Thursday, March 29, 2007

I am an American

You Are 90% "Average American"

You are average because you wouldn't pay to go in space.

You are not average since you have (at least) a college degree.

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 9 out of 10 correct!

You Belong in the USA

People either love you or hate you
And you really don't care what anyone thinks
Big and bold, you do things your way

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hold on a minute

Does someone want to tell me what's going on around here?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mambo #5

Ladies and gentlemen
This is Hudson's Mambo number 5

One, two, three, four, five
Everybody in the car, so come on let's ride
To the liquor store around the corner
The boys say they want some gin and juice
But I really don't wanna
Beer bust like I had last week
I must stay deep 'cause talk is cheap
I like Ferro, Vampirella, Erifia, and Diana
And as I continue you know they're getting finer
So what can I do? I really beg you, my Lord
To me flirting is just like a sport
Anything fly, it's all good let me dump it
Please set in the trumpet

A little bit of Wilma in my life
A little bit of Barb is by my side
A little bit of Aayla's all I need
A little bit of Deanna's what I see
A little bit of Chiana in the sun
A little bit of Laura all night long
A little bit of Oneida here I am
A little bit of you makes me your man

Mambo number 5!

Jump up and down go and move it all around
Shake your head to the sound
Put your hands on the ground
Take one step left and one step right
One to the front and one to the side
Clap your hands once and clap your hands twice
And if it looks like this then you're doing it right

A little bit of Wilma in my life
A little bit of Barb is by my side
A little bit of Aayla's all I need
A little bit of Deanna's what I see
A little bit of Chiana in the sun
A little bit of Laura all night long
A little bit of Oneida here I am
A little bit of you makes me your man

The trumpet!
Mambo number 5!
(heh heh heh ha)

A little bit of Wilma in my life
A little bit of Barb is by my side
A little bit of Aayla's all I need
A little bit of Deanna's what I see
A little bit of Chiana in the sun
A little bit of Laura all night long
A little bit of Oneida here I am
A little bit of you makes me your man

I do all to
Fall in love with a girl like you
'Cause you can't run and you can't hide
You and me gonna touch the sky

Mambo number 5!

Friday, March 23, 2007

At the Queen's Party

Never let it be said that Queen Galacta doesn't know how to throw a party. Invitations go out and people from all over the space time continuum drop what they’re doing and head straight to Throneworld.

Here Professor Xavier, the scholarly leader of Earth's X-Men is meeting up with two guys from Starfleet. The one officer looks kind of like Captain Cisco, but I though that he was stuck inside some space vortex.

I know you're thinking, what is a Dark Lord of the Sith doing here? I am not sure that he knows, either. It looks like he’s a little fed up with those Starfleet Officers trying to once again engage him in a debate on whether or not the Enterprise could beat a Star Destroyer in space combat.

The Queen's party was a great place to demonstrate the R2 units with the new chassis. Evidently the round ones keep falling into manholes.

Look, it's Erifia and Aayla together. Isn't it nice that they're finally getting along?

I'm not sure who these two are...

I wonder what the Imperial trooper is saying to the short-shorted adventurer? Perhaps something like "I've got a big gun, baby. Big enough to blow up a planet."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wanted: Lost Husband

“I simply can’t find him anywhere,” the woman stated.

She remained chipper even though she was very likely dancing along the edge of desperation. I’m certainly no detective, but she insisted that her husband was somewhere near and that I knew him.

“I just haven’t seen him since this weekend,” she added. “Oh, I fear that he went on a heavy drinking binge and may be lost… or even hurt!”

I ruffled through my jacket pocket and pulled out a pen and my notepad.

“Could you describe him, ma’am?” I asked.

“Sure, he’s six foot two, eyes of blue,” she ticked off his characteristics one by one on her fingers. “He’s handsome and athletic. Oh, he’s a military man! He looks so good in his uniform.”

“Military man,” I repeated as I wrote the info down. “Ma’am, do you realize that this is Planet Hacknor? Hundreds of people come through here every day. Many of them are in the service. We could check the local Colonial Marine garrison if you want.”

“Oh no, he’s not a marine,” she replied. “He’s stationed someplace far, far away from here. I just don’t know what to do.”

I looked over my notes as she wrung her hands together.

“Hmmm, a military man but not from around here,” I stated as I absently pulled a receipt and an old Post-It note from another pocket. “Tall and athletically built. Tell me, ma’am, does he have any distinguishing characteristics? Anything to pick him out of a crowd?”

