|You Passed the US Citizenship Test|
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Monday, July 31, 2006
Friday, July 28, 2006
I snapped out of my haze. Oh yes, I am in my LGS trailer and was just flashing back to how I got the hat. I looked at the hat again, it's tall dark crown, the wide brim, the headband showing it's years of wear...
It is a pretty nice hat and I did tell Marshal Hawks that I would always have it and wear it (unless I was wearing a space helmet or something). It's been a few years now, I wonder how he's doing.
I stood up and stretched. I peered through the glass of the window and saw some of the contestants, they looked a little ragged from there latest challenge, the judging, voting, and next challenge will be very soon. I wonder who will not go on to the next round...
I guess that it doesn't really matter, the show is successful.
I took another look at the hat. I am not a cowboy at all, but somehow this hat fits my character. While my clothes, weapons, and ship show that I am a high tech hero, the hat alludes back to a simpler day where right was right, where good and honorable men stood tall in the saddle and fought for justice. Yes, this hat is symbolic.
Of course, I do like my ballcap too.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
(Jon is remembering the time when he got his hat)
“Hey Garrett!” Lobo called out to the Marshal’s office. “Open up! We got ‘em!”
“What d’ya mean?” the outlaw in the office yelled back. “Where’s the Marshal?”
“I shot the Marshal!” Lobo yelled.
“You shot him?”
“Yeah! But I did not shoot the deputy… er, I did, I did shoot the deputy!”
“Uh, OK!” Garrett called out. “I got Jango out of the jail cell. We’re coming out!”
A few minutes earlier…
Marshal Hawks wrapped the line tight around Diablo Lobo’s wrists. “This’ll keep ya from tryin’ anything crazy.”
Yooper T. Flintlock chuckled loudly.
“What if I ain’t gonna do it?” Lobo sneered.
“I’ll show you.” I picked one of his blasters from off the dirt and popped the ammo out, then shoved it in his hand. “Here.”
“So?” he looked at me and shrugged.
I shot it out of his hand and he yelped. I picked his weapon up out of the dirt again and handed it to him.
“I can do this all afternoon.”
A few minutes later…
“We’re coming out!” Garrett yelled out the door. He unbolted the front door and heaved it open.
“Wait! Wait a minute!” Jango called while chasing him out the door. She tried to grab him by the shoulder, but I was quick. On his other side, I chopped him in the shoulder and he crumpled to the ground. I drew my pistol and aimed it at Jango.
“I don’t normally make a habit of shooting unarmed women,” I said. “But I am willing to make an exception.
With the Jango James gang in jail, the townspeople were happily congregating in the streets. Yooper had a juice harp in his teeth and was twanging away for some of the local kids. The Marshal was grinning and leaning against a horse rail.
“Well Marshal, this sure has been fun,” I said. “Unfortunately, it’s about time for me to head off into the sunset.”
“Yer right, son,” he answered. “I know what you mean.”
He paused and let the silence hang for a long moment.
“I’ve been the law here for a long time. A long time.”
“You’re a good lawman…” I started to say.
“Yeah, a better lawman would’ve stopped them long ago,” he answered. “Being a marshal ain’t an old man’s game.”
“Who’s going to keep the law in Laramie Outpost?” I asked. I could tell he was in pain, but maybe not from getting shot a few days ago.
“I will,” one of the townspeople stepped up. His new badge gleamed in the setting sun.
“Jon, meet Marshal Hartford,” Hawks patted him on the shoulder.
“Pleased to meet you.” I shook his hand. “You know you have some big boots to fill.”
“Fortunately I have big feet,” the new Marshal grinned. “I’m sure it’ll be a nice quiet job in a nice quiet town.”
“Where you heading?” I asked the retiring lawman.
“Don’t know,” he looked off to the sky. “I always wanted to travel. Maybe I’ll go to Orion in one of those fast ships or something.”
“Yeah,” I answered. “I’m sure that would be a nice trip. Oh, one more thing.”
I pulled off his hat and handed it to him. He took a look at it and then placed it back on my head.
“It’s yours, son,” he said. “From me to you.”
“No, I couldn’t…”
“I insist,” he looked me in the eye. “You’ve proven yourself and these townspeople are grateful. You’re no greenhorn, you’re a real lawman… It’s yours.”
“I’ll treasure it always.”
With that, I hopped up on my steed and made my way to the edge of town.
“Wait Jon!” called a voice. I turned and saw Joey running up to me.”
“I can’t stay, Joey. It’s time for me to go.”
“But we need you!” he cried. “Please stay!”
What’s with the needy kid? Jeez.
