Thursday, June 29, 2006

One Night in Barstow

Her lips tasted like pineapples and joy. (I guess it could have been her chapstick.)

I cupped her elbows in my calloused hands and swung them gently, side to side. Then, while still swinging her elbows, I placed my mouth to her armpit and made wet, farty sounds for a while. Because that's my thing--that's the thing I do that maybe a man hasn't ever done to her before.

"Blue Eyes," I said to her, with a smile that turned sad even as it began. "Blue Eyes, you're my clear, deep breath in a choking, blood-froth town."

She didn't know what to say to that.
"Shh Blue Eyes, shh."
I murmured, sensing she was going to force a response. "Pay no mind the ramblings of drunks or dying gunslingers."

I leaned in close to her nose and started rapidly blinking my eyes, trying to tickle her nostrils with my fluttering lashes.

She turned her face away and discouraged, I stopped blinking.

She seemed to want something from me. What it was I didn't know. Perhaps it was best I didn't know--whatever this angel needed, it was surely nothing I could provide. All I had in the world could be strapped to a horse--a saddle, a bedroll and a gun.

She needed a man who wouldn't be shot. She needed a man with a job. She needed to know her vows wouldn't end with her husband on gallows in front of a mob.

And I couldn’t give her that, I couldn't even begin to try. See, I'm Latigo Flint, quickest quickdraw that ever lived. I'm just a blazing-handed pistoleer born hopelessly out of time.

I gave her another dollar instead, slipped it inside her g-string. It seemed to do the trick, at least for a minute or two. She let me continue tickling her nostrils with my oscillating eyelids.

"Blue Eyes," I whispered. "You're my cool drink of domestic beer in a poisoned well kind of town."

"I'm anything you want me to be baby." She cooed, eyeing my wallet.

I gave her another dollar.

"Blue Eyes," I whispered. "You're my slow dance uninterrupted in an interrupty kind of town."

"Damn right I am!"

Her enthusiasm surprised me until I noticed I'd given her a five, not a single.

"That better last five times as long."

She assured me it would.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Relative Time

One day Frederick decided that time was arbitrary and he promptly went out and ran a twelve-second mile. News of his accomplishment sort of took the track and field community by storm, until they realized that what Frederick called twelve seconds was really more like an hour and a half.

The World Track and Field Federation asked him to return his gold ribbon and placard and insisted that he stop referring to himself as "Fast Legs Freddy, World Record Holder Extradornaire" in interviews.

The next day in a prime time interview with Barbara Walters, a clearly agitated Frederick refused to renounce his world record on the grounds that he was in fact part Mayfly. Mayflies, he noted, have life spans of only a few days--therefore what the World Track and Field Federation called an hour and a half, was really only twelve seconds to him.

Barbara Walters did the math and admitted she had to agree. However she cut the interview short moments later when Frederick pointed out that it was really quite imperative that he mate before sundown and then rubbed his forearms together rapidly and started hopping toward her chair.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Latigo Flint's Very Short Literary Trifecta

Latigo Flint is proud to present a poem, a play and a novel. Each is very short, 'cause Latigo knows how busy you are.


A Very Short Poem
by Latigo Flint

She smiled and savaged my dashboard with her purse pocketknife,
and when the airbag deployed, she lost one of her pretty eyes.

The End


A Very Short One-Act Play
by Latigo Flint

Sometimes when it's cold my scars turn purple.

But it's not that cold, and that's not a scar!

The End


A Very Short Novel
by Latigo Flint

With weeping hearts and stoic faces we pushed ever westward, deep into that savage land of death and dogwood blossoms. Later, cougars ate our faces off.

The End


Latigo Flint originally intended this to be a quadradical. (Yeah, I said it--Quad Radical--four awesome things.) But he couldn't quite find a good tune for his opera. And besides, it too featured cougars and pain, and that seemed just a tad repetitive.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bar Napkin Trivia Wounds

Sometimes when Latigo Flint and his relatively trusty sidekick, Kid Relish, are having beer and chicken wings at their local chain restaurant, The Kid will overhear a trivia question read off a bar napkin list to which the answer he thinks he knows.

Last night for instance:

"Latty!" The Kid whispered, eyes lighting up. "Latty I know the answer to that trivia question!"

"Which trivia question Kid?" I asked.

"From the next booth over." Kid Relish replied. "They're all stumped but I know the answer... What should I do?"

"Nothing." I said, inching the ranch sauce closer, hoping it would distract him back to his wings. "It's their trivia game, not yours."