“Oh, I’m afraid not,” she sighed. “He can disappear into a crowd pretty easily. Especially when he’s at work.”

“Interesting,” I said absently as I jotted notes down. “This will make him tougher to find. Let me ask you, is there anything at all that I could use that would help me find your husband?”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I just don’t know.”

“Well let me see what I can do,” I dotted one last “i” in my notes. “Oh there is one more thing, ma’am,”


“Do you at least have a picture of him? You know so I know who to look for.”

“Oh certainly,” she pulled out a towel and unfolded it. “I had this made on our anniversary. Isn’t it romantic? Do you think this will help?”

Monday, March 19, 2007

Of Space Mice and Men, the Conclusion

“I’m gonna eat lots of beans with ketchup,” Hudson said.

Private Hudson was languidly staring out towards the sunset, captured by his dreams of getting off this planet. My pistol Winona was fully charged and pointed at the back of his head. Its selector was switched over to fire. My index finger lightly touched the trigger, preparing to squeeze.

Just days ago, Hudson’s pet space mouse had chewed through the wiring on the power converter for my warp drive then either died from indigestion or from Hudson’s own clumsy hand. After making an emergency landing on this planet, Salinas V, it became clear that our only option to replace the device was to work until we could afford one.

Hudson and I worked at a ranch where the Colonial Marine made quite an impression. First, he became involved in a scuffle with Curly, the Boss’ son. Then he left Curly’s wife in a crumpled heap on the barn floor after some rendezvous. Even now as these thoughts run through my head, a lynch mob assembled by Curly is heading this way to end Hudson’s life in a painful way.

No man should have to die like this.

I could hear their voices approaching. The posse was crashing through the woods, unable to keep quiet as they moved. They would reach the clearing in just a matter of moments. Earlier, I heard the blast of a shotgun as Curly called together the farmhands. I don’t know what other weapons they’re carrying, but I have no doubt that I’m outgunned.

Hudson continued to stare of into the distance. Dreams of Throneworld continued to beckon to him. My finger gently ran up and down the trigger; anticipation was mounting.

The mob suddenly appeared in the clearing, I aimed Winona at the first person and shot a pistol out of his hand, the second person was holding a torch and that also was sent spinning from his grasp. Curly appeared next clutching his shotgun; its barrel crooked in the arm of his damaged hand. His jaw dropped and his eyes popped open in surprise as his weapon was also shot out of his hand. Another pistol was sent flying as well as a pitchfork, another torch, and a shovel. People towards the back of the mob bumped into the people in front of them as everyone stopped and stared.

“We’re leaving,” I said coldly. “Don’t try to stop us.”

“That man attacked my wife!” Curly snarled and pointed at Hudson.

“Look what he did to my hair!” His wife appeared next to him with a venomous look on her face. “And my back is killing me from him pushing me over. My chiropractor Carlos is going to have a field day with me!”

“Wha? But I thought you were dead!” Hudson stood up and stared at her.

“You wish,” she sneered. “And keep your grubby paws off me.”

“Yeah, what are you doing putting your hands all over my wife?” Curly growled.

“Hudson?” I looked over at him.

“What? She came on to me,” Hudson insisted. “I totally told her to back off because I don’t dig skanks.”

“What?” she screamed. “Why you--!”

“Wait wait,” Curly put his hands up. “You came on to him?”

“Oh yeah,” Hudson smirked. “The ladies love the H-Man.”

“You came on to him?” repeated Curly.

“Oh yeah, she was all over me,” Hudson beamed.

“Why you!” Curly tried to lunge at Hudson but Slim and I stepped in.

“Hold on, hold on,” Slim said. “Calm down now, Curly. Fightin’ isn’t going to settle this issue. You know how your wife behaves around the boys.”

“That’s right,” I added. “Hey, who else here has she come on to? Come on, show me your hands.”

Slowly, reluctantly, several hands went into the air.

“She was just coming onto me five minutes ago,” I voice said from the back of the group.

“Jones!” Curly’s wife exclaimed. “Hush!”

“She said she was bored here and wanted to be a movie star,” Hudson added. “She got mad when I said she couldn’t come with us.”

Curly glared at his wife angrily, she smiled and shrugged sheepishly.

“Clearly you two have some issues to work through,” I said.

“You know that marriage counselor just opened an office near the general store,” Slim added. “Maybe you two should go see him on Monday.”

