Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Orange Eyes in the Night

Those sneaky history revisionists sometimes like to claim that Latigo Flint's eyes don't glow orange in the night like a puma's if you shine a flashlight at his face as he's stalking through the undergrowth.

But Latigo Flint knows those people are either liars or badly misinformed because this one time Latigo Flint rigged up a camcorder with a flashlight and recorded several passes of himself stalking through the undergrowth, and on playback his eyes were glowing orange like a puma's every single time.

So now whenever Latigo Flint hears that someone is going around claiming that Latigo Flint's eyes don't glow orange in the night like a puma's, he sends them a DVD of that footage along with a terse letter to the effect of:

To Whom it May Concern,

It has recently come to Latigo Flint's attention that you have on one or more occasions publicly stated that Latigo Flint's eyes don't glow orange in the night like a puma's if you shine a flashlight at his face while he's stalking through the undergrowth.

The enclosed footage should more than prove your folly. Claim it again and I promise we'll meet under circumstances you'll most likely find appalling--such as at night, near undergrowth, when all you have is a flashlight and a limited supply of blood.

Savagely yours,


Usually they recant and it's the best choice they ever made.

Sometimes though they repeat their lies and then on a not-to-distant night Latigo Flint shows up to overturn their garbage cans, messily devour their poodle and pee on their backyard fence. And if they run out of their house with a flashlight to see what on earth is overturning their garbage cans/eating their poodle/peeing on their backyard fence, then they are met by a pair of glowing orange eyes and then screams rend the Burbank night that are heard all the way to Encino.

(Having glowing orange eyes like a puma is sexy; everyone in Los Angeles thinks so. It's the second most popular augmentation, surpassed only by breasts don't you know.)

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Boy Who Smiled at Otters

Friends, it has been over half a year since Latigo Flint overcame the three major obstacles to writing a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War.

I think it's a glory worth retelling.

From the archives - October 24, 2005:


The Boy Who Smiled at Otters

There are three major obstacles to overcome if you are to write a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War.

The title is one.

Well no problem there--Latigo Flint has come up with a magnificent title. The title of Latigo Flint's sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War shall be The Boy Who Smiled at Otters.

The second and third obstacles: Coming up with a perfect name for the Boy, and writing the opening line. Both must be overcome before you proceed because the hero's name must appear in the opening line--it is how sweeping historical novels about love, anguish and redemption are done.

But Latigo Flint is having some trouble with this part. Evidence:

Nesbit Shacklethorne was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

That's crap. Without question that's a crap way to open a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War. But is it crap because of the boy's name or the rest of the line? This is the difficulty Latigo Flint currently faces. First we try a few different names.

Tavin Flannery was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

Roger Nightshade was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

Gunderson Smith was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

Not working. Then we have an interesting idea:

No one ever knew the name of the boy who was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

Clunky. Not to mention we suddenly realize we're going to have a devil of a time coming up with interesting ways to identify our hero over the course of a thousand pages.

Perhaps the problem is with the line. We try some alternatives:

Nesbit Shacklethorne was born to the echoes of canon fire and the burble of a nearby stream.

Nesbit Shacklethorne's earliest memories were of long parapet shadows on the riverbank where his mother washed linen.

Damn and damn.

Okay, can't hurt to try to get the otters in there right off the bat. Um, let's see--

For as long as he could remember, Nesbit Shacklethorne liked otters.




My god.

And just like that, there it is. Latigo Flint has just surmounted the three major obstacles to writing a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War.

The Boy Who Smiled at Otters
by Latigo Flint

For as long as he could remember, Nesbit Shacklethorne liked otters.

The rest should practically write itself.

Oh, one more question--what font do you use to get the first letter, in this case "F", to be all giant and sweepy and frilly and stuff?

