Daily Archives: January 19, 2016

Zombie Western – Chapter 5

Jack Buchannan earned the nickname “Smelly Jack” due to the fact that he and soap weren’t exactly good acquaintances. His hat and duster were covered in stains. That’s because he never bothered to wash either of them. Ever. His beard was filled with little chunks of food. Amongst the populace, there was a difference of opinion as to whether Jack was saving his lunch for later of if he was just a sloppy eater. The answer was likely a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

Worst of all, he was bat shit crazy, a murderous psychopath who should have been thrown in an insane asylum the day he was born. And that’s just what his mother had to say about him.

BLAM! Jack blasted his Remington straight in the air. His boys were rowdy. Anxious. Itching for a fight. They shared their leader’s grooming habits. Most of them were Jack’s brothers. Some were his cousins. Some were even his brother-cousins. The Buchanan family tree was more of a flat, branchless log.

“WELL, WELL, WELL, WHAT HAVE WE GOT HERE?!”

Jack hopped down off his horse and got right up in Slade’s face. The outlaw’s rancid breath wafted into Gunther and Doc’s nostrils, giving each man an upset stomach. Slade took the brunt of the odor but didn’t budge. He moved for no man.

“Rainier Slade!” Jack said. “‘Aint you the no good rotten louse who lead the posse that put my brother Dave on the end of a noose?”

Slade and Jack locked eyes. It was on.

“Yup,” Slade said.

“Why in the hell did you go and do that for?” Jack asked.

Slade studied Jack’s face, barely visible behind all the unruly whiskers. “He broke the law.”

Jack laughed. He laughed and laughed and laughed some more. His boys joined in. Then abruptly, the killer shouted loudly, maniacally.  He sprayed spittle all over Slade’s face which, as you might expect by now, did nothing to dissuade our hero.

“I AM THE LAW!!!!!!!” Jack declared.

Jack spotted the bottle in Doc’s hand. “What’s that?”

Doc’s favorite question. He handed the bottle over. “Why it’s my Miracle Cure All, sir! Please, do help yourself, its been known to calm even the most unruly of dispositions.”

Down the hatch. Glug…glug…glug. “Not bad,” Jack said as he passed the bottle to his boys, who each took a taste. “Could be stronger.”

“Oh, as a man of science I assure you any stronger and you wouldn’t be alive,” Doc said.

Jack pressed a finger into Slade’s chest, pushing it hard, as if in an attempt to push it straight through.

“‘Aint no law out here ‘cept what the strongest man says is the law,” Jack said. “Might makes right, if you got the steel you make the deals and if you take the lead then you’re dead. Simple as that.”

Gunther cleared his throat. “I wonder if there might not be some kind of peaceful resolution to be had here.”

“SHUT UP OLD MAN!” Jack shouted. “I ‘AINT TALKIN TO YOU!”

“All right then,” Gunther replied.

“Tell you what, Marshall,” Jack said. “I’ll give you till the count of three to walk your sorry ass away before I blow your head clean off. And I’ll enjoy it too because I miss my brother somethin’ awful.”

Slade chomped on his cigar. He was moved enough to come out with a full sentence. “Looks like you got plenty of brothers to spare.”

“Yeah,” Jack said. “But Dave was my brother AND my uncle, so he was doubly special to me.”

Gunther and Slade traded glances. Neither one of them wanted to bother trying to figure out the scenario that made that possible.

Jack reached his hand downward, curling his fingers over his sidearm. Slade did the same, as did the rest of the Buchanan Boys. Gunther held his Winchester tight. Doc prepared to flick his wrists.

At this point, you, the noble reader should imagine yourself viewing this scene on a television. The camera whips around quickly to each character and zooms in on their eyes, leaving you, the viewer, to wonder whats on their minds. Is this for real? Is everyone about to kill each other? Throw in an emotional song filled with trumpets, whip cracks, and men grunting in a guttural manner and you’ve got the quintessential Western movie showdown scene.

“Rain,” Gunther whispered. “If you got an ace up that sleeve of yours, now would be the time to play it.”

Slade had nothing to say.

Jack started the count. “ONE…”

“Aw shit,” Gunther said. “Well, I had a good run.” He looked up to the sky. “I’m a-comin’ Mavis.”

