Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Animal Cruelty: Not Cool Man (even when it's really, really funny)

"You are a pathetic loser. Get a fuckin life dude. Anyone who even jokes about animal cruelty is a poor excuse for a man."
-Anony Mous, Esq.

(Okay, I added the Esquire.)

Latigo Flint does not receive a great deal of hate mail, either privately via his email account, or publicly in the form of posted comments.

This is no doubt due to Latigo Flint's unholy skill with a six-gun. Men who can slap thigh and shuck iron so fast that somewhere Doc Holiday's headstone wiggles a bit in applause, tend not to have nasty things said to them very often.

Nevertheless, there comes a time when one’s deepest held beliefs are maligned so severely that there can be no recourse but to defend those beliefs with righteous fury and a well placed cuss word or two. Even at the risk of angering the quickest quickdraw the world has ever known.

Today I salute such a person for having the courage and strength of conviction to stand up for what he or she knows is right.

Several months ago I posted a short children's story titled: Nerkles The Silly Mountain Goat. It was about a typical, everyday average young mountain goat named Nerkles who liked doing typical, everyday average young mountain goat things--climbing up and down mountains for instance.

The story takes an unconscionably cruel turn when Nerkles tries to eat Al Pacino and Al Pacino beats him to death with a chain.

This ending was bittersweet. Bitter because it portrays an act of wanton cruelty to an animal. And sweet because the way it unfolded was really, really funny.

But with keen insight and an empathy the rest of us would do well to emulate, Anony Mous peers past these callow cacklings and notes that any story which holds the notion of Al Pacino beating a mountain goat to death with a chain up as one of hilarity, runs the very real risk of desensitizing and perhaps even encouraging similar acts of cruelty. And I for one am deeply ashamed to suddenly find that I seem to be so bereft of compassion that it must surely call my very humanity into question.


The above is obviously sarcasm, but here's the odd thing: In writing this public reply to a private, (and perhaps cowardly person) I found myself thinking back over all the horrible things that have happened to animals in my stories and actually started to feel a bit bad: Dolphin killing, owl smashing, skiing in the summertime on millions of live, white kittens. I wrote a series of westerns in which each installment opens with the protagonist fatally shooting his horse in the eye. The list just goes on and on. I once described a nervous character as "tight and twitchy, like a kitten on a paintball range." I've made light of hydrophobia too many times to count--I once compared rabies to crack and implied Old Yeller was an addict. I wrote about a pair of endangered condors named Pretty Molly and Captain Chortlebeak frying themselves on a power transformer. 75% of the time if there's an otter in my story, that otter is going to die. Hell, I even proposed an alternative energy source in which high frequency sound is used to herd whales into underwater pens where in their panic they bump into turbines and power a generator. I once advocated shoving kazoos up a mule's nose. I once wrote about keeping an adolescent tiger shark as a pet in my bathtub, and described, in some detail, its accidental death from eating a bar of soap shaped like a turtle. I'm tellin' you, it just goes on and on and on.

And so I went from feeling snarky and sly, to a genuine moment of self-doubt. Is that a monster in the mirror? Fortunately it quickly passed when I realized this person was either someone I know playing a joke, or just some humorless human scab of unfounded indignation--smart enough to read, too stupid to know what it really means.

And then I felt much better. And I wouldn't have even wasted our time with all this except that it gave me the chance to type: "tight and twitchy, like a kitten on a paintball range" again. And sometimes that's all the reason you need.

Good night.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In the Time of Pistols and Sneezes

There was a way to sneeze in the Squinty-eyed American West so as not to accidentally set off a gunfight in a crowded, jittery saloon. Unfortunately it involved pinching your nose and holding it in, and that's just bad for your sinuses is what that is. So, if you got that dangerous tickle, and those intakes of air that went: "ah ah ah..." you were much better off drawing your gun and shooting the meanest man there. Then in the gunsmoke calm, you could sneeze on his corpse and order a whiskey.

Word would soon get around that you were a very dangerous man. If your last name was McGee, folks would start calling you Sneezes. Sneezes McGee; a man not to be trifled with.


This epic of a historical document is practically down on its knees begging for more characters... Hiccup Palmer, Farty Cunningham, and of course, Rex "Stomach Gurgles" McGraw--The Abilene Nightmare. But that would just be silly.

