Sol Springs Eternal lazed in the early morning sunshine as Sheriff Blondy Beach rode slowly into town; he and his horse coated in the dust of a long hard trail. Wearily the sheriff climbed out of the saddle and tied his horse to the hitching rail next to a horse trough.
"There you go Skippy you beaut, get your face into that. I'll be doing the same in a tick of a kookaburra's tit." He brushed dust off himself as he went through the bat wing door of the Sol Saloon.
"Starve the crows!" he exclaimed to the barman, "I'm as dry as a dead dingo's donger, and me throat's as rough as a bears arse. Give us a Fosters Billy, before I croak like a Pom politician when he has to hand back his expenses."
The bar man sadly shook his head." Sorry sheriff, there ain't none. A Milwaukee gang is roaming the territory destroying all foreign beer - I've got some Bud."
"I'd rather stick pins in me eyes; Skippy's piss is tastier than that stuff. Bugger it, I'll have to have a sarsaparilla." The Sheriff's disgust showed on his craggy weather beaten face.
Billy Blade poured a shot and slid it along the bar to the sheriff, who gulped it down, made a face and said. "Another."
Billy poured the drink and asked "Where've you been the past week? We've missed your colourful but incomprehensible language."
"Had a report of a bunch of plagiarists working near Old Lesbian's Creek, trailed them for three days to Sodomized Butte. Then they crossed the border into Asstr Territory. My writ don't run in those parts."
The sheriff drained his glass but as he was about to leave the bar the doors were flung open and an excited man burst into the saloon.
"Have you heard the news?" he shouted, "there's going to be a pen fight! Black Fred Badmouth has been called out to prove himself."
The sheriff sniffed disdainfully. "How many times have I heard that? It always ends in the same way, Black Fred sends anyone stupid enough to call him out to the Dead Authors Society up on Kinky Boot Hill. Must have been close on a dozen in the past 2 years."
"Aye" agreed Billy, "that Fred Badmouth is one 'orney critter but he must be the fastest quill in the West!"
The excited man, Joshua Bee was his name but known as Bizzy Bee as he was such a idle sod, said.
"This latest guy is different. Comes with a high reputation from back East. Some say he's a reincarnation of Stephen King."
The sheriff threw some coins on the bar for his drinks.
"I'll believe it when I see it. I'm shooting through to point Percy at the porcelain." With that cryptic remark he left.
Billy shook his head. "I wish I could savvy what the sheriff was saying, I'm sure he must say something sensible sometimes."
Just then Irish Tim O' Sodem came in the bar. "Top O' the morning to ye, the rest of the day to myself, so it is. I'll have a Jameson whiskey Billy, so I will"
"Sorry Tim," Billy said, "there's a Louisville gang roaming the territory destroying all foreign whiskey - I've got some Seagram's."
"I'd rather stick pins in me eyes, so I would. I've drunk better tasting banshee piss than that stuff. Bejazus, I'll have to have a sarsaparilla."
Bizzy Bee spoke up again. "Heard the news? There's going to be a pen fight. Black Fred Badmouth has been called out to prove himself."
"You eejit," said Irish Tim, "who do you think printed that news in the paper that he owns?"
"You've got me there Irish Tim - who is it?" said Bizzy scratching his head.
"Me! You bandjaxed bonehead. " Irish Tim shouted, "I own and print the Sol Daily Forum and Gazette; of course I've heard the fucking news, I printed it in the paper this morning."
Bizzy looked aggrieved. "Well I only asked. Anyway the challenger is arriving on the 3.10 stage from Yuma," he looked at his watch. "That's in an hour's time."
"Well I didn't know that," said Irish Tim.
A heated discussion between Irish Tim, Bizzy and a couple of other patrons of the Sol saloon ensued concerning the time keeping reliability, or the lack of it, of Orson Wells Far Go Stage Coach Line. Whilst this discussion was going on in a corner of the saloon Sheriff Blondy Beach re-entered the room, fresh from pointing Percy at the porcelain, and made his way over to the bar. He leaned over the counter and said quietly to Billy Blade.
"Tell them drongos who use the dunny not to throw their ciggy butts in the piss bowl. Makes them difficult to retrieve and nigh impossible to smoke."
Billy sighed, it was an old request, nearly as old as the joke.
"What's all the excitement?" The sheriff nodded to where the conversation was getting a bit heated.
"The challenger to Black Fred is coming in on the... " Billy stopped mid sentence as a voice, heavy with menace, spoke from the bar room entrance.
"Some galoot mention my name?"
Black Fred Badmouth stood in the doorway and it was plain to see why he was called Black Fred Badmouth. He was dressed from head to toe in black ( even his skivvies were black, but only his most intimate friends would know that); he had been baptised Fred and he had a bad mouth ( ulcers). His low slung pen holsters, on his low slung hips, carried two pearl topped Parker 51's with broad italic gold plated nibs. They were fully loaded with Waterman's Permanent Black Ink No1. He walked across to the bar, an amalgam of Johnny Cash and John Wayne, the rowels on his spurs rotating, as did the heads of all in that bar. Up at the counter he fixed Billy Blade with a basilisk- like stare.
"Sarsaparilla, shaken not stirred, ice and a slice of lemon" he paused thoughtfully, "and stick one of them little umbrella things on top."
"Sure thing Mr Badmouth, coming right up!" Billy was already filling a glass.
Black Fred looked at the sheriff.
"Ain't seen you for a spell" he said, raising his glass to his lips. "Doggone, " he exclaimed as the umbrella struck him in the eye, "what blamed fool left this little umbrella thing in my drink?"
Billy lent over the bar and disengaged the offending article from Black Fred's eye.
"You're supposed to take the damn thing out before you drink, you fuck wit!" he said under his breath. The sheriff spoke hurriedly before Black Fred could work himself into a lather.