“Awww,” Curly and his wife said together disappointedly.

The crowd dispersed, Hudson and I climbed into the Danger Sled and rocketed into space.

“You didn’t think I hurt her or anything, didja Jon?” Hudson asked from the copilot’s seat.

“I dunno,” I shrugged.

“You know I don’t mess with a married woman, right? If country music has taught me one thing, it’s don’t mess with another man’s woman.”

“I guess you’re right about that,” I chuckled.

“I mean, she was a hot little number, though and a man can dream and all, right?”

“Yeah.” I dialed up the coordinates for our warp jump.

“But it’s just best to stay away. My daddy didn’t raise no idiot.”

“You’re right, Hudson,” I replied. “Though I’m a bit surprised that you take this point of view.”

“A lot about me might surprise some people, but I’m just glad she turned out OK,” Hudson added. “Hey, you weren’t gonna shoot me in the back of the head were you?”

“Well a man can dream and all, right?” I asked then started laughing.

Hudson laughed, then suddenly stopped as the comment dawned on him. He gave me an odd look as the Danger Sled leapt into warp.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Said the German Barmaid after she refilled the Depression-Era Writer’s beer, “Here’s Your Stein Back.”

With the needed space bucks in hand, I purchased the power converter at the general store. I carried it back to my ship and the Emergency Repair Droid began work on installing it. I then made my way back to the ranch and an unfortunate surprise.

“Jon, over here!” Slim beckoned to me from the barn door. “Quick!”

I jogged across the dusty yard to the barn. My jaw dropped when I saw the twisted torso lying on the ground.

“Is that…?”

“Yep, that’s Curly’s wife alright,” Slim confirmed. “What do you think happened?”

“Somehow, I have no doubt that this is all Hudson’s doing,” I muttered. “Have you seen him around here?”

“No I haven’t,” the trail boss answered. “He may have ran off.”

“If he did, then I think I know where he is. Has anyone else seen this?” I indicated to the crumpled form on the floor.

“No,” he shook his head. “I just got here myself.”

“OK, OK,” I started to think of what I needed to do. “I have to find Hudson.”

“If Curly finds that guy, he’ll kill him for sure,” Slim said. “No man should be lynched like that.”

“I know.” I headed out the door. “Give me five minutes. I just need a head start to find Hudson.”

I bolted for the road to make my way back to our rendezvous point. Had I stayed a moment longer I would have heard a low, pained moan emanating from Curly’s wife.

“Ow, my head,” she groaned. Sliding away from her awkward position, she pulled up the snapped twig that she way lying on. “Ugh, no wonder my back’s killing me.”

“Let me help you up,” Slim carefully helped Curly’s wife to her feet. “Let’s get you to the doc.”

“No way, he attacked me.” She shrugged off his help after getting to her feet. “Do you see what that jerk did to my hair? I want that man’s head.”

“Hold on, hold on,” he tried to reason with her. “Just take a deep breath and calm down. We can go find him and sort this out.”

She looked at Slim for but a moment before storming out of the barn yelling for her husband.

As I ran towards the stream, I heard yelling and shouting calling up from back at the farm followed by a blast from a shotgun. Clearly, Curly now knows what happened and is rallying the rest of the farm hands against me and Hudson. Cursing under my breath, I picked up the pace of my run towards the stream.

I crashed through some bushes and made it to a small clearing just before the stream. Hudson was sitting at the small cliff looking out across the fields. It was late afternoon and the sun was making its way towards the horizon.

“I screwed up didn’t I, Jon?” Hudson wondered out loud without looking back at me.

“Yep,” I said flatly.

“You know I didn’t want to hurt her,” he insisted. “Her hair was just so soft. Smelled nice, too.”

“I know. Look, we can smooth this out maybe. Let’s go back and talk to them about it.”

“No way,” Hudson remained motionless. “They’ll string me up, man. Game over.”

I stepped towards him. Quietly, I unsnapped my pistol from its holster and checked its charge.

“You mad at me for hurting her?” Hudson asked.

“No,” I answered solemnly. “I just want this to end.”

“Yeah,” he agreed absently. “Tell me again where we’re going.”

“Sure.” I squatted down just behind him. “We’re headin’ to Throneworld for the biggest party you’ve ever been to.”

“Really? And are there gonna be bunnies there?”

“Oh yeah,” I said. “The prettiest.”