(Everyone knows Rex "Stomach Gurgles" McGraw was from El Paso.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Sturges and the Grinsingtons

"Blood feud." Samuel Sturges snarled, placing the butt of a revolver against his brother's hand. "Your heritage compels you."

Young Brent Sturges lowered his head and refused to take the gun. "No brother." He said. "For too long our two families have been the rivers that fed a lake of blood. But it ends now--it ends with me. I shall kill no more Grinsingtons."

Samuel couldn't believe his ears, this was akin to treason. For four generations there had never been a Sturges boy who refused to kill a Grinsington.

"You'll take this gun!" Samuel Sturges bellowed with all the fury of an orphan.

"I won't." Brent Sturges replied with all the humanity of an orphan.

"You will!" Samuel shrieked, with all the rage of an orphan.

"I'm in love with Emily Grinsington." Brent replied, and brought his hands to his heart to prove it.

Brent couldn't have hit his brother harder if he'd had a sledgehammer to swing. Samuel could only make a confused sound of hurt and betrayal as he slowly slumped to the forest floor.


"I'm sorry brother." Brent whispered. "It just sort of happened."

"In love with a..." Samuel could hardly bring himself to form the word. "In love with a stinkin' Grinsington?!"

"Yes brother."

"A Grinsington, for sure? As in the Grinsington Grinsingtons?" Samuel double checked, in case he'd somehow heard his younger brother wrong.

"Yes Samuel, a Grinsington. Emily Grinsington to be precise." Brent took his brother's face in his hands. "Hear me Samuel. She may be the progeny of my father's murderer and his father's father's murderer before that, but I love her just the same, and from hatred our love shall deliver us."

Samuel sat up suddenly and the glint of a lie flashed in his eyes.
"Brent." He hissed. "I just remembered--Emily Grinsington is dead. Yesterday her family beat her to death with a spoon."

"NO!!!" Brent stumbled back, his legs no longer supporting his weight. "It can't be!!!"

"Yes, dear Brent, it's true." Samuel pounced on the opportunity. "Those darn Grinsingtons even kill their own. And Emily died slowly, plinked to death with a spoon."

For Brent the next ten minutes never took place, time passed without his knowledge. His anguish was terrible to behold. His screams scared birds for miles.

"So what are you gonna do about it?" Samuel whispered, wrapping an arm around his hysterical brother.

"EEEarrrrrrggghhhhh!" Brent replied. And two miles away a sparrow crapped itself.

"Yes, kill 'em all, that's what I say." Samuel grinned, returning the pistol to Brent’s hand. "Leave no Grinsington alive, wipe them from the land."

Grief-numb, Brent accepted the gun and stumbled toward the Grinsington farm. He crossed the fields where years before, he and Emily secretly played. He crept along the riverbank where he and Emily had nakedly swum. He passed the willow grove where they'd first consummated their love.

And if these memories stirred him, you wouldn't know it to look in his eyes. He walked as if his gun was a kite and the wind blew toward the Grinsingtons.


Okay, time out. We need to talk about happy things for a sec, things like kittens in a meadow, 'cause this story is gonna end brutally and young lovers are gonna die.

Okay, so, kittens in a meadow, kittens in a meadow: Jumpity-prance. Bouncedy-purr. Oh, we can't help but be happy when we watch kittens playing in a meadow.

Alright, back to the Blood Feud, already in progress...


...and then both sides gave the order to fire and a thunder of guns ripped the canyon in two. Brent and Emily stumbled as one, their limp limbs tangling as they fell. Their red-froth lips found each other and through spasms of hemorrhage, their love they did tell.

On the Sturges side of the river, Samuel stood with a rifle in his hand.
"You wretched Grinsingtons!!!" He shrieked. "You just killed my brother and his lover!"

"Oh you horrid, horrid Sturgeses." Came a cry from the Grinsington side of the river. "You just killed my daughter and her lover!"

And if either side had half a reason to stop, vengeance swallowed it whole.

The End

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hobo Closets

Backpacks weren't always called backpacks. This is a thing that few people know. You see, originally, backpacks were known as hobo closets. And Latigo Flint recently decided that if he has anything to say about it, they very soon shall be again.

So this afternoon found Latigo Flint leaning against a chain link fence outside the local high school, trying to immersively market the term: "hobo closet" to the youth of America.