“Be good, Joey,” I answered. “Take good care of your mom and make sure you grow up to be one of the good guys.”
“Come back, Jon! Come back!”
Monday, July 24, 2006
The Jango James Gang rode into town in a cloud of dust and gunfire. Jango James herself was sitting comfortably in her jail cell. The townsfolk fought back as well as they could, but they were outclassed by the outlaws riding atop their robotic steeds.
I fired and missed at Diablo Lobo as he rode past me. I turned and fired at the steed of Boris Angus with my other pistol. The machine hauled up and then tumbled to the ground, pinning Boris underneath.
“Yeehaw! I haven’t had so much fun since I don’t know when!” hollered Yooper T. Flintlock.
“I wouldn’t call this fun,” Marshal Hawks gritted through his teeth. “We’re doin’ OK, though. Keep it up!”
A commotion heated up at the building next to the Marshal’s office. One of the outlaws set it on fire and when one of the townspeople confronted him, he was winged in the arm for his trouble.
“Hey!” I yelled trying to distract the villain before he finished the old man off. I ran across the street firing my pistols at him.
When my shots knocked the gun out of his hand, he sprinted for cover in the Marshal’s office.
I cursed under my breath. Meanwhile, Lobo dove off his horse at me.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this, law dog,” Lobo growled. “I’m gonna pull out yer guts and hang ‘em on my wall!”
“Not on your best day, Hobo,” I brought up my fists and beckoned to him. “Come on!”
He howled and swung at me. I dodged his swing and returned with my fist into his gut. He doubled over from the blow, but quickly recovered and drove his elbow into my stomach.
It was a sharp pain, but I was lucky that he didn’t get me with his clawed fist. I was bent over in pain and he tried to bring his elbow down on my neck, but I drove my shoulder into him, then lifted him up and dropped him to the ground with a fireman’s carry.
He picked himself up and swung wildly at me. I dodged him again and punched him low, then dropped him to the ground with a devastating uppercut.
“It’s over,” I looked down at him. “Consider the gang disbanded.”
I looked over at the Marshal and Yooper, they had Boris hogtied and the old prospector was beating him with his hat.
“Heh heh!” he howled. “Don’t think of nuthin’ smart, you son of a buck toothed mule.”
“I saw that one run into the jail,” Hawks pointed to his office. “He can hole himself up there for quite a while with Jango. It’s pretty well protected.”
“Any suggestions?” I asked.
“Yeah, I got one.”
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
“You’re Jango James?” My eyes widened in shock. “But, you’re a woman!”
“Nice of you to notice. What, you don’t think a woman can lead an outlaw gang?” she snapped back. “What kind of chauvinistic ideals do you subscribe to?”
“No no, it isn’t that,” I respond. “I just didn’t suspect that someone named Jango would be a woman is all.”
“You don’t think a woman can have that name?” she snapped again.
“No,” I said. “I’m just sayin’ it’s not usual. The only Jango I’m really familiar with is a man.”
Of course, he also died a long time ago, and a galaxy far, far away from here, but that’s not exactly germane to the conversation.
“You men are all alike!” she hissed. “A woman can’t hardly do a ‘man’s’ job without every fat slob around her getting all uppity about it. Pig!”
“Hey, I’m no chauvinist,” I retorted. “Now you’re just jumping to conclusions!”
She looked down at the ground. “I’m sorry,” her voice softened. “I have trouble trusting men since my mama was murdered by a crooked sheriff.”
“It’s OK,” I assured her. “Just forget about it.”
“I had no means to support myself!” she sobbed. “I had no family to turn to, no marketable skills, I was an outcast.”
“Look, why don’t you just--”
“Nobody to care for me, I had nowhere else to go!” She sobbed and buried her face into my chest. “I don’t wanna be bad… I just want to--”
I grabbed her wrist, the knife in it dropped to the ground. “Nice try,” I said.
We rode back into Laramie Outpost in silence. It was too far to walk, so after carefully clearing away the 5 other knifes she had hidden, I bound her wrists together in front of her and sat her in front of me on the steed.
Once back in town, we were greeted by Marshal Hawks and Yooper T. Flintlock. The Marshal looked better, but he still was still in a lot of pain, despite his best efforts to hide that fact.
“Well lookee here,” the Marshal grumbled. “Who did you bring us, Jon?”
“Stow it, old man,” Jango squinted at him.
“This filly’s full of fire,” he laughed back. “Maybe you’ll calm down a bit in jail.”
I started to lead her to the Marshal’s office. “Her gang isn’t too far behind. Are you two ready for them?”
“Oh, I’m itchin’ fer a fight!” Yooper laughed. “Itchin’ real good! Heh heh heh!”
