Daily Archives: July 24, 2016

Undead Man’s Hand – Part Three – Hickok’s Meeting

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Wild Bill Hickok, the greatest gunslinger of the West and a celebrity in his own right bribes a disloyal vampire into giving up a deck of cards containing information that can prevent the Legion Corporation’s dastardly deeds.

Charlie and Jane have a spat.  Stephen and Louise exit stage right.

Jane fights for a woman’s right to wear pants.

Chapter 15       Chapter 16       Chapter 17

Chapter 18       Chapter 19

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Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 19

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Today’s modern woman enjoys a number of freedoms that were unheard of for females of the past. Women can vote, serve in the army, run businesses, own property, and in general, engage in all manner of activities once believed to be only proper for the owner of a penis.

But before they could do all these things, women had to fight for one inalienable right – the right to wear pants.

Joan of Arc wore pants. She wasn’t trying to make a political statement. They were metal pants, part of a suit of armor that protected her legs from being chopped off by the multitude of British knights who sought control over her homeland of France. The church didn’t recognize the practical nature of her metal pants and charged her with, among many alleged crimes, “dressing as a man” and burned her at the stake.

Alas, Joan’s mistreatment was a tremendous setback for all women who dared to dream of wearing pants. Centuries later, a Massachusetts colonist by the name of Deborah Sampson despised the British so greatly that she cast her dress aside, dawned a pair of pants and posed as a man just so she could gain the honor of shooting at all filthy limey scum who dared increase the price of her tea.

By the late 1700s, times had improved, relatively speaking, for female pants wearers. Deborah wasn’t burned at the stake but she did avoid punishment by the army by returning a bonus that had been paid to her. “We would surely not have paid her a bonus had we known that a vagina was lurking about in those pants,” one high ranking army officer was heard to have said. Her church shunned her until she offered a public apology for posing as a man and wearing those terrible off-limits pants.

As of 1876, Jane had taken up the cause of the female pants wearer. She didn’t even realize it. Her profession required her to ride horses, chase after criminals, and engage in all sorts of manual labor during which a free flowing dress would have gotten in the way. Pants just seemed like the practical choice and so she wore them.

While no one burned her at the stake or demanded a public apology from Jane for her pants, Deadwood was filled with all sorts of degenerates who were not shy whatsoever about sharing their opinions about her pants.

During the walk from the Utter Freight Depot to the Gem Theater, she heard it all.

“Fucking dyke!”

“Goddamn lesbian!”

“Put on a dress, bitch!”

Jane responded to each insult with a generous application of the f-word and other obscenities. Luckily for Jane, she wasn’t in France, or a British colony that had declared independence and was fighting for freedom, she was in Deadwood. There it was survival of the fittest and she was the fittest.

Nasty names were the worst the populace were willing to dish out. Attempts to actually remove her pants and replace them with a skirt would have been answered promptly with her six-shooter.

She strolled through the swinging double doors of the Gem and had a seat at the bar. Mitsy the chubby prostitute was once again tending bar.

“Whaddya know, whaddya say, Jane?” Mitsy asked.

“Nothing good,” Jane replied. “This whole Godforsaken town is teaming with psychotic killers, two-bit hoodlums, lowlife scoundrels and frauds, animals that will cut you open if they thought you swallowed a nickel, rapists, molesters, perverts, and narcotic addled reprobates but the one and only thing all these raging assholes agree on is that my fucking pants are bringing down the stability of the entire fucking operation.”

“I was just being friendly, Jane,” Mitsy said. “What will you have?”

“Whiskey,” Jane said as she plunked a coin down on the bar. “And keep ‘em coming!”

A voice shouted out from the back of the bar. “Put on a skirt or grow a dick!”

Jane hopped off her stool and looked around. “Who said that?! Who the fuck said that?!”

The joint grew quiet. “Yeah. That’s what I thought,” Jane said as she returned to her stool. “Bunch of damn imbeciles talking about their big dicks but they don’t want to prove it when someone calls them out on it.”

Mitsy pushed a shot glass full of whiskey across the bar. Jane picked it up and downed it.

“The fuck is Al at?” Jane asked. “He’d of cracked at least three jokes about my damn pants by now.”

At that precise moment, a bone chilling scream emanated from behind the closed door of Al’s back office.

“Aw shit,” Jane said. “Someone done him wrong again?”

“I try to stay out of it,” Mitsy said.

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Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 18

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The Utter Freight Depot was a red barn. While most buildings in Deadwood were run down, Charlie kept it in good repair, covered with a fresh coat of red paint.