"I reckon that's mighty fine hobo closet you got there." I drawled in a low but not unfriendly voice.

"Excuse me, what did you say?!" The young lady was genuinely perplexed.

"Your hobo closet." I repeated with a nod. "I reckon it's mighty fine. Or rad as the kids might say these days."

She must have had somewhere to quite urgently be.

Two slouchy young men passed by, tiny white headphones rammed in their ears.
"Well I'll be horsewhipped." I exclaimed. "They're building hobo closets with cord ports now?"

The slouchy boys didn't hear me over the din of their thumpedy beats. I flicked the earpiece from the ear of the one closest to me.

"Hey, what the fuck man?!!!"

"Your hobo closet young sir--it seems to have a cord port built in to the fabric, allowing you to secure your digital music player and yet still listen to it in transit. Isn't that just a most splendid thing?"

He stared up at me with dull eyes. He seemed wholly unable to form an opinion on whether or not it was a most splendid thing. Then he tried to knife me. I did not permit him to knife me. Instead, I sidestepped and pulled his hobo closet up and around his head, immobilizing his scrawny arms like bird wings in a freeze frame.

"No knifing your elders." I hissed. "That's a bad slouchy boy."

He seemed unrepentant and I was sorely tempted to beat him to death with his own hobo closet. But that sort of thing is frowned upon and after a while I let him go.

Next it was time for a smoke break. I needed to reflect and reevaluate my strategy for the reintroduction of "hobo closets" as a common term for backpacks. (I walked two blocks before lighting up because in California they execute you for smoking upwind of a school.)

On my break I saw a hobo. He didn't have a closet.

Back at the school I redoubled my efforts. I strolled around the commons, complementing nerds on their hobo closets. I sprinted up to popular kids and asked them where they purchased their hobo closets. I even went so far as to round up several jocks, and like Anne Sullivan to Helen Keller, placed their fingers on my lips as I spoke the words, "hobo closet" while simultaneously bashing them in the face with their own backpacks.

In the end, the authorities ambushed me with beanbag projectiles and tear gas. I fell screaming "hobo closet" over and over as I writhed. And according to the court appointed attorney, that's the rebar in my insanity plea.

Anyway, 'yall be sure to pass it on--backpacks are hobo closets; hobo closet means a backpack.

Well, good night for now. Or as Helen Keller would say, ...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Prettiest Gun in the West

The Prettiest Gun in the West
(a very short novel by Latigo Flint)

Chapter One - Tassels and Wildflowers

He had tassels on his saddlebags and wildflowers in his hatband. Those were the first two things the townspeople noticed about the man who rode out of the desert that day.

He had pert, well-formed breasts and actually wasn't a he at all. That was the next thing the townspeople noticed.

Chapter Two - Reyna

Reyna walked her horse to the hitching post but didn't tie him up. She simply kissed his mane as she slid from the saddle and told him to wait for her.

Horses can't talk but this one's eyes were definitely saying: "Snort, snort silly Reyna, I'd die at the claws of cougars for you." And then he looked around to see if any were near so that he might prove it to her.

It probably only took Reyna ten seconds to cross the street and ascend the steps of the saloon, but the world could have ended right after, and every man on the street that day would have considered it an even trade.

Her dress moved with her as she walked, like a squid in open water--tight and lithe and graceful, and diving so deep that your eyeballs explode. Her swept-back hair was so dark and alive that you'd beg on your knees for the chance just to sniff it, even if your buddies were watching and laughing. She is the reason the moon can't turn around. Her legs bordered on the unholy.

Inside the saloon, Reyna asked for a whiskey and received twelve marriage proposals instead. Insomuch as an unabashed erection and a lunge for the top of a skirt can be considered a marriage proposal.

But they didn't know who she was, and they didn't know the places she'd been, and they didn't know that groping at her would be the last thing they'd ever grope for again. (Unless of course you count blood-slick sawdust, squeezed then released by a final spasm of hands.)

Reyna reloaded in a shroud of gun smoke, her dark eyes belying the mirth her lips did not reveal. Around the room, blind fear caused a great many erections to diminish. Of course not those of the corpses, those remained as they were. Rigamortis makes angels giggle sometimes.

Reyna asked again for a whiskey and this time the barkeep broke his arm in his haste to pour it for her. She thanked him sweetly and drained it, and then the barkeep realized he'd probably love her forever and forgot all about the pain in his arm.

