Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Saddle Up! - Part Three"

If you know the “set-up” here, jump down. For the tenderfeet in the crowd, it goes like this. Actors in old westerns played the same roles over and over. The following is what these beloved veteran performers – human, animal, and pieces vegetation – might say about participating in those classic cowboy pictures. None of this is real. I made it all up. But what I made it up from, that’s the genuine article.


Saddle Up!



“I never wore a gun. And yet – and I never understood this – the outlaws would come in, pick up their provisions…and they’d always pay me. They didn’t have to. They could have just taken what they wanted. If I’d said ‘Hey! You forgot to pay!”’ they could have taken out their guns and shot me full of holes. It was amazing; they never did that. Outlaws. It’s like there’s some unwritten Outlaw Rule: ‘It’s okay to rob banks, kill people, and cheat at cards. But you always pay the storekeeper.’ I never read that anywhere, but it seemed to apply. Isn't that the craziest thing?”

“You know who never paid me? Everyone else. Ranchers, farmers, sheep herders. They’d load up their wagons with seed grain, bolts of calico, penny candy for the young ‘uns, and it was always, ‘Put it on my account.’ Honest people. Never paid a dime. If it weren’t for the outlaws, I’d have been completely out of business.”

“Once, I ran out of my store with this ancient rifle, trying to stop some fleeing bank robbers. Then, they shot me. But that was different. I wasn’t a storekeeper then; I was a townsperson trying to stop a robbery. It made sense to shoot them. It was self-defense.”

“I know I sound like I’m taking the outlaws’ side here, but what can I tell you? They were very nice to me.”



“It was the most incredible bad luck. We’re grazing in the pasture. These movie wranglers ride up: ‘Pick one out for brandin’.’ The odds against me getting picked are the-number-of steers-in-the-herd to one. Darned if they didn’t pick me every time.”

“Every steer had their own strategy for not being picked. Some stared at the ground. Others moved behind another steer. One mastered a greenish drool. Now, “Big Red” - tough old bull - he’d look ‘em straight in the eye. I tried that once. They laughed, and took me anyway. I guess I didn’t have the knack.”

“They always came straight to me. Every time, I'm, like, ‘Again?’ When they led me away, the rest of the steers were bustin’ their guts. What do they call it? Schadenfreude? Joy at the misery of somebody else in the herd?

“Of course, I get back, and now I’m the center of attention: ‘Lemme see!’

They’d gather around to look at my latest brand – the ‘Circle’ this, or the ‘Lazy’ that. My hide would finally grow back, and wouldn't you know it? They’d take me again!”

“One thing always bothered me. In gunfights, they'd never use real bullets. Why did use a real branding iron?”



“I’m honored to be the only piece of vegetation included in this book. I’ve heard complaints from some cactus, but I remind them they don’t participate in the action. They just sit there. I tumble through.”

“They used us for atmosphere. What we stood could be inferred by the way we tumbled. Tumbling through casually said,

‘This is a Ghost Town. Nothin’ here but the tumbleweed.’”

“If we tumbled through crazily, you know, bouncin’ and bangin’ off horse troughs, that meant ‘There was a storm a-brewin’.’ Not just in the weather, but in the story as well. That’s what you call your ‘foreshadowing’.”

“I bet you never knew there was that much to it.”

“My resume was understandably limited. I couldn’t tumble by in World War II pictures; there’s no tumbleweed tumblin’ through Europe or, as far as I know, in the Pacific. I could hardly tumble down Broadway in some Depression-era musical, or through Chicago, in gangster pictures. Or Dracula pictures; no tumbleweed in Transylvania.”

“I was typecast. I only tumbled in westerns.”

“Tumbleweed’s biggest problem is stopping. Flip on the wind machine, and off we went. Unfortunately, tumbleweed doesn’t have brakes. A ‘strong wind’ will send us tumbling, and before you know it, we’re a couple of miles away. They have to send trucks to bring us back. They experimented with ‘Tumbleweed catchers’ – people who’d stand at the end of the street and try and stop us, but it never worked. We’d come flyin’ at them, and they’d jump out of the way.”

“Tumbleweed mishaps? There were a few. A friend of mine accidentally tumbled into the livery stable. Before they could get there, the horses ate him.”

“My most memorable moment? It’s the final showdown. Good Guy, Bad Guy facin’ each other down in the center of town. Just as they’re reachin’ for their guns, a stiff wind kicks up and I tumble in, and fly right up in the Good Guy’s face.”

“‘Take Two’, they nailed me to the ground.”


Arun Kumar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arun Kumar said...

Hi Earl, just wanted to let you know I enjoy your blog a lot! Please keep updating!

Pomer Rants said...

When I eat beef the word cow never enters my mind.

Wrapped around every trigger finger is a thought squeezing it