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Showdown at the OK Corral


Lance and Bruce are out for the evening in their new cowboy outfits. To the OK Corral to listen to a friend sing. They are greeted at the door by two men. One tall and thin, the other a dwarf who stands only to the thin man’s hip. The dwarf is muscular with an over-sized head and thick, powerful thighs and forearms.

“Check your weapons at the door,” the thin man says.

“We are unarmed,” says Lance.

The thin man reaches over and lifts Lance’s left arm.

“We are without weapons,” Lance says, laughing.

“They all say that,” says the thin man. “Frisk them Shorty.”

The dwarf frisks Lance from the waist down, stopping to fondle Lance’s new Lucchese boots. Beautifully ornate. Works of art. The dwarf moves to Bruce’s lower torso. Bruce wears matching boots which the dwarf again lovingly inspects.

“I think the appropriate term is Little People,” Lance says to the thin man.

The dwarf produces an I.D. which identifies him as Shorty. Thin man lifts Shorty to chest height. The little man frisks Lance from his hoisted position, then Bruce. From Bruce’s vest Shorty retrieves two Montecristo cigars.

“For later,” Lance says.

“Yes. Thank you,” says the thin man.

Bruce, ever the pacifist, looks over at Lance and shakes his head. Let it pass, they’re just cigars, he is indicating.

“What’s your name?’” Lance asks the thin man trying to establish cordial terms.

“Slim.”

“You certainly are the literal type.”

“No. I don’t read much.”

“Is Kitty here?”

“Cats not allowed.”

“Dogs, though,” clarifies Shorty.

“Kitty, the singer.”

“Oh. The lady singer.”

“I think her name is Molly,” Shorty says.

“Yes. Kitty is her stage name,” Lance says.

“Yeah. She’s her,” says Slim.

Customers, mostly men, sit at tables in groups playing cards and smoking. Lance and Bruce take the only empty table, far away from the stage. A middle-aged woman with a large, high riding chest comes over to them.

“Whatcha drinking?” the chest asks.

“Sarsaparilla,” Lance says jokingly.

The chest leaves and returns with two glasses and a bottle of Rot Gut Whiskey. It says so on the label.

‘That’ll be twenty dollars.”

Before Lance can protest, Bruce gives him the look and a shake of his head. Lance produces the twenty.

Bruce feels something at his feet. He looks down. Shorty has crawled under the table and is kneading his boots. Bruce kicks at him. Shorty crawls out and slinks sheepishly away.

Two men in cowboy hats, yoke shirts and a deck of playing cards take a seat at their table. The one with the cards and a huge mustache places the cards on the table.

“What’s your game?” the mustaches asks. “Five card? Seven card? Texas hold-‘em?”

“Canasta, I’m afraid,” Lance says.

“So. Your with the show?” says the man without the mustache. He mimics the playing of canastas, opening and closing his hands in the air.

“No. The card game,” Lance says to the men. “This is a nice place,” he continues, trying to repair his reputation.

“It’s OK,” says mustache cowboy.  “The pace down the road is better.”

“What’s it called?”

“The Better Saloon.”

Mustache man grabs the bottle of Rot Gut. Puts it to his mouth and takes a long swallow. Sets the bottle back on the table. Collects his cards, rises and leaves. The other man is still pretending to play canastas.

The lights dim. Kitty comes on stage with a man who sits at an old upright piano. The playing and singing begin. Peggy Lee’s Is That All There Is? 

After the song, Lance and Bruce applaud enthusiastically. The card cowboys turn and stare. They do not share their appreciation. Lance and Bruce take hard swallows of the Rot Gut which makes their eyes tear but gradually settles their nerves.

Slim and Shorty stroll by the table smoking aromatic cigars.

Kitty does a few more numbers to no greater effect. She is replaced by an old guy with a guitar. The old guy sings a song, that neither Lance nor Bruce have heard before, about pick-up trucks and rain and mama being run over by a train. The card cowboys are hooting and hollering and singing along.

Kitty has joined Lance and Bruce at their table. She is clearly distraught. She finishes the bottle of “sarsaparilla” and orders another one. The men try to compliment Kitty on her performance but she will have none of it.

The card cowboys are getting rowdy. Bottles clink. Some fall to the floor. The saloon is filled with tobacco smoke and loud cursing. A fight breaks out over a poker game but is quickly quelled. The mustache cowboy comes to the table and pulls Kitty roughly to her feet, trying to dance while drunk to a tune never meant for dancing. Lance rises to her defense but Bruce grabs him by the arm and gives him the look and the head shake.

Soon enough Kitty is back at the table. Her hair partially unpiled from her head. Her lipstick smeared. The front of her dress soaked and stinking from a spilled bottle of Rot Gut.

Kitty, Lance and Bruce stagger to Bruce’s car. Bruce is in stocking feet. They climb into the car and start the engine.

Shorty is waving bye from the front of the OK Corral. The top of the boots ride to the dwarf’s crotch, engulfing the entirety of his short, stocky legs.

 

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