“Pablo, I have everything I want. I’m happily married to a Vietnamese hooker I met in Van Nuys. I’ve got a son and a house in the hills. I’ve got more money than god thanks to This Taste Like Ass. I’m done with Hollywood. Fuck Kathleen, fuck the studios. I’m retired.”
Pablo shook his head and looked down at his beer. “You know what they say about you?” he asked. “They say you’re a one-hit wonder. That you got lucky with This Tastes Like Ass, and lightening doesn’t strike twice.”
“And they’re right!” I replied.
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this,” Pablo said. “I remember when I first read your script years ago. I said ‘this guy is going places’ and I thought it was a privilege to represent you.”
He stood up and looked at my three Oscars mounted proudly behind a glass case. “When we first met, you told me that the worst fate someone could have in this town is to have a career like Michael Cimino,” Pablo continued. Then he turned around and looked me in the eye. “Do what Cimino couldn’t do. Prove Hollywood wrong: make another great film.”
I looked away. “Like I said: I’m retired,” I replied.
Pablo stood up straight and laid the script down on the coffee table. “I’ll leave this here with you,” he said then showed himself out the door.
I picked up the script.
“Like a Fart in a Windstorm by Dallas Austin Antonio,” it read.
Later that night, my son put on a film streaming on Amazonian Prime. I don’t remember what it was called. “Big Gay Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” or something. I was too drunk to care.
But my blood began to boil during the sex scenes. The action was not much better. Finally I had enough and in a drunken rage, I slammed my foot into the TV.
“What the fuck is this shit?!” I yelled.
“Dad you’re drunk! Go to bed!” my son, Slick Rick, said.
“Fuck you asshole! My creativity built this house! I own Hollywood! Back in my day, we showed rock hard cock, full frontal nudity, and absurdly graphic violence! Not this pussy shit! No tits, no penis? Why is there a plot? We never cared about that crap! What happened to kids these days!?Hollywood just ain’t the same anymore Slick Rick, I’m tellin ya.”
“Dad, you need to get a hobby,” he replied.
I sat down next to Rick and patted him on the knee. “You’re a good son,” I said. “Now go help your mother.”
I then wrapped my bottle of Evan Williams in a paper bag and began wondering the streets Laurel Canyon.
The next morning, when I woke up in my neighbor’s backyard, I began to ponder Pablo’s words. I took out my cellphone and called him up.
“James, where the hell have you been?” he said. “Your wife’s been frantically calling me, wondering if I knew where you were!”
“Nevermind that,” I replied. “Get me a meeting with Kathleen Kennedy (not THAT Kathleen Kennedy, the other one).”
“So you read the script?” Pablo asked.
“Yes, I took your advice. We’re back in business.”
I couldn’t hit shit with my six shooter. I missed every target.
J Robert Oppenheimer’s 10 year old son, Malachi, watched and nodded his head. “Did you really know my father from the war?” he asked.
“Sure, why not?” I replied.
“Whose side did you fight for?”
“Uh, Abraham Lincoln’s?”
“963rd, 9th battalion, 4th infantry, uhmmm, at the Battle of Waterloo?”
“Did you get injured?”
“Oh yeah. All over.”
Malachi scratched his head. He knew I was full of shit. “Are you sure that you didn’t know my father from the future?” he asked.
“How do you know about that?”
“He has a time machine in the barn.”
Malachi took me into the barn and lifted a large tarp off a time weapon—a similar looking time weapon that sent Mr. Ree, Oppenheimer, and myself back to 1879.
“Does it work?” I asked Malachi.
“Of course. My father built it. He can make anything work.”
Oppenheimer stood at the entryway of the barn. “That’s enough Malachi,” he said. “You run along now.”
Malachi shook his head. “Yes father,” he said and went back to tending to his chores.
“Why didn’t you tell me about this, Bob?” I asked Oppenheimer.
“It doesn’t work.”
“Malachi says it does.”
Oppenheimer paced back and forth, rubbing his hand across his face. “Look,” he said, “we can go over this all day. Sure, I can send you to the future, the past, whatever. But it’s almost impossible to get you back to YOUR timeline. I’m sorry James. But we need to look at the present. You’re here. Mr. Ree is here. I need help. This community needs your help. Please help me. I can’t fight Dickleburg on my own.”
I thought through his words. “You love Malachi,” I said. “But did you know that I have a child back in that timeline? If there is a chance, however slim, to get back there, I have to take it. Wouldn’t you do the same if you were me?”
Oppenheimer nodded. “If I’m going to help you,” he said, “then we have to secure these goldmines. There’s a property in gold that makes these time weapons work. To secure the mines, we have to defeat Dickleburg.”
I pulled out my Korth 357.
“I’m no good with those six shooters,” I replied. “But I can shoot a fly’s dick off with this 357. Can you help me make more bullets?”
“What are you going to say now James? That you’ve never walked a step in your life?”
That is correct.
But I get the appeal.
And I’m not talking about “hiking” or “speed walking”. That’s some white people bullshit.
I’m talking about walking in a straight line on a flat plane. It’s great: putting one foot in front of the other, just wondering aimlessly because you’ve got nowhere to go because you’re unemployed and your kids won’t talk to you.
