Abez sez Assalamualaikum!

Alright y’all, that there other comment box was a’running out of space. Here’s our spaghetti western so far.

A light breeze blew, stirring up the dust in front of the saloon and carrying it down to the stable where my horse stood. Good old Bullet, my trusty steed had carried me this far in my journey, through dry canyons, across roasting deserts, through Desi traffic, and now into Hell’s Teeth. Hell’s Teeth was one of the nicer names of this one-horse town, this out-of-the way den of crime and corruption they called Isloo. And they don’t even have a ice-skating rink.

I sat rocking on the porch of Ma’s General Store, cooling my heels and waiting. Ms.X could stomp all over the Mesa looking for me, but I was gonna be here waiting for her when she came back, and then. Well, then there would be some talking and maybe some fighting and maybe some shooting too, but one of us was going to lose. *queue rousing battle-score type music*

Two-fingers Mac came out of the saloon with his broom in his hand and started sweeping. He looked up at me mid-sweep and froze. He knew what was coming, so he took his broom and hurried back inside. Everyone knew, what with the way Ms. X had been a-talking up her outfit and riding roughshod over the locals, challenging them. And she had a-challenged me, but not afore trying to make me join her crew.

“Sensei,” she said with a chaw of tobacco in her cheek, “I reckon there’s room for a fast gun in my outfit. So long as you cut your allegiance to that other outfit, and stop wearing that there rag on your head. We pay better than ole Iz-laam any day now, don’t we boys.”

I rejected her outright. Told her where her outfit could go and what she could do with her pay. It weren’t pretty. But I wasn’t there to talk pretty, I was there to talk straight and shoot fast.

As I sat on the porch waiting, the bat-wing doors on the saloon opened and the sheriff stepped out. The sheriff, whose name was…

(Continued by Binje)

The sheriff, whose name was…

Ugly McPretty walked out in his usual outfit of black all over with the shinning silver badge which asserted his authority over the town. “I hear ya been waiting for Ms. X here Sensei, what in tarnation is all this about?”.

“Dont concern you sheriff, best you stay outta my way”. This comment from our hero took the sheriff back for a moment. With a stern look on his face, the sheriff walked over to Sensei and said, “y’all may have yer petty disputes, but dont ya have ’em none in my town. I’m the law here and everyone respects me fer it. I kept this town clean all this time and I aint about to derrrty up ma jailhouse over this”.

“I told ya before sheriff, and I aint gonna repeat myself… now let me be” came the reply….

The sheriff was just about to say something when all of a sudden….

(Continued by Baji)

The sheriff was just about to say something when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I caught Ms. X make a sudden movement. Time slowed. I saw her hand reach for a right-hand draw. Her lips twisted into a victorious sneer. My black scarf undulated in the wind. Dustballs rolled down the street coating vehicles, horses, camels, cows, and gawkers alike in a fine, thin layer of grit and grime. Before Ms. X could clear her weapon from its holster, I had already drawn, locked and loaded, and aimed.

“There may be room for a fast gun in your outfit, but is there room for a fast bullet in your slow brain?” I asked.

Ms. X froze. The only detecable movement was the angry tic at the edge of her beady little eye. Tobacco juice began to dribble down her chin but she made no move to wipe the spittle away. She knew she was just a hair’s breadth away from meeting her end.

*queue the theme music from ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’ since blogistan has no regard for copyright infringments. ooeee ooeee oooooo…wah wah wahhhhh*

(Continued by Shady Wayne)

…The glint off my silver Peacemaker shone on Ms X’s face, as her shameful past slithered by in a flash. X knew her end was near but she loved her life just too much to let it get away.

“Your scarf’s off kid” she drawled and burst into a hissy laughter. Instinctively, my hand reached for my head and as I dropped guard for that split second, X jumped up and grabbed my gun. “Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway,” she shrieked, and now it was my turn to stare down the barrel as a cowboy crooned in the distance…

“She found him with a sweet young filly

Makin’ calf eyes and layin’ it on thick

And before he knew what had happened

She stabbed him with a Texas toothpick”

(Continued by Abez)

“She found him with a sweet young filly

Makin’ calf eyes and layin’ it on thick

And before he knew what had happened

She stabbed him with a Texas toothpick”…

I lay on the ground humming this tune to myself. X looked at me like I was outta my blasted mind. And maybe I was, laying in the middle of the road with an enemy on my stomach and a gun in my face, singing.