The Kid slowly chewed a chicken wing while he mulled this over. Incorrect guesses continued to ring out from the next booth.

"Latty I got it!" He blurted in mid-chew, coating my face with a chicken-flecked sheen of warm ranch sauce and beer. "What if one of them tags me in?"

Before I could stop him, he was up on his seat, desperately shrieking to be "tagged in."

"Don't do it." I tried to warn them, but startled and confused, one of them made the mistake of touching his outstretched hand.

I swore to myself and started signaling for the check.

With a joyous howl, Kid Relish vaulted the booth, landing on his knees in the center of their table. Fajitas and salsa and beer went flying. Somewhere a baby started to cry.

Kid Relish spread his arms, palms up, threw back his head and screamed:
"Ulysses S. Grant!!!"

Silence. The Kid started crossing himself and pointing to the sky, presumably thanking Jesus for the strength to answer the question right.

The holder of the napkin stared at him perplexed, thinking maybe Kid Relish had misunderstood.
"You're saying Ulysses S. Grant holds the NFL single season record for interceptions?"

Kid Relish nodded like a maniac and seemed to expect high-fives.

"Ulysses S. Grant--as in the Civil War General and eighteenth President of the United States?"
The man was going to get to the bottom of Kid's thinking, even if it cost him his life... which, as I tried to tell him, it very well might.

"That's right." The Kid agreed.

"And you're telling me he also holds the NFL single season record for interceptions?"

"With a hundred and forty-two." Kid Relish added, flexing and kissing his bicep.

"Please just agree with him." I implored, knowing this couldn't end well.

The man checked the answer again and slowly looked back at Kid Relish; almost awe-struck by him and everything that just transpired.

"No, I'm sorry." And he really did sound sorry. "In his rookie year with the Rams, Dick 'Night Train' Lane, set the NFL single season record for interceptions with 14."

The man reached out and patted The Kid on the knee.

"I don't think Ulysses S. Grant even played football."

"Lies!!!" The Kid screamed, and attacked him with a fajita skillet.

And so now I'm an accessory to attempted murder... again. And never allowed back in that restaurant.

I guess it could have been worse, the man could have died. And besides, their wings have always been a bit dry.

Much later in our holding cell, Kid Relish turned to me.
"That man was a liar." He whispered. "Ulysses S. Grant does hold the NFL single season record for interceptions."

"I know Kid, I know." The Kid was tired and close to tears.

"And Latty, he went to the Super Bowl four times--twice with Rams and twice with Cobras."

I didn't have the heart to tell him there's never been an NFL team named the Cobras. The Kid fell asleep with his head on my shoulder and another weekend ended in chains.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bad Days (Always with the Killin')

Sometimes in the Squinty-eyed American Old West you'd get the uneasy feeling that you were being watched, but when you turned around nothing was there... sometimes. Much more often however, someone or something was there, eyes glinting viciously. And you were the reason. And killing was the purpose.

This became known as "having a bad day". As in:
"Hey, did you hear about the bad day Smith had?
"No, what happened, throat torn out by wolves?"
"Nope, stabbed in the face by renegades."
"That is bad."
"Dern those dern renegades. Dern 'em to hell."
"Yeah. Gol-dern renegades--always with the stabbin' and in the face and whatnot."
"Yeah. Anyway, how's that wife of yours and the new baby?"
"Ah, they had a bad day a few weeks ago."
"Sorry to hear it. Renegades?"
"Nope, torn apart by wolves."
"That is bad."
"Dern those dern wolves. Dern 'em to hell."
"Yeah. Gol-dern wolves--always with the tearin' apart and going for the throat and whatnot."

It wasn't until 1909 that the definition of a bad day expanded to include occurrences that weren't necessarily fatal. Oddly enough, this corresponded with the invention of the office cubicle.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We Stood as Men

Way back in December, Latigo Flint presented the following magnificent poem (periodically interrupted). For some reason it didn't exactly become a literary sensation. Perhaps it needed a better title. "We Stood as Men" is a much better title.

From the archives - 12/13/05:


We Stood as Men (formerly The Crumbling Cliff)
a magnificent poem by Latigo Flint
(periodically interrupted)

We stood as men, without fear,
seven abreast on a crumbling cliff.
We shared a smoke, but the wind took most,
and not one of us thought of home.