“…TWO…”

Doc looked around. “I say, gentlemen, I just recalled that I have a very important appointment tomorrow morning and it would be quite rude of me if I were to die and miss it so I think I shall just…”

Slade took out his cigar and inserted two fingers into his mouth, one on each side. He blew a loud, sharp whistle.

Rustling sounds. War whoops. On the rooftops on the stores lining each side of the street, over a hundred Native American braves appeared, bow and arrows and rifles at the ready.

Behind our trio,  a dusty cloud barreled down the road. Galloping sounds. More battle cries. A hundred more warriors on horseback.

“Rain, you magnificent son of a bitch,” a wide eyed Gunther said.

Jack didn’t share the sentiment. “Goddamn pussy!” he said to Slade. “Lettin’ Injuns do your dirty work!”

Insults like that didn’t bother Slade. He was the type of man who had to respect a man before his insults could bother him.

“Boys,” Gunther said. “I reckon y’all want to let your steel hit the ground and put your hands up now.”

The Buchanan Boys may not have been known for their brain power, but they knew when they were outfoxed and outnumbered, so they did as instructed.

Chief Standing Eagle. He stood over 6’5” and had a bare, broad chest with muscles upon his muscles’ muscles. He wore a full feathered headdress. It was colorful. White. Red. Black. They all shook as he dismounted his horse.

The look in the warrior’s eyes when he saw Jack. It was definitely personal. Even Jack knew it.

“Aww shit, Slade!” Jack cried. “You can’t do this!”

Standing Eagle and Slade traded nods. The Chief walked forward, darted out his right hand, clasped it around Jack’s throat and lifted him off the ground, high into the air.

“Slade…SLADE!!!” Jack’s whining was interrupted by coughs and sputters as the Chief tightened his hand. “You can’t turn me over to this…to this…SAVAGE!!!”

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Zombie Western – Chapter 4

Slade was right where Gunther had left him, still in the street, concentrating on the road ahead. The Marshall finished his chaw and traded up to a cigar, chewing on it as he squinted his eyes just to keep them open through the blinding high noon sunlight.

“I’ve recruited a special deputy,” Gunther said.

Doc put his hand out. Slade shook it. “Obliged,” was the most gratitude the stoic was able to muster.

“A distinct honor to meet you, Marshall,” Doc said. “Doctor Elias T. Faraday, M.D. by way of Boston, Massachusetts though I assure you I’m no relation to the Chestnut Hill Faradays, lousy beggars…”

“He’ll chew your ear off and spit it out if you let him,” Gunther warned.

The three men stood in a row, watching and waiting, waiting and watching. Had you, the noble reader, been facing them, you’d of seen Slade in the middle, Gunther on the left, and Doc on the right.

“‘Fraid there weren’t any other volunteers,” Gunther said. “Bunch of pansies.”

Slade chewed on his cigar. A few moments passed.

“Miss Bonnie sends her regards,” Gunther said.

“Oh?” was Slade’s response.

“Oh that perked you up, huh?” Gunther asked.

More cigar chewing.

“My mistake,” Gunther said. “Since you don’t care I’ll spare you the details.”

“What?” Slade asked.

“Well,” Gunther said. “I don’t recall her exact words but she left me with a general impression that if you buy the farm today she’ll be broken up about it.”

The end of Slade’s cigar glowed red with an inhale. Smoke billowed out of his mouth in an exhale.

“Yeah?” Slade asked.

“Yup,” Gunther said. “Gal even offered to come back you up. I turned her down, of course, a gun fight being no place for a lady.”

“Right,” Slade said.

The side of Slade’s mouth not chomping on the cigar curled up in a virtually unheard of smile, then quickly disappeared.

“I saw that,” Gunther said.

Doc pulled out the bottle of snake oil he was carrying in his suit coat pocket and waved it in front of Slade’s face.

“Marshall,” Doc said. “I couldn’t help but notice you speak in the manner of a man with a sore throat. One sip of my Miracle Cure All will…”

Gunther pushed Doc’s hand away. “Trust me,” the old man said to Slade. “There’s still an taste in my mouth like I licked a gopher’s rear end.”

Slade paid no attention to any of it. Nothing was going to distract him from the impending showdown.

“Suit yourselves, gentlemen,” Doc said as he took a gulp. “More for me.”

BONG….BONG…BONG….

The church bell rang twelve times.  Noon.

