Our author Larry Winchester now suddenly brings us back to a couple of characters we haven’t seen in a while: Paco, the Native American brujo, and Derek, the somewhat debauched English rock musician.
The time: a night in early September, 1969.
The place, a Quonset hut on the outskirts of an Indian reservation, not too far away from a wretched little town in New Mexico called Disdain...
(Click here for our preceding thrilling episode; go here to return to the very beginning of what Horace P. Sternwall termed "a ripping good yarn".)
Paco and Derek sat on the rug, staring at the old Philco black-and-white on a metal milk crate. The shack was as clouded as a cat’s eye marble, with gentle striations of smoke undulating from the floor to the ceiling. The only illumination was what flickered from the television set along with a faint glow of starlight from the two open windows.
Derek passed a fat joint to Paco.
“Who is that fuckin’ geezer, Chief?”
Paco took a long toke, held it in for a good ten seconds, and then let it out in a great whoosh that briefly disturbed the all-pervasive clouds of smoke and then was quickly absorbed by them.
“Who?” he asked.
“That fuckin’ bloke,” said Derek, and he pointed at the TV.
Brad Dexter grimaced nervously in close-up on the screen.
“Oh, okay. Just askin’,” said Brad.
And Brad followed Frank over to the ramp.
“He’s, uh, the casino manager,” said Paco. “I think --”
He took another toke.
“Nah,” said Derek, “I mean like in real life --”
He reached over and took the joint from Paco’s fingers.
“Oh, yeah,” said Paco. He let the smoke out slowly. “He’s that guy, you know -- the fuckin’ guy in that movie, the one about the fuckin’ seven guys --”
“The seven dwarves?”
Derek took a series of small but efficient tokes.
“No, the fuckin’ gunslingers -- Magnificent --”
“Seven?” said Derek, in between tokes.
“Right,” said Paco.
“What about it?” asked Derek.
“What about what?” said Paco.
Derek paused, blinking, and then slowly let it all out.
“What about the movie?” he asked.
“The movie,” said Paco.
“Magnificent,” said Derek.
“Magnificent what?” said Paco.
“Oh, right,” said Paco. “That dude in the movie we’re watching. He was in The Magnificent Seven.”
“Oh,” said Derek, staring at the TV. A commercial had come on. For Chesterfields. “That fuckin’ guy. I don’t know his name.”
“What the fuck was it?” asked Paco.
“Rod Cameron?” said Derek.
“No,” said Paco.
“Um. Brock Peters?”
“Lex Barker?” said Derek.
“No, stop it,” said Paco. “Pass me the fuckin’ joint.”
“Sure, Chief,” and he did. “Biff McGuire?”
“Seriously, man,” said Paco, and he took another big toke, “stop it --”
Someone knocked on the door.
“Shit,” said Paco.
Whoever it was knocked again.
“Come in,” said Paco, still holding it in.
The door opened. Captain Pym stood in the doorway, and behind him and to his left stood Colonel Masterson.
“The fuckin’ cavalry,” said Derek. “Oy, mate, the seventh guy in The Magnificent Seven -- you know, the one who thought the villagers had all this gold and shit --”
“Brad Dexter?” said Pym.
“Thank you,” said Derek.
Paco finally let out his lungful, and nodded.
“Brad fuckin’ Dexter,” he said.
(Continued here. All contents approved by the Wasilla Bureau of Objectionable Literature.)