(We knew this to be true because we queried each other on that very topic.
"Hey Dan Tallows!" It was big Fackles Smith who broke the silence.
"Yeah Fackles?" Came Dan's reply.
"You ain't thinkin' 'bout home are you?"
"Heck no Fackles, I ain't thinkin' 'bout home."
"Good, good." Fackles grunted. "Neither am I." He looked around. "Is anyone thinkin' of home?"
Silence for a moment until Tipperson Gentry piped up.
"Hell Fackles, I don't even know what that word means anymore."
The rest of us mumbled our admiration and heartily clapped Tipperson's frail back.)

We checked our guns with steady hands
and sneered so the sky could see.
Then tugged our hats, shading dangerous eyes
and polished buckles resplendently.

(Cavanaugh Weathers blinked in astonishment and pointed at Chappy Swede’s belt.
"Good god gentlemen." Cavanaugh blurted. "I know we've got urgent, deadly business to attend to, but take a moment and see at how shiny Chappy Swede has managed to get his belt buckle!"
We crowded around Chappy Swede’s belt buckle and softly whistled when we saw how shiny it was.)

We mounted up, crossed ourselves
and aimed steeds at the setting sun.
Across the chaparral a coyote wailed
as if it knew war had begun.

(Blaine Norton grunted and jerked his chin out at the desert.
"That wolf's even lonelier than we is, huh Latigo?"
I frowned and tugged my horse to a halt.
"That weren't no wolf Blaine, that there was a coyote."
"Um, I don't think so Latigo, I'm pretty sure I know a wolf when I hear one."
The others noticed we had stopped and they doubled back to see what the trouble was.
"What's going on?!" Fackles Smith demanded. Blaine gestured to the desert.
"Did 'yall hear that wolf howl a moment ago?"
Fackles scratched his temple and looked at Tipperson. "I don't believe there's any wolves 'round these parts, is there?"
Tipperson Gentry shook his head. "Nope, don't think so." He pointed at Blaine. "I'll bet it was a coyote you heard."
I tried not to look too smug as we nudged our horses and rode on. Blaine scowled and spent the next hour grumbling to himself.)

We charged a storm of lead, limbs torn,
then sank trembling to the ground.
We bade farewell to sweethearts known,
and those as yet unfound.

(But each of us was careful not to let the other fellers know we were trembling as we died.
“Hey Chappy Swede!” Cavanaugh Weathers called out after some time had passed.
“What do you want Cavanaugh?” Came Chappy Swede’s low reply.
“You aren’t trembling are you?”
“No… I’m, uh… I’m laughin’ actually.”
“Right. So am I. Hey, we’re pretty tough, ain’t we Chappy Swede?”
But there was no reply--Chappy Swede had died. He was not the last.)

Tangled Love and The Leatherweather Kid

Tangled Love was the name of a horse--a horse no man could ride. The Leatherweather Kid was a six-gun prodigy--twenty men had faced him and twenty men had died.

They crossed paths on the outskirts of a silver town, somewhere near the Nevada line. The Leatherweather Kid had just killed the Sheriff's friend and was makin' tracks for Santa Fe. Tangled Love was tired of desert grass and knew that town up ahead had hay.

"Hey now!" Exclaimed The Leatherweather Kid, when he saw Tangled Love walking up the trail. "Dang if getaways don't just have a way of working themselves out when you're as young and bold and pretty as me."

Leatherweather whistled and Tangled Love trotted up. It had been so long since anyone dared to ride her that she just assumed the word was out that she was a horse that couldn't be rode.

Leatherweather patted her on the nose and offered her a sugar cube.
"Don't mind if I do." Tangled Love said with a snort as she gobbled it down.

"You're my ticket to salvation, my ride to Santa Fe." The Leatherweather Kid informed her, stroking her silky black mane.

"Have you any more sugar cubes?" She asked with her ears, liking this cowboy already.

"I'm just gonna slip this rope around your neck now." Murmured Leatherweather.

"Is it made of sugar cubes?" Tangled Love breathed, desperately hoping it was.

"And slap on this little ol' saddle." Leatherweather continued.

"Wait, is that a saddle?!" Tangled Love widened her eyes.

"And this strap goes here, and that strap goes there." The Leatherweather Kid was very good with straps.

"Why, that is a goddamn saddle!"

The Leatherweather Kid took a little bounce and tried to swing into the saddle. Tangled Love put him down with a hoof to the brow and the pop could be heard for miles.

"Urg." Groaned The Leatherweather Kid, facedown on the trail tasting gravel.

