DONG! Billy Joe Knight threw down his stetson in frustration. Every doggone time he tried to warn the townsfolk of exactly who and what was comin' their way, that darn church bell would ring.
All the townsfolk had gathered at the gazebo in the center of poverty-stricken Goldwater Junction to await the new sheriff's arrival. The red-and-white gazebo had been there as long as anyone remembered, and that was where everything important happened whether it was speeches, weddings, or hangings. The head of the town council, John-boy McCain, yelled back up to the steeple where Bobby Joe was keeping watch, "What did you say?"
Bobby Joe knew what was going to happen, but was bound and determined to try anyway. He pointed in the direction of the road from Grant Park and shouted once more, "The new sheriff is a ni-" DONG! Went the church bell again. "DagNABit I'm tired of this bullpuckey!"
John-boy turned to the next senior council member, the white-haired and pockmarked Little John Boehner, and sadly shook his head. "Y'know, the Knight klan has done pretty well for itself, but the boy they sent up there, I just don't know about him. Don't seem good for much, know what I mean?"
"I thought they all turned out good, boss" Little John looked at the long-haired, buck-toothed town misfit up in the steeple who was waving his arms like an idiot and pointing down the trail into town trying to shout one more time, "but maybe I just didn't know them all that well."
Again the young man shouted from the steeple, "The sheriff is a ni-" DONG! And the young man just hung his head, his shoulders heaving from sobs that no one could hear.
Little John looked at McCain, "John, which one of the Knights klan is that, anyhow?"
"That's Bobby," Old Man McCain said, his voice full of pity. "He's just the Knight who says 'ni'!"
About that time the townsfolk could hear the clip-clop of two horses and all became quiet. As they turned the corner the small crowd let out a collective gasp — one was an obese flaming senior homosexual with long, curly gray hair and wearing a lacy corset, and a athletic-looking, walnut-skinned African, and it was he who proudly wore on his chest the shiny star that denoted his status as the new sheriff! The citizens of Goldwater Junction began murmuring, and their voices became loud and angry.
The new sheriff refused to allow himself to show any fear as he boldly stopped at the entrance of the gazebo, dismounted, and walked briskly up the steps. "People of Goldwater Junction! My name is LeVon Notrauma, and this" — he gestured to the man who had rode with him into town — "is my deputy, Barney Frank-n-furter.”
“That’s Frahnk-n-furter!” hissedthe deputy to his left.
Sherriff Notrauma didn’t miss a beat. “Deputy Frahnk-n-furter. As I was saying, I'm honored to be here today, because not only am I your new sheriff, but I have been sent to bring you some change, to breathe some new life into this town!" He paused for effect, and a quick glance told LeVon that he was in big trouble. Every pair of eyes was red, angry red, murderous red…and eager to see just how red his own blood was. But he had a job to do. "So I figured what this town needs is a stimulus, and I'm bringing you the biggest stimulus you've ever seen!" The citizens were still a dangerous mob, but now he had their curiosity and figured that it was do-or-die time. "So now let me whip this out!" he shouted, reached down into his pants and pulled out the stimulus that he figured this town needed so very badly.
The crowd gasped once more, for it was indeed the biggest stimulus they'd ever seen! At that moment, a dozen "cha-clacks!" filled the air as all the men nearest LeVon pointed their shotguns at the new sheriff. The meanest of them, 'Mad Dog' Biff Giuliani, growled in a gravelly voice, "We here at Goldwater Junction are real Americans – we don't need no stimulus. You just keep your stimulus, y'hear? In fact, we'll stop this stimulus right here and now before you can give it to anybody else! You got any last words afore we have another hangin' here, darkie?"
LeVon looked at the men, taken aback for the barest of moments; and suddenly his eyes took a sheen of madness and his corners of his mouth curled with evil glee. Before anyone could move, LeVon yanked a Bowie knife from the sheath strapped to Old Man McCain's leg, grabbed his stimulus with his other hand, held the Bowie knife's razor edge a hair's breadth from the stimulus, and warned the crowd in a voice full of rage and hate, "Nobody move! I'm a-gonna cut off this stimulus, and you ain't a-gonna get nuthin'! You hear me? You ain't gonna get nuthin!" Then LeVon's face changed as if by magic, and sudden he was wide-eyed with terror! "Oh, no-oh-oh-oh! You a-better do what he says, oh no-oh-oh-oh! Oh, puh-lease don't let him cut off my stimulus oh no-oh-oh-oh!"
The townsfolk were stunned at the sudden turn of events, and finally all the womenfolk began to cry piteously, for they knew that Goldwater Junction needed that stimulus in the worst way. "Will no one help that poor man?" they wailed almost as one. But the men were frozen in indecision, not knowing how the loss of a great stimulus would affect the future of their little town.