“We were just getting’ the folk together,” the Marshal added.
People were filtering out of the buildings, some had pitchforks and clubs. Many had guns. I walked Jango into the office and straight to the jail cell, she didn’t put up a fight, but once inside the cell, she solemnly called out my name once again.
“How about this,” she tried to deal. “You let me out, I’ll go get the gang and leave this planet for good. We’ll never bother these people again. You have my word, just let me go.”
“You’re word ain’t worth much around here,” I answered. Without another word, I walked out the door and back towards the lawman and the miner.
“Hey, Deputy Jon,” Little Joey ran up next to me. “There’s gonna be a big fight here, huh?”
“Yeah,” I answered. “I reckon there is.”
“Well, go give ‘em whatfor for me, willya,” he said optimistically.
“I will,” I replied. “You best be getting’ yourself scarce right now.”
“Aww nuts!” the kid kicked the dirt and ran off towards the safety of a building.
“Still don’t see ‘em,” said Yooper. “But they’s a comin,’ I know it!”
“I’m ready to end this once and for all!” the Marshal called out. “They’ve been ridin’ roughshod over this town for far too long. Who’s with me?”
“I’m your man.” Someone stepped forward.
Several more stepped forward and the old lawman quietly thanked them. He then looked off into the distance. The dusty terrain did not yet show sign of the outlaws’ approach.
“I better man would’ve stopped this earlier,” he quietly said.
“There they are, heh heh heh!” Yooper pointed. Off in the distance, dust clouds from the outlaw riders were being kicked up.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
I walked for a day but it felt like it was far longer than that. Eventually, I made my way to a rocky ridge and I saw the Jango James Gang’s encampment. I counted five men with guns and one unarmed woman. She must have been their prisoner or something because she just stood there as Diablo Lobo, Boris Angus and the other gang members waved their guns and yelled at her.
I looked further and saw my steed meandering around the camp as well. The outlaws must have brought her back with them. That was fortunate for me. It’s going to cost me a bundle for the rental when I finally get her back, but right now I need her.
I whistled loudly and the robotic horse neighed and bucked up into the air, knocking over two of the outlaws. I fired my pistols from my position, shooting the guns from the other’s hands. The woman began yelling in the ensuing confusion and waving her arms around in the air.
I sprinted from my position and leaped up on my steed. She bucked again and knocked over two more gang members. I scooped up the woman and rode hard back towards town, the last outlaw tumbling out of the way as we rode past him.
“Shoot ‘um!” yelled one.
“Dang it!” howled Diablo as he picked himself up off the ground. “Go get them!”
Boris managed to recover his rifle and fired at us, but the shots sailed over our heads.
“Yah, Mule, yah yah!” I called, kicking the steed in her metallic side. The woman bounced around on the back as we galloped hard and fast. We rode for an hour, finally slowing down along a ridge so I can watch for the approach of the desperados. After bringing the horse to a stop, I lowered the woman off. I dismounted myself, then took a momment to catch my breath.
“That…” she managed to say. “Was amazing!”
“Aw, ‘twernt nothin,’ ma’am,” I managed to answer. “All in a day’s work.”
“You didn’t even tell me your name,” she stepped closer towards me.
“My name is Jon,” I replied. “I’m a lawman,”
“The way you handled your guns,” she said admiringly. “Such marksmanship. Such bravery.”
“Like I said,” I grinned as she stepped even closer. “All in a day’s work.”
“I just wanted to say…” She leaned close to my ear. “I wanted to thank you for…”
Her warm breath danced across my cheek and past my ear. Her lips came closer.
Wait a minute.
I chopped at her hand near my side. A vibroknife dropped to the ground.
I grabbed her wrist and twisted it up away from me. She tried to hit me with her other hand, but I easily blocked it.
“Not smart,” I growled at her. “What’s with the knife?”
“You really don’t know who I am, do you?” she answered, her disgust rising. “I’m Jango James, you idiot!”
Monday, July 17, 2006
My eyes had trouble focusing, my head was pounding.
“Looks like yer coming to, sonny,” said a voice.
Through the haze, I managed to finally to look at the owner of the voice.
“Whu… where am I?” I managed to say.
“Why, you’re at my cabin, of course,” said the owner of the voice. “Be careful now, you’re still hurtin’ from the beatin’ you took.”
“Who… Who are you?” I stammered.
“Why I’m Yooper T. Flintlock, that’s who,” the man answered. “I’ve been prospectin’ these hills for nigh on 20 years. You’re the biggest thing I’ve caught, though. Heh heh heh.”
“How’d I get here?” I looked around the cabin. Then I winced in pain. My shoulder was killing me.
