This is a fan fiction story based on characters from the Lonesome Dove television show, which belong to Rysher Entertainment and Hallmark. No infringement on copyrights is intended.
Since taking up residence in the same barn and relaxing together in adjacent stalls during their leisure hours, Blackjack and the Hellbitch have been sharing their thoughts and commiserating on a number of topics. In addition to comparing their exploits and reflecting on issues of mutual interest, it seems the stable mates have some pointed, and somewhat conflicted opinions about their masters. We join the equine duo as Blackjack returns from his latest outdoor adventure….
HELLBITCH: Hey, B.J.
BLACKJACK: Hey, Bitch.
HB: You’re back early, I see.
BJ: Early perhaps, but not a moment too soon. Another week like this one and I’m putting in for early retirement.
HB: Why? Isn’t the Colonel treating you right? Don’t tell me he’s watering down the alfalfa with that over-pollinated timothy.
BJ: No, the food’s fine. I eat better than he does. It’s these ridiculous hours that are getting me down, not to mention the hazardous working conditions. And safety equipment – forget it. One minute I’m relaxing in the barn with a nice fresh stack of hay, the next minute, Zeke’s tossing a saddle on me, dragging me across the street, and we’re racing off to Who-knows-where-ville, just so our leading citizen can satiate his lust for madness and mayhem.
HB: Seems rather impulsive, even for the Colonel.
BJ: That's for sure. No advance notice. No forward planning. Not so much as a road map, or a single thought given to what there’ll be to eat or where I’ll be spending the night. Sometimes I think he imagines he’s still in the cavalry. I'm forced to run in circles while he figures out which trail to follow and what to do in the unlikely event that we actually get to where we're going. And would he dream of stopping somewhere to ask for directions? Hah!
HB: Yeah, trust a restless, disturbingly attractive ex-Confederate colonel to turn a simple scenario into a three-act opera. Sounds like he's giving you and himself a hard time.
BJ: No kidding. The man doesn’t know when to quit. Last week we spent half a day roaming through open country, tracking down some character he took a particular dislike to just because the guy got a little rough with one of Twyla’s girls. So there we are, halfway to Hell'n'gone, chasing this half-naked Coyote Frenchman who's only slightly crazier than he is. Next thing I know, he's blasting away with his Buntline Special while I'm tearing through Prairie Dog Town at a full gallop, struggling to see where I'm going with that leather coat flapping in my face and hoping he doesn't shoot my ears off.
HB: Buntline Special? I thought he carried an Outlaw.
BJ: Yep. An Outlaw in his gun belt, a Winchester in the rifle scabbard, a hunting knife in his boot, and several boxes of .45 shells in the saddle bags – just in case….
HB: I've noticed all that "action hero" hardware he carries around. If you ask me, it’s all symptomatic of some deep-rooted insecurity issue -- probably a sign of bipolar disorder.
BJ: It's a possibility. One minute he’s flashing a big white Pepsodent smile with his hand up somebody’s skirt; the next he’s storming off to a gunfight with anyone who looks cross-eyed at him. A fellow could get whiplash trying to adjust to those moods swings. And of course, whenever there’s trouble he drags the boys along with him so they can mow down everything that moves or makes a sound. What am I supposed to do when the bullets start flying in all directions – shinny up the nearest telegraph pole till they run out of ammunition?
HB: I can relate. I have to dodge that sawed-off of Call's all the time, and Those damn12-shooters go on for days. Still, you have to admit, The Colonel looks pretty fetching in that leather duster.
BJ: Oh, into leather now, are we?
HB: Well, it beats that cheesy pinstripe "godfather" costume he wears in every other episode. If you didn't know better, you'd swear he was one of those flimflam artists who peddle snake oil for a living.
BJ: He is.
HB: I think I actually prefer the pilgrim outfit.
BJ: What? That moth-eaten piece of hemp? He looks like funeral director in that getup. Besides, you don't really think he'd be caught dead wearing the same ensemble two years in a row, do you? That whole look is soooo "last season."
HB: Now that you mention it, he has turned into a *clothes horse* in recent days – always strutting his stuff in a coordinated waistcoat and cravat, and never without a clean handkerchief. I doubt he ever wears the same thing twice in one week, although he seems peculiarly attached to that ruffled shirt. You'd never catch Call in one of those frilly things.
BJ: Or anything that's been washed in the last twelve months.
HB: It's better than looking like you're wearing a lady's camisole.
BJ: Nonsense. If you knew anything about men's fashion you'd realize that it's a classic style. Besides, an air of sophistication makes a bold statement which, in turn, says a great deal about a man's self-esteem.
HB: Humph. What it says to me is that he's long on swagger and short on substance. That might explain why he always hogs the spotlight.