“You two should walk away,” Slade said through gritted teeth. He said most of his words through gritted teeth. That’s just what tough guys do.

Gunther put his hand on his boss’ shoulder. “Son,” he said. “I’ve lived my life. Had my Mavis. Had my younguns. Explored all over this country. Anything else I do is just extra cream in the butter churn if you ask me. Don’t worry about me none, I’m with you till the end.”

Slade grunted. Gunther knew that meant, “Thank you.”

Doc ruined the moment by clapping his hands. “Bravo, sir, bravo. Finer words were never spoken. To that sentiment, allow me to add that I too have traveled through many a town in this new world. I’ve seen many a hamlet torn asunder by fiendish bullies and you, Marshall Slade, are the first man I’ve seen brave enough to stand up for all that is just and good in the world. You move me so that I simply must be a part of your stand.”

Another grunt from Slade. Even Gunther was impressed.

“Maybe there’s more to you than I thought, Doc.”

“Plus, I’ll be able to sell even more bottles of my Miracle Cure All once the distinguished members of the press spread tales of our victory across the continent,” Doc said.

“And you ruined it,” Gunther replied.

Clip clops. Loud yelling. Hoots and hollers. Guns being fired in the air. Thirty some odd Buchanan Boys rode their horses through town. Leading up the pack?

None other than the notorious Smelly Jack Buchanan himself.

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Zombie Western – Chapter 3

“Step right up! Step right up!”

While Gunther was pleading Slade’s case to deaf ears, a flashy salesman set up a cart just outside the Bonnie Lass’ double doors.

The only thing slimier than this lowlife’s pitch was his appearance. He had a devilish black beard, the kind that came down his face to a point just like the letter, “V.” His mustache curled upwards at each end. He wore a red velvet suit, wrapped his neck up with an ascot, and carried a cane topped with a golden ball. Sitting on his head was top hat that extended an extra two feet above his cranium.

“Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up for a taste of Doc Faraday’s Miracle Cure All!”

A small group gathered to listen to the huckster’s silver tongue wag away as it made all manner of suspicious promises.

“Step right up and purchase a bottle of the last medicine you will ever need,” the man said. “Lead an insurrection against indigestion, a revolution against devolution and decertify your decrepitude!”

Men. Women. Young and old. A few suckers were already holding the bottles they bought.

“Heart palpitations will listen to your stipulations, constipation will no longer be a source of consternation and you’ll never fight another bout with the gout!”

The show drew Gunther’s interest. He immediately sized up the charlatan for the fraud he was, but wanted to see where he was going with his routine.

“Ulcers will be ousted, your pain will be drained and tumors will become mere rumors!”

“Doctor,” an old woman said.

“Yes, my dear!” the salesman said.

“I got the worst pain in my bones. Will this help?”

The salesman didn’t flinch an inch.

“But of course, madam, but of course!” he said. “Bid me a moment as I tell you a tale of an elderly fellow I met not more than fifty miles away who suffered from the most abominable, most abysmal case of rheumatism I’d ever seen in my entire medical career. Let me tell you this man could barely move without crying out in debilitating pain. One sip of my Miracle Cure All and…do you know what he did?”

The crowd waited for an answer with baited breath.

The so-called doctor was quite a showman. He jumped up and clicked his heels in the air. “Why, that gent started dancing about like a wild man, thanking me, thanking Jesus, thanking Mary, thanking Joseph, thanking God Almighty himself for bringing me to him so that I was able to introduce him to Doc Farraday’s Miracle Cure All!”

Doc raised a bottle in the air. “Now remember, dear, dear patients, one spoonful will bring a fever down, two spoonfuls will cure a seizure of the heart and return it to its regular beating rhythm and as a trained physician, I can recommend half a spoonful a day every morning is an excellent regimen to ward off diseases, disorders, and other various and sundry maladies of the body, mind and spirit.”

“Does it cure flatulence?” a cowboy asked.

Everyone in the crowd shot dirty looks at the cowboy.  Immediately, he tried to cover.  “I’m asking for a friend. He uh…he farts a lot.”

“Indubitably, sir, indubitably,” Doc replied. “Patients have reported to me that one swig of Doc Farraday’s Miracle Cure All has given their bodily odors a robust, flowery scent with just a hint of lavender.”