“I brought you and the Marshal here after I pulled you two out of the river,” Yooper answered. “You’re lucky I was there, too. You fellas were in some sad shape!”
“That explains the pain,” I winced. “Thanks for bandaging me up.”
“Oh I did more’n that,” he laughed. “I ain’t just a grizzled old prospector character, y’know. I know how to use some of the saps and roots to heal you up. Be careful, though, you’ve got a ways to go. Heh heh heh.”
“How’s Marshal Hawks?” I asked.
“He’s alive,” Yooper answered. “He ain’t doin’ as good as you are, though. You must be strong as an ox.”
“Almost as smart, too,” I replied. “I can’t believe we stumbled into an ambush like that.”
“Well, yer lucky, that’s fer sure,” he smiled a partially-toothy grin. “Can’t say that I can comment much on your intelligence, though, heh heh heh.”
I moved over to where the Marshal was lying down. He squinted in pain as he looked over at me.
“Bein’ a lawman’s a young man’s game,” he coughed.
“Aw, don’t say that,” I replied. “You got plenty of good years left in you.”
“I don’t think so, son,” he coughed. “I’m gettin’ too old for this stuff. Lettin’ us walk right into an ambush just like that.”
“I walked right into it too,” I said. “I wasn’t thinkin’ too clearly myself. But you’ll get better and we’ll go get the Jango James Gang.”
“We gotta get ‘em now,” he coughed. “They know we’re down and once they get the gang all together, they’re gonna be headin’ straight to town with guns blazin.’”
“The Marshal ain’t goin’ nowhere,” Yooper interrupted. “Least not yet. He’s still hurtin’ too much to uphold much law right now.”
“Then I’ll go.” I reached for the belt holstering my two pistols. I winced again as needles of pain ran up and down my shoulder and torso.
“You ain’t gonna last long against those coyotes,” Marshall Hawks objected. “You can’t do it alone.”
“I’ll do what I can, then lead them back to town,” I answered. “The townspeople will have to defend themselves. We outnumber the gang there.”
“It’s suicide to take them on yourself,” the old Marshal shook his head. “You can’t do it.”
“Then either stop me or go rally the town folk.” I looked him in the eye solemnly. He knew I meant business.
Wincing in pain, I buckled my gun belt around my waist. I looked at the hat that the Marshall gave me, it was black as coal. I looked at the salt-stained headband and after a pause, I settled it down on my head, then ran my forefinger and thumb across the brim. I gave my two companions a quick salute and closed the door behind me.
“That’s quite a deputy ya got there,” Yooper said to the Marshal. “Real brave.”
“Yeah,” the old lawman looked at the door. “Just brave enough to get us all killed.”
Friday, July 14, 2006
Marshal Hawks and I saddled up our steeds and rode towards the edge of town. A man wearing a derby and spectacles ran up to us from one of the wood buildings.
“You’re going to get Jango James, Marshal?” he asked.
“That’s right, Mayor Johnson,” the old lawman answered. “We’ll handle the desperadoes, you just stay here with the women and children.
The mayor harrumphed angrily at the comment but didn’t offer any criticism or help.
“Wait! Joey!” I heard a woman’s voice call out. I looked and saw a young boy running up to us.
“What’s your name, mister?” the boy asked, walking along next to our steeds.
“My name is Jon, son,” I answered. “I’m a lawman.”
“Wow,” Joey’s eyes grew wide. “You gonna kill a lot of bad guys with your gun?”
“If I have to,” I answered. “That’s not what I want to do, though.”
“It must be cool to kill bad guys with your gun, huh mister?”
“Killing is never cool,” I looked at him, then squinted towards the distant desert.
“When I get older, I’m gonna have a gun and I’m gonna be big and brave, too!”
“A gun is a tool, Joey,” I replied “No better or no worse than any other tool, an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”
“Now Joey,” Marshal Hawks interrupted. “You should be gettin’ back to your mother.”
“Awww,” Joey shoved his hands in his pockets, kicked the dirt, then ran back to his mother.
“Kids,” I chuckled.
“It’s tough growin’ up in a rough place like this,” Hawks said. “He’s so desperate to be an adult that he’s gonna miss all the best things of bein’ a kid… fishin’ at the waterin’ hole, swimmin’ at the fishin’ hole, runnin’ around with a hoop and a stick…”
“A place like this is tough on a kid,” I agreed. “Tough on grownups, too.”
“You got that,” Hawks said, almost absently.
We rode for a couple hours in silence. I was thinking about my solemn duty that layed ahead and I imagine the Marshal was having similar thoughts.