UPDATE: May 29, 2006

In addition to a magnificent title, the perfect hero name, a spectacular opening line and a font that makes the first letter all giant and sweepy and frilly and stuff--there is apparently a fifth, super-secret major obstacle to writing a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War because for some reason the rest actually didn't practically write itself.

I performed an exorcism on my keyboard, suspecting demonic possession and demolished furniture with headbutts in an attempt to improve my home's Feng Shui. When neither of those did the trick, I decided to drink myself to death--'cause that's always an option you know.

I'll let you know how that turns out.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Snarls of Lavender Pain

Typically, in the Squinty-eyed American West, disputes over the right to court a fetching young woman were settled in a polite and gentlemanly manner. Namely with gunfire until one or both of the arguing men relented and/or died.

But sometimes passions ran too deep and shooting at each other simply wouldn't do. Because when you get right down to it, how can you really prove to a woman that your love is more pure than that of the man you just shot?

Sure you’ve proved he's not as good with a gun, as evidenced by his cooling corpse. But you can't prove he didn't love her more--not now, not tomorrow, not ever.

Most men didn't care and were content to now woo unchallenged. But for a few it was a sticking point and an alternative to gunplay had to be found.

It came to be known as Lavender Pain--this alternative to gunfights when settling claims on the mutual love of a woman.

(It’s not love that’s savage--just the things it makes us do.)

The rules of Lavender Pain were pretty simple. The two combatants would stand face to face at the bottom of a narrow ravine. Next to them would be placed a tub, filled to the brim with purple paint. They'd strip down to their underwear and fasten blindfolds across their eyes. And then as the object of their affection looked on, they'd dunk a wild bobcat in the paint and pass the bobcat back and forth until one of them stepped back and cried.

This was the one who loved her less--the man who was no longer willing to cuddle a twisting, spitting lavender lump of claws and ferocious rage.

The victor would get to marry the girl, the breadth of his love no longer in doubt. But his wounds would often turn septic and she'd usually leave him not long after and move in with the Town Doc.

And what of the bobcat you ask? Does he at least find some joy? Sure--sure he does... that is if there's any joy to had in strangling to death on the noxious fumes of dripping lavender paint.

(The effects of love are cruel--always have been, always will. Sure they can be funny at times but mostly they're just cruel.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nerkles the Silly Mountain Goat

Friends, Latigo Flint's relatively trusty sidekick, Kid Relish, recently wrote a children's story of which he is quite proud. I initially refused to share it with you, knowing how valuable your time is. But The Kid promised to buy the beer for a week if I displayed his story here.

Every man has his price. Turns out mine is seven days-worth of beer.

It is therefore with a hiccup and a flourish that I present to you...

Nerkles the Silly Mountain Goat
by Kid Relish, Latigo Flint's relatively trusty sidekick

Once upon a time there lived a young mountain goat named Nerkles. Nerkles was a typical, everyday, average young mountain goat and he did typical, everyday, average young mountain goat things.

Like climbing up mountains. Nerkles liked climbing up mountains. Up and up he would climb.

And climbing down mountains. Nerkles also liked climbing down mountains. Down and down he would climb.

Nerkles was a happy mountain goat.

But then one day Nerkles did a really silly thing. Nerkles climbed down his mountain. Down and down he climbed.

Next Nerkles splashed across a burbly stream. Splishedy splash, splishedy splash.

When Nerkles reached a road, Nerkles scampered down it. Cloppedy clop, cloppedy clop.

All the way to Al Pacino's house.

Nerkles waited outside Al Pacino's house until Al Pacino came out, and when Al Pacino came out, Nerkles tried to eat him.

Silly Nerkles. That's a silly thing for a mountain goat to do... trying to eat Al Pacino.

Al Pacino was very angry with Nerkles and his eyes bulged out of his head. Bulgedy bulge, bulgedy bulge.

Al Pacino shook his fist and made unpleasant sounds. Nerkles was very frightened. Trembly bonk went Nerkles' knees.