But LeVon decided he'd better not wait. Once more his eyes narrowed with menace, "I mean it! I'm a-gonna cut it and y'all just gonna haveta do without!" And the terrified victim returned, "He means it, he means it! Don't let him cut my stimulus, oh, but he means it!" And LeVon began to edge his way down from the gazebo, slowly moving by jerks and spasms to the vacant sheriff's office with alternating repeats of "I'm a-gonna cut that stimulus!" and "Oh, don't let him do it, oh, no-oh-oh!" until he was able to shut the door in behind him. Once inside, he leaned against the wall in relief.
Barney had already let himself inside and was seated across the sheriff's desk. With a shaky hand he gestured to the padded leather seat that obviously belonged to whoever was currently sheriff of Goldwater Junction. "Glad to see you could make it, Sheriff Notrauma. Why don't you have a seat and I'll pour you a shot. We got lukewarm whiskey, tepid whiskey, and room-temperature whiskey — which one would you prefer?" He didn't wait for an answer and poured a double shot for his boss.
"What, no ice? I guess I'll take a weather shot, then — just make sure it's the same temperature as the weather, okay?" LeVon half-stumbled to the desk and slumped into the chair. "Man! I knew these were just backwoods country folk, but…." He knocked back half the shot glass, grimaced, and shook his head in astonishment.
"Don't be so shocked, my friend. These are just simple people of the soil." Barney took a swig from the whiskey bottle and continued, "And you knew there would be some resistance to you — a man of the world — becoming their new sheriff."
"Yeah, I know. By the way — where were you when they were about to hang me?"
“Well, I thought that you already knew what it was like to be hung," Barney paused for a moment, lingering over that last word, "and I knew you'd figure a way out. Besides, what could I really have done to help you?" He stuck out his right hand and held it motionless in the air for the sheriff's benefit.
LeVon scratched his head and wondered what was the point. "Looks rock-steady to me — what's the problem?"
Barney smiled wistfully and said, "That's my surgery hand — I used to be a surgeon too, you know. Here's my gun hand." He held out his left hand which shook badly.
"Ooooh. What's the matter with that one? Parkinson's?"
"No, no — you shouldn't rush to judgment. Parkinson's patients shake as a side-effect of their medications. No, what happened was there was this goth girl named Magenta, and her brother Riff-Raff caught us having elbow sex, and he wanted to make sure I never did it again."
"Whaaat? Elbow sex? That sounds on the weird side of kinky — I can understand why he was ticked. That was his sister, after all!"
"No, it's not what you think – you see, the two of them had this saying: 'incest is best'!"
LeVon grimaced, "Man, that's nothin' but sick. So you used to be a doctor, huh? I can just see that – 'Doctor Frank-n-furter'! I bet you were something!"
Barney's eye's narrowed. "That's FRAHNK-n-furter!"
LeVon held up his hands palm-forward as he quickly apologized, "Sorry, man – I didn't know that would get you all riled up!"
"S'okay – don't worry, I'm not too offended. I hear that lots of times."
"I bet," replied LeVon as he got up from the leather chair, stretched, and took himself for a short tour of the sheriff's office and adjacent jail. There was dust everywhere, broken whiskey bottles strewn across the floor, and there was no key to the jail cell lock. "Man — I wonder just how long it's been since they had a real sheriff in here?"
"Actually," Barney said as he stretched back and propped his boots up onto the sheriff's desk, "I can answer that. It's been about eight years — some white guy named Bill. He was pretty good, but these Goldwater folks didn't like him since he thought he was gonna be the first black sheriff. Once they ran Bill out of town there hasn't been anything resembling law and order. Now you're here, and they're all going to blame each other for a while for letting you come here."
"This 'Bill' was a white guy who thought he was gonna be the first black sheriff? Hmph. I don't think so." LeVon smiled grimly, remembering how so many whites didn't like him, but so many wanted to be him. "This town's pretty dead. Did this 'Bill' bring a stimulus, too?"
"Well, yeah, he brought a stimulus, but it wasn't that much – -couldn't have been, y'know? After all, he was as white as I am." Barney fought back the sudden impulse to ask to see the new sheriff's stimulus, to see if it really would help Goldwater Junction.
"Hey, don't give me that! You of all people should know that the size of the stimulus might help, but the most important thing is how you use it. But I've got to admit, having the biggest stimulus in the world does give me greater opportunity to put it to good use. "LeVon couldn't help the crooked smile that crept its way onto his face.
