Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Jedediah Smith and the Undying Chinaman

Here is a bit from a weird western I was asked to write for an upcoming anthology. I can't say for whom it was written, as it has yet to be announced, but it was certainly nice to be invited. I wanted a charactor I could have fun with, so Jedediah is one part Indiana Jones, one part noir, some Briscoe County Junior to counterpoint the horror, and the rest is all Clint Eastwood.

Jedediah Smith and the Undying Chinaman

Hoss had the audacity to stand behind me and bray like a mule. There’s little I hate more than a man who laughs at his own poor excuse for humor. I slipped my hand snake quick over the well-worn handle of the Colt Peacemaker I kept crotched, swung my arm up in an arch as I skinned the cannon and smashed the butt against the bridge of Mr. Funny Man’s beak with a satisfying crack. He staggered back as his nose loosed a scarlet flood all over the floor. I kicked him in “the sweets,” threw him onto the red mess he’d made, and, because I was feeling ornery, upended that damned spittoon over his face. I shook my head. I could have wound up like him if my uncle hadn’t taken me in and paid for my education after my momma died from the consumption.

I took a long pull off my cigar and let the smoke ooze slow and evil out of my mouth as I said to anyone listening. “My name is Jedediah Smith. Does anyone else want to ask me a question?” This time I threw some of that steel in my voice I mentioned earlier. Hoss’ buddy jumped up with his hands in the air and knocked over their table. I hadn’t realized I still had my gun out. I saw a glass pipe caked with tarry residue rolling along the floor with the shot glasses and beer bottles. My eyes widened for a second as a bolt of inspiration struck me full on. I crooked a gnarled finger in the direction of Hoss’ friend and said “You!”

“Me?” He actually squeaked as he pointed to himself and looked around for a more likely subject.

“Yes, you. Where can I find an opium den around here?”

He looked puzzled, which was only slightly different from his usual idiot stare, and asked “Why do you…”

I cocked the Peacemaker as I interrupted him. “It sounds like you’re asking me a question boy, and you’ve seen how I cotton to questions.” I kicked Hoss once in the gut—hard—for emphasis. The poor bastard gurgled and went fetal as his buddy turned wedding dress white.


Christina Rundle said...

I love how you put your character together. Maybe it was the last part, the Clint Eastwood that made me say, "Ohhhh, I get it," though I am also humored with the noir. Indiana Jones, however, is my favorite.

Interesting work.

Lucas Pederson said...

I can definatly feel the Eastwood vibe there, so reminicent of his old westerns. There's all that grit and wit I like so much. I like this so far and will read teh rest later. Thanks for the opportunity! Later!

Stewart Sternberg said...

Having read this whole piece I can only say: "Here's to you, pilgrim". Well done.

Brian G Ross said...

Sounds great, and Jedediah is such a great cowboy name. I thought so when I was watchin' Night At The Museum.


Chuck Zaglanis said...

I haven't seen it yet, I swear! hehe

Christina Rundle said...

I've read the templete notes on how to get those pages over onto my website and I can't figure out what is wrong. It keeps coming up as an error. I wonder if these are for the old blogspots and the new ones aren't responding to them.

Chuck Zaglanis said...

That's a distinct possibility.