You ever notice how folks trying to peddle crap to the public like to talk about some new swindle being "by public demand"? Like, "And now, by public demand -- new Zesty Pepperoni Crest with crunchy olive sparkles!"
Well, when I say I'm bringing you something by public demand, I mean it. Of course, the "public" in question is not even half a dozen folks, and they didn't so much demand anything as politely mention their interest. But hey -- it's probably as close as I'll ever get.
So by public demand I bring you...[drumroll, blare of trumpets]...a bunch of stuff I took out of my books. As the first drafts of all my novels have needed generous trimming, I've got dribs and drabs going back years. First up, a heaping helping of pre-Thanksgiving leftovers from my first two books.
A quick word of warning before we begin: For some reason, half the words I cut out seem to be curses. I suppose I could go through and cut them out again...but then my public would just demand I put 'em back.
From Holmes on the Range:
• Aside from our sunburn-red heads of hair, Gustav and I are about as well matched as a black sock and a jar of pickles.
• [Me speaking to guess who] "You sound more like Lewis Carroll than Sherlock Holmes."
• Old Red tapped the side of his head with a bent finger.
"Wheels are turnin’, Otto. I need you to help me keep ’em from gummin’ up."
"And how do I do that?"
"Well," Gustav said, "you could shut the hell up."
I saluted him -- first with my whole hand, then a single finger. But I did shut up.
From On the Wrong Track:
• [Me trying -- in vain -- to impress a legendary hard-ass] "So I’m a ‘big, dumb lummox,’ am I?" I growled, giving Lockhart my best glower -- which wasn’t a patch on his worst. "Last man who called me that ended up dead."
Though Lockhart met my gaze head-on and held it firm, I could sense somehow that he was looking at his gun, too, measuring its distance from his hand, the time it would take to reach it.
"Suddenly," I said, and I swapped my scowl for a shit-eating grin. "Popped a blood vessel on the john. Keeled right over with his pants down around his ankles. Young feller, too -- it was a real tragedy. Never did care for me, if you can believe such a thing. Still, he may have been onto something with that ‘lummox’ talk."
"You are one comical son of a bitch," Lockhart drawled, still stone faced. And then: "Have a seat."
I blew out a breath I hadn’t even realized I’d been holding.
"Thank you, sir," I said as I sat. "I could use a chair just now. You had me kinda wobble-kneed for a second there."
"Well, let that be a lesson to you, son. Never get in a pissin’ match with ol' Burl Lockhart. He’s so full of piss and vinegar he could up and drown you."
• In the past, I’d always been able to treat my squabbles with Gustav like a frying pan: When one got too hot, I just let it drop, and it didn’t take long for it (and me) to cool down again. But this time, I’d been burned, and I could still feel the sting of it. Over the past few years, my brother and I had ridden to hell and back for each other. Now I felt like telling him he could just go there on his own.
• According to his pal Doc Watson, Sherlock Holmes liked to think nobody could get a lie past him. "Deceit, according to him, was an impossibility in the case of one trained to observation and analysis," Watson wrote.
This -- and please remember I have the utmost respect for the late Mr. Holmes -- is horseshit. Despite what you’ll hear from stage-show "mentalists" and carnival fortune tellers, a person’s mind is a closed book no one else can read. The best you can do is make a careful study of the cover. Do that, and you’ll still never get a real peep at the pages, but your intuition about what’s inside can grow into something less than a certainty but more than a guess.
• Obviously, charm is not a quality with which my brother has been abundantly blessed. In fact, it’s sometimes been said (by me, mostly) that his allotment was withheld at birth and parceled out as a sort of bonus to each of his subsequent siblings, the majority of it being hoarded for the last of the brood to collect. Namely, me.
• "Christ," Old Red said, "put a pretty girl in your line of sight and you wouldn't notice an elephant about to set its fat ass atop your pointy head."
• "I know you been feelin’ poorly and it’s against your religion and all, but you might want to think about offerin’ Lockhart a smile and a little respect. He got you that star you wanted so bad, didn’t he?"
"Only cuz he was well and truly soused at the time." Old Red shuffled off to give the car a going over. "And he ain’t gonna earn my respect runnin’ down better men than himself -- not when he ain’t got the brains to deduce his way to a chicken in a henhouse."
"Well, if you can’t be cordial, could you at least stay out of the man’s way?"
Gustav offered me a listless shrug. "He might wanna stay out of mine."
"Geez -- tanglin’ with Burl Lockhart himself." Kip let loose a high, piercing whistle. "That takes balls of brass."
"Or shit for brains," I said. "I hate to say it, but I’m startin’ to think my
brother’s been doubly blessed."
• I attempted the pinched-face squint some folks associate with a "steely gaze."
"Is this what a lawman looks like?"
"The blind, deformed ones, maybe," Gustav sighed. My monkeyshines seemed to amuse him about as much as a toothache.
And there you go -- all the monkeyshines I'll be subjecting you to today. I can only hope you didn't get to the end here thinking, "Well, heck...not only was he right to cut this garbage out of his books, I'm surprised he has the gall to dump it on us here."
Next week -- barring public demand for me to stop -- more novel flotsam....
Otto "Big Red" Amlingmeyer
November 26, 1893