The businessman, his bodyguard, and his brother unloaded the contents of the wagon. Throwing it all just anywhere was out of the question. Charlie had a system and every item had a special section to be placed in. It was all alphabetical, based on the owner’s last name, making it easier to locate when townsfolk stopped by to pick it up.

There was one deviation from the system. Gold, silver, guns, ammo, and anything of value or particularly dangerous was locked up in a cage in the back corner. It was secured by a large padlock to which he had the key.

After everything was unloaded, Charlie and Jane sat on the back of the wagon and settled up.

“Come on, Ebenezer Scrooge,” Jane huffed. “Make with the dough.”

“Are you serious?” Charlie asked as he peeled a few bills from a wad of cash. “I’ve never cheated you or anyone else in my entire life.”

“Everybody knows the two things least likely to open up are a nun’s legs and Charlie Utter’s wallet,” Jane said.

“I’m just going to assume that’s they whiskey talking.” Charlie said. He handed over Jane’s pay, then pulled it back before she could grab it.

“One condition,” Charlie said. “Promise me you won’t spend it on liquor.”

“Fuck you, Charlie,” Jane said. “Condition my ass. I earned that money and I don’t have to promise you shit.”

“You’re right,” Charlie said as he tucked the bills into Jane’s hand. “Let me rephrase. As your friend, it would make me happy if you put that money to some purpose other than drinking.”

“You aren’t my Daddy,” Jane said.

“No,” Charlie said. “It’s just that I’ve seen you on the sauce and off the sauce and between the two, the Jane that’s off the sauce is far superior. And I feel like I’m seeing less of her lately.”

Jane emitted a foghorn-esque belch.

“Starting to wonder if she’s ever coming back,” Charlie said.

Charlie counted a few more bills and handed them over. “Here. Hazard pay for saving our lives.”

“And your hides from…”

“I don’t want to think about it,” Charlie said.

“Will wonders ever cease?” Jane asked. “Charlie utter parting with extra loot.”

“I’m not going to listen to this,” Jane said. “Our profits have always been split three ways. Always have. Always will.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jane said. “You say that but somehow you’re as rich as a sultan.”

Charlie was feeling the exasperation. He cradled his head in his hands and massaged his temples. “Because I’m the only one who saves his money Jane. If you’d quit spending all your money at the bar and sock some money away, you’d have something to show for it. If Bill would walk past a card table once in awhile, his pockets would be fat. It really is as simple as that.”

Jane hopped off the back of the wagon. “I don’t have to listen to your belly aching, Charlie Utter! Look at you. You sit there in your fancy buckskin suit like you’re some kind of rugged mountain man. You’ve never fired a gun in your whole life and you shit your pants at the first sign of danger.”

“I thought I actually kept pretty calm under the circumstances,” Charlie said.

“Those two yahoos would have gone to town on your hide six ways to Sunday if it weren’t for me and you know it,” Jane said.

“I do know it,” Charlie said. “What do you think I keep you around for? That’s what businessmen do, Jane. They pay people to do things they don’t want to do.”

“So show a little fucking appreciation,” Jane said.

Charlie stretched his arms out. “I do! I’m just asking you to stop drinking yourself to death!”

“Get off your damn high horse, pretty boy,” Jane said. “You’ve got no right to judge me.”

“I’m not judging you I just…” Charlie could see by the angry look on Jane’s face that she just wasn’t getting it. He laid back in the wagon and closed his eyes. “I give up. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“No you shouldn’t have,” Jane said as she stomped off. “God damn teetotaling fuck.”

“Lush!” Charlie shouted back.

“Fop!” came Jane’s voice as she walked further away.

“Alcoholic!” Charlie shouted louder.

“Queer!” Jane shouted back. Charlie could barely hear her voice now.

“I resent that!” Charlie cried.

And in a voice that just barely traveled to Charlie’s ears, Jane called out, “You resemble that!”

Charlie laid there in the back of the wagon. “Women.”

He rested for a few minutes until he heard some footsteps. He sat up to see his brother carrying a stick over his shoulder with a bundle tied to the end.

“Going somewhere?” Charlie asked.

“I’m going home, Charlie,” Stephen said.

“But…”

“Your offer was very generous but I have to decline,” Stephen said.

“O.K.,” Charlie said. “But why?”

“I heard stories about the West,” Stephen said. “But I never knew it was this bad. I’m not about to let anyone get another chance to have his way with my backside, thank you very much.”

“Look Stephen,” Charlie said. “Do people get robbed all the time out here? Yes. It’s happened to me so many times I’ve lost track. It’s just a cost of doing business. But today was the first time anyone’s tried to rape me.”