Ms. X got a look in her eyes that I often a’seen in cattle when you cut them off. She was spooked. I smiled at her.

“I thought you was plannnin to shoot me Ms. X, not ride me.”

The people laughed. X swore and jumped off’a me, pointing her piece. I’m going to shoot you and I’m going to do it right,” she hissed, “So stand up and take the bullet like a man.”

“Very well then.” I got up slowly and made a big show of it, dusting off my chaps and straightening the scarf underneath’ma hat. As I stood I tipped my hat to Sheriff Ugly McPretty and he frowned at me. I turned and was about to drop a curtsey to the barber who was peering out of his shop windows when Ms. X fired.

She got me too, clipped my ribs and drew blood, but never more than than. Cuz I drew lead and took a shot off’m her that knocked the gun out of her hand. She was a-mighty mad, and she was clutching her bloody hand to her chest for dear life.

“Damn you Sensei!” she screamed, insulting me and turning tail at the same time. “The Boss is gonna hear about this, you can’t mess with our outfit and walk. You’re gonna get it bad!”

She said some more after that, ugly words as she ducked into a side-street and ran, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was busy being fuzzy-headed, and wondering why my side was hot and my shirt was red and why the ground seemed to be rising to meet my face.

They told me I passed out before my face even hit the dust…

(Continued by Mujahida)

They told me I passed out before my face even hit the dust…

During the following days I had only a few minutes of consciousness. Sheriff Ugly McPretty’s wife had taken me in and did her best in patching me all up. Unfortunately I was her first patient, her previous experience amounting to the healing of a paper cut on the Sheriffs thumb…

(Continued by Baji)

Unfortunately I was her first patient, her previous experience amounting to the healing of a paper cut on the Sheriffs thumb. My ribs still ached when the weather turned and I was going to have to work hard to get my left shooting arm back to its swiftness and stregth. But by the Grace of God and my own darn stubborness, I healed quickly and cleanly. Which is just the manner in which I hoped to dispatch of Ms. X the next time I clapped eyes on her.

I thanked Sheriff McPretty and his dainty lil’ wife for their hospitality and made tracks. Ms. X’s posse was surely on its way. I (somewhat less gracefully than usual) mounted my horse, tipped my hat to the McPrettys, and turned my face towards the blazing, setting sun. I was heading west. Right into Ms. X’s territory. If she wanted a fight, I was going to oblige and bring it to her…

(Continued by Momma!)

Suddenly out of the cornor of her eye, Sensei caught a streak of silver. She knew there was only one thing that traveled that fast in all the Wild Wakistani West. Her portable weapons of mass distruction she kept hidden under her hijab wouldn’t be able stop this!

She sensibly made for high ground and had just shimmied up Devil’s Chimney when the silver streak stopped with a screaching of brakes, and a curb jumping thud at the base. Out of her trusty steed, the Silver Bullet jumped the Indian Princess Grouchy Owl. Her kaajaled eyes and mehendied hands told Sensei she was on the war path again (or should I say as always?). Dictators and Potentates shuddered at the pass of her shadow.

She straightened her owl feather hijab, adjusted her silk sari(Hey, you asked for Indian, so you got an Indian-Indian) She extended her arm in the universal greeting of “Salam” to the starteled Sensei.

“I have news from the reservation.” she grunted.

(Continued by Shady Wayne)

“Fire away”, I said, although i knew what the owl had to say. She was my jumma woman, my faithful ally as I worked the daily grind in the Wild Wakistani West. Battle-scarred she wasn’t but I couldn’t do without her.

“Them cowboys sent you regards and a nod. They will be waitin’ at the usual place–the crooked tree by the ol’ wooden bridge.” I smiled and rode on as the Owl’s silver bullet burned rubber heading back to town. Just before I left ol’ McPretty’s house, I had sent word to my cowboy buddies. My adventures were a-lacking without them and I wouldn’t dream of hitting X’s territory if they not be ridin’ by muh side.

My silver Peacemaker, still smellin’ of a shootout, lay snug in its holster. And under my hijaab, I stacked them shiny throwing stars—a sensei special. I looked forward to seein’ mine buds; It was long since we had all saddled up.

A long, rough ride lay ahead o’ me and my faithful steed slowed to a canter as the crimson sun started to cast longish shadows.And as we rode into the desert, I hummed…

“And he rides the wild horses,

The same blood flows through their veins.

