As the scarlet sun rose over Grange Hill, ah could see Around Here in mah sights. Mah trusty horse, Turpentine, had grown weary on the long trail from Excitement an' I'd been forced to abandon her a few miles back. She was strong, but unlike me she didn't have the adrenalin rush of vengeance in her veins. She had horse blood. I had left her in a layby.
Months later ah would pass the same spot to see some varmints had smashed out her eyes, stolen her teeth and legs - left her on blocks and set her alight.
Ah had been on the trail of the notorious Lightnin' Lance Likely for almost a month now. My journey had taken many wrong turns, dead ends an' detours. The map I'd been given was badly outdated an' covered much unchartered land. I had had to fight bandits, pull my horse out of quicksand an' faced starvation. The scorchin' heat beatin' down on my dehydrated skin. Plus I'd had to stop for a shit every couple of miles.
I staggered into town weary, sore and tired. But Justice J. Lawman is not a man who is easily beaten. Every achin' step my legs took brought me closer to Likely, every day spent burning under the searin' heat was fueled by the knowledge that Likely was nearer to that single bullet with his name on.
Around Here was deserted when I arrived. I ran to a trough full of muddy water and splashed my singed skin. With bleary eyes I cased the town that lay before me. A sign hung above the entrance: "Around Here: est 1848" 'neath the peeling once-white letters someone had scrawled "turn back now".
Beneath the welcome message hung a sign stating the town's population. It had been adjusted so many times you couldn't read it, but with every fresh addition the population had lowered. I knew these settlers hadn't moved away, but met their maker at the hand of an outlaw.
This God-forsaken town had a curse an' it's name was Lightnin' Lance Likely. I was here to lift that curse and free the poor souls who'd stayed in this settlement out of fear for what might happen if they tried to leave.
To my left stood a row of dilapidated houses, each with more windows broken than not, each with enough burnt in gunshot wounds to kill a really big dinosaur fox. Ghosts of a thousand conflicts this town has had to suffer. That, or termites.
Beyond the houses stood the Saloon. The Saloon was roaring with the angry noise of villainy at large, the temptation was to storm in and shoot every man dead for incase he were Likely, but I walked quietly by in order to take in the rest of the town first.
Dead bodies littered the steps of the Court House, a fresh kill a couple a days ago maybe, Likely's handy work no doubt. I payed my respects by removing my hat.
I then removed my trousers and took a whizz again' the side of the buildin' while no-one was lookin'.
The Post Office was a sorry sight. I could see the old buildin' had seen more robberies than it had ever seen parcels. The Postmaster had put up a sign sayin' so in the one remaining window.
The barbershop had long since been burnt out, the poor hairclipper musta given Likely a cut he didn't much care for and Likely took it out on his livelihood. Or the barber left a hairdryer on overnight. Either way, he ain't gonna cut any hair in this town in a while. He was lyin' cold dead on the porch, head shaved and with a bullet in his skull. Which totally ruined his hairline.
A couple more houses and then a Livery and an Ironmonger's that I knew dealt solely in stolen horses and hot pistols. The General Store had closed outright, the lootin' that had clearly stripped it's shelves had no doubt happened before the owner up an' left. The only flourishin' business in this town was the kind of place you find scum; the Saloon, the Tobacconist and Whorehouse.
The Tobacconist and Whorehouse was a mighty strange name for a Saloon.
Reynold's Hardware had a sign boasting the various things on offer inside, every one had slowly been crossed off with the word "guns" replacin' 'em.
As I stood in the town square I looked up to the clock tower to set my watch.
"Lookin' for a good time Cowboy" came a sultry voice from behind me.
I reached for my pistol, by which I mean gun not my cock, and turned to find the voice. In front of me stood the ugliest whore I've seen this side of Uglybitch Canyon.
"Cuz if ya are, I'd advise ya ta leave"
She smiled a grin so full of gaps I'd have thought it was a piana. Her face was battered and bruised, her dress tattered and torn, her nosebleed dripped seductively down between her lopsided jugs. She had rickets, scurvy and gout, as well as a thousand other diseases the eye couldn't detect.
"Mighty late for a lady to be out" I said, tipping mah hat.
"It's 7am in the morning" she gargled.
"Mighty early for a lady to be out" I adjusted, tipping my hat once again.
The ugly whore spotted my uniform and badge. 'You a Lawman?" she inquired.
"Why, you gonna give me a discount?" I snarled, as I turned away from her.
A searin' pain in my little lawgivers followed as the wretched hag introduced a finely laced boot to my groin from behind. I fell to the ground clutching my bollocks and howling like a coyote on a day trip to France.
As she turned to lollop away I raised my pistol from it's holster and shot the ground before her. "Lady, you just assaulted an Officer, I aughtta shoot you where you stand".
"Looks to me like you ain't gonna shoot nothin' for a while" she sneered, lowering her gaze to my swelling saddlebags.
I let her go and continued my mission. I watched as she entered the Saloon. She'd give a warnin' of a new Lawman in town to every Whiskey-drunk savage inside. I had to work fast.