“One time’s too many for me,” Stephen said.

“This is just a mind trick,” Charlie said. “This is your first time in the West and someone tried to rape you so you now just assume that life out here is one big rape festival.”

“It isn’t?” Stephen asked.

“No,” Charlie said. “That happens so infrequently that statistically speaking, now that you got one attempted rape out of the way, the odds of it ever happening again are nill.”

“And yet the experience would be so atrocious I’d rather not risk it,” Stephen said as he put out his hand.

Charlie shook it. “Can’t argue with that I suppose. Want to at least stick around and visit for awhile?”

“I’d rather not,” Stephen said. “I am now unable to not presume that literally everyone out here is thinking about attacking my hind quarters and I’ll be happier once I cross the Mississippi.”
Charlie’s face grew sullen. He patted his brother on the shoulder. “Happy trails, brother.”

“Good luck, Charlie,” Stephen said. “I’ll pray that your buttocks remain unscathed.”

“Thanks for that.”

Charlie sat in the wagon as his brother walked away. Then he stood up and returned to the barn where he began to look for some work to do. Between the fight with Jane and his brother leaving, he needed something to occupy his mind.

He found it. A crate of letters that needed sorting. He went to it. He shuffled through the letters, making alphabetical stacks. Soon he had an A stack, a B stack, a C stack. When he worked his way to U, he found something unexpected.

It was a letter addressed to himself. “Charles Utter” written in what was unmistakably his wife’s handwriting. He opened it up and read.

Dearest Charles,

Many a night I have sat by my window waiting for you to return and become the husband that you promised you would be. It is clear to me now that your adventures in the West are far more important to you than I will ever be.

Perhaps you are right. Perhaps Deadwood is no place for a woman. You have promised me that you’ll send for me once you have saved enough money to build us a proper home, but what is the point? Instead of sitting by the window alone in New York, I’ll sit alone by a window in the Dakota Territory while you are out on the trail.

Mother says you are playing me for a fool, that you are no doubt drinking and whoring your days away, free from the prying eyes of your wife. I know you too well to know that is not true. I have defended you to her often.

Alas, I am the one who is weak. I have spent too many nights alone and what is the purpose of marriage other than to feel safe and loved in a man’s arms? You haven’t made me feel that way in some time and I must now seek it elsewhere.

My mind is resolved. Do not attempt to talk me out of it. I understand that it is a wife’s place to do as her husband directs. If this leaves a stain on my soul that God won’t forgive, then so be it. I must find happiness in this life.

Know that you are loved and that there will always be a piece of my heart that belongs to you.

Love,

Louise

There was a second piece of paper in the envelope. Charlie unfolded it. At the top, written in very official looking cursive letters were the words, “Petition for Divorce.”

It isn’t easy being a man who goes out of his way to do the right thing. With no interest in booze to calm him down and no desire to swear at the top of his lungs to vent his frustration, Charlie just stood there, dumbfounded.

“Fiddlesticks,” he said.

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Justice League – San Diego Comic Con Trailer

Holy Crap. Is it SDCC already?

Here’s the Justice League trailer they released.

It looks good.  Honestly, I’m very skeptical after that whole Batman vs. Superman turd fest so we’ll see.

Aquaman has always been a hard sell. Of all the superpowers, “talking to fish” has got to be the worst.

I mean, seriously, WTF? All the villain needs to do to beat you is bring you inland.  Aquaman is entirely useless in the desert.

This will be where some nerd corrects me and is all like, “Well in Issue 200, Aquaman actually wandered into the desert with some angry carp in his pants pockets and…”

No. Stop it, nerds.

What do you think about this trailer, 3.5 readers?

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Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 17

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There was a contingent of barefoot orphans who roamed through Deadwood, wreaking havoc and causing as much trouble as possible. Whenever they spotted the Utter Freight wagon rolling into town, they felt like it was Santa’s sleigh.

A little boy in rags was the first to spot it. “Candy!” he shouted as he and his cohort made chase.

Jane was in the back of the wagon, otherwise preoccupied with a new bottle of whiskey. Well, newish. She’d already downed a fifth in celebration of her victory over Dapper Dan. Her stomach was queasy, her head ached, but what the hell, she took another swig anyway.

The wagon was jostled as one of its wheels crossed over a rock in the road, causing Jane to slush her booze all over herself.

“Goddamn it, Charlie!” Jane shouted. “Is it too much to ask for a smooth fucking ride?!”

Charlie responded with his best impression of a naughty schoolboy being chewed out by his teacher. “Sorry Ms. Cannary.”