As we rode, the terrain grew from the flat, dusty trail to a rocky incline. Soon, we were walking along the side of a mesa with a gentle slope sliding down into a river below.
“The mountains sure are pretty,” I said. The orange sunset produced giant streaks of waning golden light across the sky.
“Pretty dangerous,” Marshal Hawks replied.
Shots rang out and I saw Hawks fly off his horse and tumble down the hillside into the river. I pulled out my pistols but a sharp pain pierced my left shoulder.
“Ha ha ha, I told you that you ain’t seen the last of me, dog!” I heard Lobo’s voice as I tumbled off my own ride.
“Lookit this!” came his companion’s voice. “He’s got a badge.”
I looked up through the haze and saw Lobo stroll up to me. My vision grew dimmer as he pointed his gun at my face.
“Guess I’m gonna shoot me another law dog,” Lobo said with a malicious grin.
I heard the shot ring out and things went black.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Slowly, I stepped out onto the wood paneled sidewalk, looking at Diablo Lobo. I then moved deliberately out onto the dusty street. I used this pace to give myself the time to look around at possible ambush points. I know he’s not alone.
“Hurry up, ya dog, I haven’t got all day,” Diablo growled impatiently.
That’s the other reason to move slowly. He getting frustrated and a frustrated gunman will likely miss his target.
Of course Marshal Hawks’ warning was correct -- I saw a shadow up in the clock tower shift around. No doubt there’s another gunfighter up there who is now aiming a rifle at the back of my head.
“I told you before we don’t have to do this,” I gritted through my teeth at the outlaw. “Dying in the street ain’t right for any man.”
“You’ll be the one dyin’ in the street like a dog, dog,” he rumbled back at me. “You walk out of this town right now or draw.”
We stood face-to-face in the center of the street, separated by 20 yards of dust and hot summer air. I stared at him, keeping my eye on his shooting hand. He stared at me. A tumble weed rolled between us. Somewhere in the distance, a coyote howled.
Lobo drew his six-gun and fired. I drew my own pistols and spun sideways, leaning away from the energy bolt lancing across the air towards me. I could feel the sizzle and my sideburn singed as I fired at his hand with the pistol in my left. With the pistol in my right, I fired up at the clock tower.
Lobo yelped as the shot once again separated his pistol from his hand. Another shout was heard from the tower and a rifle fell clattering to the ground.
I stalked up to Lobo and pulled him towards me by his shirt. “This is my town now!” I spat in his face. “If you or anyone else from your gang puts one foot into Laramie Outpost again, I’ll shoot the guns right out of their dang hands. Understand?”
A bead of sweat trickled down his temple as he nodded affirmative. To really drive home my point, I socked him right in the jaw and he doubled over backwards into the dirt.
The other gunman tumbled out of the tower rubbing his injured shooting hand. I strode up to him and sent him sprawling with a punch to the jaw as well. I squatted down and hauled him up close to me so I could look him square in the eye.
“What’s your name?”
“B-B- Boris Angus!” he managed to blurt out.
“You like being shot in the hand, Boris?” I asked.
“N- no sir,” he replied.
“I’m gonna tell you the same thing I told Lobo,” I growled. “This is my town. Step foot into my town and you’ll get the same thing again. Get it?”
He nodded and I tossed him back into the dirt. He scrambled to get back up and he stumbled over to Lobo.
“Get goin,’” I said to them.
The two stumbled to the edge of town. “You ain’t seen the last of me, dog!” Diablo shook his fist.
“I got plenty of shots left,” I called back. “How many times you want to do this?”
People were looking through their windows and doorways, some of the braver ones even stepped out onto the sidewalks. Marshall Hawks was leaning against the frame of his door smirking.
“Almost like old times, huh?” the old lawman chuckled.
“Not quite,” I answered. “I had to let them go, though. I’m not the law around here…”
“Then you’re gonna need this.” He tossed something to me. I snapped it out of the air and took a look. In my palm sat a badge. “I’m gonna need a deputy if I’m gonna go round up the Jango James Gang.”
I smiled up at him. “You know where they are?”
“Then let’s go get ‘em.”
Monday, July 10, 2006
“I can’t let you go out dressed like that,” Marshall Hawks shook his head.
“What’s wrong with how I’m dressed?” I asked, holding up my arms and looking down at my black shirt and pants.
“You wanna be a cowboy, you need a hat, rawhide,” Hawks replied. “That sun’s really bright out there and they’re gonna use that to their advantage.”
“OK,” I answered. “I need a hat. How’s this?”
“A baseball cap? I admire you rootin’ fer your favorite team, but that just don’t fit around here.”
“What about this?”