Chapter Three - A Horse for Every Cougar

The batwing doors eased open and a long, horse-ish snout poked through.
"Are you okay?" He asked Reyna with a whinny.
"I'm fine Horse." Reyna replied.
"I thought I heard cougars." He snorted.
"Nope, just men and all the impolite ones are dead."
Horse scanned the room suspiciously.
"There! In front of the tinkly tonk machine--surely that's a cougar!"
Reyna glanced in the direction her horse was staring.
"No Horse," she corrected. "That's just the piano player."
"Hmm." Horse mulled this over for a moment, flicking his ears and squinting his eyes. "Well perhaps I should trample him just to be sure."
Reyna's horse galloped across the room with murder in his eyes.

Reyna laughed, light and easy, like a porch awning on a breezy day. "No, that won't be necessary Horse." She gave the piano player a reassuring look. "He thinks you're a cougar, you see?"

The piano player didn't see, and promptly passed out on his keys.

"That's a bad horse." Reyna exclaimed. "Frightening innocent piano players." Reyna sat on the bench beside the musician and started gently patting his face and brushing the matted hair from his eyes. And then eighteen men pretended to pass out in the hope of similar treatment.

And in all the commotion, no one noticed that in a dark corner of the saloon, shotguns were slowly being leveled at Reyna.

Chapter Four - Scattershot Homicide

Horse sensed something was wrong--Reyna was in danger. He took two steps in front of her just as the roar of scattershot homicide split the saloon in two.

Horse died furious, snorting and cursing those who would do Reyna harm with his very last, snorty breath. Reyna drew her guns with wraith-like speed and absolutely ruined the men who tried to ambush her.


Reyna walked out of town alone, saving her tears for the desert. Far away in a sun-scorched ‘scape, in the shadow of limestone spires, she wept like a child for a horse named Horse and wondered if she'd ever know friendship again. Reyna stared off at the horizon line as a hawk screamed in the distance and stuff. The wind blew her hair across her pretty face and then all things ended like sad movies end.

The End

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Grin in the Dark

Nearly a year ago, Latigo Flint discovered which muscle to flex to turn the white part of your eyes completely black. It was something of a breakthrough in muscle control and savagery. It probably forever haunts anyone who has the misfortune to witness it.

From the archives - October 21, 2005

The Grin in the Dark

Success!!! Latigo Flint has finally located the tiny muscle that when properly flexed, turns the white part of your eye completely black.

The effect is demonic and cruel. I call it The Grin in the Dark. I use it on people who annoy me. What I do is stare at the ground, slouching a bit with dangling arms and all my weight on one leg--then slowly raise my head.

"Baby," I say in a low, cold voice. "Don't you know I'm the grin in the dark?"

Then I turn the white part of my eyes completely black and repeat it with a snarl:
"I'm the grin in the dark!"

It tends to turn people numb with fear and cause an immediate loss of motor function. I don't ever use The Grin in the Dark on puppies or children, no matter how much they deserve it. I'm no monster, just an old time pistolero born many years too late. A blazing-handed gunslinger hopelessly out of time.

Today I visited a local chain restaurant for a burrito and a beer. My order number was 54. It was printed in red ink across the bottom of my receipt. I stood there next to the salsa garden for a full fifteen minutes, watching order numbers 55 through 77 happily receive their food. Finally I could stand it no longer and stalked toward the counter. I fixed the girl behind the microphone with a piercing stare.
"Baby," I said in a low cold voice. "Don't you know I'm the grin in the dark?"

Then I turned my scleras completely black and repeated it with a snarl. "I'm the grin in the dark!"

The color drained from her face. She crossed herself and took a stumbling step back, colliding with a co-worker, causing him to drop the tray. A burrito landed with a splattery thump on the checkered floor. The three of us stared at it for a moment. I allowed the outer part of my eyes to turn back to white.
"Dang, that was order number fifty-four, wasn't it?"

The girl behind the counter looked at me then at the burrito then to her co-worker. The co-worker looked at her then at the splattered burrito then to the order slip.
"Fifty-four." He told the girl. The girl looked back at me.
"Yes sir, it's fifty-four. We'll re-make it for you right away, just please don't do that thing again."

"You mean The Grin in the Dark?" I asked.