When Nerkles tried to run away, Al Pacino grabbed him and beat him to death with a chain. Swishedy splat, swishedy splat.

Silly Nerkles you silly, silly mountain goat--you tried to eat Al Pacino but instead he beat you to death with a chain.

The End

Sunday, May 21, 2006

An Outlaw Named Canebrake Divinity

The mysterious outlaw and pistoleer named Canebrake Divinity placed the barrel of his gun to his horse's eye.
"We came to the desert and tried to survive," Canebrake whispered. "But the desert refused to oblige."
Canebrake pulled the trigger. His horse took another two steps then collapsed and Canebrake was badly hurt in the fall.

Chapter One: Little Elly Alsworth
If the constant creak of canvas on wood doesn't drive you a bit insane then you've never ridden in a covered wagon--or you're deaf, or dead.

That's what thirteen-year-old Elly Alsworth decided on the first day of a three thousand mile journey conceived by her father apparently for the sole purpose of trading everything she loved about Boston for a wagon and a desert and the subtle stench of death.

The water skin dangled seductively from the cross spar and Elly glanced at it for the hundredth time that hour.
"It'll be sundown before you know it Elly." Her father stated at lunch when she begged for a second sip.
"Dinner time is two sips--lunch is only one. We're pioneers now and it's making us strong."
But Elly didn't feel strong. She felt thirsty and weak and in need of a bath. She thought about how nice it would be to slice that water skin open and roll around beneath the stream, laughing and weeping and carrying on in a most un-pioneer of ways.

She didn't do it though. Somewhere between Boston and the desert her father had found a backhand and didn't seem shy about using it.

Two miles down the trail Canebrake Divinity lay screaming and it wouldn't be long before the travelers heard.

Chapter Two: Blood-Lust Delirium
The wagon train made camp at the base of a mesa. They made their fires and cooked their meals and tried to ignore the screams coming from the nearby gully.

Elly didn't understand why they weren't helping the injured man.
"Because that's not just any man." The trail boss explained. "That's Canebrake Divinity, the mysterious outlaw and pistoleer, and he wants to rob our wagon train."

"Who?" Elly asked.

"Canebrake Divinity!" Canebrake Divinity bellowed, being close enough to participate in the conversation.

"Canebrake Divinity." The trail boss repeated to Elly. "He's an outlaw and pistoleer and he's very mysterious."

"Extremely mysterious." Canebrake pointed out from the bottom of the gully. "And I'm also the purest outlaw there ever was."

"Yeah, but he's hurt." Elly switched her stare from the trail boss to the gully. "You're hurt!"

"No I'm not." Canebrake replied. "Now stick 'em up!"

"Yes, you are." Elly informed the gully. "You've been down there for hours, making all of the sounds of agony."

"Not true, I'm fine." Canebrake huffed. "Must have been an egret you heard."

"Egrets don't live in the desert."

"I know; that's probably why she's so sad."

Elly's father grabbed her by the arm.
"No talking to outlaws."
He started dragging her to their wagon.

Elly tore free of her father's grasp.
"Father, that is an injured man down there and he's badly in need of our help."

The trail boss shook his head. "Wrong Elly, listen to your father and put Canebrake from your mind. He's an outlaw through and through, beyond and beneath our help--all he knows are tangled foes and blood-lust delirium."

Down in the gully Canebrake softly whistled his appreciation.
"Nice line for a trail boss." He murmured and tried to draw his knife. But his shoulder was badly dislocated and when it spasmed he stabbed himself in the thigh.

The wagon train rolled on at dawn; Canebrake failed to stick it up--even the purest outlaws slip up from time to time. Two weeks later Elly caught fever and died. Her father called her a whiner right up until the end.

Canebrake Divinity had been following the wagon train, still determined to stick it up. He broke down when he reached Elly's grave, and tears on the cheeks of outlaws are the saddest tears of all. Canebrake stole the hand-carved plank, the only proof that Elly came west. The theft was reflexive and without intent. Canebrake kept it with him always and thought of Elly wherever he went.