Everyone reached into their pockets. Gunther had enough and walked on.

“Excuse me, sir!”

Not realizing that he was the sir in question, Gunther kept walking.

“You there! Constable!”

Gunther stopped in his tracks and turned around. The good doctor abandoned the crowd, clutching a roll of dollars in his fist.

“Good day, sir!” the doctor said with an extended hand. Gunther hesitated. The doc was dirty for sure and the old timer didn’t want any of that existential muck to rub off on him. But, not wanting to be impolite, Gunther took it and shook it anyway.

“Faraday’s the name,” the salesman said. “Doctor Elias T. Faraday by way of Boston, Massachusetts.”

“Uh huh,” Gunther said, doing his best impression of an interested person.

“Oh,” Doc said. “But I’m no relation to the Chestnut Hill Faradays, I assure you. A band of beggars I’ll have you know. I wouldn’t trust my billfold around any of them if I were you.”

“I’ll remember that,” Gunther said.

“And you are?” Doc asked.

“Gunther,” the old man said. “Beauregard of the Kansas Beauregards. They’re all assholes but I love ‘em just the same.”

“Yes, yes,” Doc said. “A man of good humor. I like it!”

The doctor handed Gunther a black bottle. Printed in cursive lettering on the bottle’s label were the words, “Doc Faraday’s Miracle Cure All.”

“A gift for you, sir,” Doc said. “The very last medicine you’ll ever need. My way of thanking you for your efforts to protect this burgeoning metropolis.”

Gunther looked the bottle over. “What’s in it?”

Doc stroked his beard. “Ah, an astute question, my good man! Let me see. It’s a vast array of only the finest narcotics I assure you. Laudunum. Opium. Baking soda. Tree bark shavings. Dogwood tree leaves. Beaver mucous. Spider eggs, but only for texture, I’ll tell you as to date the scientific community is in a state of flux as to the alleged curative properties of spider eggs…tonic water, raspberry juice, cocaine…”

Gunther’s one eye lit up. “Did you say, ‘cocaine?’”

“Indeed, sir, indeed, plucked from the leaves of the finest coca plants I’ll have you know.”

Gunther pulled the cork out of the bottle and smelled it. “Ugh! That’s worse than an outhouse after a backyard barbecue.”

“No one ever said that the path toward vim and vigor was an easy one, sir. Tell me, do you suffer from any infirmities?”

“Infirma-what-ities?” Gunther asked.

“Infirmities,” Doc said. “Aches. Pains and the like.”

“Now that you mention it, my back always feels like a bull ran over it.”

“Then please,” Doc said. “Take a sip and feel like a young man again.”

Gunther looked at Doc. “Horse shit,” Gunther said. “What kind of flim flam scam are you runnin’?”

“This is all on the level, good sir, I assure you,” Doc said. “My reputation as a Harvard trained doctor of medicine is on the line with every bottle I purvey to the public and I tell you I would never commit an act of indiscretion that would put my good name into disrepute, sir.”

“Here goes nothin,’” Gunther pressed the bottle to his lips, took a pull, instantly sprayed it out of his mouth in a fine mist, then offered a trail of obscenities not repeatable in mixed company.

“Son of a bitch, Doc! Did you stick a horse’s pecker in a bottle and collect the piss?!”

Doc slapped his knee. “That’s a good one, sir but no, no my good man, Doc Faraday’s Miracle Cure All may be an acquired taste, but it is one you shall have to acquire just the same in order to extend your life many, many years past your natural expiration!”

“Shit,” Gunther said. He handed the bottle back. Doc took it and tucked it into his coat pocket.

“I’ll just keep my date with the grave if its all the same,” the old man said.

Gunther walked off again.

“Good sir!”

“What now?”

“I could not help but catch some of your impassioned plea as I peddled my wares outside the local house of ill repute…”

“Do you just love listening to yourself talk all day?” Gunther asked.

“Indeed I do for oration is one of the many gifts our beloved creator has bestowed upon me but to get to the point at hand, am I to understand our Marshall intends to stave off a band of miscreants on his own?”

“That’s the long and short of it,” Gunther replied.

Doc grabbed his lapels and puffed out his chest. “Then sir, I should very much like to lend a hand in this, Highwater’s darkest hour.”

“You?” Gunther laughed at the thought.

“Indeed, sir.”