"The horrible all-black eye thing." She replied.

"Yeah," I said nodding. "The Grin in the Dark."

"Whatever, just please don't do it anymore."

I sighed and looked at my splattered burrito. "Scoop it up and hand it here."

"Are you sure sir? It's been on the floor!"

"Do you want more Grin in the Dark, or do I get my burrito now?"

In one swift motion she shot to the floor, scooped the burrito onto the plate and stretched up her arm to hand it to me. "Thank you sir, enjoy your meal."

I accepted it with a curt nod and strode to a far corner table where I proceeded to devour it with surly gusto between mumbled oaths.

"Hey Burrito," I said when it was half-gone. "Do you know I'm the grin in the dark?" The burrito didn't respond. "Well I am." I said and proved it.

The End

Friday, September 15, 2006

Gold Dust Dreams (The Tale of Purvis Roundelby)

Purvis Roundelby came West for gold and found very little--which rather disappointed him. He'd been told that the creeks were silly with nuggets out there, and that the only real problem was not hurting your back, toting it all to the bank.

"Sonny, may Beelzebub suck my eyes from my skull with a straw if I'm lying." The wizened old man had rasped to Purvis, in the lobby of a Boston hotel. "I've seen eagles literally crap nuggets of pure gold from the accumulation of gold dust on the scales of all the fish they eat."

The old man leaned forward and cupped Purvis' testicles. "That big, young feller, nuggets as big as your balls, sometimes bigger."

Purvis cleared his throat and desperately tried to think of how he was going to get the old man to stop cupping his balls without hurting his feelings or worse.

"Sounds pretty dang good, don't it young buck?--the wind in your hair, the creek at your feet and eagles flying around everywhere, crapping out nuggets of gold?"

And it did sound pretty good to Purvis, despite the unwelcome size comparison that had to involve his testicles, pretty dang good indeed. And right then and there he decided to go.

"Thank you old timer." Purvis said, easing himself out of his chair and gently backing his balls away from the gnarled, liver-spot hand. "It's West for me then and West I shall go."

"You're welcome Boyo. Shucks in a haller, I only wish I could too." The old man sighed. "But I'm just too damn old by a year or twelve."
A statement he proved moments later with a mild to moderate stroke--his third one that morning. He walked it off though and told Purvis not to worry. (Old timers were built pretty sturdy in those days.)

"Good travels young prince." The old timer called out with a grin as Purvis strode purposefully for the door. "Here's to gold dust dreams and friendly camp women who love you then rob you blind." (The last part was beneath his breath.)


As he huddled in rags on a frozen street, watching dogs kill each other for a mossy bacon rind, Purvis Roundelby couldn't help but think back to that sunny day in Boston, half a year and a continent away. And hope that somewhere, somehow, Beelzebub was using a straw to suck that old timer's eyes sideways out of his skull.

"Gold dust dreams indeed." Purvis snorted to no one in particular. "More like dung dust dreams." This struck him as rather funny for reasons probably known only to him, and he screeched his mirth to the sky for a while until something in his chest starting rattling around and his scabs began to ooze again.

But then later that night an eagle screamed, somewhere up the canyon. And as far-gone as he was, Purvis still heard that cry, and with whimpers of desperation and hope, he started frantically crawling toward it, cupping his balls in his hand.

The End

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Monster Named Gripsnarl

"I'm not going to lie for you anymore Gripsnarl! You wanta keep eating streetwalkers?—fine! But by golly, you find somewhere else to dump the skulls, or find another attic to live in!"

Gripsnarl sensed the Boy was angry with him and he clicked his claws apologetically. Gripsnarl stood nearly seven feet tall, with rows of razor teeth in a snout both wolfish and alien. He wasn't afraid of too many things, but having Boy angry with him happened to be one of them--for Boy's anger tended to broadside Gripsnarl with savage waves of dread and the agony of abandonment.

"Please don't be angry Boy." Gripsnarl rumbled in a voice so horrific that it would probably cause people like you and me to instantly shit all over each other.
"I-I didn't know you'd be home so soon." Gripsnarl stammered. "I was gonna clean up the skulls of all these streetwalkers. Honest I was."
Black tears began to well in the corners of his yellow eyes.