The End

Want more Canebrake Divinity?

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Westbound Plane

If you take off at sunset, traveling on a westbound plane, you'll chase the glow for hours and fall in love along the way.

Or not.

There's always the unfortunate possibility that the girl sitting across the aisle, wearing a tight green sweater, actually has zero interest in cuddling and sharing a two-hour sunset with you. And would much rather watch the in flight movie, even though the headphones are crap and the screen is the size of a postage stamp.

Sometimes with a little persistence and charm you can manage to change her mind.

And sometimes the air marshal is quietly summoned and he tasers the back of your neck so severely that blood shoots from your cuticles and you reflexively sever your tongue.

If your chances with her were slim before, they're practically translucent now. For without a tongue to form the words, you're just wooing with fiendish sounds.

A sunset is only as special as those you share it with. If blood and chaos obscure the view then there's nothing to fall in love to.

(It turns out this post scores a 10 out of 10 on the Tortured Deepness Scale, making me eligible for a large cash prize, awarded by the Tortured Deepness Appreciation Society. Which, as the rules clearly state, I'm supposed to snootily refuse--because money and joy are meaningless, and are actually wicked if interdependent.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Angry Orcas

It's hard not to die when an angry orca bites you.

People have tried various survival techniques over the years without much success. A while ago a guy was bitten by an angry orca and he decided to try willing himself not to die.
"Yes." He admitted. "I've just been bitten in two by an angry orca. But that doesn't necessarily mean I have to die. In fact I think I won't."

This worked for about three seconds. Then his halves separated and slowly raced each other down. Eels ate most of his spleen before it reached the bottom.

Experts agree staying away from orcas is definitely the best way to avoid being killed by orcas.

One time, this one expert failed to follow his own advice and found himself being chomped upon by an angry orca. He knew enough to know that his situation was dire. He thought maybe if he could swim to kelp, he could use it to stitch himself together. But he had trouble swimming without any legs, and didn't struggle all that much when the eels closed in.

Some people claim there's never been a documented case of a wild orca killing a human, but there's a haunted glaze across their eyes, and if you invite them to go swimming they mumble something about forgetting their suit and then run away when your back is turned.

Sometimes sailors fall overboard as they're sailing through Puget Sound. They're never happy about it, and not just because of the cold. Their friends turn the ship around and shout encouragement from the bow. They try to swim back as fast as they can, but more times than not the orcas catch them.

It's hard not to die when an angry orca bites you. I know one of the reasons I'm alive today is 'cause I've never been bitten by one.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Coming Awake Like a Jungle Cat

Latigo Flint comes awake like a jungle cat might--alert, dangerous and screaming. If anything moves, Latigo Flint bites it, then he yawns and licks himself for a while.
(The hookers know to leave before dawn.)

There are those who wish Latigo Flint harm. It is a fact Latigo Flint must never forget. See, Latigo Flint is the quickest quickdraw the world has ever known. Latigo Flint can draw his six-guns so fast that somewhere Doc Holliday's headstone wiggles a bit in applause.

Though it isn't much use in this digital age to be known as the quickest gun in the world, it is nonetheless magnificent and also quite sexy. Unfortunately because of that, it is a title many would like to claim for themselves, which involves killing me messily. (Of course.)

In addition to coming awake like a jungle cat--alert, dangerous and screaming--Latigo Flint sleeps like a wary otter... which is kind of like how jungle cats sleep, except warier--much, much warier.

Latigo Flint is careful to never establish any sort of pattern for assassins to exploit. One time Latigo Flint ate a fancy dinner in a laundromat and washed his clothes in a lobster tank. (You don't even want to know what he swapped the restroom with that day.)

Often when Latigo Flint is walking down the street he will suddenly tuck-roll and start shooting back the way he came. (Taking care not to strike puppies or children, as that tends to piss people off.)