“Are you handy with the steel?”

The good doctor let his cane drop to the ground. He shot his arms straight out to the left and right. Out from under his cuffs popped two sterling silver revolvers. Gunther was impressed.

“That’ll do.”

“An invention of my own design,” Doc said. “Spring loaded contraptions that respond with the mere flick of a wrist.”

“I really don’t give a musty ox shit, Doc,” Gunther said. “Are you comin’ or not?”

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Zombie Western – Chapter 2

The Bonnie Lass. It was named for its owner and proprietor, one Ms. Bonnie Lassiter, declared by the populace to be the most beautiful woman in all of Highwater. A wood carved outline of her sultry shape adorned the sign hanging above the swinging set of double doors to her establishment.

Gunther strolled on in.

Drinking. Gambling. Wine, women, and song. Women especially. Ladies of the evening, even though it was daytime.

A fight over a fixed card game was in full swing. Grown men punched one another and slammed their opponents in the back with wooden chairs that splintered and cracked into pieces upon impact.  There was even a fair amount of glass bottles being cracked over heads.

The ladies were quite bored with it all. The milled about the bar, clad in fancy, frilly lace dresses, their hair done up perfectly, their faces painted like works of art.

“Hey,” Gunther said.

No one paid attention.

“HEY!”

Still nothing. Gunther pulled his sidearm and fired a round into the air. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at the old codger.

“That’s more like it,” Gunther said.

“GODDAMN IT, GUNTHER!” came Miss Bonnie’s sweet though presently angry voice from upstairs. “IS THAT YOU?”

Embarrassed, Gunther removed his hat and held it. “Yes, Miss Bonnie.”

“WHAT KIND OF A HORSE’S ASS SHOOTS A GUN INSIDE A PLACE OF BUSINESS?!”

Gunther hadn’t really thought about it. “I’m sorry, Miss Bonnie.”

“ARE YOU GOING TO FIX THE HOLE?!”

Gunther hadn’t thought about that either. “Yes, Miss Bonnie,” he said. “First chance I get.”

“YOUR CEILING IS MY FLOOR YOU KNOW!  ARE YOU TRYING TO GET ME KILLED?!”

“Point taken, Ms. Bonnie.”

The cowboys let go of the various headlocks and holds they had on one another and gathered around the deputy.

“Gents,” Gunther said. “As you’re all well aware, the Buchanan Boys are on the way and old Smelly Jack Buchanan himself has put out the word that any man who stands in the way of his lootin’ and robbin’ and rapin’ and what have you is a dead man.”

Gunther stretched his boney arm toward the swinging doors.

“Out there on our main thoroughfare stands our man of the hour, Marshall Slade,” Gunther said with a tinge of pride. “Who among you is man enough to stand with him?”

The room grew quiet. All the men looked at the walls, their boots, anywhere to avoid looking directly at the man who was about to lecture them.

“Well golllll….eee,” Gunther said. “Don’t y’all go and volunteer at once now, I’ll never be able to count everyone up.”

The general feeling in the room grew grim. The men were ashamed of themselves. They knew it. Gunther knew it. He did his best to play on it.

“This is our town, ‘aint it?” Gunther asked. “We built it, didn’t we? Who in tarnation does Smelly Jack think he is, that he can just waltz in here like he owns the place and take everything that ‘aint nailed down?”

Waldo Fleming, who in addition to his employment as the Bonnie Lass’ bartender served as the town’s illustrious mayor, was a goofy looking sourpuss. Hair parted straight down the middle, buck teeth and he always looked like he was sucking on a lemon.

“Ahh, hell, Gunther,” Waldo said. “Who are you to bullshit us about standing up for what’s right? Why, I’ve seen you and every other Marshall before Slade hightail it out of town like cats with their tails stuck between their legs. You’re just as yellow as the rest of us!”

Shock. A look of total shock took over Gunther’s face. “Them’s fightin’ words, ya’ ornery son of a motherless goat!”

“It’s the truth!” Waldo fired back.

Gunther put his hat back on. “Mayyyybe it’s the truth,” he said. “Or….” The old man raised a finger in the air to make a point. “Maybe, just maybe, I never had faith in any other Marshall we had before like I do with the one we got now.”

The group of degenerate barflies mulled that one over for a spell.

“Do you really?” Waldo asked.

