In the late 1800s, cowboys, real cowboys of the ol' West, were a dieing breed, 'til there was only one left; he had to be shot.
"Well, shoot, damn you! My piles is killin' me, an' my coffee's cold! Take much longer...I don't care how dead your aim is...I'm gonna come over an' beat what li'l lead you got outta your pencil! Hear me? Go on, shoot!"
"Now that I found you, I'm in no rush. I've been looking for you a long, long, time."
"You ain't been lookin' for me."
"Sure I have."
"No. You just been lookin' to shoot a cowboy...any cowboy!"
"You're wrong there. I traveled far to find you. A new century...a new era beckons. You're the last of a dieing breed, Pecos. I see the old West written all over you. I'm going to make you a legend."
"This ain't got nothin' to do with me. I could be any saddle tramp 'tween here an' the Rio. This here's all 'bout you an' business. We both know it."
"And while I'm at it, I'm going to make your horse, that gnarly tree, this very spot, legendary, too."
"An' my name ain't Pecos!"
"Lester? You can't put a name like Lester on a cowboy's tombstone. Duke? Yes, I rather like that. I'm going with Duke."
"You prissy back East boys ain't good for much of nothin'...'cept makin' my nipples hard!"
"So, tell me, Duke---"
"Tell me something about yourself. I'm no good at shooting people I don't know...complete strangers. Tell me your story."
"You enjoy this, don'tcha?"
"Well, as a matter of fact---"
"Do it! C'mon! Ya got me where ya want me! Whattsa matter? You ain't got the goods, do you? Do you?"
"If you insist. I can live with it. Ready to be famous? Smile...Duke."
They say a man's life flashes afore his eyes, if he has a second to realize, before he dies. I'm amazed at what I'd forgot, waitin' for the flash to come.
I lost a wife early on. Well, I didn't lose her, I know where she went, where she is, what she's doin'...she's just doin' it somewhere else with somebody else. 'At's the way it goes sometimes.
I know what's good for me. Own only as much as your horse can carry, an' if ya take a wife...make sure she'll go back to him. Other than that, keep your socks dry, coffee beans drier. 'Bout it. Simple...simple philosophies.
I look the part, but I'm not much of a cowboy. One time I was drivin' five hunerd head, Wyoming to Texas; I drove 'em alright...drove 'em right over a ledge...a cliff! Poor bastids never saw it comin'. Clearly, I never did, too! Damndest sight you ever wanna see! Closest I ever came to see cows jumpin' over the moon! Did put on the biggest BBQ ever seen in those parts. Up 'til right this minute, 'at's about all I'm known for. Lester Ledger! 'Ey, there's worse things a man can be labeled.
Can't spin a rope. Ain't got the heart for brandin'. Swear I seen long faces 'n tears rollin' down the coupla times I tried. Well, they was horses...course they had long faces, but...ah, hell, y'all know what I mean. Too sad.
Tried my hand at bein' a trail cook...poisoned all fourteen of 'at crew! They starts to droppin' like flies, I pours rot gut moonshine down their gullets! Doc thought 'shine were the poison! T'weren't! Uh-uh...was the beans! Well, no 'at's not quite...beans were fine...was the saddle soap I put in when the boys started in bitchin' 'bout the beans bein' hard to swallow! Slid on down a might too easy, might too fast, afore they ever even thought to chew 'em...taste 'em! Ain't none of my fault boys had no table manners!
So, 'at's pretty much my story. Been a screw-up, seems like, since the day I stepped outta my momma's womb 'n hit the ground runnin'. Even she says the smartest thing I ever did was to keep on runnin'! I can agree to 'at. Been runnin' since 'bout 1841. Gettin' tired.
Well, been nice chewin' the fat with y'all. Don't get much visitin' with no address. Take care of yourselves...I'll try an do the same.
Guess times come to deal with...hmm, I reckon it's good to know the name of the person who's 'bout to shoot you, don't you?
"What's your name, anyway?"
"No, the guy behind you! Yes...you!"
"Alright, George. If I had my gun at hand, this'd be a dead issue...an' you'd be the issue. Understand me?"
"It's late, Duke. Sun's going down. I don't know the land, and I still have to find an Indian to shoot to make this trip complete. What's your point?"
"Ten gold pieces. You want me...that's what it's going to cost you."
"What're you talking about? See me? I see you...square in my sights."
"Yeah, I know 'at. I also know you can't do it unless there's finality to it."
"I shoot, Duke. It's final."
"True, but you still have to live with it. Ten gold pieces an' I'm all yours."
"What do you need that much money for now? You've never even seen that much money in your life."
"Ain't for me, George. There's a young dentist lives in New York City."
"You want me to pay your dental bill?"
"No, he's also a writer. Damn good one. Name's Zane Grey. Writes stories 'bout the West. I found a pile of his stuff he left behind in the desert a while back. Musta lost 'em while travelin' through. Word is he's havin' trouble gettin' them back East yahoos to publish his writin'. I want you to deliver the money to him."
"He know you?"
"What makes you think I'll follow up?"
"You're a businessman, George. Your conscience'll keep you right if there's a dollar on the line."
"Alright. Ten gold pieces. I'll find this Zane Grey. Tell him it's a gift from Duke. How's that?"
"You're a good man, George."
"Alright, Duke. Let's get this over with. Ready?"
"Ready as I'll ever be."
"You want to be remembered with that grin?"
"Think I'm gonna give you a big toothy smile? You're outta your...hey?"
"You Eastern boys...you mostly go with a full moniker. What's yours?"
"If I tell you, will you sit still long enough so I can get this shot off?"
"You got it. George...?"
"Kodak. Now, which way to Geronimo?"
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|Reviewed by Tom Hyland
|FRANK - if this all came out of your head, it is terrific!
you had me hooked from the title to the punchline!
SEND IT SOMEWHERE - ANYWHERE! EVERYWHERE!
IT'S WORTH MONEY! TOM.