I needed to procure me a new identity before Likely got wind of my arrival. I looked around for a tailors.
Miraculously I spotted one in the corner of town, the window was full of dead men's clothes, no doubt stolen from their still-warm bodies as they twitched in the noonday sun. He was profiteering from Likely's outlaw ways, but I had no time to argue with my conscience. I headed straight toward the tailor, it was just next to Starbucks.
- Sheriff Justice J. Lawman.
After a good nights sleep and a fill of a very tough steak at the Saloon, I set about catching the next train outta Excitement and movin' on to Around Here. I headed straight for the station. After an hour or so one of the local townsfolk drawled that Excitement didn't have a train station and if I was lookin' to leave this sorry town I would have to get myself a horse or a damn fine pair of walkin' boots.
Some bargaining with a farmer, involving my telling him I'd not bring him in for selling the Saloon horse meat an' tellin' 'em it was beef, he gave me a fine horse. All I needed was an idea of which way out of this town would lead me back on the trail of Lightnin' Lance Likely. I'd already lost a day and these damn yokels weren't forthcoming in helping me outta their stinkin' town.
The town may be called Excitement but the Lord in heaven only knows why. It's a dusty dirty town full of weather beaten buildings and wife beatin' men.
Conversation with the townsfolk led to nothing. Not a damn one of them knew which way to go. I wandered back to the Saloon and tied my horse up. The barman asked me to tie it up outside instead, so I obliged.
"Barman. What have you got for a Lawman on the trail of an outlaw" I asked.
"This" he replied, gesturing with his middle finger.
"I need directions out of this town" I continued, ignoring his abuse.
"Follow the finger and fuck off, Sheriff" came the reply.
I marched over to the bar and grabbed the bar tenders hand, crushing his lewd gesture in my fist.
"Listen, cocksucker, I'm bein' mighty civil to y'all, so either give me what I want or I'll break your fuckin' arm off"
He laughed and smiled. I let his hand go and he brushed himsel' down.
He produced a whiskey and poured out two glasses. "On the house, Sheriff..."
I glared angrily at him.
"Sheriff SIR" he added.
"Forgive me, but I ain't used to such nobility in mah fine establishment" he said, slooing back a shooter of fire water.
A broad smile crept over my face, like a prairie dog huntin' out a parsnip. "Why thankya" I said, Toasting his generosity. "Now, perhaps you can help me. I'm lookin' for the way to Around Here"
"You want to go to Hell?" came the response.
I rose of mah stool like a jack-rabbit shittin' oysters, pulled mah pistol out and shot a round at the mirror behind the barman. "Dammit boy! Ah done told you to watch your mouth!"
"No Sheriff no!" he pleaded, "I didn't mean go to Hell, it's just that's what we locals call that good for nothin' place!"
I sat back down, warily placing mah smokin' pistol back in my holster. I could feel the warmth of a freshly shot round against my thigh. The warmth stimulated my weary muscles and I let out a bit of a guffer. He didn't notice.
"Go on..." I insisted, taking a sip from my whiskey and a lungful of mah own stink.
"Well... that's pretty much it. We call it Hell"
"And why, pray tell" I sneered, "do you call it Hell" hoping for a more detailed answer.
"Because" came a voice, "It is a place of evil"
I turned to face a man dressed head to toe in black. Black hat, black coat, black boots, black waistcoat, black shirt and black tie. I reckon this cowboy even had black undergarments, and not 'cos he's shit himsel' and let it dry on neither. He was a mean lookin' man with a moustache not to be reckoned with.
"Howdy stranger" I said, tippin' mah hat and standing to greet him, "Who might you be?"
"I'm a man who knows about terror is all" he approached the bar and stood face to face with me, "Reckon' I've seen places that would make you shit with fear, but none so terrifying as Around Here"
"That ryhmes. You some kind of poet?"
He ignored my question and helped himself to some whiskey. "Around Here is a place without God, a place where the Devil himself walks the streets. 'cept he ain't no Devil, he's a man. A myth. A legend"
"Likely!" I exclaimed, jumping of my stool.
"You don't wanna go to Around here Sheriff, you'll never leave alive" he warned.
"Son" I said, standing to face him and pushing him to arms length, "Spare me your yakkin' and set me on the trail to Around Here. I'm fixin' to run Likely out of town faster than you can piss an Oxo Cube, and I ain't scared of your tall tales"
"Sheriff, I can see you're a man of God and a man of conviction. I will help you, just so long as you swear when Likely puts a bullet in your brain for enterin' his town, your ghost don't come back and haunt me"
I glared at the stranger and tipped my hat forward. "The quicker you tell me the fastest trail outta here, the faster I'll come back and slap your damn moustache off for doubtin' me. I'll be back before you finish your damn drink."
The stranger looked me up and down one last time. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small piece of parchment. He placed it in my palm and headed for the door.
"I bid you goodbye Sheriff, I know we'll meet again"
I opened the paper. I shouted after the stranger, "What the Hell is this boy?"