Yes he rides the wild horses,

Like the horses he’ll never be tamed.”

(Continued by Abez)

I was singing again, being in a singing mood. Things were looking up. My friends would be waiting for me and my side was healing up nice.

Of course, that meant that Ms. X’s hand must be healin up too, but that was something I could deal with. She couldn’t out-shoot me. She took a pot-shot off’me when I wasn’t looking, but I beat her to the draw.

Still, she would be mad, and mad people do stupid, violent things. I didn’t feel like singing no more. Nevermind. I changed my direction and started riding for the crooked tree and my friends. Some of them were excellent trackers, what with them being Indians- like Shady Wayne. He lived on the Hydro Reservation upcountry, where he…

(Continued by Christoph)

… had a cactus ranch. Shady Wayne bred the tallest, spikiest, cactusiest cactus herd this side of al Paso.

(Continued by Abez)

And maybe if his cactussy cacti gave him a spare moment, he and his guns could ride out to the crooked tree. I wasn’t sure if he was coming though. I wasn’t gonna force a body to take on another man’s fight. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to swing by the Hydro Reservation and say salaam.

It was a dry, lonely ride to the reservation, and my side ached and reminded me of how close I’d come to being a late-gunslinger, a Sensei deceased- an ex-parrot. All that reminding made me cranky, and when Bullet stopped at tiny oasis to refuel, I hopped off and kicked at the dust before I thought better of it. And then I heard a voice say, “What you got against that there dust?”

I was taken aback, I couldn’t tell where the voice was coming from.

“Come out and show yourself,” I said irritably. Being caught off guard made me nervous and angry.

The voice came again and said…

(Continued by Shady Wayne)

“Lookie here kiddo; on yer left” I turned to look but I din’t see nobody ‘cept vast expands of sand and a dry shrub. Just as I turned to the other side, I heard a laugh and just then it struck me. It wasn’t an urban legend after all. There in front of me stood the folklore I had heard again and again right from the time I was knee high. “He he he”, said the talking shrub…

(Continued by Lil Baji)

I rubbed and blinked my eyes. My attention was directed to my left when I heard someone crooning “Rambling Man”. I whipped around, I saw a long, lean vampire playing a banjo. I scratched my right arm and tilted my head, trying to make sense of what my eyes were telling me. It wasn’t until I saw several squirrels dancing around in tutus that I figured something was seriously wrong.

I shook my head vigorously to clear it. Once. Twice. The hallucinations were gone. My right arm was itchin’ something fierce and when I finally gathered my thoughts and focused, I found a wee feather attached to a slender dart that was jammed directly into my arm. Uh oh.

(Continued by Baji)

“Well well well, lookee what we got here,” Mx. chortled, emerging from the shadows. “You ain’t so fast now, are ya?”

She was right. I tried to reach for my gun, to ball my hand into a fist, even to make some obscene gesture. Nothing. My arm would not obey.

“Looks like your trigger-happy hand is unhappy,” Mx. sneered.

“Least I got a hand,” I replied, looking pointedly at the stump at the end of her arm.

Her cruel smile wavered for an instant and then she really laid into me.

“Ya got yer hand, but you don’t got yer lil’ Princess Grouchy Owl no more. We do. And we got plans fer both of ya.”

Rage coursed through me. Instant, spontaneous, fierce. It cleared my mind for a moment, but I could feel the effects of whatever poison Mx. used on me begin to race through my body. Somewhat unsteady on my feet, I had just enough energy to glare at her.

“Why you low-down, lily-livered, yellow-bellied, good-fer-nuthin’. . . flea-bitten, card-cheatin’ . . . rassin’ . . . frassin’ . . . . . . ” My thoughts slowed and my anger melted into a sort of wavy, blissful feeling. My lips refused to form any more words. The world tilted. My vision wavered and dimmed. I could feel myself starting to fall.

“Not again,” I thought to myself. .

(Continued by Abez)

I can’t say it was unpleasant, being out cold. I remember a humming noise, and warmth, and the sensation of wanting to be left alone. But they wouldn’t leave me alone. There were snakes twisting around my ankles, holding them together. I could feel them growing tighter. I looked around and saw my hands in the jaws of a giant lizard, and felt myself being dragged along as it gnawed my wrists raw.

After a time the snakes calmed down and turned back into ropes and the lizard that drug me turned into a horse. I was still being a-drug though, hands-first behind a horse through the blistering sand.