The old man never could bluff. “No,” he said. “But he’s the first Marshall crazy enough to stand up for us and we can’t very well let him do it on his lonesome now can we?”

Martin Blake was a ranch hand who worked on a spread on the outskirts of town. He never failed to spend his pay at the Bonnie Lass, nor did he ever fail to offer his two cents on any discussion.

“Slade’s an asshole,” the burly brute said as he slammed his beer mug down on his table.

Gunther spun around so quickly his fake eye almost popped out of its socket.

“Did you just say what I think you said you lousy, good fer nothin’ sack of…”

Blake stood up and rested his hands on his belt. “Yeah, I did,” he interrupted. “Slade’s a fool. He’s gonna get everyone in town killed. He oughta stand down. That’s all a man can do when he’s up against a crew of roughnecks. Let Buchanan have his way with the town. Anyone who tries to stop him is just going to piss him off and egg him on to kill more innocent people.”

Claps. Foot stomps. Shouts of “Here, here!” and “‘Atta boy!’” and so on. The crowd was with the ranch hand.

“Stand down,” Gunther said. “That’s what y’all think the Marshall, our duly designated officer of the law, ought to do, is that right?!”

“YEAH!!!!” said literally everyone.

Gunther stopped by the bar, picked up an abandoned beer, and swilled it down. He didn’t care who it belonged to. “So that’s the path this country is on now, is it?”

He stepped back to the center of the room. “Well, is it?”

Burt Townsend, the local blacksmith, stood in the corner with his back against a support beam, an apron full of soot and a face weathered by too much time near a hot fire. “Blake’s right, Gunther. Slade’s playing a dangerous game here.”

“I can’t believe my own ears,” Gunther said. “What a sorry sack of so and so’s y’all have become…that y’all are such a bunch of weak kneed, lily livered spineless swine that you’ve tricked your soft, sad little mush brains into believing the bad guy isn’t Smelly Jack. That Marshall Slade is the bad guy here.”

The old timer paced back and forth as he continued. “That our town being sacked is just part of life in the West, something we should just become accustomed to, like tornados and coyotes and the like? Is that it?”

“Yes,” Townsend said. “Sorry, Gunther, but that’s exactly it.”

Fleming and Blake had always been degenerates, but Townsend had always been a reputable individual. His words hurt Gunter a little more. What really hurt though was that the old man secretly agreed with the crowd, but he wasn’t about to give them the satisfaction of letting them know that.

From upstairs came the sound of footsteps moving around, followed by a door opening. Miss Bonnie herself, in all her fiery red haired, big blue eyed, attractive and shapely glory, burst out of her bedroom wearing scandalous black lingerie that left little to the imagination.

She leaned over the bannister and looked down toward Gunther. “Is Rain in trouble?” she asked.

Gunther nodded then quickly averted his eyes, scanning about the room to find anything, anything at all to look at other than the scantily clad beauty. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested but rather, he still considered himself a married man, even though his darling Mavis had passed on a decade prior.

“Yessum,” he said. “A bit of a spot.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Miss Bonnie asked.

That question elicited an endless supply of laughs from the lecherous losers.

“Why no, Ma’am,” Gunther said. “On account of you being…well…a…”

“What?” Miss Bonnie asked.

Just then, Roscoe Crandall, a tall, gangly looking doofus who loaded crates at the mercantile, ran out of Miss Bonnie’s bedroom with his pants around his angles, his pink polka dotted under britches on full display.

“Dammit, woman!” Roscoe yelled. “I ‘aint finished yet!”

Roscoe made a move to grab the little lady but ended up being grabbed himself. He was then thrown over the railing to the saloon’s main floor, where luckily for him, a table broke his fall.

“You’re finished when I say you’re finished, pervert!” Miss Bonnie shouted.

“I…I want…my money back,” Roscoe managed to say before he passed out.

“NO REFUNDS!” Miss Bonnie hollered. She turned back to Gunther. “You were saying?”

“Well,” Gunther said. “No doubt you can handle yourself, Miss Bonnie, but I just don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night if I went and let a woman get hurt is all.”

The redhead turned around. “I figured as much. Tell Rain I’m rooting for him just the same.”

And with that, the wealthiest woman in Highwater returned to her room and shut the door.

Gunther used his one good eye to give the contingent of cowards the evil eye.