He turned in the doorway, His tall slim silhouette filling the doorway. "You wanna know the quickest way to find Lightnin' Lance Likely? Follow me..." He paused a moment as I realised what had just happened.
"Likely!" I shouted, pullin out my pistol and shootin' the bastard so full of lead you coulda used him to strain biscuits.
"Fuck, Sheriff!" shouted the barman, collecting the paper from the floor "You gone and killed
Ian the travel agent. This is his business card".
Luckily, his secretary was in the office when I called and furnished me with the number for National Trail Enquiries. By nightfall I was headin' over the hill to Around Here.
Tomorrow I would meet Likely and Likely would meet his match. Then his match would kill him. With a fucking gun.
- Sheriff Justice J. Lawman
I got out of bed early today. So early I hadn’t woken up and awoke to find myself sleep walkin’ into the housekeeper’s chambers. ‘least that’s what I told her.
Since I had risen early, I finished myself off, packed away my weapon, kissed my wife goodbye and set downstairs to pack my gun for the journey. Today was the day I would set out on the trail of the notorious Lightnin’ Lance Likely, the most wanted man in
I could see my wife despaired at the thought of my departure, her big brown eyes pleaded with me to stay, but after I ‘splained my cause, I could see she understood. I gave her one last lingering kiss to remember me by and she melted into my arms, giving me a little somethin’ to keep her with me during the coming months.
After a hearty breakfast of steak, whiskey and eggy bread, I bid my doting housekeeper goodbye and set out to shoe my horse for the long journey ahead. She’s a tough old mare and put up quite the fight again’ shoeing, but I got them on with a little force and saddled her up for the days of intense traveling we had ahead. We set off at Dawn.
Dawn ran like Hell, diving into a big ol’ pile of manure for cover. With a wild laugh we galloped off into the sunrise, setting a course for Excitement, Justice and Vengeance.
I licked my lips and could taste her sweet scent. I promised mysel’ when I arrived home I would dedicate my time to her. Building that outhouse she’d always wanted, fixin’ the damn leakin’roof and finally getting round to digging her grave and burying her since she’d been dead these last 4 years.
Unfortunately it seems I had one too many fingers of whiskey that mornin’, as 3 miles into the voyage I sobered up and realized I’d bid my horse goodbye and shoed my housekeeper by mistake. She kept up as well she could, but when she threw a shoe on Grange Hill Ridge, I had to shoot her.
As luck would have it, within the hour a passing carriage stopped, seeing a decorated Lawman in distress. I was invited aboard an' set about askin' the driver how far we had to go. He said Excitement was far from around the corner, it was precisely 49 and a half miles away; we’d be there by sunset.
- Sheriff Justice J. Lawman.
- Sheriff Justice J. Lawman.
Around Here is a town much like any other in the West. A town without luck, without law and without a working latrine. So when the prospectors hit the purest stream of concentrated Gravy this country has ever seen the news was greeted with glee by the put-upon, hard-up townsfolk.
With nothin' but a few chickens and a herd of sorry lookin' heffers that couldn't fill a burger between 'em, it looked like this sorry-ass backward town was about to finally prosper.
What the simple townsfolk of Around Here failed to realize was, with the great wealth and trade the Gravy Rush caused, came an increase in crime like they would not believe. Folks rushed down to Around Here in there droves, sellin' up shop to buy a pick-axe, mule and comedy prospector-beard in the hope of striking rich in the hills. When they got here and found all the claims had been taken by one man, all Hell broke loose.
Houses were burned, cattle was rustled, women were raped and buildings were looted. The town was now under the strict watchful eye of the most ruthless, and infamous, outlaw in the land; Some called him The Man With No Name, but that was 'cus if you asked his name he'd shoot yer in the face fer not callin' him Sir.
Lightnin' Lance Likely. A killer who left a pile of dead bodies in his trail nearly as large as his ego, but never as large as his moustache. He rode into town on a horse named Thunderfucker, proclaimed himself Sheriff, Mayor, Judge, Juror, Executioner and Chief Librarian. He rinsed that poor town for every penny he could get. Violatin' any woman in his path, and sometimes violatin' the path too. He drank the town's whiskey supply dry in a day and poured Gin on his cornflakes. Likely is a man so darn rotten, he killed his own father for sleepin' wis his Ma. Ooh he was a right sod.
Looked to me like Around Here needed a lawman, correction, Around Here needed The Lawman. That's where I come in: Sherriff Justice J. Lawman. The meanest crack-shot in all the Old West. I've got more than a few dead outlaws under my belt, (with several more under my hat, in my pocket and in my sock drawer at home).
Some say Lightnin' Lance Likely, that tobacco-chewin' son-of-a-gunslinger, was born with his six-shooter in his hand, others say that that is medically impossible, call the people who say Likely was born with his six-shooter in his hand loonies, and then have them committed.
All I say is, come High Noon tomorrow I'll be riding into town with a bullet with his name on.
Well, his initials anyway. He's got a fucking long name.
- Sheriff Justice J. Lawman