"Been chasing plagiarists over..." before he could finish Black Fred swore horribly, loudly and for a considerable time. Removing all the expletive what he said can be summarised thus:
Plagiarists are the lowest form of human life and hanging is too good for them.
"Remember when the old sheriff caught that gang of plagiarists at None Consensual Canyon?" said Bizzy Bee.
"Sure do," said Black Fred, "we gave them a lesson to remember. First we branded them,"
"Heh heh, they sure hollered when we done that." Irish Tim sniggered at the remembrance.
"then we hung em up by their gonads and tarred and feathered them," continued Black Fred.
"They screamed in agony at that," Bizzy said with relish, " they wuz heard clear to Denver!"
"And finally we made them read that story that had them begging to be shot, it was that painful for them to bear" Black Fred finished.
"Yep, " said Billy Blade coming round from behind the counter, " 'Cheerleaders in Paradise' can do that to a man."
Sheriff Blondy Beach stalked angrily out of the bar room muttering to himself, "I should never have left Wagga Wagga!" But nobody noticed the going of him.
The group at the bar were still reminiscing about the good old days, when plagiarists were in season through out the year, when they were suddenly interrupted by a shout from outside the saloon.
"There's a coach coming in!"
There was a concerted rush outside, to view what was in indeed the high point of the day in Sol Springs Eternal. The stage coach, Grandpa Gabby Hayes at the reins and Calamity Zane riding shotgun, came rocking and rattling into town, Grandpa cracking the whip, the horses blowing and Calamity 'Yee Hawing'.
"Thank God she ain't singing," said Black Fred, "I'd have been forced to fill her full of ink!"
Grandpa Hayes drew the team to a slithering halt outside the saloon. He pulled out his watch from his vest, pointed at the dial and said,
"Look at that, 20 minutes early!"
Irish Tim pulled a calendar from his coat pocket, pointed to the date and said,
"Look at that, 2 days late!"
Grandpa spat a a stream of tobacco juice at the lead horse.
"That danged George W's to blame, threw a shoe at Paedophile's Gulch; should have have sent him for dog meat or to a French restaurant two years ago."
The horse in question looked around, snorted and deposited a load of manure; an equine riposte to Grandpa Hayes.
Calamity Zane took a deep breath ( which was what had really drawn the fellows from the bar room ). Her magnificent bosom inflated to twice its already impressive size; several buttons on the buckskin jacket she wore flew off like shrapnel.
"Sol Springs Eternal, " she announced in a voice that could be heard clear to Denver, " change for the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe line. Those booked through to Eroticsville and Sol City got an hour for vittles and use of the can."
Calamity climbed down from the coach and remarked,
"We've hauled some real purty goods to day." She indicated three attractive young ladies who were stepping down off the coach. They were dressed in frills and furbelows, but not wearing any draws below; which could be ascertained if you laid down under the coach as several men were doing. The girls were bound for Madame Rachel's Riding Academy, over by the livery stables.
"Hot damn " said Bizzy, "sure like to saddle that filly," indicating a blonde who had raised her skirts well above her waist, showing off her pert naked buttocks.
"Hell you know that Madame Rachel always tries them out before letting us throw our leg over," said Irish Tim a bit peevishly.
"Ain't just them," said Calamity, "see what else we done got."
A beam of sunlight suddenly illuminated a figure getting out of the coach. In the dazzling light the onlookers could just make out a tall figure dressed entirely in white. His hat, jacket, pants, boots and teeth gave back such a reflected light that it was some time before the figure could be viewed properly. He was packing a Ball Point Pen 73 (later to be known as the pen that wrote the West; load a cartridge in the morning and write all year long, being its main selling point.)
He raised his white Stetson.
"Howdy, I'm Septimus the Magnificent, come to face Black Fred Badmouth, mano y mano."
Black Fred fronted the stranger.
"Look sonny, we don't take kindly to tinhorns coming out West and telling us published authors how to write, 'specially if that tinhorn ain't writ a lick!"
Septimus pointedly ignored Black Fred and climbed on the soapbox he carried.
"Folks " he exclaimed, "new times are a coming; the old order is changing. Our beloved land of Erotica is growing by leaps and bounds. All are now welcome to have their say; writers, editors, readers. All men will have an equal say on how Erotica develops."
Calamity Zane asked, "What about all women, do we get an equal say in this brave new world?"
Septimus looked amazed at the question.
"Who's the mad woman? " he whispered to Irish Tim, who was stood near him.
"Pay no mind to her Mr Magnificent, that's Calamity, she's got some crazy notion that wimmin should have the same rights as men. She's plumb loco - but she's got a great rack."
"Why do you call her Calamity," enquired Septimus, "is it because that is what would happen to the world if such a dumb thing should come to pass?" He looking nervously at Calamity Zane.
"Hell no. If you ever get to hump her you'd know ten to fourteen days later why she's called Calamity," Irish Tim tapped a finger to the side of his nose.
"What, she gives you the pox?" Septimus sounded horrified and hurriedly moved several yards away from Calamity.
"Worse than that," confided Irish Tim. "She signs you up for the Reader's Digest, and that's when you receive your first copy." He shuddered at the thought.
Black Fred was getting impatient. "Let's cut out all this bullshit and get on with the pen fight. The sooner that Septimus, the so called magnificent, is up on Kinky Boot Hill the sooner we can get back to the saloon."
"Suits me just fine " snarled Septimus, "the sooner you're cut down to size the sooner more folks will come to Sol Springs Eternal and take part in the forums."
Sheriff Blondy Beach pushed his way through he crowd.
"This has got to be done fair dinkum and tickety boo" he said, "it's not just a pen fight to see who can write the fastest but also a measurement of the calibre of the writing. How are we going to judge that?"