Boy shook his head. "Oh Gripsnarl," He lamented. "That's what you said yesterday." The Boy's eyes took on the shifty cast of one who knows a relationship probably won't last.
"What am I gonna do with you Gripsnarl?"


There used to be lots of Gripsnarl's kind, back in the days forgotten. They stalked the Earth, pouncing on things, proud as cocks in a barnyard. (That’s roosters by the way, you perv.) They had no natural foes except for maybe Unicorns, and even then only if in a sizeable herd.

But that was then, and now only Gripsnarl remains--the last real monster of his kind in this digital age of reason. And he has no friends except for maybe Boy. And now even that relationship is strained due to Gripsnarl's unbreakable habit of leaving the skulls of streetwalkers strewn everywhere he goes.


"Do you remember when we met Boy?" Gripsnarl rasped, willing Boy to remember the good times.

Boy sighed and smiled, reminiscing despite himself.
"Yeah Gripsnarl, yeah I guess I do. It was a summer night, impossibly hot, and my folks took me out for ice cream."

Gripsnarl purred deep in his furry chest as Boy continued talking. For most people that "purr" would have terrified, probably beyond all horrors they've ever known. But Boy didn't even notice, he'd lived with Gripsnarl much too long to be unsettled by a gripsnarly purr.

"Yeah, I think I remember that night." Gripsnarl curled up at the foot of Boy's bed and batted the lashes of his slitted eyes, imploring him to continue.

Boy leaned back on his bed, resting his head on both arms.
"Well, as I recall, heat lightning was flashing out on the plains but I only had eyes for that glowing sign--the one that spelled out 'Ice Cream' with flickering arcs of neon."

"Ice cream." Gripsnarl acknowledged, nodding his shaggy head. "It's so yummy. Not as good as a streetwalker's spine, but quite tasty all the same."

"Yeah, anyway," Boy continued, "I think I was next in line and already drooling over how good that creamy chocolate was gonna taste when suddenly you were there, lunging out of the night, ripping the limbs off streetwalkers and dipping their torsos in fire."

"That's like ice cream to a monster." Gripsnarl reminded.

"I know that." Boy replied dismissively. "Come on, how long have I known you now?"

"Oh, right. Sorry." Gripsnarl lowered his head again and covered his stomach rumbles with coughs.
"Then what happened?" He prompted, just happy to be near Boy.

"Oh, you know, then we met and stuff." Boy yawned. It was getting late and he had school the next day. "And then I guess we became friends."

"That's right, I remember now. It's a good story." Gripsnarl's heart swelled and he longed to brush Boy's cheek with the back of his curvy-clawed paw. But he decided not to push it after so recently angering Boy.

"Goodnight Boy." Gripsnarl snarled as he stood and stalked towards the attic.

Boy plumped his pillow and arranged his sheets for bed.
"Goodnight Gripsnarl." Boy said through a yawn as he reached up and switched off the light.

And then Boy slept and Gripsnarl kept watch from the attic's slanted window. And he crouched there with love in his heart and he didn't let anything hurt his friend. And he vowed to be a better monster for Boy and he only ate three streetwalkers that night.

The End

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Things That Haunt Me

"Being haunted by things makes you awesome and also sexy."

These words are as true today as they were nearly a year ago.

Being haunted by things and being awesome and also sexy... it's a trail we all can choose to walk--I just chose to walk it longer.

From the archives - October 12, 2005:


Being haunted by things makes you awesome and also sexy. This is a steady truth. One which Latigo Flint has come to know, perhaps at a cost that can never be repaid.

Norman Maclean was haunted by waters. See, see?! That's awesome and it's also sexy. Well guess what?--Latigo Flint is haunted by basil!!!

Yeeeeah! Equally sexy ain't it?--to be haunted by basil.

Latigo Flint has decided to compile a comprehensive list of all the things that haunt him so that when he's conversing with goth chicks, college girls and the whitewater rafting guides in bikini tops and cutoff jeans, it won't matter where the conversation goes, he shall always be able to reference something he is haunted by.

So for starters--in addition to being haunted by basil, I am also haunted by soda machines that steal dollars, hangnails and kelp. As well, I am haunted by bagpipes, marigolds, torn dust jackets and eels that hide in holes in the reef.

And yogurt! I'm haunted by yogurt!

Furthermore, I find myself quite severely haunted by stucco, egrets and blood-producing sneezes.

But mostly I'm haunted by you.