“I’m not even sure what that’s fer either, son,” he answered. “You stormin’ the breeches or something?”
“What about this?”
“Yer gonna be too hot in that thing,” he chuckled.
“OK, what about this?”
“That thing is ridiculous! Why would you even want to wear something like that? I told you, you need a cowboy hat.”
“All right then, how about this?”
“What thar heck is that? That thing is even worse! Don’t ever let me see you wear that again!”
“That’s all I got,” I shrugged. “I don’t have anything else.”
“All right, all right, ya dang greenhorn.” Hawks pulled off his hat and placed it on my head. “Just take mine.”
I pulled the hat off and looked at the sweatband. It was stained brown with sweat and dirt.
“That’s from ridin’ hard and livin’ hard, pard,” he laughed. “No matter how hard you try, they don’t come clean.”
I shrugged and unbolted the door.
“One more thing, Johnny,” the Marshall called from his desk. “That sun’s comin’ through the clock tower right about now. Perfect place to put a gun.”
I nodded solemnly and stepped out the door.
Friday, July 07, 2006
I pulled out a fist full of credits and slapped them down on the bar. “One more,” I said.
The bartender glanced at the money and looked back at me, so I threw down a few credits more. He shrugged and tapped one more beer.
“Thanks, pardner,” I hoisted the drink towards him. Darn if being around here doesn’t put me in the mood to speak like a cowboy.
“That duel in the sun, do you know who the gunfighter was?” the bartender asked.
“Rio Bravo? No, Rio Lobo?” I answered. “No, I don’t”
“Diablo Lobo,” the bartender corrected. “He’s a shootist and he’s a part of the Jango James gang.”
“Yeah?” I said. “I shot his guns sky high. He ain’t coming back.”
“He will,” the bartender warned. “He’ll be back with some rough riders. Outlaws from past Red River, they’ll be gunnin’ for you now.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond, I took another drink from my beer.
“We don’t like strangers in these parts,” came a voice from behind me. “Maybe you should just head west, out of town. If you're not out by high noon, I'm gonna get my posse and hang you high.”
I turned and saw Marshal Hawks grinning like a maverick colt.
“I’ll head out on the iron horse,” I answered nonchalantly. “Through the canyon passage, towards the big sky.”
“Hah ha ha, howya doin’, rawhide?” Hawks laughed while squinting through the crows’ feet around his eyes. “It's good to see you again.”
“Same to you, pardner,” I laughed. Yeah, sayin' pardner makes me a cowboy.
“Let’s talk in my office,” Hawks ushered me to the door.
In his office, I peered through the curtains to see the folk in the buildings across the street peering through their own curtains, then quickly shutting them.
“People sure are edgy around here,” I commented.
“That ain’t half of it,” Hawks replied. “It’s that gang runnin’ around, tearin’ things up. Nobody wants to make a fuss and you, sir, made a fuss.”
“Why don’t you deputize some people here and go after them?” I asked.
“Like I said, folk around here are too scared,” the old marshal shook his head. “Nobody’s gonna stick their neck out and I can’t do it alone, rawhide.”
“Well, you got me,” I assured him. “Where are they? You an I’ll go get ‘em.”
“They’re just outside of Briscoe County line,” Marshal Hawks answered. “But you don’t have to worry about that, they’ll be back and lookin’ for you.”
Almost on cue, there was a shout from the street.
“Hey Marshal!” came the voice. “Where’s the stranger? I gotta bone ta pick with ‘em!”
Hawks looked peered out the window. “It’s Lobo. Don’t go out there, Johnny. It’s a trap.”
“Well of course it is,” I answered. “I’m here though, and I’ve got to see this thing through.”
“Fine, if you wanna get yourself shot, greenhorn, I can’t stop ya,” he grumbled. “Be my guest.”
“I’m comin’ out, Lobo!” I called out.
I reached for the deadbolt, but the Marshal stopped me.
“Hold it,” he said. “I can’t let you go out there. At least not like that.”
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Yep, things are going very well around here, Last Gladiator Standing is chugging along, I just saw the worst movie ever made (worse than Glitter, Fantastic Four and Cheaper by the Dozen II all mashed together into some sort of demonic bad movie amalgam), and I have saved the galaxy a few times already this year and she seems to be doing OK without my help for the moment. I had a quiet moment in my LGS trailer and I kicked my feet up on my desk. This would be a moment where I would lean back and smoke a stogie – that is if I smoked stogies. As many of you know, one of the most important weapons in an Intergalactic Gladiator’s arsenal is his health, and I’m not going to ruin mine by reveling in some cigar. Kids, be smart don’t start.