“May it never be forgotten that the only one of you with the decency to offer a helping hand was a female,” the old man said.

Gunther knew it. The whole room knew it. Every man in the joint put his head down in shame, except for Roscoe. He was fast asleep.

“Pathetic,” Gunther said as he headed through the double doors. “PA-THET-IC!!!”

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Zombie Western – Chapter 1

In the dusty, horse dropping infested main street of a two-bit town, a young man stood and waited patiently. He was a quiet fellow who cast a stoic figure.  He didn’t care much for most people. They irritated him to no end and it was impossible for him to pretend as though they didn’t. From the pained expression on his stubbly face to the bulging vein in his forehead, the townsfolk knew it was best to just steer entirely clear out of this man’s general vicinity whenever possible.

Beads of sweat formed on the stoic’s head as the sun grew higher. He checked his pocket watch. A half-hour to go.

He adjusted his Stetson. It was black but that didn’t mean he was the bad guy. After all, he didn’t live in a black or white world. He knew all about the various shades of grey.

His shirt was black too.  Pinned to it was a shiny star, emblazoned with the words, “U.S. Marshall.”

Rainier Slade. The Marshall Service had sent him all over the West and he’d been on his latest assignment for a little over a year.

Highwater, Kansas. Drunkeness. Debauchery. Lewd behavior. Non-stop criminal activity. And that was just the town fathers. Slade had truly waded waist deep into a putrid swamp of depravity, but he was determined to clean it all up and instill a sense of a law and order.

Or at the very least, he’d die trying. In fact, there was a good chance that he was about to, and an old man with a Winchester rifle slung over his shoulder strolled down the street determined to talk the young man out of doing just that.

Gunther Beauregard. He wore a feather in his hat. Felt it added some character. And he certainly was one. Farther past sixty than he’d of preferred, his hair was long and gray, and just as unkempt as the bushy beard on his face.

His left eye was a glass one, the result of losing a fight he picked in his youth over an insult levied at him. As an older, wiser man he’d of just walked away. Youth is wasted on the young, he thought.  The plight of the elderly is to possess a vast well of experience to rely on in any given situation, but to be too infirm to do a damn thing with all that knowledge.

He had a star too. His was pinned to his vest.  It wasn’t as shiny, but that wasn’t because he was only a Deputy U.S. Marshall. It was because he’d had his star longer than his latest boss. Much longer, in fact.

The old man reached the young man and they exchanged pleasantries. That wasn’t an easy feat, as neither man was particularly pleasant.

“Howdy, Rain,” the old man said.

Slade spat a tobacco laden loogie on the ground and gave a bare minimum acknowledgement. “Gunther.”

Gunther had a gap between his two front teeth big enough for a horsefly to buzz through. Inevitably, air blew through the opening in such a way that left the occasional whistling sound mixed in between his words.

“Son, I realize you’re the numero uno honcho here and you call the shots, so don’t go takin’ what I’m about to say as some kind of insubordination…”

Slade nodded. Even that much felt like an annoyance to him.

“…but I’m not sure you’re aware that in prior situations such as this one, past holders of your esteemed office would conveniently find themselves busy.”

Slade raised an eyebrow. It felt like a lot of work.

“You see,” Gunther said. “We go and mend a fence, or find an old lady with a cat stuck in a tree or do somethin’ that takes our attention away from the locus of the chicanery at hand and that-a-way if there’s ever an inquiry by the Federales regarding alleged dereliction of duty, we just say we’re painfully sorry but we was doin’ our duty elsewhere and unfortunately missed out on all the action but don’t worry on account of we’ll try harder to get ourselves killed the next time.”

` Slade’s jaw worked on the hunk of brown gunk in his mouth. He didn’t bother to think about Gunther’s proposal.

“No.”

“No?” Gunther asked.

“No,” Slade repeated. He had a low, raspy voice, kind of like he was always in need of a lozenge.

Gunther shook his head. “Are you some kind of ijit?”

No response.

“Do you want to die?”

Slade kept his gaze fixed on the road ahead, not even bothering to look at his number two.

“I want to do my duty.”

Gunther chuckled. “Well, shit,” he said. “Why don’t we just go crawl up in our beds, blow our brains out and save the Buchanan Boys the trouble?”

