Thursday, October 22, 2020

“A Gunslinger’s Dream”

 “Welp, here’s your room,” said the little fellow. “Sorry about the pigs outside in the yard down there, but this’n’s the only free room we got.”

“It’ll do,” said Jace Calhoun.

“You want me to close the window?”

“Yeah, sure, and draw them curtains shut while you’re at it.”

The little fellow went over to the window and Jace went over and sat down on the bed. He was tired, he was sleepy, and he was half-drunk. He drew his Peacemaker from its holster and slid the pistol under the pillow. He unbuckled his gun belt and draped it over the brass bedpost at the head of the bed, and then he started pulling his spurs and boots off.

The little guy came over after shutting the window and drawing the curtains.

“Okay,” he said. “You got your chamber pot by the bed there, all nice and clean. You got a pitcher of drinkin’ water and a clean glass on the night table. Feel free to smoke, and there’s a clean ashtray, although management asks that you be extra careful about smokin’ in bed.”

“All I want to do is take a nap,” said Jace.

“You want to get woke up any particular time?”

“No thanks.”

“I’ll put the Do Not Disturb sign on your door then.”


“You want me to fetch your traps from the livery stable?”

“I don’t care. I mean, yeah, sure, thanks.”

“I’ll fetch ‘em for ya. Don’t want to disturb your nap, so tell ya what, I’ll keep ‘em in the linen closet down the hall under lock and key, and then when you wake up you just tell me and I’ll get ‘em for ya.”

Jace was down to his union suit. The little guy picked Jace’s clothes up off the bed and draped them over a chair.

“You want a bath after your nap?”

“Yeah, great.”

“I’ll bring the tub in after you wake up and fill it up with hot water for ya, get you a nice clean bar of carbolic soap, clean towel.”

“That’ll be swell, but after my nap.”

“Wash off some of that trail dust.”

“Yeah, right.”

“And then we got a nice table d’hôte supper down at the saloon – roast pig tonight, with all the fixin’s. One dollar.”

“Sounds good.”

“Your choice of veg, with fried taters, baked beans, and hot cross buns.”

“Okay, I’ll probably take advantage of that.”

“Complimentary carafe of house red eye.”

“Sounds great.”

“Three kinds of pie, we got thistleberry, we got shoo-fly, I think we got Boston cream–”

“Good, whatever.”

“You want a lady, we can provide one of them, too.”

“We’ll see, right now I just want to take a nap.”

“Naps is good. Best thing for ya, especially if’n ya been ridin’ these mountain trails all the way from Deadwood.”

“Okay, I’m gonna take my nap now.”

“Sure you got everything you need?”

Suddenly Jace realized what the little fellow wanted.

“Hey, what’s your name?”

“Jake. You need anything around here, you just ask old Jake.”

“Jake, pass me my Levi’s will you?”

Jake went over to the chair, picked up Jace’s crusty and dusty jeans and brought them to Jace. Jace stuck his fingers into the change pocket and brought out a silver dollar, flicked it to Jake, who caught it one-handed.

“Much obliged, Mr. Calhoun.”

“You’re welcome,” said Jace. 

He handed the jeans back to Jake, and the little man draped them over the chair again.

“Well, I reckon you’re all set then,” said Jake.

“I reckon so,” said Jace.

“Don’t you worry about that feller Claire St. Claire.”


“That little feller wanted to call you out.”

“Oh, him. I ain’t worried about him.”

“I don’t know what his problem is. It’s like he just wants somebody to shoot him.”

“Someday somebody will.”

“That’s true,” said Jake. “That’s very true. You keep challengin’ folks to gunfights, someday somebody’s gonna take you up on it.”

“Probably. Okay, look, Jake, I’m gonna take my nap now.”

Jace pulled back the covers, lay down, and pulled the covers up.

“I’ll make sure nobody disturbs you, Mr. Calhoun.”

But Jace was already asleep.

A thin young man was standing by his bed, he looked like a dude from back east, wearing glasses.

“Don’t mean to bother you, Mr. Calhoun, but my name is Herbert Goldfarb.”

“Goldfarb? Ain’t this town called Goldfarb’s Holler?”

“Yes, it is, actually.”

“So the town’s named after you?”

“Yes, I guess so. You see, I’m a writer, I write stories.”

“Like them dime novels?”

“Sort of, yes. And, well, I write stories about you.”

“Much obliged.”

“It’s a living. Only thing is, I’m having an artistic crisis. I feel as if I’m falling into the trap of writing formulaic, disposable trash.”

“That’s not good. Unless it pays well, I reckon.”

“That’s the thing, Jace, it doesn’t even really pay well. Like this story you’re in now, I’ll be lucky to make ten bucks from it.”

“Ten bucks ain’t bad.”

“Maybe so, but a guardian angel came to me and said I should try to write from the heart.”

“Sounds like a good idea.”

“So, the thing is, I might have to skip the inevitable gunfight with that little guy Claire St. Claire.”

“Fine by me.”


“Sure. You think I like having to shoot nitwits in every town I ride into?”

“I guess not, right?”

“No. It’s very –”


“Yes, disturbing.”

“So it’s okay with you if there’s no gunfight.”

“Look, all I want to do is take my nap, then get a nice hot bath, eat some roast pig, maybe have some fun with a nice little lady if there’s one that don’t look all diseased and sad.”

“I might be able to arrange that.”

“Then I would be very much obliged, Mr. Goldfarb.”

“Call me Herbert, or Herb.”

“Much obliged, Herb.”

Herbert woke up. It was still light out, and another El train roared by outside his window on its screeching way to Houston Street. He decided to sleep just a little bit longer. His story would still be there when he woke up.

{Kindly go here to read the “adult comix” version in A Flophouse Is Not a Home, illustrated by the one-and-only Rhoda Penmarq…}

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