“And is there gonna be beans there?”

“Uh, sure.” I leveled the pistol at the back of his head. Right at the base where the head meets the neck.

“With ketchup?” he smiled stupidly out towards the orange skies. “I like beans and ketchup.”

“Whatever you want,” I answered. I clicked the weapon’s selector from safe to fire.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hudson's Open Barn Door

Finally, Hudson and I had worked enough to buy a replacement part for the Danger Sled’s warp drive. After one more warning to Hudson about getting into trouble, I headed down the dusty road towards town. Curly kept away from us and we were starting to fit in. Because of this, I let my guard down a bit and let Hudson stay at the ranch while I was gone. I shouldn’t have done either.

“What are you doing in here?” a voice came from the behind Hudson.

“Huh?” the private turned and looked towards the opened barn door. Sunlight poured through it and silhouetted against the brightness was the shapely figure of Curly’s wife.

“I said what are you doing in here?” she repeated and stepped closer to him.

“I’m just,” Hudson began, then stopped. “Nothing.”

“Nothing? Really?” She stepped closer and looked at his hand. “You got something in there, what is it?”

“I said nothing,” Hudson tried to keep his hands away from her. She reached around him to try to grab his arms, her soft warm body pressed against his. Sadly, he relented and showed her the dead space mouse in his hand.

“Ew, that’s gross!” she sneered. Then she stopped and looked closer. “What was that?”

“He was my pet,” Hudson answered. “He was a space mouse and I named him George and he was the only one who understood me. Then he died.”

“That’s too bad,” she put her hands on his. “You’re a real sensitive guy, aren’t you?”

“I dunno. Kinda, I guess.”

“You’re really broken up about your pet, aren’t you?”

“Yeah,” he answered. “I like to pet pretty things. I like your hair.”

“Really? Do you… want to touch it?”

“Uh, I dunno…”

“Oh come on, ya big lug,” she prodded.

Hudson tentatively reached out towards her titillating tresses. “I shouldn’t. What if Curly finds out?”

“That jerk?” she sneered. “I can’t stand him. Because of him, I’m stuck on this Podunk planet. I was going to be somebody!”

“A contender?”

“No, you clod,” she laughed. “I was going to be a star. I was going to be in space movies, but then I married him. To tell you the truth, I’m glad you broke his hand. He deserved it.”


“So go on, touch it.” Then her voice got real quiet. “I won’t tell.”

Hudson’s face lit up as he touched it. “Wow, it is soft.”

“Mmmm, I like that,” she cooed. “Do you like it?”

“Sure do.”

“You know, I was thinking,” she changed the subject as Hudson held her hair like a puppy grabbing a sock. “You’re not from around here are you?”


“So are you leaving any time soon?”

“Sure,” he shrugged. “As soon as Jon gets his ship fixed, we’re going to head out of this place. We’re gonna head to Throneworld to see the cute bunnies.”


“Bunnies, you know, uh honeys. Good lookin’ women, like you.”

“Oh.” She got real quiet again. “You think you’ve got room in your ship for one more? I am so unhappy here, I just gotta get out and start fresh. I’ve always had a thing for guys in uniform.”

“Really?” Hudson squeaked then cleared his throat. “I mean really?”

“Oh yeah, maybe you and I could be something, huh?”

“Yeah sure, I—” He stopped dead in his tracks. “No, No I shouldn’t be near you. I don’t want to start no trouble.”

“Please?” she pleaded. “I gotta get out of here. This place is killing my soul.”

“No, I can’t,” Hudson took a step back, but his fingers were still entwined in her hair.

“Please, you have to, ow!” She quickly went from begging for a ride to complaining about his hand in her hair. “That hurts, let go!”

“I can’t!” Panic edged into Hudson’s voice. “It’s stuck.”

“Let go of me!” Her voice grew angrier. “Let go, you jerk!”

With a bead of sweat on his forehead and a flustered look on his face, the Colonial Marine tried to pull his hand free from the medusa-like locks of the woman’s coif. Throwing self-control out the window, Hudson tugged mightily and ripped his hand free, pulling a handful of strands along the way.

She squealed in pain, then tripped and crumpled to the ground. With cracking sound, she hit the barn floor in an awkward position.

“Oh no,” Hudson looked down at her twisted form. “Oh no.”