"Um, yeah." Barney sat himself up straight and decided it was better if he stay seated for the time being.
At that moment was a rapid knock on the door. LeVon opened it and one of the city councilmen stood before there quaking with fear. "It's Mahn-go, sheriff! He's in the Golden Bear saloon! You gotta go stop Mahn-go!" And the councilman fled into the gathering dusk.
LeVon turned back to Barney. "Who's this 'Mahn-go'?"
Barney held his right hand straight out, fingers extended, as he examined his nails for a moment, and replied with a knowing smile. "It's not a 'who' so much as a 'what', like a force of Nature. He's not too bright, but he's mighty strong. No weapon's ever touched him, so you can't beat him that way. And you should know that the Golden Bear Saloon is like the cultural center of town – that's where you can find all the stage performers and…well, there's a lot of people like me who pass through there. The only reason the people of Goldwater Junction go there is that they're sort of lacking on the artistic side, can't come up with much on their own. So even though they hate us, they pay to see us on stage."
"Hm…" LeVon looked in the direction of the saloon.
The Golden Bear Saloon was indeed the social hub of the town, but tonight it was filled with moans and groans and pleas of mercy from terrified men. LeVon paused at the door and couldn't help but notice that while most saloon doors swung both ways, these doors were somehow modified to swing only in one direction. These people are strange indeed, he told himself — what was the big deal about a lousy saloon door?
LeVon looked inside at the source of the commotion, and a big, black-haired, overmuscled brute of a man wearing a black leather biker jacket and jet-black sunglasses. He held a piano in his bare hands and used it to back at least a dozen local men against a wall. "Noooo!" cried the men. "Ahhrr-rr-rr!!!" grunted Mahn-go. "Mercy!" wailed the men. "Ahhrr-rr-rr!!!" growled Mahn-go. And LeVon knew that his only hope…was a candygram.
Five minutes later Sheriff LeVon and Deputy Barney stood before the door to the Golden Bear Saloon. Barney glanced disparagingly at LeVon Notrauma's plan. "Look, friend, don't you think this plan's a little long in the tooth? You've got your stimulus — maybe you can convince Mahn-go that he needs some of it." LeVon shook his head and tersely motioned for Barney to continue the plan. Barney sighed, and rapped on the door loudly, "Candygram! Candygram! You down with C and G, I'm down with C and G! You down with candygram, I'm down with candygram!" It was a sight, watching a fat old white man with a curly black wig and a frilly corset gyrating to a beat only he could hear, pretending to hold a mike less than an inch from lips fattened by years of injections of what LeVon hoped was Botox.
LeVon hissed, "No, you dummy — don't rap on the door…knock!"
Barney grinned, "Sorry – couldn't resist." He knocked on the swinging door loudly and called inside, "Candygram for Mahn-go!"
Mahn-go slowly turned, fixated on the door from whence his name was being called, and tried to remember the proper response. It was a word he'd learned the week before…and remembered it! Immensely pleased with himself, Mahn-go replied, "Huh?"
The call came from behind the door once more. "Candygram for Mahn-go!"
"Oooh! Oh boy! Mahn-go never had candygram before!" He looked menacingly towards the men he'd trapped behind the piano and warned them in a deep, menacing tone that none who heard it could ever forget, "Ah'll be bahck!" Mahn-go tromped to the swinging doors, opened them to look outside, and suddenly something massive struck from the side in the dark…and Mahn-go was gone! The men inside quivered with fright as they felt the ground tremble, thoom, thoom, thoom, the terrible tremors fading to silence and nightmarish memory.
The hardened, grizzled rustlers and gunfighters looked at each other in stark terror. “Was it…was it the Scarlet Pumpernickel?” one gasped, his voice weak, barely audible.
“No,” another replied as he clamped his hands between his legs to stop the shaking. “I heard tell long before that when a stranger comes bearing a candygram, it’s a sure sign a landshark is a’comin. One took my pa that way.” The others cowered even more deeply, for all had heard whispers of the landshark that sometimes took the shapes of samurai and giant bumblebees…
…but none of them could have imagined the horror that would grip their hearts as in the far distance they could all hear a deceptively playful song, the lyrics gripping their hearts in mortal fear: “I love you, You love me, We’re a happy family…” A wind suddenly blew out the candles that lit the saloon and screams filled the darkness. The men were never seen or heard from again.
Will Goldwater Junction ever be safe from Barney Frahnk-n-furter? Will Sheriff LeVon Notrauma live to see another day? Will the humble womenfolk ever receive the stimulus they need to get on with their lives?
Find out next week in the next episode of Blazing Stimuli — Chapter V: John and Unsilent Dick Strike Back!