BJ: Now there's an unfortunate choice of words.
HB: You know what I mean. Regardless of the situation, he's not satisfied unless everyone's attention is on him.
BJ: Yeah, no shortage of stage presence there. He just can't help it that he possesses such a flamboyant sense of authority.
HB: Maybe not, but you have to admit that swishy Shakespearean flourish he resorts to every time he exits a scene is a bit much. All he needs is a flowing cape and a British accent.
BJ: What of it? I see no harm in it if he wants to incorporate a little flare into his character. I think a man with a British accent represents the epitome of elegance and enlightenment. And for the record, men with refined taste have worn ruffles all throughout history.
HB: Right. Let's see, there's Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Liberace…. You know what they say: "Clothes make the man."
BJ: You're not implying, in some sly, circuitous manner, that the Colonel's a little "light in the loafers," are you?
HB: "Multi-talented" is the phrase I'd use, but infer what you like.
BJ: I see. The fact that a man doesn't eat with his hands means his masculinity must be in question. That's a bit harsh, don't you think?
HB: How so?
BJ: I don't know… I guess I just assumed that you, of all females, would be sympathetic to a man getting in touch with his feminine side.
HB: I am – not that it's a big stretch in his case.
BJ: Let's not jump to conclusions. Some individuals simply possess more natural grace than others.
HB: I'll give you that one. In fact, I think it helps to maintain a healthy psychological perspective in regard to one's sexual identity – not to mention the ability to manage stress levels and occasional emotional extremes.
BJ: And what sort of emotional extremes might those be?
HB: Oh, just your basic eccentricities really – a tendency to advance his agenda by bulldozing the opposition, certain evidence of substance dependence that has yet to be recognized, and that confounded propensity for melancholy that seems to distort his thinking. In fact, I'm convinced that all the posturing and bravado is a way of compensating for bouts of severe anxiety. It's a textbook example of manic depression.
BJ: Is that a fact?
HB: No question about it. After all, we females are more sensitive to these variable behavioral patterns and are therefore more equipped to deal with them – one of many unique insights we on the distaff side possess and have graciously contributed to civilized society.
BJ: Indeed. Presumptuousness notwithstanding.
HB: Excuse me….
BJ: I said I'm impressed with your erudition on the subject of emotional well-being, but I don't think Mr. Mosby needs any further instruction in the science of psychology, or good grooming. Mr. Call, on the other hand, would undoubtedly benefit from your expertise in both categories. In addition to the habit of venting his wrath by shooting holes in furniture, that man hasn't seen the inside of the bath house since last summer.
HB: He doesn't like crowds, that all. As he says, "Why sit in a tub full of dirty cowhands when there's a perfectly good creek out back?"
BJ: No doubt that sort of logic would make sense to him.
HB: I think it's a counter-culture statement on his part – possibly motivated by a long-standing passive-aggressive Napoleon complex….
BJ: Geez-Loueez! Enough already! This supercilious psycho-blather is enough to drive a person into the nearest laughing academy. Face it. The guy likes dirt. He enjoys being grubby and by all accounts, he intends to stay that way.
HB: I concur, he appears to have embraced an exceptionally rough-hewn self image.
BJ: So far it's his greatest achievement.
HB: And a relatively easy one, considering the abundance of swamps and mud puddles in this town.
BJ: That's for sure. Maybe, with a bit of luck, the little Keebler will stumble into one and get a wash-up in spite of his efforts to avoid it.
HB: And I suppose, your guy's obsession with cleanliness represents the standard to which we should all eventually become accustomed.
BJ: Absolutely. Unlike some people who harbor abnormal aversions to soap and water, the Colonel is fastidious beyond perfection.
HB: So I understand. I hear he even has his drawers starched.
BJ: Au contraire, ma chere. The other night he insisted on taking a lady friend riding– bareback, mind you– without so much as a saddle blanket between us. Trust me, the last thing that man needs in his drawers is more starch. It felt like he had a pair of steel ball bearings stuffed in those knickers.
HB: That’s probably where he carries his extra ammunition.
BJ: Yeah, you could say that…. The girl was dazzled, all right, and I have a permanent dent at the base of my neck.
HB: You mean to tell me that you don’t enjoy being mounted by a dashing, roguish adventurer and swept off to all kinds of romantic fantasies? Seriously, you should write some of that stuff down. Years from now people will read it and marvel at your poetic sensibilities.
BJ: Poetic sensibilities? Do I look like Sarah Morgan to you? Frankly, this whole "tormented, tragedy-prone, divinely flawed, over-endowed anti-hero" routine is wearing a bit thin.