With panic still etched on his face, Hudson ran out of the barn and away from the ranch.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Of Space Mice and Men

Hudson and I met Slim in the bunkhouse where he showed us our bunks. While Hudson inspected his, he saw a can of lice powder at the foot of the bed frame. He very carefully looked all around the bunk, bringing his eye really close to the mattress and looked it up and down.

“There aren’t any… bugs here are there?” he said with a gulp.

“Naw,” Slim replied. “The guy who was there before was a real clean guy. You won’t find any bugs there at all.”

“Whew, that’s a relief,” the private sighed. “’Cus I gotta tell you, I just don’t like bu—wowee wow wow! Who’s the hot little number over there?”

Slim and I turned and saw a woman walking past outside. I admit, she was a fairly good looking woman and it was obvious that she knew it. She wore a bright red dress that matched her lipstick. Both looked out of place at this dusty ranch. As she vamped across the grounds, the men within eyeshot stopped and looked at her. She clearly enjoyed the attention.

“You best stay away from her,” Slim warned. “That’s Curly’s wife. You don’t want to mess with Curly.”

“Curly?” I asked.

“Yeah, he’s the Boss’ son,” the ranch hand explained. “He used to be a welterweight boxer, he’s pretty tough but mostly he’s got SMC.”

“Short Man’s Complex?” I chuckled.

“Yeah,” Slim nodded. “He’s always looking to fight bigger guys than him. You two should probably just stay out of his way.”

“You hear that, Hudson?” I called to him. “Don’t stare at her and don’t mess with him.”

As if on cue, a man burst through the door and angrily stalked towards us.

“I saw you two starin’ at my wife,” he growled. “You guys got a problem?”

“No problem,” I quickly said. “We just got here and don’t know anyone. We’re not here to start no trouble.”

“Oh yeah?” he looked at me, then turned and got up into Hudson’s face. “You think you’re tough don’cha?”

“No, er, I…” he stammered.

“I said we’re not here to start trouble,” I interjected. “We’re just going to put in a few days work and move on our way.”

“Is that so?” Curly kept his eyes bored into Hudson. “You’re not going to start trouble?”

“I said we’re not,” I insisted.

“I asked this guy. Can’t you talk? What are you, stupid or something?”

“I ain’t stupid,” Hudson replied angrily. “Back off, man!”

“You gettin’ all up in me?” Curly growled.

“Come on, he’s just—” I tried to intercede.

“I said back off,” Hudson growled back.

“Oh yeah?” Curly said.

“Yeah,” Hudson answered.

“Oh yeah?” Curly repeated

“Yeah,” Hudson also repeated.

“So you want me to back off?”

“I said yeah.”

“Oh yeah?”


“Oh yeah?”


“You gonna make me?” Curly and Hudson were almost nose to nose. I buried my face in my hand.

“I don’t make monkeys I just train them,” Hudson replied.

“Oh that’s funny,” Curly sneered. “For a fourth grader.”

“I know you are but what am I?” Hudson cracked.

“A fourth grader,” Curly snapped back.

“I know you are but what am I?”

“A fourth grader!”

“I know you are but what am I?”

“I said stay away from my wife!” Curly shouted loudly. “And if you say one more stupid thing, it’s gonna be the last thing you say. Got it?”

It was quiet for a tense moment. In fact, it felt like time actually slowed to a crawl. In slow motion, I reached towards the marine to try to stop him. I may have said “Nooooooooooo,” though I can’t actually recall.

“One more stupid thing,” Hudson said smugly.

Quicker than I could have imagined and almost too quickly for the eye to track, Curly punched Hudson in the face. Hudson stumbled back from the blow and Curly followed up with a left and right as fast as the first punch.

Hudson held up his hands to try to defend himself, but was then met with several more punches to the head and body. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth but Hudson refused to fight back. Slim and I stood frozen in our tracks, carefully weighing if we should intervene or stay the heck out of it.

Curly continued to press his assault and Hudson tried unsuccessfully to defend the boxer’s punches until finally he howled and caught a punch in midair.

Curly’s brow furled as he confusedly looked at his enveloped hand. His look of confusion quickly twisted into a look of pain as Hudson squeezed. There was a snapping sound and Curly howled.

Hudson released his grip and let the other man crumple to the ground. Slim ran up to Curly and helped him back to his feet. I stepped in between Hudson and his antagonist.

“It’s broken,” Slim declared as he looked at Curly’s hand.

“Aw, I didn’t mean to hurt him!” Hudson wailed.

