Thursday, August 31, 2006

Westward the Trail of Broken Dreams

Dreams tended to shatter in the Savage American West. That's just the way things went down. It was as if the prairie was an anvil and the sky, a smithy's hammer.

Cholera, renegades, jackknifed covered wagons--there were just so many ways to die.

One spring Jack and Emily Billingsly traveled from Boston, dreaming of freedom and crops and land. Then one night the badgers came and Jack thought he could threaten them away.
"Hey badgers!" Jack screamed, brandishing an axe handle. "Stop chewing on my young bride or else."

Turned out "or else" was Jack's brutal death and just like that, the badgers' meal doubled.

But at the claws of badgers wasn't the only way to die. Heavens no. Sometimes the influenza came ‘round, and giggling Indians recommended rattlesnake venom as a way to reduce the fever.

Never trust a giggling Indian. As General Custer was fond of saying.

But then later Custer's ghost had its misguided revenge on the people of the nations. Smallpox broke their hearts. Whiskey broke their dreams.

Lonely Mountain Men named all the trees for hundreds of miles in every direction. They got one chance, maybe two at most, to find love over the course of their entire tangle-bearded lives. But every chance was ruined by body odor and a poor first impression.

Yes, all trails led west. But the signs along those trails were dreams--and all the posts were broken.

Oh, and I haven't even told you about the monsters yet.

Here's the legible text from a scrap from a bloodstained journal, found next to the ashes of an ancient campfire on edge of a western ravine. It reads:
"…and so then it’s likely that I love you, and probably always have. But there are monsters in the night here. And I am so afraid.”

Broken hearts and savagery. It’s a wonder we reached the Pacific at all. It’s a wonder the west was won.

And I’m Latigo Flint. And I still hear monsters in the night.

(This, by the way, is a very moving article. It's affecting. It's stirring. It's somber and it's savage. I'm pretty sure the soundtrack is a single violin. But I could be wrong--it might be a bugle and the sound of wind in the trees. Provided, of course, that the bugle is played with appropriate strains of sorrow.)


At 8:57 AM, Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

For musical accompaniement, I hear a steady percussive background, suggestive of horses hooves steadily beating on the lonesome trail "clip de clop de clippydippydippy clop." And a single lone whistler tooting his sorrow out to the four winds to carry wherever they may - perhaps to the soft kind ears of a beautiful maiden. Music suggestive of the maiden hanging out the washing will now break into the main - a high piccolo - and then a woman's blood-curdling scream will finish the piece off...

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Cindy-Lou said...

Dude, I don't know, I'm hearing "Monsters in the night...exchanging glances..."

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Helga von porno said...

All I'm hearing is the high pitched whine of one of those little fucking motorbikelets that seem to be all the rage. I'd like to break their dreams, that's for sure.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

I read "bulge" for "bugle" and it was hella funny. Then I caught my error.

Try it. Substitute "bugle" with "bulge" and read that last line.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Peter said...

Doesn't much matter what the accompaiement is this is a beautiful bit of old west prose Latigo, tells it like it really was, those jack-knifed covered wagons were a bastard, and we won't even talk about those fucking badgers chewin' everyone up.

At 7:08 PM, Blogger talulah trashbag said...

I used to think I heard monsters in the night. Turned out it was just Festy Frank from the fish and chip shop, drunk on goon and making the hot monkey-sex with an upturned recycle bin.

At 3:08 AM, Anonymous Nicolas Papaconstantinou said...

"…and so then it’s likely that I love you, and probably always have. But there are monsters in the night here. And I am so afraid.”

Just awesome.

And where else would I get my "newest big idea" than Latigo Flint's emporium of broken dreams and misfits...?
My newest big idea, by the way, is that from now on, I'm ALWAYS going to substitute "Bulge" for "Bugle", and vice versa...

You just see if I don't...

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

That's good Sam. It's better than what I had. Damn you. Damn you to hell.

Well then that's your failing, sweet Cindy-Lou, not mine.
(What were the chances--that's what I wonder.)

Don't bother Helga. Slick pavement and tangled limb wreckage will break their dreams soon enough--and spare you the karma deduction.

Are you making light of my pain LBB? 'Cause that not something you'll be wanting to make a habit of. I tend to ruin the day of people who make light of my pain.

Thank you Peter. You understand what these impertinent children don't--that we all walk a trail, and often that trail contains nothing but broken dreams.

And if that's what you have to tell yourself to fall sleep sweet Talulah--that there are no monsters in the night but Festy Frank, drunk on goon--then more power to you. Sweet dreams.

Thank you Nicolas. I'm quite fond of it too--for reasons that could only be described as self-serving.
I hope the bulge/bugle swap brings you joy.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Ari said...

I hear monsters in the night too.


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