Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"If Pacifists Wrote Westerns"

A Pacifist walks into a saloon, and heads over to the bar.

“What’ll it be, stranger?”

“Herbal tea, please.”

“Come again?”

“Peppermint, if you have any.  But chamomile will do fine.”

A tough-looking hombre – he lights his cheroot by striking a match on his stubble – overhears the Pacifist’s request, and off he goes. 

“Yer funnin’ us, aint’cha?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Yer pullin’ our laig!”

“About what?”

“Camo-myle tea?”

“I like chamomile tea.  Though as I said, I prefer peppermint.”

“Do you know where you are, Mister?”

“Somewhere in the West.”

“That’s right.  And in ‘somewhere in the West’, when a man walks into a bar, he orders ‘Rot Gut’, he orders ‘Red Eye’, he orders, ‘Who hit John?’  What he doesn’t order is…camo-myle tea.”

The saloon patrons chuckle in derisive agreement.

“Can he order peppermint tea?”

“No!  Now, seein’ as how you’re new to these parts, and yuh don’t know the ropes as yet, lemme show you some Western hospitality and stake you to a real drink.  Bartender, whisky for the Tenderfoot here.”

“I appreciate your generosity.  But I think I’ll stick with the tea.”

The saloon patrons register mumbling concern.  They know what’s coming.  And it’s not going to be pretty.

“Lemme explain somethin’ to yuh.  Out here, when a man stands yuh a drink, you say ‘Much obliged’, and yuh join him for a drink.  Am I right, Boys?”

The saloon patrons readily agree.  They don’t want any trouble.  And besides, according to western (or at least western movie) tradition, he’s right.

“Look, Mister, the last thing I want to do is insult you…”

“And yet, that could be the last thing you do.  Ever.”

The saloon goes deathly quiet.  The Piano Player stops playing.

“Keep playin’!”

The Piano Playing starts playing again.  But with mistakes.

“I’m askin’ you fer the last time.  Will you drink with me?”

“I am truly grateful for the offer.  But I’d really rather not.”

The hombre commandeers a nearby bottle.  He glares at the bartender, who nervously produces a shot glass, and sets it on the bar.  The hombre pours whisky into the shot glass, and thrusts it in the Pacifist’s face.


“I told you, I don’t want to.”

The hombre pushes the Pacifist into the bar.

“What are you doing?”


The hombre pushes him again.

“Will you please stop pushing me?”

(PUSHING HIM A THIRD TIME) “I said, ‘Drink!’”


The hombre sets the drink on the bar, then slowly backs away.

“Then go fer yer gun.”

The mood is tense.  Patrons remotely close to the “line of fire” quietly change their seats.  Patrons fearful of ricochets, suddenly concerned by the lateness of the hour, scurry hurriedly out the door.

“I don’t have a gun.”

Out of nowhere, a six-gun comes sliding down the bar, stopping, as if on cue, by the Pacifist.

“Yuh do now.”

“Look, Mister.  I’m a Pacifist.  I don’t fight people.”

“Pick up the gun.” 

“No.  But you know what I will do?”

The Pacifist picks up the shot glass, and downs the whisky, returning the empty shot glass to the bar.  He nods to the hombre, “There.  I did it.”

“Too late.”

“Okay, now you’re being unreasonable.  You told me to drink, and I drank.”

“Right.  And now I’m tellin’ yuh to go fer yer gun.”

“I’m a Pacifist!  Drinking was an option; this isn’t.  So if you’re dead set on killing me, there is nothing I can do about it.  You can draw your gun and shoot me in cold blood, in front of all these witnesses.  But then you’ll hang.  Because a man, at least originally, refused to drink with you?  It’s not worth it!  But that’s not my decision.  It’s yours.  If you want to gun me down, go right ahead.  I will not fight.”

The room is a frozen tableau.  Nobody’s breathing.  Sweat’s pouring off a moose head, hanging on the wall.  The hombre stands there, poised to draw.  The Moment of Truth has arrived.  Finally, he makes his move.

“Aww…forget it.”

The hombre returns to his drink.  The Pacifist heaves an enormous sigh of relief.

At this point, the movie audience rises from their seats, exits the theater, insists on seeing the manager, and demands their money back, including the popcorn money, for parking and for the babysitter.  If the theater’s in a western locale, they may additionally burn the place down.  And get acquitted at the trial.  After which, they hunt down the screenwriter, and they string him up.

Thankfully, this is a fantasy.  There is no such thing as a Pacifist western.


Anonymous said...

Aww, come on. It would be a box office hit.

Gary said...

True Grits?