Latigo Flint isn't really reading his newspaper--he's thinking of ways to kill you, should you go for your gun.

Sometimes Latigo Flint runs sideways for long periods of time--much longer than anyone would expect. If a hidden gunman is trying to draw a bead he’ll keep thinking that any second Latigo Flint is going to stop running sideways, but Latigo Flint doesn't stop, and then eventually he turns the corner and is gone.

Latigo Flint knows that if anyone was hiding in that dumpster, they are surely dead by now.

Latigo Flint always makes waiters sip his drink before handing it to him. If they hesitate they get hurt. If they refuse outright they die.

Sometimes when Latigo Flint sees a woman on the street he'll pretend they're old friends and rush her into a tight embrace.
"Ma'am." Latigo Flint will whisper in her ear. "I may have been followed. Please describe everyone you see behind me, leaving no detail out."
You'd be surprised how many women are willing to help. Surprised the number is so low, that is.
(Latigo Flint has practically developed an immunity to mace. Pepper spray still makes him sneeze though.)

Latigo Flint counts footsteps in the dark. He always knows where the ushers are.

Latigo Flint sees you there, he's just pretending not to for advantage.

Some of these may not be true--to further confuse my adversaries.

Each night Latigo Flint dreams you kill him. And he's stronger each morning for it.

(I know very well which shadows hang strange, but shoot into all to be sure.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Natches Murphy

Natches Murphy was born in silence--pulled from his mother's cooling womb by a grief-numb man, who moments later would wrap his son in furs, chin a shotgun and join his wife.

Friends, it has been Latigo Flint's great honor to occasionally recount for you the fantastic yet entirely true exploits of my distant ancestor, Natches Murphy, the infamous Fresno outlaw and pistoleer. Above was his birth--I've never spoken of it before. Below is the time Natches tried to surrender during a daring getaway because a butterfly landed on his hat brim. That one I may have previously mentioned. Assholes might call it a rerun--the product of a lazy, repetitive mind. (But probably not to my face.)

From the archives, 7-14-05:


Natches Murphy

Most people don't know that Natches Murphy, the infamous Fresno outlaw and pistoleer, once tried to surrender right in the middle of a daring getaway because a butterfly landed on the brim of his hat and he didn't want it to get hurt.

The posse couldn't believe it. They thought surely it must be a trick. They kept shooting even after Natches Murphy waved a white neckerchief in the air, removed his hat and dismounted. Natches Murphy was shot a total of nineteen times as he knelt, gently blowing on his hat brim, trying to coax the butterfly safely away.

Natches Murphy gazed up at his pursuers with sorrowful eyes. (By now they weren't so much pursuing, it was more of an assembling into a semicircle and firing point-blank.)

"Amigos." Several more slugs smashed deep into his torso, rocking him back on his heels. "Can you not see that a butterfly has landed on the brim of my hat?"

Now that he mentioned it, the posse did see what appeared to be a butterfly on his hat. The marshal raised his hand, asking for a temporary ceasefire. Natches Murphy looked again at the butterfly.
"Butterfly, I implore you, please flap away. I've bled more than enough to escrow a grave--should the next bullet strike your fragile frame, it will mean I have hemorrhaged in vain."

The butterfly attempted three feeble flaps then slumped on its side. Natches pressed anguished palms to his temples.
"My God Amigos! She's pregnant!!!!"
He stared up at the posse.
"We haven't a moment to loose, see how extended her belly is. Quick now, I need clean cloth, warm water and a willow leaf."
The men glanced at each other in confusion.
"Now damn it! We haven't much time!!!"

The urgency in his voice struck like spurs to a mustang's flank. The men scrambled to fetch the requested items and when they did, Natches Murphy drew his pistols and shot them all in the spine.

