Along with some much-needed illumination about why a city I recently visited is located where it is, a commenter named Doug expressed some greatly appreciated enthusiasm for my blog, finishing with this:
“Best wishes to you from a conservative, GOP, Gentile from Phoenix who thinks you’re great.”
From that gratifying-on-so-many-levels encouragement, comes this.
EXT. THE WEST - NIGHT
A MAN OUT OF HIS GEOGRAPHICAL PLACE SITS ALONE BY A CAMPFIRE, HEATING UP SOME COFFEE. IT'S DEAD QUIET, EXCEPT FOR A LONE COYOTE, HOWLING INTERMITTENTLY IN THE DISTANCE.
A COWBOY rides slowly into camp, stopping on the edge of the campsite. The man looks up.
MAN OUT OF HIS GEOGRAPHICAL PLACE: Good evening.
COWBOY: I seen your fire.
I built it myself.
THE COWBOY SEEMS PERPLEXED BY THIS ANNOUNCEMENT.
Would you like some coffee? It’s almost ready.
If it ain’t puttin’ you out.
No problem. The kit came with two cups. “Why don’cha give yer cayuse a breather and set a spell?” How was that?
(GETTING DOWN FROM HIS HORSE) You not from around here?
I'm from back East. But I’ve read about the West. Thought I’d come out and see it for myself.
THE COWBOY HUNKERS BY THE FIRE. THE MAN TRIES TO DUPLICATE THE HUNKER, BUT CAN ONLY HOLD IT FOR FIVE SECONDS, REVERTING TO HIS ORIGINAL POSITION.
THE COFFEE BOILS.
Looks like it’s ready. Boy, I could sure use a potholder. Guess I’ll have to settle for my sleeve.
THE MAN PULLS HIS SLEEVE DOWN OVER HIS HAND, LIFTS THE COFFEE POT BY THE HANDLE.
(RE: SLEEVE) It’s not enough.
COVERING HIS DISCOMFORT AS BEST HE CAN, THE MAN POURS COFFEE FOR THE COWBOY, HANDS IT TO HIM.
There you go.
THE COWBOY NODS APPRECIATIVELY, AND TAKES HIS COFFEE. THE MAN POURS COFFEE FOR HIMSELF.
Be careful. It’s hot.
IGNORING THE WARNING, THE COWBOY GULPS DOWN HIS COFFEE, BILLOWS OF STEAM STILL RISING FROM THE CUP. AFTER REGISTERING PRIVATE AMAZEMENT, THE MAN, FOLLOWING WHAT IS APPARENTLY THE LOCAL CUSTOM, GULPS HIS COFFEE.
Ow! I just fried my tonsils!
THE COWBOY DOES NOT RESPOND. THEN:
Just kidding about the tonsils. I joke when I’m in excruciating pain. It seems to help.
NO ACKNOWLEDGING CHUCKLE FROM THE COWBOY, WHO CONTINUES IN HIS HUNKERED POSITION, SIPPING SILENTLY BY THE FIRE. THE MAN, SEEMINGLY UNCOMFORTABLE WITH SILENCE WHEN ANOTHER PERSON IS PRESENT, ADVANCES THE CONVERSATION.
Are you out here for a reason? “No. I’m riding in my sleep.” (MOCKING HIMSELF) “Are you out here for a reason?” That is the stupidest thing I ever heard. (AFTER A BEAT) So what exactly are you doing out here?
Just passin' through.
Good enough. Not that I’m judging your reason. “Good enough - not good enough.” You don’t even need a reason. I mean, I have a reason. I came out to see the West. But that’s me.
THE COWBOY DOES NOT RESPOND.
When you say “just passin' through”, does that mean that you’re headed someplace in particular, and you’re “just passin' through” here to get there?
(TO HIMSELF) “Just passin' through.” He actually means that. (RECOVERING) Which is fine. It’s just that the people I’m familiar with go places for a specific purpose. Is that entirely necessary? I don’t think so.
MORE SILENCE. BUT YOU KNOW IT WON’T LAST.
I’m a writer. I write things, and they pay me. Amazing. May I ask you what you do?
This 'n that.
Perfect. You know? This is exactly why I came West. I know people like me. But I’ve never met anyone like you. People like me, we follow, like, a preset plan – there’s school, then work, we generally stay in one place.
You, on the other hand, do things differently. I can sense you’re a good person – decent, reliable, hardworking. But above all things, you treasure your independence. You are, what some people call, “A real American.” Lemme ask you something. Do you think we can both be “real Americans” and do things and think about things really, really differently?
I say, live and let live.
You know, with all due respect, that’s the first thing from you that is also “Me too.” I mean, I may not be able to hunker, or drink scalding coffee, or go places without a predetermined itinerary or intention. But “Live and let live” – I’m with you there.
That is our first “common ground.”
Look, cowboy, no bull. I want to know what you think, and understand why you think that way. And it’s no “one-way street.” I know you have a tendency towards the “laconic”, but go on. Ask me a question. Anything you want.
Why do you talk so much?
“Why do I talk so much”? Good. We can look at that. And also, “How come you hardly talk at all?” We can do both things. That’s a start. From there, we can move forward.
What do you say? A “Campfire Conversation.” Right here, right now. Of course, we don’t have to. I mean, I’m willing. But seeing as how you’re holding “the gun hand”, and I mean that literally since you’re wearing a gun and I’m not…
It is entirely up to you.