon!

The man who rode the lead wagon looked mighty fancy, wearing a cowboy outfit equal parts white, red and gold. He looked like a lighthouse three hundred miles away from the nearest beach. Flashy. He had a big, droopy moustache with a pair of bushy eyebrows to match. He was white as snow, like if Santa Claus turned in his sleigh for a circus wagon.

"Cousin Elroy Frehley, I have arrived!" he yelled happily.
"Why, Doctor Augustus Tarr", Sheriff Frehley yelled back, "You're six weeks short of Sunday from having your show roll in".
"Yes, well, something came up, heh heh!" He tittered nervously.

I stood there like a dope holding on to that worthless key while Frehley climbed down the stage. Tarr climbed off his coach, too, even though the other rodeo hands stayed still at their wagons.

"Stand by, son", Randall spoke into my ear. "You're needed!"
I turned to see him smile as he also climbed off the stage. The band started up playing again and the folks went back to their dancing like nothing ever happened. I dropped the key and jumped off the stage, Pete waiting by the side for me.

"Well, ain't that peculiar!" I barked over the music to my pal. We walked through the crowd but not without catching a few gals stealing admiring looks at yours truly over their boyfriend's shoulders. Shucks. Who can blame them?

"Shit. I wonder if it's too late to catch up with that cattle drive? I never should'a skedaddled from them. What was I thinking about?" I cussed to Pete. His eyes were jumping around from me to the women and back to me nervously.

It didn't take a high-stepping professor to figure out the boys were sinking a few more at Sailor Jerry's so we tried to make a detour around the place, but it was no use. Randall stood not far from the entrance and caught us sneaking by.
"Over here, Walker! Have a few with us boys!" He laughed. "Don't be shy, kiddo!"

"Dad blast it if that Mayor don't grin like a rattlesnake!" I mumbled to Pete.
"Fdn gysaio iudiudi ik!" He agreed.

I reluctantly stepped up to the saloon doors.
"Hold it", Mayor Randall placed a finger on Mumblin' Pete's chest. "This is just between us boys. No need to come in, son".
"Pete goes wherever I go, Mayor. Giddyap, Pete!"
"Fdn johsn kirt fhr!"

"There he is! Crash Walker! Our newest resident!" Sheriff Frehley rose from their table. Doctor Augustus Tarr spun around to get a better look at me.
"So that's him, eh?"

We approached the table as Mayor Randall snapped his fingers at Sailor Jerry. "Three more rounds for us, Cap'n!"
"Aye aye!" Sailor Jerry set three more shot glasses up and filled them.
"Crash Walker, huh?" Augustus Tarr squinted an eye at me, appraising me. I felt like a broken toy and this Santa Claus-looking hombre was going to throw me off his damn sled.

"Just gave him the key to the city, yasss!" Mayor Randall harrumphed.
"Hmmmmm, well you're awfully god blessed in the looks, you got something for the ladies but how long can you keep that ass on a bucking bronco?"

"Well, he told me so hisself that he kin last twenty seconds on a powerful bull, the most powerful, meanest ass bull you kin throw at him. Can you imagine that?" Frehley burped, a cloud of hot whiskey wafting towards our noses.
Tarr's eyes expanded real huge over this story. "Twenty seconds? No bullshit? Where did you ride, kid?"

"Argentina, Dr. Tarr. I rode with the Pampas", I lied like a backwoods asshole. "Never did nothing Stateside".
"Is that a fact? Hmmmm....those South American bulls are pretty ornery. If you're as badass as you say you are, with those storybook looks of yours I could make a fortune. Hmmmm..." he buzzed some more.

"When do you plan on setting up the show?" Frehley asked before he hit up another shot.
"As soon as we settle in we can get a show set up, hmmm....in a few days. You don't have any pressing business to take care of, do you, Mr. Walker?"
"Um, no..."
"Good!" He banged his fist on the table. "This calls for a toast. More drinks, innkeeper!"
"Aye aye!"

"Fgdro ghvfi hjt riv!!!" Mumblin' Pete protested.
"What the devil's he kickin' about?" Tarr squinted his eyes.
"Why, that's just old Pete", I jabbed my thumb at him. "He kinda wants to be in the show, too".
"Naw, got no use for him. It's you I want!"

"Ghit dpou bgifrt hksdbeot!!!" Pete spat a big brown slash of tobacco juice angrily in a spittoon and then angrily kicked the damn thing across the room. He was pee-oh'ed!

**************************

For the next few days Pete and I bummed around outside the outskirts shooting at shit and combing Clyde's hide and sneaking peeks to see if the boys from the cattle drive were coming back my way at all. No such luck. I was stuck here and there was no way out.

You could hear the band from miles away playing their asses off. Folks were already stealing seats at the rodeo and yelling and whooping and carrying on making all sorts of noises from the distance. You could even smell all the barbecue and grub smoking its way from town. It was right seductive like some pretty gal.

I skipped the rodeo getting set up for a few days, but not without noticing that there was a crew of about six to seven fellas putting everything up. I think some of them doubled as riders and ropers. They sure were tough lookin' like they ate nails and horseshoes for breakfast. No doubt these were the boys I was competing with in the show.

Bulls and calves were mowing in the background, followed by the smell of their frightened dung. It was a sagebrush rhapsody, a symphony of sounds and smells.