“I’ll take him to the infirmary,” Slim guided Curly towards the door. “You two best forget this whole thing ever happened.”

“Curly isn’t likely going to let this slide,” I said to Hudson after the other two were out the door. “We have to stick close to watch each other’s backs.”

“Yeah,” he answered kind of quietly. “You got it.”

“Remember, if we get into trouble we’ll meet back on the creek bank by my ship,” I added. “If we gotta make a break for it, we can hole up there.”


“And don’t cause any more trouble,” I added.

“OK,” he answered.

“I mean it,” I insisted. “You got a knack for that kind of stuff.”

“I said OK.”

“And Curly’s going to be real sore about this whole thing,” I continued.

“Yeah, I know,” Hudson answered.

“And I bet he’s going to try to get back at you,” I said. “Because as you can tell, Curly’s a real stooge.”

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Quick Update

I wrote me another post over on the Fantasy and Sci Fi Lovin' Blog.

Please go take a look at it right over here.

Monday, March 05, 2007

At the Ranch

Dust left a chalky taste in my mouth as the dry winds teased my face with light warmth. Hudson and I had spent a portion of the morning walking to the ranch. The store owner was kind enough to contact the Boss of the ranch to let him know we were on the way. The people of Salinas V didn’t seem particularity mean or particularly nice. They just seemed like people. Anyone we encountered seemed wary of us, but many nodded hello or said good morning nonetheless.

“Now remember,” I said to Hudson. “Let me do the talking. We don’t need to get into any trouble like we did on Wiid.”

“I didn’t do nuthin,’” Hudson protested.

“Really?” I snorted. “Those locals weren’t too happy about us being there. You can’t go around groping all the women you see. People think you’re some kind of perv.”

“Oh yeah? Name one.”

“Commander Oneida, Vampirella, Erifia Appoc, Dr. Beverly Crusher, Wonder Woman, Storm…”

“Huh,” Hudson said noncommittally.

“Jan the Intergalactic Aviator, Princess Leia, the Bionic Woman, Magdelena…”

“Alright, alright I get it Jon,” he sighed. “Maybe I’ll just shut my big stupid mouth.”

“Look Hudson,” I replied. “I’m just trying to keep us out of trouble. This is going to be tough work, we’re gonna bust a gut here, but in a few days we’ll have enough cash to get that part and get off the planet.”

“I get it, Jon,” Hudson said. “I’ll just shut up and do my work. I won’t touch anyone or anything. Is that OK?”

I almost started to feel bad for the guy. Almost. I know what he’s capable of even when he’s not trying to get into trouble.

We were greeted by the Boss, who seemed a bit upset at the fact that we took so long to get there, but otherwise a decent enough fellow. I did get the impression, however, that once we met him we would no longer see him. He took us to the bunk house to meet some of the other workers at the ranch.

“So, you guys aren’t from around here, are you,” Boss said while showing us the bunkhouse. “You sure you can handle a day out there in the fields?”

“Sure we can,” I answered. “Hudson here even grew up on a ranch.”

“Is that true?” Boss asked Hudson. Hudson opened his mouth to answer, then shut it and looked at me, then opened it again, then let out a long, inaudible “uh.”

“Oh yeah, born in raised in Texas, USA, Earth,” I answered. “Ever here of the place? They put their flag up everywhere they go.”

“No I haven’t,” he answered. He looked at Hudson again. “You sure you’re up to a hard day’s work here?”

Once again, Hudson almost answered and then looked at me. This time, he just smiled and nodded.”

“Why ain’t you speakin,’ son?” Boss looked at Hudson kind of sideways. “You dumb or something?”

“No I’m not!” the private blurted out. “Jon, tell ‘um I can speak.”

I leaned close to the ranch owner. “He’s a real good guy, but he ain’t all there,” I said while tapping the side of my head. “He got kicked in the head by a mule as a kid.”

“Really?” Boss asked. “You’re not just trying to swindle him out of his paycheck are you?”

“No he’s not!” Hudson blurted out again. “All my pay is tied up in stocks and mutual bonds. Tell ‘um, Jon”

“It’s true,” I shrugged.

Boss looked at us like he didn’t quite believe everything was on the up and up. Gears started turning in his mind on whether he wanted to push the subject to satisfy his own suspicions or if he really wanted to bother with these two clowns. After a few moments of silence, he shrugged and said “OK, whatever, boys. Let me introduce you to my mule team leader, Slim.”