Tangled Love flipped him over with a huffy little snort and then stomped on his chest for good measure.

"Ow." Cried The Leatherweather Kid, 'cause that's what you say when your chest is stomped upon.

"Shouldn't have tried to ride me fool." Tangled Love's eyes glistened, black and cruel.

"Can I have my saddle back?" Leatherweather whispered, secretly drawing his gun.

"No you can't." She replied, and The Leatherweather Kid shot her between the eyes. And when Tangled Love fell, Tangled Love fell on him.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Another Hot Day in the Valley

She was straight off an auto mechanic's calendar--blond hair, cutoff jeans, a halter top and lipstick. And if this morning I had known that she was going to sit down next to me, I would have changed out of last night's clothes and had a shower and shave.

"Are you waiting for the bus?" I asked. "Or just trying to find some shade?"

She thought about not responding, you could tell by the way she squinched her nose and rolled her eyes, but finally decided to speak, on the off chance I was just being polite.
(I wasn't just being polite.)

"The bus." She replied with a sigh. "And you?"

"And me what?" My heart was racing. She'd answered my question and followed up with one of her own... I wondered if it was too soon to try kissing her.

"Are you waiting for the bus?"

(I was now.)

"I am now."

The next few minutes passed in silence. She pretended to check messages on her cell phone while I thought about licking her neck.

Across the street stood one of those big, digital bank clocks--the kind that alternates between the temperature and the time. According to it, it was just after noon, and a hundred and four in the sun.

I tried to time my finger to point just as it switched. But she didn't notice and so I had to leave my arm out until the time turned to the temperature again.

"Sometimes bank clocks get the temperature wrong." I leaned toward her a bit as I spoke.

She glanced up at the bank clock. "You don't think it's really a hundred and four?"

I dropped my voice to a husky whisper. "It should have ticked up to at least a hundred and nine the second you sat down."

"I see." She replied and edged away as far on the bench as she could go.

I burned for her. I decided she should know.

"I burn for you." I said, reaching over and touching her arm.

"That's nice." She said and made it clear with a Taser that she didn't like me touching her arm.

We didn't speak much after that, we had sort of run out of things to say. I'm not quite sure when the bus picked her up--I was too busy writhing and wetting myself.

(She was straight off an auto mechanic's calendar--blond hair, cutoff jeans, a halter top and lipstick. And if this morning I had known that she was going to sit down next to me, I would have tried to have been someone else, someone other than me.)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sara and Rufus

Rufus asked Sara to wait for him, and she tearfully said she would.

"I go to seek our fortune Sara." Rufus told her, shouldering his pack. "To literally claw our future joy from frozen mud and granite tombs."

Sara kissed him and smiled bravely.

"Remember to look to the far north hills and keep me always in your thoughts."

Sara assured him that remembering to do so wouldn't be a problem.

"And know that the sound the wind makes echoes my heartbreak and my soul is calling for you."

Sara nodded and rested her head on his chest.

"My time apart from you, sweet Sara, shall not be counted in days or weeks, but in fallen tears on a wilderness beard."

Sara began to wonder when exactly, if ever, Rufus planned to leave.

"We shall each have nights, dear Sara, when we fear the loneliness is more than we can bear. It is then that we must be strongest--if not for ourselves then for each other."

Sara gave Rufus a little shove, hoping it would start him down the trail.

"Nothing is certain except love, my love." Rufus breathed, striding back to her side. "Remember to look often to the far north hills and keep me always in your thoughts."

Rufus was beginning to repeat himself. Sara cleared her throat.

"Know this, sweet Sara, I shall always--"

Just then a cougar jumped out from behind a grove of aspen trees and ate Rufus' face off. It was a perfect example of how savage the frontier could be, and though she never quite forgot Rufus, Sara married well and did just fine.

Rufus, on the other hand, not so much--mostly because a cougar ate his face off and then he died.

The End

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Hard Man to Know

Cute Starbucks baristas agree; Latigo Flint is a hard man to know. Dark, mysterious, haunted--he is a man of few words and he always keeps his own counsel. Latigo Flint rarely wants a pastry with that and to ask is just wasting breath.

It has been noted, by more than a few, that Latigo Flint moves across a crowded room like a seal through an icy harbor--graceful, muscular and with tiny, watertight ears that he folds against his skull when he dives.