Now Slade looked at Gunther. “Because when I die…I’ll die with my boots on.”

That was a sentiment the old man respected. A brash, youthful notion, seeing as how dead men have no need for footwear, but a noble thought just the same.

The boss’ eyes were back on the road. “If you want to clear out, go ahead.”

Gunther slapped Slade on the back. “Nah. I may be practical, but I ‘aint yella. Hang tight.”

The old timer walked away. Slade didn’t bother to ask where his compatriot was off to, but just in case he was wondering, Gunther said, “We need more deputies.”

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Zombie Western – Introduction

Hello 3.5 readers.

I’m Bookshelf Q. Battler, moderately famous Internet celebrity and noted awesome person.

Nineteen days into January and I’ve broken all my New Year’s resolutions and then some. By the way, isn’t this a weird time of year? You’re still coming down from a Christmas high, you’re bored as shit, Hollywood’s putting out all the movies they produced because someone was owed a favor…

I digress. One of my resolutions was to stop trying to do a bunch of different projects at once and just focus on one.  Well, I tried. But I have the attention span of a hummingbird on meth.

Last October, as I interviewed the #31ZombieAuthors, I came to find there’s an amazing community of zombie fans on the Internet. And I was able to get a number of them to take a look at this blog.

A week ago, I started, just on a lark, to type away on an idea I’ve had for a long time about…well, I don’t want to give the title away just yet so lets just call it, “A Zombie Western.”

I’m a Gen Xer.  Millenials, my generation has made and left many awesome movies for you to discover on Netflix and streaming media.  You’re welcome.

The generation before me, yup, the Baby Boomers?  They left my generation a crap ton of cowboy movies.  Goddamn, did Baby Boomers love their cowboy movies.

Aunt Gertie and Uncle Hardass were big fans.  Most poignantly, Uncle Hardass kept his TV tuned to the all Westerns all the time channel (Bravo Westerns) as he made his untimely demise.  And now as a ghost, he has my TV on Westerns all the time.  I can’t escape it.

Anyway.  As a Generation X-er forced by decrepit Baby Boomers (who may be the zombies of our time because they just get older and older yet stay healthier and healthier and never want to relinquish control of shit) here’s everything I learned, or more accurately…

The Plot of Every Western Movie

  1. There’s a good guy.  His moral compass requires him to do good shit.
  2. But the Old West is a lawless place. The government really doesn’t have it under control, so the biggest jackass with the biggest gun tends to win.
  3. Good guy stands firm against bad guy.
  4. Wussy townsfolk turn on the good guy, declaring he should just step aside and let the bad guy win or else risk pissing off the bad guy into engaging in more destruction.
  5. Good guy can’t let it go.  Stands up for what’s right.  Shoots 900 bad guys with one six shooter that’s never reloaded.

People.  Here’s the thing.  I really, really, really want to publish a book this year.  I just want to put a book out so I can say I did one thing I wanted to do before I die.  Not that I’m planning to croak soon but I’d just like to accomplish one life goal.  Just one.  This one.

In the past week, I’ve rattled off 7000 words.  The plot?

THE TENTATIVE PLOT IN MY HEAD

U.S. Marshall Rainier Slade is a stoic figure who doesn’t speak much.  He prefers to let his deeds do his talking.  He is a man of action, after all.  Luckily, he can always rely on his trusty Deputy, Gunther Beaumont, whose advanced age has turned him into a model of practical thinking.

Rounding out the trio is Doc Faraday, a snake oil salesman who loves to hear himself speak.  Watch out, or he might just sell you a bottle of his Miracle Cure All.

Oh, and there will also be a shit ton of zombies.  But I’m not ready to talk about the zombie part yet.

3.5 Readers, I’m going to publish the first few rough chapters.  You tell me if its worth continuing.

If it is, my thought is I’ll give myself a deadline to finish the first draft and get it to an editor by March 1.  Then I can spend the rest of the year on Pop Culture Mysteries.  Then I can publish this Zombie Novel in October, just in time for Halloween and perhaps invite the #31ZombieAuthors (if they’re interested) to come back for a second round of interviews as sort of a promo for the book.

I know.  I’m all over the place.  But I really want to put a book out.  After that, I can work on spiffing up the Bookshelf Battle and Pop Culture Mysteries blogs forever.

So read on and tell me whether its worth continuing.

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