"You wanna know why those cattle are kickin' and shittin' so much, Pete? Because when they smell that barbecue they smell family and they know it's their turn next". I took a last slug from my canteen. "Come on, let's get this shit over with".

I was walking to my death. I knew it like the beasts knew it.

We rode slowly and quietly into town, as close to the rodeo as possible. Frehley caught us riding and waved us down.
"There you are, Walker! Where have you been? We've ben searching high and low for you boys. Well, get off your horse so we can saddle you up for the show".
I hopped off Clyde who looked as nervous as I did. "Go ahead, Pete, take Clyde to the stalls and meet me back here".
"Ghsfsx iutir ccjui".

I walked closer and closer towards the chute where I'd get dropped on the bull for riding. As I did the drums were pounding louder and louder, the horns blaring like Joshua tearing down Jericho, the crowd in the stands cheering louder and louder. A lot of the gals screamed my name. That got my courage up a mite.

One of the rodeo hands helped me up in the chute. His eyes were dark black pools, his arms big thick cables of muscle. his teeth gritted.
"Twenty seconds, huh? Put these gloves on, you're gonna need 'em".

I slid on some thin leather gloves and hopped on the bull. The bull was already kicking and snorting and pissing and jumping inside the chute. As soon as I hopped on the bull I noticed that the there were sharp metal spikes sticking out down the back of the beast from the head down to the back. The spikes were so sharp that if I were to fall on the beast itself I would be impaled and instantly killed.

The legs of the bull had leather straps festooned with barbed wire around them, so if he were to kick me I would surely be torn open by those garters.
"Say, bo, this isn't Western rodeo", I looked up at the brute.
"That's right. Welcome to Tarr Nation", he grunted with his toothpick almost falling out of his mouth.

Like an echo ringing out from Hell I heard a voice sounding not unlike Dr. Tarr roaring, "Ladies and Gentlemen, preeesenting the Daredevil Stranger they call Miiister Crashhh Walker!!!!"
"Yaaaayyyyy!" everyone cheered.
The noise made the bull go loco, muy pronto.

They lifted up the chute and I held on to the bull by the thinnest rope I have ever held in my life. It was like run-down twine lowering down into thread. The bull bucked like crazy and I almost lost my grip on that last buckle.

It kicked and my ass felt every sharp jump in bull's backside. It didn't help that the sun caught me in the eyes and I was blinded by the light, my vision only focused on the spikes sticking out of the bull's head.

He buckled and kicked like a wild drunk, so I punched him in the ears a few times. It was then I knew why my vision was completely blinded. The ground was filled with shards and shards of broken glass, the sun hitting the broken glass and reflecting the light in my eyes!

The bull stomped on the broken glass and caught a few shards in its hooves, blood splashing all over the place. I caught some of the blood all over me, staining my clothes. I held on but the rope just got thinner and thinner, finally breaking off in my hands.

I had no choice but to wrap my arms around the bull's neck, the spikes cutting into my flesh. The crowd cheered like crazy, thinking the whole thing was an act. Bull-shit it was an act! Wait til I get my scarred hands on Tarr's neck. I'll have him guzzling the bull's blood by the time I'm through with him.

Finally a spike cut into me real deep and I yelped and let go of the bull, thrown off a few feet away. It could have been a hundred miles away for all I knew. The crowd roared. I tried to pick myself up and got my hands caught in some broken glass, blood pouring out of my gashed open hands. I screamed in pain.

I stayed down on the ground and prayed for my life. As I looked up I saw a big, creepy clown looking down at me. He had a red wig with the hair sticking out and pointing all over the place. His face was a powdered mess of pale white with a big, long nose and a wide, twisted smile made of greasepaint smeared across his face.

"Do you want me to chase away that darn bull, Cowboy? Maybe I will and maybe I won't", he whispered.

He then did something I'll never forget for the rest of my life. He took a large, bright red handkerchief and quickly tied it around my chest and then ran off laughing.

The bull saw me with the loud red thing on me and charged right at me, horns and wire and metal spikes coming my way while I set on a bed of broken glass bleeding.

I waited for that horned bastard to get closer and closer to me until I made my move. The kind any red-blooded American boy would make.

I painfully drew my six shooter out of the holster, glass sticking out of my wrists, and shot the horned motherfucker in the face. He collapsed right at my feet in a bloody heap.

The barbed wire garters dug into his balls and chest, the spikes in his head stuck into his back. The glassy ground turned into a pool of blood, mostly the bull's. The beast kicked a couple of times, piss and shit flowing out and mingling with the blood. The audience cheered ecstatically.

A few of those rodeo thugs came racing out and helped me up. A few made a bigger fuss over that stupid bull than they did me, like maybe he was their boyfriend or something. I looked around and noticed the clown was gone, long gone.

Dr. Tarr came out and screamed at me over the noise of the crowd.
"YOU DARN BASTARD! YOU KILLED MY BEST BULL!!!!" His face was red. Almost as red as my blood.
"I told you I came from Argentina". My face and clothes were smeared with blood.
"JUST WHAT IN HELL DO YOU CALL THAT KIND OF RODEO RIDING???"
"Frontier bullfighting", I smiled. The rodeo thugs pushed me away angrily.

"YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS, SONNY BOY, YOU HEAR??? YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS!!!' Now his face turned purple instead of red.
"Fuck you, Tarr", I lifted my pistol hand and pointed my piece in his face. "Fess up. Who the hell was that Rodeo Clown?"