Every so often when Latigo Flint's caffeinenated beverage is presented, the barista has forgotten to put whipped cream on top even though Latigo Flint specifically requested its presence. Latigo Flint doesn't ask for it again--Gunslingers only ask for things once. Instead Latigo Flint squints his steely eyes and simply waits for them to correct their mistake. While he waits, he rolls a cigarette and strikes a match on his boot heel. Often a faraway bell will toll as a hawk screams in a cloudless sky.

These days the reaction to an indoor cigarette is chilly at best, and frequently violent. Most of the time Latigo Flint has to move back through the crowded room like a seal across a Norwegian shore--flopping and lurching and bleeding from the eyes.

This one time, Latigo Flint thought he had found the cute Starbucks barista he was going to marry because she never forgot to put the whipped cream on. But then one day she did forget, and heartbroken, Latigo Flint shot her.

Oh, it wasn't fatal--but it was certainly more than sorry could fix. There are always repercussions to shooting people--perhaps not as severe as lighting a cigarette indoors, but repercussions nonetheless.

(Sometimes even when a room isn't crowded at all, Latigo Flint will move through it like it is.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

True Western Truth #111

In the Squinty-Eyed American West, Pa was always right and wasn't to be questioned; especially when it came to how to best deal with fatal threats such as rockslides, rabies, renegades and rattlesnakes. Of course, every once in a while the fatal threat turned out to actually be Pa, out of his mind again--booze addled mania and blood lust delirium. In which case he was to be questioned, and shouldn't be permitted to take a knife to sweet Sally Ann.

(By the way, I so copyright the title, "Renegades and Rattlesnakes". I'm very sorry alt-country rockers, but you're just going to have to come up with something else to name your debut albums, memoirs or North American tours.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Song of Tivens Roundelby

Hello, this is the advanced computer program that has been programmed to display a previous entry when Latigo Flint cripples himself with booze and expired deli meats. I was programmed to only select the stories that might yield the author fortune and fame--but Latigo Flint doesn't have any such, and so I picked this one because it's silly and sad.

From the archives - 1/18/06:


The Song of Tivens Roundelby

Cattle stampedes were a big problem in the squinty-eyed American Old West. Think how frequent and annoying traffic jams are, even the minor ones, in your day-to-day life. Now imagine that statistically, every fifth traffic jam you find yourself in results in your gruesome death.

Cowboys tried singing to the herd at night to keep them calm. Being exceptionally lonely young men, the cowboys would tend to sing achingly sad songs about love lost and faraway women who had surely married by now. But it didn't make a difference, the cattle stampeded anyway--mostly because the cattle weren't afraid of loneliness--the cattle were afraid that mountain lions were going to come in the night and eat their faces off.

(Which of course, if you want to get transcendent about it, is at its core, nearly identical to the fear of loneliness. But cows are relatively shallow thinkers.)

The stampedes were gettin' pretty bad and our young nation was on the verge of scrapping the whole beef thing and switching to soy-based products as our primary protein source, when one day a young man by the name of Tivens Roundelby crossed the Mississippi and rode west into the annals of cowboy lore.

Tivens Roundelby was an assistant schoolteacher and amateur stamp collector from Saint Louis. He should have been utterly unfit for life on the brutal range were it not for two seemingly disparate attributes:
One, he possessed a singing voice so lovely that angels gnashed their teeth in envy, and two, ever since the circus accident he'd witnessed as a young boy, he had always known how frightened cows were of mountain lions.

Tivens Roundelby went on to become the greatest sonic preventer of cattle stampedes the world has ever known. It is common knowledge that every spring, Trail Bosses would routinely square off in the barns and corrals outside Abilene and shoot at each other for the right of his employ.

Today you can't find a museum within a hundred miles of the historic Chisholm Trail that doesn't display a bronze placard inscribed with the lyrics to Tivens Roundelby's most famous cattle calming song:

Don't fret my gentle cows. Put aside your snorty scares.
No mountain lion prowls, and these plains are free of bears.
And even if they were about, I'd surely shoot them down,
for I'd sooner swallow scorpions than let a lion hurt my cows.
So don't fret my gentle cows. Put aside your snorty scares.
No mountain lion prowls, and these plains are free of bears.


One night in late September 1884, just two day's ride from the trail's end at the stockyards in Kansas, Tivens Roundelby came down with laryngitis and was unable to sing to the herd. His replacement forgot the words, and Tivens was trampled to death in his sleep by the subsequent stampede.

