Times were I treated young Roger with some indulgence whenever he got stinking drunk on Shitsville’s finest and would burst into the mayoral offices about ten-o’clock in the mornin’ as I sat there counting chickens before they hatched. Roger would have been up all night and have a girl under either arm and be wearing a blue sash that said, “MAYOR OF TITSVILLE” across his front. And under the wild whoops of Evelyn Einstein and Louella Jones (the biggest whores in Texas) I would say tiredly,
‘Dear, dear darling Roger, you really do have to stop bustin’ in here of a morn demanding to be mayor. In Texas vegans aren’t allowed to hold positions of power, you know that, Roger, you yourself voted it in at the last referendum.’
‘Was I drunk?’ he asked.
As we already know nothing in Shitsville was ever the same again after Roger rode into town. He was a wonderful lad full of pep and joi de vivre and all of that shit. He could drink any man under the table and quite often did, only to end up under the table himself ten minutes later. He looked like an angel when he slept, even though he snored. It rather endeared him to people.
One morning as I did my daily rounds selflessly ensuring the protection of civil liberties as mayor / sheriff of Shitsville (the sheriff had disappeared under mysterious circumstances a couple of weeks before) I got this odd sort of feeling that nobody in the street would look me in the eye as I said, ‘Howdy!’ So about twelve o’clock I went on into Ginger’s Saloon and said, ‘Where’s Roger?’
‘The usual spot –‘ said Ginger. He jerked a thumb at Roger, slumped at the end of the bar.
‘ROGER!’ I said.
‘Hmph,’ said Roger with his head in his arms.
‘Roger, Roger. Roger!’ I said, lifting his head up by the hair. ‘I want to speak to you.’
Roger lifted his head, said, ‘Gah!’ and put his head back down again.
I signalled to Ginger and he poured me a nice big stiff one. Then I started hitting Roger on the cheeks. ‘Hair of the dog, Roger… wake up… Come on you fucking idiot. I… Where’d you go last night?’
‘Ghhuhdh,’ said Roger.
‘Nobody’s talkin’ to me this morning,’ I said. It was an odd sort of feeling; the idea that someone you thought you might love could stop talking to you for no reason at all.
Now from behind me still sitting at the card game Jack Daniels said, ‘Now if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a woman crying.’
‘I’m not crying, you shit head.’
‘The Mayor of Shitsville shouldn’t be crying,’ said Jack Daniels.
‘Then stop trying to make me cry, arsehole! Roger! Roger!’
At last Roger lifted his head and blinked blearily at the swimming pictures on the wall behind the bar.
‘Scotch is a very unkind mistress…’ he said.
‘What’d you do last night…?’
‘Put some money on a horse…’
‘Oh. Did you win anything?’
‘No… No words…’
‘So you lost then?’
‘Well. I tried very hard not to…’
‘Needs to be said, Roger. I don’t think you should throw your money after lame horses when there are so many women around.’
‘I know, I know.’ He really sounded very contrite. ‘We ended up at the whorehouse… 800 bucks later… My tie got so covered in glitter I had to throw it out.’
Now I took hold of the hair on the back of his head again and pulled him up. ‘Why isn’t anyone talking to me?’
‘I’m talking to you?’
‘Did something happen last night?’
‘No…?’ said Roger. There was a touching plea for pity in his voice. ‘Please… my head… you’re killing me.’
That was when Jack Daniels slid his chair back, threw his hand down, and stood up. ‘OK,’ said Jack. ‘It’s this. We don’t want you to be mayor anymore.’
‘What did you just say?’
Jack put his hands on his gun belt. ‘We don’t want you to be the mayor any more.’
‘Oh,’ said I. I looked around. Everyone in the place was sort of pretending they weren’t there. Even the crazy pamphleteer hadn’t anything to add. ‘Oh. Is that it, then?’
Old toothless Jeffrey spat meditatively to the side. Jack Daniels stayed silent.
‘Every town needs a mayor, friend,’ I said. ‘You can’t just go without for laughs. That would be Constitutionally Irresponsible.’
‘Oh, sure,’ said Jack. Jeff spat again. ‘We’d have a mayor alright.’
It was then I began to get a vague sort of idea about what was really going on. ‘And who, may I ask, do you want to be the mayor?’
‘We want…’ said Jeffrey.
‘We want…’ said the crazy Baptist.
‘Roger,’ said Jack.
‘It’s Roger we want…’ said Jeffrey.
‘Roger!’ said I.
‘Roger for Mayor!’ said Frank the Bastard, looking hastily away. The crazy Baptist gave one small but not very hearty bang on his tambourine for emphasis before his courage deserted him again.
‘Well that’s all well and good,’ I said after a pause. ‘Alas, your friend Roger can’t be the mayor, because I already am the mayor. Remember?’
‘We want Roger to be the mayor instead,’ said Jack Daniels very slowly. Then he looked around the bar and said, ‘We all want Roger instead, don’t we boys?’
‘Roger!’ shouted the good folks in the bar.
‘ROGER!’ shouted I to him.
‘Don’t worry about it…’ said Roger. ‘Shh…shhh, please…. have a drink?’
‘Did you know about this?’
‘Oh! Christ save me!’ said Roger. ‘This is the sort of hangover that teaches godless people how to pray.’
‘So this is what really went on last night… Mutiny and betrayal?’
‘Forget about it, cousin,’ said Roger. ‘Hair of the dog…?’
‘You’re the dog, Roger.’
He reached out to me a conciliatory fashion looking a lot like a creeping jackass. ‘It doesn’t matter what they say, cousin! I don’t want to be mayor! They’re all still probably drunk!’
‘Roger, I hate you.’
‘Shhh!’ said Roger. And then to himself, shaking his head, and looking as if about to weep, he said, ‘Never again… never again…Please cousin, you’re killing me.’
‘I hope you die.’
‘Now that’s just not pleasant,’ said Roger.
Cont’d here: Another Shot in the Back in Texas.