It had been a trick after all, and that's exactly the sort of thing that made Natches Murphy, the infamous Fresno outlaw and pistoleer, so dern infamous.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

True Western Truth #143

To be a real man in the Squinty-Eyed West, you often had to go places your horse didn't want to go--like into a storm, or off a cliff, or down a canyon where wolves were. Sometimes you could trick your horse by telling him the wolves were friendly. But more often than not, he couldn't be fooled and you needed to beat him cruelly--and/or stab him in the side a bunch of times with loops of jagged metal. To this day, horses tend to giggle like fiends when their riders are killed by wolves.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Line

Farnsworth Haversby was not a fast man with a gun. In fact he was downright slow. It didn't bother him though; most men were slow in the Squinty-eyed West. One didn't have to be quick on the draw to ranch or farm or pan for gold. Look at it this way: How many times have you ever had to fight a professional or collegiate athlete?

But long odds that he'd ever have to use them wasn't the only reason Farnsworth Haversby wore his six guns unconcerned. Farnsworth Haversby had something else. Farnsworth Haversby knew... The Line.

"You're about a step and a half from where you are and where you’ll die."


Gunfights in the Squinty-eyed West generally fell into one of two main categories:
The first was a showdown between willing combatants, each believing himself quicker.

Peaceful men had nothing to fear from this type of fight except ricochets and maybe a stampede.

It was the second, more rare type of gunfight that even the peaceful couldn't always avoid--that merciless gun-down, foisted upon the unlucky by brutal, bearded men, or wisp-like wraiths of fluid cruelty who wore ruffles and hummed as they killed.

The play was as old as the trees; the vicious gunfighter would take offense at something real or somehow implied--like a bump on the arm, or a casual glance, or an overly shiny buckle. Then he'd challenge his trembling foe and savagely cut him down with lead.


Clay "The Rat'ler" Smivingsly was liquid death with a gun and had a cruel streak so wide it could have passed for a tan. He came to town to kill one day, 'cause it had been a week and he was bored.

Farnsworth Haversby was polishing his favorite belt buckle when the batwing doors slammed open and the entire saloon fell still. Farnsworth didn't notice. He was on the last few rubs and rather proud of the job he'd done.
"By golly boys, look at that." Farnsworth said, thrusting his hips in the air. "That is luster restored boys, that is luster restored right there."

Expecting mummers of agreement but hearing none, Farnsworth lifted his eyes from the golden sheen and saw the spacklet of light dancing across the The Rat'ler's face.

Farnsworth apologized and let his shirtfront drop, cutting the reflection off at the source. But everyone knew that wouldn't suffice and rushed to get out of the way.

"You've got some nerve stranger." Clay snarled, drawing each consonant out like a blade.

"It was an innocent mistake sir, one for which I've already apologized." Farnsworth replied. The other patrons knew how slow on the draw Farnsworth was and couldn't believe he wasn't in tears by now. They huddled in corners and whispered about him in the past tense. They didn't know that Farnsworth knew... The Line.

"Not good enough." Clay muttered with a sneer, flexing his hands for the draw.

When Farnsworth saw what was about to come, he pointed at Clay with a steady hand.
"Mister." Farnsworth said with a chilly smile. "You're about a step and a half from where you are and where you'll die."

And there it was... The Line. A gunslinging statement so complex in its fatal simplicity that the recipient could only widen his eyes, drool on himself and wait to be shot.

It took nearly ten seconds for Farnsworth Haversby to pull his gun. First he stubbed his thumb on the bar, and then he accidentally shoved his hand in his pocket. When he finally grasped the butt of his gun, his watch got caught on the holster and he had to tug until the band broke. It didn't matter. Clay "The Rat'ler" Smivingsly stood paralyzed the entire time--struck numb by some unseen force, the awesome power of... The Line.

Farnsworth finally emptied his gun into The Rat'ler's chest. Clay lurched back a step and a half, crumpled to the floor and promptly died.

The End