Instead, I stretched out and leaned my cowboy hat over my face. I looked at the sweatband and saw that it was stained with salt and dirt from my various heroic deeds. Yes, even on space cowboy hats you’re unable to keep the bands clean.
I allowed myself an audible chuckle because I’m not even a cowboy, I’m from Chicago. Aside from a few years in the early nineties when everybody loved country music and bought hats to wear to Whiskey River, the Windy City remained mostly cowboy hatless. I shifted the hat in front of my eyes again and I thought about my hat….
* * *
Laramie Outpost on planet Stetson IV was a quiet little town. There was a spaceport just over the hills and a train ran through once a day, but the people in the area were mostly prospectors looking for the big lode or ranchers. Of course the town had its town folk, a couple dusty saloons, a general store, and a few other things that a frontier town should have. Laramie Outpost was a quiet town. Quiet until Jango James and his gang roared through. They drank the saloons dry, shot up the town, and generally drove the people of the town into a life of fear. Marshal Hawks tried his best to keep order, but he was just one man and everyone else was too scared to help.
One day, a stranger rode into town, a visitor from a far off planet who came to visit his friend Marshal Hawks, but who would get more than he ever bargained for.
With the sun beating down and a hot breeze crossing the dusty streets, the stranger entered the town in time to see some of the honest citizens scatter. Shades were drawn and bolts were bolted. The stranger didn’t know why, but it wasn’t his concern.
In front of him, a figure stepped from out of the alley. “I don’t know what you’re doing here, fella,” he said with a growl. “but you best just turn around and head back out. This is my town.”
“I didn’t see your name on the sign,” the stranger pointed back towards the town line. “Maybe Yellow Buzzard was written under it or something.”
“Smart mouth for a dead man,” the man snarled and unhooked the strap around his pistols. “You may be walking into the town on yer leather boots, but you’ll be riding out in a pine box.”
“We don’t have to do this,” the stranger replied. “I’m just here to visit on old friend, he’s the marshal around these parts.”
“And that’s supposed to impress me, dog?” he smirked. “The law ain’t much around here.”
“Diablo. Diablo Lobo,” the man said.
“That’s my name,” Lobo said. “I like my victims to know who shot them.”
“I said that we don’t have to do this,” the stranger answered. “How about we head into the saloon and I get you a drink?”
“How about I shoot you then go get a drink with your money instead?”
Quick as half a blink, Lobo drew his pistol. Before he could bring it to bear on the stranger, a shot knocked it out of his hand. With a howl, Lobo drew the pistol out of his left holster, but it too was launched from his hand with a blast.
“Son of a mule!” the gunman howled and pulled a third weapon out from behind his back, but once again it was shot from his grasp.
“Had enough yet?” the stranger asked. Smoke wafted from his own pistol. “Or do you have a few more guns in there that you want shot out of your hands?”
“You haven’t seen the last of me!” Lobo warned, rubbing the back of his hand.
After Lobo ran off, the stranger walked into the nearest saloon.
“A beer please, barkeep.”
The bartender poured a frosty mug and slid it to the stranger. “What brings you here?”
“Here to see an old friend,” the stranger replied.
“I saw what happened out there,” the bartender launched a thumb towards the door. “You may have bought yourself a pack of trouble, mister.”
“Nothing I can’t handle,” came the cool reply.
“I didn’t catch your name, mister,” the bartender pried.
“I didn’t give it,” the stranger replied. “It’s Jon.”
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
|You Are Homer Simpson|
You're just an ordinary, all-American working Joe...
With a special fondness for pork rinds and donuts.
You will be remembered for: your little "isms" and philosophies on life
Your life philosophy: "Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel."
Posted by Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator at 07:45
Monday, July 03, 2006
I got a call that Superman was holding a press conference. Quickly, I flew to Metroplois to attend. Of course, I flew in the Danger Sled, I can’t fly under my own power like Superman can.
I got there just as it was beginning. The Last Son of Krypton was giving his opening statement.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “Thank you all for coming. I have a few things that I would like to say then I will answer your questions.”
“First, I just want to say that while most of my time here among the people of Earth has been a real pleasure, there have been a few exceptions. To those people, be you a criminal scientist, a cyborg with a Kryptonite heart, or a super-intelligent ape, whatever you are, I will not rest until you are all behind bars. Permanently.
“Second, I just wanted to just give a piece of advice to all the research labs and science facilities. Could you please keep your armored suits, beam weapons, unique isotopes, and experimental technologies under better control? I understand that if a super powered villain breaks in, you can’t do much to stop him, but if Joe Nobody has a chip on his shoulder, why should he have easy access to an atomic-powered exoskeleton that fires Kryptonite beams? Why even make that? Come on, everybody knows that’s my weakness.”
