Monday, April 24, 2006

Lonesome Gunslinger Songs

Sometimes Latigo Flint's neighbors assemble in the courtyard and ask him to stop singing Lonesome Gunslinger Songs from the roof of the apartment complex... at 3am... through a bullhorn... wearing nothing but a neckerchief and tear-smudged mascara.

It's a request Latigo Flint can't honor.

The other night Latigo Flint was crooning the lonesome tale of an outlaw and gunslinger named Canebrake Divinity who fell in love with a stage driver but had to shoot her anyway when the holdup went bad.

Latigo Flint was just getting to the good part when he was suddenly pelted with shoes.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?!!!" The mob howled.

"I'm singing a lonesome gunslinger song about a lonesome gunslinger named Canebrake Divinity." I replied.

"You're singing what?!!!"

"There was once this lonesome gunslinger named Canebrake Divinity." I explained. "Many things conspired to make him so lonesome--one of which happened to be the tragic shooting of a female stage driver with whom he'd quite recently fallen in love."
I scanned their faces for comprehension.
"I sing the story of that day."

I drew a deep breath and resumed the third verse, singing even more beautifully than before. Someone found melon rinds in the dumpster and dispensed them to the rest of the crowd--not as a snack to enjoy with my song but as projectiles less precious than shoes.

It is difficult to sing a lonesome gunslinger song when you are constantly being smacked in the face with melon rinds. I decided to climb down and pistol whip them all to death.
"Please wait there." I implored, setting aside my guitar. "So I can climb down and pistol whip you all to death."

When I reached the edge I noticed children in the crowd. Had they been among the melon rind tossers? Even if they had, should their punishment be equally harsh? I agonized over this. It became moot a moment later when the eave gave way and I fell six stories onto gravel.

I hemorrhaged a lot and groaned a bit. Almost everyone laughed and went inside. One child hung back.

"You were planning to pistol whip us to death." It was a statement, not an accusation.

"That wasn't for sure yet." I noted.

I struggled to light a cigarette, needing one after such a fall. I might as well have tried to fly, nothing on me was working at all.

The child knelt and produced a match.
"In the song." She asked, striking it across gravel. "What happened after Canebrake Divinity fell in love with the female stage driver?"

I waited for her to bring the flame in but she held it out of reach, as if to trade it for an answer.

"The holdup went bad and Canebrake Divinity had to shoot her, and then he was lonesome for the rest of his life."

She shook her head sadly and lit my cigarette. "That’s sort of how all your songs seem to end."

"Well kido," I took a long drag and felt one of my lungs collapse. Fortunately I had a spare. "It wouldn't really do to have much joy in a lonesome gunslinger song, now would it?"

"I guess not." She leaned over and tried to poke a protruding vertebra back into my neck where it was supposed to be. "I just thought you could try leaving it open-ended every once in a while--ambiguity can also be pretty lonely, just in a different way."

"Yeah, maybe."

Cigarette ash drifted into my face despite my attempt to divert its course with staccato nasal snorts.

"You landed so hard my eyeballs groaned." She whispered, brushing the ash from my cheek. "I'm sorry you fell--even if you were probably going to decide to try to pistol whip us to death."

I gave her small crooked smile that turned sad even as it began.
"Thanks kid, you're one in a million. Now go away--I think I'm about to pass my spleen and I don't want you to have to see."

She touched my brow and walked away, softly weeping on wobbly knees. I watched her go with a sigh and a retch, then shuddered and violently passed my spleen.


At 6:09 AM, Blogger Isaac said...

That’s one sharp kid. She seems to have an appreciation and insight towards tragedy that is rare for one so young. Maybe you should consider taking her under your wing, and teaching her the ways of the gunslinger. You just might find yourself learning a life lesson or two in the process.

At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Mr. Scoop said...

That kid is wise beyond her years, Latigo. You want ambiguity in a love story like that one. Because from the moment Canebrake pulled the trigger, the stage driver became the perfect woman: forever young, forever beautiful, and forever the love of his life.

If she hadn't have been stupid and done what he told her not to do, he might have had the chance to consumate the relationship... and then risk finding out she snored, or liked being branded, or had a dick or something.

So sing away, pal, and to hell with the neighbors. Look at it this way: you're in L.A. You sang and they threw garbage. But if they knew you were a smoker? They would have lynched you.

At 6:51 AM, Blogger slarrow said...

Too bad you weren't singing "Pancho and Lefty", the last truly Western song (back from when it was called country & western.) Willie Nelson likes pot, and in that neck of the California woods, that might have bought you a little leniency. You might have been able to keep your spleen, at least.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Peter said...

I have heard tell of venting your spleen Latigo, but this sounds a little extreme even for a squinty eyed gunslinger.
when you get well, you should pistol whip that little smart ass though.

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Bobthegoat said...

You should consider yourself luck to have only passed your spleen. It's only the third worst organ to pass.

Second and First are the gall bladder and the large intestine.

The easiest, surprisingly, is the liver.

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Amandarama said...

Latigo, you should adopt that child. The one with the wobbly knees that likes to throw garbage at you when you sing. Actually you should adopt two of them - that way, the next time they throw garbage, you can shoot one to make it an example to the other one. And it will tell its guttersnipe friends. And your legend will grow. Then you will have a captive audience of children that do not throw garbage, but are instead quite tractable. The possibilities for this audience are endless. And barristas think guys with kids are cute.

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Helga von porno said...

I worry about you Latigo, I hope you have the cowboy's weakness for hyperbole, otherwise you must be a lungless spleenless brain damaged bloodpoisoned scarred up old wreck by now. No wonder you're squinty eyed. More holes than a pre nuptial agreement.

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Old Horsetail Snake said...

Did I read this wrong? Was it Canebrake, or Canebroke? Seems as if I heard a song named Canebroke Mountain. Lonesome cuss, it was.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger ThePaula said...

Someone needs to make a movie about Canebrake Divinity and I think it should star Gary Oldman

At 9:00 PM, Blogger darthmoridin said...

LF, you need to do less threatening and more mouth shooting. You'll get more respect from mobs that way.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

I like the sound of that Isaac, and I don't even quite know why.

Spectacular points Mr. Scoop! Paragraph one made me weep for its truth. Two hit a little two close to home. And the third proves my bravery. Magnificent all around.

Yes Slarrow, so the story ends we're told.

Pistol whip the only kindness left in this wretched town Peter? Ah, why the hell not. I'll tell her you sent me.

I trust you speak from experience Bobthegoat? Where exactly does the pancreas rank? I passed mine the other day and for a while there thought it would nigh undo me.

It all sounds so easy when you say it Amandarama, but I'm dying you know and baristas are different out here.

I'd be willing to bet you aren't worrying enough Helga Von Porno, not if you truly care. I'm all that and worse.

It's Canebrake Old Hoss, you must be confused again.

Good Lord Paula! I agree with that. I agree with that very much!

But I'm the Grin in the Dark D.Mor. I'm the motherfucking Grin in the motherfucking Dark!!!


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