In summation, you haunt me.

(Once they discover how haunted he is, the goth chicks, college girls and whitewater rafting guides in bikini tops and cutoff jeans will immediately attempt to sleep with Latigo Flint. Of this there can be little doubt.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Football Pencils

Hello. This is the advanced computer program that has been programmed to select a story to display when Latigo Flint drinks himself into a corner.

This story is about football (kinda) because advanced computer programs always like to be topical.

From the archives - July 6, 2005:

Football Pencils

That young man with sad eyes and a slightly misshapen head was at Starbucks today. Spread out on the table he had a set of NFL pencils, a TrapperKeeper notebook and a quarter.

Latigo Flint sees him there almost every day. Latigo Flint had yet to find a reason to talk to him. Latigo Flint must have been feeling chatty today.

"Hey guy. Whatcha doing there?"

The young man wouldn't look me in the eye. "You'll think it's stupid dumb."

"Please don't presume to know what I think."

He lifted his head a bit, managing to stare at my chest. He exhaled slowly before answering.
"I'm simulating the entire upcoming professional football season with these team pencils and a quarter."

I pulled up a chair. "See guy." I said, placing a friendly hand on his shoulder. "I actually don't think that's stupid or dumb. Tell me, how do you factor in home-field advantage?"

The young man smiled shyly. "The home team is always tails." He replied. "And when the quarter is in the air I hope for and whisper 'tails tails tails' to help."

I nodded my appreciation. "That's good fella. That's real dern good if you ask me."

I stood to leave. "My name's Latigo Flint. I'm the quickest quickdraw the world has ever known. And if I was gonna root for an NFL team I reckon it would have to be the Cowboys, Chiefs, 49ers, Broncos or Colts, 'cause those team names are Old West iconic."

The young man disappeared behind his TrapperKeeper. Papers shuffled.
"The next game on the schedule is Broncos and Raiders."

"Which is the home team?" I asked.

"This game is in Denver." He replied.

"Well tails tails tails then."

He scowled. "Don't do that! I say the 'tails tails tails'! There's no such thing as two home crowds; it simply isn't possible. A stadium on top of a stadium?! Why, everyone in the bottom stadium would be crushed. Actually you may have just ruined the entire season and I may have to start all over now. I hope you get cancer."

I backed away. "O-kay guy. Anyway, it was a pleasure to meet you. I'm sorry you have to start the season over. I'm going to order my beverage now and then get some lunch--probably something high in antioxidants."

And that's exactly what I did.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Boy Who Wasn't Afraid to Die

He grinned at the sun, the strange boy who wasn't afraid to die, and he giggled great big frothy bubbles.

Stick a straw in a glass of red milk and blow hard into it, again and again, until crimson foam surges above the rim like surf and murder in a stormy cove.

That's pretty much what his mouth looked like as he lay there in the street, giggling out the evidence of hemorrhage.

And Sara Templeton, the girl who should have been my bride but who was only weeks away from leaving me for a riverboat gambler named Quinton Rodriguez III, tore her gaze from the dying boy and buried her face in my chest. Unaware, as of yet, that she wouldn't always love me I held her and tenderly stroked her hair and pretended not to mind as she snuffled grief and mucus all over the front of my favorite shirt.

A crowd assembled, like crowds do, and everyone decided they had important things to say. They stared at the dying boy and started screaming things like:
"My god, we must do something!" And, "How did it happen?! Who saw?!" And, "What's that thing we're supposed to try?!" And, "Heimlich maneuver?" And, "No you fool, that's for choking!"

One guy in a dirty baseball cap claimed he knew how to make a defibrillator out of a cell phone battery and the wire rims from brassiere. And nine women were topless and several people were without their phones before someone noticed that the guy had his hand down his pants and wasn't really focusing all that much on the construction of a makeshift defibrillator.

And through it all, the boy continued to die and his giggles didn't subside.

And I asked the boy why he wasn't afraid. And he writhed and he bled and his lips turned pale, and he replied with his eyes that his love had left him for another and so how could anything frighten him now.

And then the boy grinned and died and I told Sara not to look. And I held her with both arms and thanked every god I could remember that she was by my side.

But then, of course, several weeks later she left me for a riverboat gambler named Quinton Rodriguez III. And after that, the things that should have horrified began not to bother me much at all.