“Third, speaking of Kryptonite, let this be a warning to everyone out there who wants to sneak up to me with Kryptonite hidden in a lead box. I know it’s in there, even if I can’t see it. That’s been done a million times already, it’s played out, it won’t work. Give it up. OK, are there any questions? Yes?”
A reporter stood up. “Superman, I understand that Kryptonite is your only weakness, why is there so much of it on Earth? I mean, if Krypton exploded, that stuff should be everywhere, not just concentrated on our planet.”
“That’s true,” Superman answered. “Evidently, a lot of it landed in a small town in Kansas. That’s where a lot of these evildoers seem to be getting it.”
“Could you tell us where in Kansas?” the reporter followed up.
“No. Next question.”
“Superman,” another reporter stood up. “You say that Kryptonite is your only weakness, but what about magic? That seems to affect you as well.”
“Well of course,” Superman said. “You’re affected by magic, I’m affected by magic. We’re all vulnerable to it. The same spell that would affect you would affect me as well. I would rather not comment on this any further, thank you. Next question.”
“Could you tell us more about your relationship with Clark Kent?” another reporter asked.
“What do you mean, relationship?” Superman asked.
“You know,” the reporter continued. “You and Kent seem to be pretty close. A little too close if you ask me.”
“I… I’m uh, not sure where you are going with this.” Superman looked a little uncomfortable at the question.
“You know, Superman,” the reporter pushed. “The fact that Kent always gets the scoops on you, the fact that you’ve been seen flying out of his luxurious metropolitan high rise, the fact that you both hang out with all the same people. Face it Superman, you and Kent are a lot closer than just casual acquaintances.”
“I, er, uh, am not exactly sure what you’re trying to say here,” Superman stammered.
“Come on, fess up, Superman,” the reporter pressed. “You and Kent are an item, aren’t you?”
“It all makes sense,” the reporter continued. “You’re good looking and in shape, wearing those tight and colorful clothes all around town. Kent’s from a small, conservative town in the Midwest, a place where he didn’t really fit in. It makes sense, you’re a couple.”
“Ah, well let me assure you that Clark Kent and I are very close,” Superman chuckled. “But not that close. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… Kent and I have a good friendship and I do give him a few exclusives here and there for the Daily Planet, but that’s as far as that goes. In fact, Clark is married to Lois Lane—”
“So how come you’re always flying her around town, then?” the reporter followed up.
“Well, as an investigative reporter, she does get herself in a lot of trouble,” Superman answered. “Next question.”
“Who’d win in a fight,” a reporter asked. “You or Captain Marvel?”
“Which Captain Marvel?”
“The one with the red outfit and big yellow lightning bolt,” the reporter elaborated.
“Ah, well,” Superman searched for what to say. “We try not to fight each other; we’re on the same team.”
“But if you had to. Like say, an evil alien will destroy Earth unless you two fight.”
“Are either of us under control of the alien?” Superman asked.
“Are either of our powers being reduced by a ray or anything?”
“No,” the reporter answered. “You’re both at full strength.”
“Oh well, I’m sure I’d win, then we’d team up to stop the alien. Next question.”
“How about you and the Hulk?”
“Well, Hulk and I don’t cross paths much,” Superman stated. “Is it the green Hulk or the gray one?”
“Oh I’d win,” he grinned. “I would have to find some way to outsmart him to do it. Next question.”
“How about Galactus?” asked another reporter. “He’s pretty big. He eats planets, I hear.”
“I’d win,” Superman replied flatly. “Can we move on from this line of questioning?”
“I have a question,” a reported stood and raised his hand. “I saw a movie, a documentary I think, that featured you fighting three Kryptonian villains who came to Earth.”
“Ah yes,” Superman said. “You’re referring to General Zod and his crew. What is your question about that?”
“How did those three fire lasers at you from their fingertips? I mean, you’ve never done that ever. I didn’t think it was one of your powers.”
“Laser from the fingertips?” Superman shook his head. “No, that’s not one of our powers.”
“Well then, how did they do it? Was it a camera trick or something?”
“No, ah, let’s just say that they vibrated their fingers at such speeds that they were able to launch their own atoms at me. In effect, they turned themselves into particle beam weapons.”
“That seems rather silly,” the reporter said. “Why would they do that when they could’ve just used their heat vision or something?”
“I don’t know,” Superman answered. “The important thing is that I beat them and they won’t threaten the people of Earth anymore. Thank you ladies and gentlemen, that’s all the time I have for today.”
And with that, Superman lifted into the air and flew away from the gasping crowd of reporters.