At some point the dragging stopped and I felt myself being hauled to my feet. My hands were still tied, and so were my ankles. I was grabbed roughly under the shoulders and pulled towards a camp fire. I could hear its crackle, feel its heat, and I knew that alot of time had passed while I was unconscious. It might have been too much to hope for that someone would miss me and come looking. But still, a body could hope…

(Continued by Taha)

… with all the shadows leaping and dancing from the crackling fire I couldn’t be dead-on certain though normally only old Steady Hand Atticus could see better than me on any given day, matter of fact, as the story goes he once shot the head off a rattler 90 paces away just to impress a missus when the rest of us couldn’t even see it till we got closer. But ol Steady Hand Atticus is gettin on in years and his sight just ain’t what it used to be so that pretty much makes me number one…

…so when I tell you I thought ah saw a cowboy hat out there in the shadows well you can just take mah word to the bank but heck don’t take it to the one on Elm street ’cause one time ah found a gold nugget, OK well maybe I didn’t find it, maybe me and Shady captured it in one of our raids but Ahm tryin to tell a story here and if I says I found it then I found it…

(Continued by Raahil strong)

…and hope indeed, a body did have. Although hands and ankles still tied, sitting before that fire was soothing and reassuring in its own way. though, with daylight, even the strongest of camp fires would leave nothing but ash.

Time was running out, and something had to be done. For these hand and ankles were not bound by some ropes a mere mortal could remove.. for they had to burned off by the CINDERS OF ZAFA! Terror struck the hearts of commoners at the mention of its name. For it was a place, enshrouded by the jungle of Kanba, a place where only the lionheart dared to enter by night. But, there was something else… long ago, at the birth of I, a wise man had trekked the plains of south, only to arrive at the birth and give glad tiding of hope.

Still a little dazed and confused, I focused my eyes towards the one… the one who had rescued me.. Sayyidee, I feel as if i’ve known you all my days. Will you not make mention of your tale, will you not reveal yourself, my robed companion? Slowly before me, he pushed back the loose hood that had covered his head and had obstructed a view of his face…

Raised in the barren deserts of Namnor, Sayyid was a truth-seeker, a wise youth of noble lineage…

(Continued by Abez)

Or so I heard. Or maybe that’s what I thought I heard. I wasn’t even sure if that’s what I had seen, because I doubted my sanity when I started seeing hooded cowboys rising noiselessly from the desert sand. I told myself that it must have been them poisons that X shot me up with, but when the campfire suddenly went out and I found my hands free, I knew it had been more than a hallucination.

But I didn’t give it more thought than that. There was a whooping and a hollering in the dark, and it sounded like X and her crew were in for some trouble. I lit a shuck. I don’t care what some people say about the enemy of my enemy being my friend. Truth is, sometimes my enemy’s enemy hates me more than my enemy himself.

“Damn poison,” I muttered while dragging my boots through the cool, midnight sand. “Damn X,” I said when I realized that I left my horse back with X. I almost turned back for Bullet, but then I remembered that only the lowest, meanest varmint will hurt a good horse, and X may have been bad, but not that bad. Besides, Bullet was faster than sound and stronger than an ox. To shoot a horse like that would be a sorry waste, and I was counting on X’s greed to kick in where her compassion might leave off. I’d get bullet back later. For now, I was walking to the crooked tree with friends far ahead and enemies close behind.

I sat down on the sand just as the sun was beginning to peek over the dunes. I was dog-tired, my feet were chaffed from where sand had gotten into my boots and my lips were beginning to crack. I needed water, I needed shelter, and I needed them both fast. Once the sun came up I’d be a goner.

Once the sun came up I’d be a goner. I climbed to the top of the dune and tried to get my bearings. The Margalla Hills and Isloo were behind me, the ugly town of Pindi was to my left, and ahead of me lay an endless sea of white sand. I wanted to scream.

But I didn’t. I closed my eyes and sat down. That was a mistake right there. Never close your eyes and sit down. You might sit on a cactus, like I did. It was quite a cactussy cactus too. Tall and spiky, not at all a pleasant place to rest one’s laurels. I jumped up and whooped, and from somewhere in the sea of white sand someone whooped back. I knew that sound, and just then I knew them cactuses. I was on the Hydro Reservation, and here was a’coming Shady Wayne…

And now, Chapter Two…

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