(Dark Agony. Despair and Stuff. A Shambling, Lurching Sorrow That Just Keeps Getting Worse and Never, Ever Recedes...

What are those "tag" things that good weblog writers put on the bottom of their posts so that the Internet knows what kind of story it is?

And is: "A Shambling, Lurching Sorrow That Just Keeps Getting Worse and Never, Ever Recedes" actually a category? 'Cause if it isn’t it should be.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bullets Met in Border Towns

Latigo Flint had to grow up fast and he had to grow up mean. (The way the very toughest men are made.)

Not much is known about Latigo Flint's childhood--what little of it there was. Legend has it, an old Gypsy was present at Latigo Flint's birth and he took one look at Latigo Flint and promptly prophesied he'd meet his bullet in a border town somewhere east of Nogales, Arizona.

They were just east of Nogales at the time.

That old Gypsy must have been sorely tempted to shoot the infant Latigo Flint and solemnly declare:
"And so it has come to pass--the prophecy fulfilled."

But of course he didn't do such a ghastly thing. Or he tried to but then the spirit of a wolf suddenly possessed the infant Latigo Flint and the terrified Gypsy ran screaming into the night.

There are differing accounts.

On one point, however, history is quite clear: At the age of six, Latigo Flint was in fact ambushed by renegades in a border town somewhere east of Nogales--shot four times and left in the street to die.

And right about then is when Latigo Flint had to grow up. And grow up he did--fast and mean as a matter of fact.

The story goes that young Latigo Flint strapped on pistols that hung practically to his ankles, and tracked those renegades through the badlands for months before finally catching up in the cruelest stretch--a craggy, twisted, sun-ravaged wasteland known as The Bleachbone Bluffs.

According to legend, young Latigo Flint faced them down and taunted them viciously. Apparently even going so far as to gesture at the renegades' eyes and declare that they had "poop-eyes"... that all their eyes were made of poop.

At which point, it's said, one of the renegades went for his gun--followed shortly thereafter by a series of ragged screams in gun smoke gloom as splattery evidence of death dripped like tears down canyon walls.

And then in the silence previously interrupted only by moans, came the rattle of hoof on stone, and there on the bluff stood a donkey named Vengeance. And he came to young Latigo Flint--that six-year-old killer-of-men--and he nuzzled Latigo Flint's baby face with his velvety nose. And then they rode off into the sunset again. Just a boy and his donkey named Vengeance.

The End


This is a very special story. Mostly because it's about me... but partially because it has a donkey named Vengeance in it.

Anyway, it was a difficult story to name. So many titles would have worked. It could have, and perhaps should have been called:
A Donkey Named Vengeance

But then of course, The Legend of Latigo Flint isn't bad either; likewise The Bleachbone Bluffs.

In the end I decided to call it Bullets Met in Border Towns--for reasons I no longer recall.

(Hey, could have been worse... I almost named it: Poop-Eyes--The Bad Guys' Eyes Were Made of Poop.

And honestly now, who would ever want to read something like that?!)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Locker Room Speeches Interrupted by Spiders

"Rock," he said, "sometime when the team is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell 'em to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock, but I'll know about it; and I'll be happy."


Locker room speeches are an American institution. We like to believe anything's possible with enough passion and fury and purpose.

The halftime score doesn't matter. A good speech can turn everything around.

And this is true. It can't be denied. (Countless movies prove it.)

Here's what the public doesn't know though--more times than not, in the other locker room an equally compelling speech was in progress. But then a spider crawled on Coach, and everything was lost.

'Cause let's face it:
"Rock," he said, "sometime when the team is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell 'em to go out there with all they got and... Eeek!!! Get it off me boys! God help me get it off!!!"

Just doesn't seem to inspire victory for some reason.


I have loved you, Starbucks Barista, with the reckless purity of a puppy exploring a yard. And yes, I do sometimes steal panties from your employee locker and sniff them at night in the parking lot. But never in fury or depravity--only for love and all its senses. And know this now, lovely Starbucks Barista, if nothing else in this crazy world can ever be proved to be true, this much shall be, for as sure I stand before you now... Eeek!!! Get it off me boys! God help me get it off!!!

(Crap. A spider crawled on me. And right in the middle of a perfect speech--the one that would have won her heart.

Goddamn spiders. Always interrupting speeches.)