Rugged cowboys the world over wept like children when they heard the news.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

True Western Truth #245

In the Squinty-eyed American West, real gunslingers never, ever stared into their campfires. Staring into flame causes the pupils to contract and then you'd be temporarily blind should an adversary approach from the dark forest beyond. Every once in a while, a silly person would decide that perhaps a good way to ambush a gunslinger would be to disguise oneself as a campfire and crawl toward the gunslinger ever so slowly. This was not a good plan though, as it turned out, and coyotes scattered their silly bones.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Truce of Wolf and Man

Legend has it the truce between wolf and man was brokered long ago by a lonely Neanderthal boy named Thagmuth Spline and a senile wolf pack leader named Griff Griff who had become enthralled with tummy-rubs.

The truce held for some five hundred thousand years. During which time a great many magnificent things were accomplished, including but not limited to: companionship and mutual warmth, the retrieval of waterfowl carcasses, and the pursuit of wicked foxes.

I'm sorry to report however, that our oldest truce probably ended yesterday when what appeared to be some sort of terrier, ran out from behind a fence, wrapped itself around my leg and proceeded to bite off that lovely, muscular rounded part just below the knee, that makes a calf look like a calf.

I measured my response with fire--aerosol blasts across a Zippo flame. Unfortunately a collie was watching. And collies are notorious over-reactors.

There is a very distinct possibility I've just sent us down an irreversible path to war. I'm pretty sure that collie is massing an army even as I type, and it's just a matter of time before the battle lines are all of our backyards.

We still have first-strike capability in that those who haven't heard yet will still eat anything we offer them, provided it's wrapped in hamburger meat. But the window on this tactic is closing and if we wait too long it may be too late--there are too many types of terrain that favor four legs over two.

I know the choice I've put to you is savage. But remember, that terrier drew first blood. And it's savagery that sees the battle won when the truce of wolf and man is done.

I'm very sorry Thagmuth Spline. I'm very sorry Griff Griff. Perhaps someday we'll build again--trust and love in your names.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Los Angeles Storm

Latigo Flint stepped up onto one of the concrete planters that rim the patio area of his local Starbucks and turned his weary eyes to the north. He stood there for a long time, tasting the wind with deep nostril breaths.

The cute Starbucks barista was working the closing shift that night. At 11:01 she locked the door and put away the half-and-half thermoses. She didn't see Latigo Flint, because the lit side of a windowpane becomes a mirror when it’s dark outside.

At 11:15 the manager let her out and re-locked the door behind her. The cute Starbucks barista cut across the patio, fishing in her purse for her car keys.

"Reckon there's a storm on the way." Latigo Flint's voice was low, gritty, haunted--the sort of voice that has watched men die from the devil's side of a six-gun.

The cute Starbucks barista rolled her eyes.
"Oh, it's you."

Latigo Flint stepped down from the concrete planter with hardly a noticeable stumble. The cute Starbucks barista smirked but it must have been at a recollection of something funny that happened earlier in the day, because Latigo Flint's stumble had hardly been noticeable.

"Storm's a comin'." Latigo Flint repeated. And as if on cue, heat lightning flashed in the distance.
"We best find shelter Ma'am. How far away do you live?"

"Like I'm really going to tell you."

She was upset, rattled by the approaching storm no doubt--perhaps subconsciously affected by the dropping barometric pressure or something. Latigo Flint reached out his hand.

"You ever seen hail on the prairie Ma'am, ice lumps as big as your fist? If your horse can't outrun the storm, then your only choice is to wear his carcass like a bomb shelter with eyes and a tail."

The cute Starbucks barista had never seen hail on the prairie and Latigo Flint’s description of its fury unsettled her. Two steps and he was at her side, coat flap held open so she could share.

"Come Ma'am, let’s go to your place. We'll wait out this storm together."

Latigo Flint didn't whimper much when the mace hit his face. But he could have done without the kicks to the groin as he knelt on the pavement, rubbing his eyes.

"Keep to the thickets Ma'am." Latigo Flint groaned. "And the southern sides of the hills."
He remained noble and concerned for her safety, despite the testicular mayhem.

"Do you understand we live in LA?" She said with a sneer as she entered her car. "It's not going to rain tonight you fool--it's not going to rain 'till fall."

"The ravines may seem to offer shelter, but are death traps if the flash floods come." Latigo Flint replied, on the off chance she could still be swayed.
"We should probably find a cave on high ground. Like your apartment for instance."

She slammed the door and drove away, leaving Latigo Flint calling her name. A few clouds massed but it didn't rain, which was probably just as well--seeing as he had to spend the night in a concrete planter just this side of hell.