A chorus of “candy, candy, candy” rang out. Charlie looked to his left, then to his right. Ragamuffins had him surrounded.

“Oh Jane Dear,” Charlie said. “You might want to watch that wicked tongue of yours.”

“Aww what the fuck,” Jane said as she corked her bottle and moved to the back of the wagon. She poked her head out to see more children closing in.

“Whaddya want?!” Jane barked.

“Candy!”

“Hold on, critters.” Jane liked to pretend that the urchins were a bother but truth be told, the Utter Freight’s candy dispersion efforts had been her idea. There was little to look forward to in Deadwood and Charlie, Jane and Bill had long decided that bringing back a few free comforts for the downtrodden masses was worth a modest profit reduction.

Charlie brought the wagon to a halt and the hoard of children surged to the back. Jane returned to the back of the wagon with a burlap sack. Inside there was a smorgasbord of teeth rotting goodness. Peppermint sticks, licorice, lemon drops, molasses chews, butterscotch and all sorts of treats.

“All right you nincompoops,” Jane said as she started tossing handfuls of candy at the crowd.

The kids did what kids are known to do. They started bonking each other over the head and pushing each other in the name of claiming as much sweet, delicious candy as possible.

“There’s no need to kill each other you dopes,” Jane said as she tossed out more handfuls. “Plenty to go around.”

The kids didn’t listen so Jane shouted in the loud, angry tone she usually reserved for Charlie. “Hey!”

The rabble snapped to attention.

“That’s more like it,” Jane said as she continued the candy dispersement.

It was never a good idea to keep the Utter Freight wagon stopped for too long. The road instantly clogged with townsfolk looking for letters from their family or packages they were waiting for.

Doctor McGillicuddy soon showed up and tapped the end of his cane against the side of the wagon.

“Top of the morning, Charles.”

“And a good day to you, Doctor.”

“Did the medicine come in?” the doctor asked.

“Let me see,” Charlie said. “Jane?”

“What the fu…” Jane remembered the children and stopped herself. In a more pleasant tone, she inquired, “What is it, Charles?”

“Have we got Doctor McGillicuddy’s medicine back there?”

“Hold on.”

Jane loved kids but wasn’t one to mince words with them. She handed the sack to one particularly ugly child.

“Here doofus,” Jane said. “Pass the rest out all fair and equal like.”

Jane ducked back into the wagon, paused, then ducked her head out and addressed the kid again. “And if you run off with it and keep it to yourself, so help me God I’ll…”

“Jane!” Charlie called out. “The good doctor is waiting.”

“Goddamn it, Charlie!” Jane shouted. “Go suck on a big fat hairy…” She remembered the children again as she searched through the packages. “Peppermint stick.”

A minute later, Jane poked her head out of the front of the wagon and handed a parcel wrapped in brown paper up to her partner.

“Thank you, my lady,” Charlie said.

Out of earshot of the children, Jane was able to get out a “Shut the fuck up, Charlie” before returning to supervise the candy distribution.

Charlie handed the package down to the doctor.

“Good of you to do this, Charles,” Doctor McGillicuddy said.

“No worries,” Charlie said. “How are the patients?”

“More every day,” Doctor McGillicuddy said as he walked off. “Thank you.”

The wagon was surrounded. People barking questions about their packages, kids demanding more candy.

Charlie stood up. “People.”

No one paid him any mind. He cleared his throat and tried again, a little louder. “People, if you’ll please disperse. I’ll be dropping everything off at the depot and you’ll be able to pick up your goods there imminently.”

Everyone kept yelling. On each side, people put their hands on the wagon and started rocking it back and forth.

“Ughh,” a disgusted Jane said as she pulled out one of her pistols. “Cover your ears, varmints.”

The kids had been through Jane’s methods of crowd dispersement before. She blasted three shots into the air and all the adults ran off.

Jane reached into the wagon and retrieved one more sack. Toys. So many toys. Little dolls and puppets, tiny wooden horses, tops, yo yos and more. Once again, she handed the sack to…

“Here doofus,” she said. “And remember…”

“I’ll be fair, Miss Jane,” the boy said.

Jane squinted her eyes to make herself look more fearsome, but it was all in good fun.

“You better be.”

Charlie snapped the reigns and the wagon was off.

“Your good deed for the day, Jane,” Charlie called back.

Jane uncorked her bottle and took another pull. “Fuck off, Charlie.”

Up front, Charlie shook his head.

“She’s quick on the draw, I’ll give her that,” Stephen said quietly. “But you let a woman talk like that to you?”

“Stephen,” Charlie said. “In my experience, one does not ‘let’ Jane do anything.”

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