The film is clearly more influential (I’ve probably seen it, but I’ve drank a lot since then). Clint Eastwood was inspired by it. That’s obvious in Pale Rider, but Unforgiven has some echoes of it. Logan was also heavily under its influence but I don’t watch that kind of shit.
I’m intrigued by the subject of reality meeting myth. Which is why it’s high time for the book or film be updated into a “neo-western”, or whatever buzzword the kids are using, albeit with a more pessimistic ending.
The story is told from the perspective of a kid. And when we think of our childhood, we recall the magical times we had. But when we think objectively about it, we miss all the fucked up shit around us.
Remember that cool neighbor that would let you shoot his Glock? He was a registered sex offender.
Of course none of that occurs to you because you assume everyone is nice and pure.
Now I’d never write an updated version of Shane, I’d instantly lose interest. But maybe someone with more discipline would be willing to put pen to paper.
I imagine a story set during the Great Depression or some shit, where banks are harassing farmers and threatening to take their land. Then a mysterious stranger with a dark past comes into town and befriends a family.
The boy is instantly taken by the stranger. The father is handicapped in some form or fashion, unable to tend to his land properly, so the stranger steps up. The boy eventually begins to look up to the stranger more so than his father.
Then, of course, the banks and henchmen come in, threaten the townsfolk, blah blah blah…we all know the story: Shane essentially sacrifices himself, his death is ambiguous, and he achieves mythical status in the town.
But I’d like to see a more pessimistic conclusion. And as I think about it, my ending sort of resembles that of Blood Meridian: decades later, like the 1960s, the boy runs into Shane, very much alive, but the truth about him is revealed. Shane was nothing more than a drunken murderous hitman who actually cuckholded the father.
Naturally all of this went unnoticed by the boy, now a man, but he chooses instead to remember that summer as a magical time when a stranger came into town.
I’m sure that story has been told a million times. But good stories are worth retelling.
Of course I ain’t retelling it. I’ve got fart and cum jokes to write.
“Bob,” I said, “you know us. Just set us free and we won’t cause trouble.”
Sheriff J Robert Oppenheimer locked Mr. Ree and me in jail. He sat behind his desk. He look tired, haggard, and was pounding a whiskey bottle.
“Sorry boys,” he replied. “But we have enough trouble with Dillon B Dickleburg coming into town and buying up all the gold mines. This town is a powder keg.”
“Well shit Bob! You are a man of science. You said that gold was a part of your time travel weapon. Just build another time machine and send us back to our timeline.”
“Like I said, even if I could do that, it’s highly improbable that I can get you back. In fact, it’s definitely impossible with 19th Century technology.”
“Have you even tried? Come on, you were a legend in our timeline. What happened to you?”
“You just don’t understand.”
A ten year old boy then walked into the jailhouse. He went up to Oppenheimer and gave him a hug.
“Who are these men papa?” the boy asked.
“These are just strangers Malachi, now go home to your mother. She’s been looking for you,” he replied.
The boy rushed out of the jailhouse.
“Ohh I get it now,” I said. “You’ve settled down. You traded in your lab coat for a badge.”
Oppenheimer put down the whiskey bottle.
“I arrived in this timeline through the spacetime ripple 15 years before you two showed up,” he said. “I met a woman, we settled down. I now have a son that I’d do anything to protect.”
“I’m just asking for your help,” I replied.
“I killed countless people with those damn nuclear weapons,” Oppenheimer continued. “Not again. I have an opportunity to do it right this time. I’m going to do whatever it takes to protect my family and this community from dangerous people like you.”
“Bob, please,” I said. “We’re not here to cause problems. In fact, if you need assistance handling this Dickleburg fellow, Mr. Ree and I can help.”
“You two have done enough damage.”
There was some commotion outside. I could hear one of the deputies ask “how can I help you Mr. Dickleburg?”
“Ah shit,” Oppenheimer said. He grabbed his shotgun and walked outside. “What seems to be the problem?” he asked.
“Mr. Rockwell up in them hills has been chasing us off that land,” I could hear Dickleburg saying.
“I’ll have you know, Mr. Dickleburg, that Mr. Rockwell is the rightful owner of that property. If he wants to chase you away, he’s well within his right,” Oppenheimer said.
“Why sheriff, all I want to do is offer him a business proposition.”
“Now Mr. Dickleburg, I’d advise you to leave that man alone. If you have a message for him, I’ll make sure he receives it.”
I could hear Dickleburg pull out his six shooter. “I own this town Sheriff,” he said. “I am the rightful owner of that property and all the property around it. That means I own you.”
I could hear the clicking of Oppenheimer’s shotgun. “The people of this town are the rightful owners,” he said. “You go back to that company of yours in Helena and you tell them that if they come back, there will be a bloodbath.”
“I’ll be back,” Dickleburg said. Him and his men galloped away on their horses.
Oppenheimer came back into the jailhouse. He took the keys, opened our jail cell, and handed back the 357.
“Men,” he said, “I now pronounce you deputies of Elkhorn, Montana.”