HB: Nevertheless, I think it would make for entertaining reading. You could call your memoirs the "Dark Horse Diaries," or "the Virginia Monologues" … maybe market the Colonel's exploits as a complete collection, you know – wrap it up in a handsome, well- designed package that's appealing from an artistic as well as a literary vantage point.
BJ: I’ll take it under advisement. And if you'll pardon the immodesty in saying so, the Colonel already has a handsome, well-designed package, and the consensus among those who know is that it's pretty appealing from any vantage point.
HB: So I hear. I can tell you I wouldn’t mind being straddled by that dark-haired desperado once in a while -- sultry and seductive as he is.
BJ: I'm sure. Speaking of straddling, I’ll take Miz Mattie for a ride anytime, too. I can see it now – those red hot leather pants wrapped around me, nudging me in the ribs, stroking my loins … that nice round derriere bouncing up and down on my saddle….
HB: Yeah, round is right. no bruises from that booty. Hey, there’s a good title. "Bootys and Saddles." Whaddya think?
BJ: I think you’d better check out the rules regarding copyright infringements and theft of intellectual property. The last I heard, Libby Custer had dibs on that one.
HB: Maybe we should all collaborate on a serious dramatic Western Adventure series – something stark and gritty that might appeal to an intelligent, mature-minded demographic.
BJ: Hmmm. Libby Custard and Colonel Mustard – now there’s a match. In the meantime, while you're negotiating your publishing contract, I’ll be giving Mattie a ride she won't soon forget.
HB: Really. She doesn’t strike me as your type, in spite of her leather fetish. How ‘bout Florie?
BJ: She’s all right, but that fake hair piece has to go. I don’t know which broomtail nag she swiped it from, but for two cents I’d snatch it right off her head. You could stuff a mattress with that thing.
HB: Well then, what about Amanda?
BJ: Too high maintenance. Nice teeth, though. She reminds me of a filly I used to race with back in Miles City, although Amanda's built more for comfort than speed. Anyway, she's more of a side-saddle type. Not my style really.
HB: Side saddle, eh? Sounds rather sedate for a woman of her experience.
BJ: I wouldn't know. Anyway, who cares how Amanda likes to ride?
HB: Just about anyone with a few dollars in his pocket and a little time to spare.
BJ: Oooooo, meooow!
HB: No criticism intended. Truth be told, I'd take a nice, relaxing rubdown from the Colonel anytime.
BJ: Fine. But you'd better put up some "No Smoking" signs inside the barn – not that I'd begrudge the man a good cigar occasionally. I just don't care to have the place burn down around me while you're enjoying your spa treatment.
HB: Point taken. Hopefully my masseur can work his magic without lighting up any of those Cuban coffin nails he likes so much. A puff from one of those things is enough to choke a horse.
BJ: And while we're all reforming our old habits, maybe someone could suggest that he select something other than "Dixie" to whistle all day long. You’d think after all these years the man could learn another tune.
HB: You’re just annoyed with him because you’re a gelding and he’s still able to offer a variety of impressive stud services.
BJ: I know, I know. Any time, any place. He’s out there brandishing his weapon like Casanova and my days of rolling in the hay are over forever.
HB: I guess it's kind of a dirty trick – being turned into a gelding.
BJ: I daresay -- not that anyone had the courtesy to consult me on that particular decision.
HB: Ironic, isn't it? I mean, he's the wildly potent, alpha male stallion, and you're … how shall I say, "permanently out of the running."
BJ: Sad, but true. 'Course, one swift, well-placed kick in the right spot could level that playing field.
HB: Oh No! You wouldn’t!
BJ: Now, now, don't get your halter in a twist. Of course I wouldn't. He’s the beauty, and I’m still the beast. One of us has to stay focused.
HB: Shhhhh. Here he comes. Where do you suppose you’re off to this time?
BJ: Who knows? Ask Jubilation T. Cornpone – not that he’d have a clue till we’re nearly there.
HB: Well, at least try to look pleasant.
BJ: I am looking pleasant, dammit! If I smiled any more I’d start to resemble that ridiculous talking mule in the movies. And by the way, it’s no coincidence that the jackass is named "Francis."
HB: I hate to tell you this, but you’re beginning to take on the Colonel’s less-than- sunny disposition. You’re worse than I am when I’m in season.
BJ: At least you still have a season.
HB: Sure, and I can tell you what an annoyance that is periodically. Look, cheer up, he brought us some sugar cubes.
BJ: Splendid. More cheap thrills. It's true what they say. You really are an easy mark.
HB: No advantage to you, BJ. You’re shooting blanks, remember?
BJ: Oh, that's right. Thank you so much for reminding me. Heaven forbid it should slip my mind.
HB: Ahhh, my pleasure, you great, dusky animal, you….
BJ: No wonder they call you "Bitch."
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