Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Irving; A tale of the One Hundred and Forty Second Fastest Gun in the West

Due to a series of unfortunate incidents far too embarassing to relate here, Irving rode into town on the back of a limping cow. It had taken him the better part of a day just to travel the five miles from Lexing's camp, but he had accomplished it. However, it was truly amazing how one could get saddle sore without ever using a saddle.
He dismounted with a flourish, trying to win back some dignity, and actually accomplished the feat with some degree of grace. But, alas, no one was watching.
Irving sighed, ran his hands over the ivory handle of Colt, and began his bow legged saunter in the direction of Mitzy's saloon. Ole Mitzy Barton had been a showgirl of some renown back in her hay day. It was said that President Zachary Taylor had once come to see her show and had actually made a pass at her. Then his wife, Hillary Rodham Taylor, had found out about it and spirited him out of town and back to the white house before he got an urge to see the Gennifer Flowers pottery show. Good old Mitzy. She could spin a yarn or two.
Irving pushed through the swinging doors and was instantly greeted by the familiar sight of old Dinny Claymore pulling the peel off of a yellow oblong fruit.
"Now that's a bonanza!" Irving stated, pointing at the fruit.
"For the sixtieth time, Irving, it's a dead blamed banana. Ta ain't no 'z' anywhere in the name!" Dinny scowled at him.
"I know that you old codger!" Irving replied laughing and making a mental note about the 'z'. "Where's Mitzy?"
"She's a hidin' upstairs. Seems there's a rumor that the rifleman is comin' ta town this afternoon and she don't want no part of it."
"The rifleman eh? He a bad character?"
"You don't mess with the rifleman, Irving. He's killed more people than Mitzy's liver and onions."
"Well what's he comin' to Ford Taurus City for? Cain't be nothin' here fer him."
"Well...his sister's marryin Jeb Watley, and the rifleman aims to stop it."
"What the Sam Hell for? Watley's a do gooder and an apple shiner. Who wouldn't want him in their family?"
"That's just it, Irving. The last apple he polished, he gave to his father in law to be. The rifleman's dad. It had a worm in it. Now the rifleman has sworn vengeance against Watley and promised to stop this wedding."
"Well Ima gonna stop HIM. Somebody's gotta protect the do gooders in this town!"
"You're gonna get your fool head blown off, Irving. You can't stand up to the rifleman when he's meaner, tougher, and uglier than you. That's right. He's even uglier than YOU."
"So? That's how the west was won! People standin' up for each other and such!"
Dinny sighed. "Irving, the west ain't been won yet! For the love of God, what goes on in that melon of yours anyway?"
Irving shot what was supposed to be a menacing glance at Dinny, but it came out looking constipated. "Dinny Claymore, you just remember that Alamo down there in Louisiana! The west was won right there!"
Dinny was preparing to educate Irving yet again when the saloon doors burst open, admitting a disheveled Jeb Watley."He's here! The rifleman is here! He's a comin' down main street!"
"Don't you fret now, Jeb," Irving said. "I'll take care of this varmint and defend your honor."
"But Irving! Everyone knows you're the one hundred forty second fastest gun in the west!! How are you gonna take him?"
"He's the rifleman right? How long do you think it would take to draw a dead blamed rifle from a holster, Jeb? You think I can't take him?"
Jeb blinked at him. He was torn between trying to save Irving's life or using him as a distraction while he rode out of town. After some debate he chose the former.
"Irving. When have you ever seen someone holster a rifle in their pants? He's already got it drawn you nimwit."
Just then came a roar from outside.
Irving, still contemplating Jeb's words, acted more on instinct than on common sense. He got to his feet, put his hand on his ivory holster and strolled out the saloon doors. Right away, he saw him. Decked in a serape and crookedly wearing a sombrero, the rifleman stood in the street casting his gaze up and down the building fronts.
"You'll have to get by me first," Irving squeeked in his best tough guy voice.The rifleman looked him over.
"Irving Pumpernickel? You gotta be foolin' right?"
"So you've heard of me? Pretty impressive considering what a big valley this is. Well...are you gonna ride back where you came from, or are we gonna get to fightin?"
The rifleman threw his head back and laughed. Irving's gaze darkened, and his tunnel vision, such as it was, narrowed in on the rifleman. He gripped the ivory handle of the colt and yanked upward out of the holster. It was one of the more awkward moments in gunslinger history. A piece of Irving's leather holster had looped itself around the Colt's hammer and when he pulled the gun out, unknown to Irving, the hammer cocked itself back. Now on hair trigger, the gun, having been yanked too fast from the holster, rose high so that it was aiming a good six feet above the rifleman. In his over excited state, Irving never took aim. He just bumped the trigger and the Colt bucked in his hand.
Somewhere across the street, a window shattered.
Somewhere else, a cow mooed.
And the rifleman laughed even harder.
"Tarnation!" Irving yelled, forgetting about his gun for a second and grabbing for his face. "I got gun smoke in my eyes!" Irving began rubbing his eyes and dancing back and forth from one foot to the other.
And the rifleman laughed even harder.
By this point, the rifle lay forgotten on the road as the rifleman clutched his belly and his eyes bulged from his head. He was howling uncontrollably, unable to catch his breath.
Meanwhile, Irving had dropped his colt and was splashing water in his eyes from a nearby barrel. Dinny Claymore and Jeb Watley poked their heads out of the saloon to see what was going on. They were just in time to see the rifleman fall to the earth, wheezing and clutching his chest as laughter still bubbled out of him. A wet spot began spreading on his dungarees, but the rifleman kept laughing.
And that's how he died. Hands clutching his chest, eyes bulging from below his sombrero, urine dripping from his trailworn dungarees, the rifleman's heart just stopped.
The citizens of Ford Taurus City still recognized Irving as the one hundred forty second fastest gun in the west, but when it came to rifles, no one could best him.
(The moral of the story? No matter what era she existed in, that Hillary Rodham was one heck of a ballbreaker)

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