Takin that long walk off a short pier in Texas

Annex - Sinatra, Frank (4 For Texas)_NRFPT_02

Next thing I knew it was three a.m. and we were all standing on the porch — old toothless Jeffrey, Jack Daniel, Texas Strauss, Miss Summertime, the redneck cripple-leg guy, the crazy Baptist and his tambourine, Louella Jones and Evelyn Einstein, the biggest whore in Texas — and Roger, leaning wildly from side to side, was gearing up to take that long impossible walk across the shifting sands toward the gentle red light glowing in the top window of the World-Famous Shitsville Whorehouse. If Texas has any ritual approximating bah mitzvah or the casting off of adolescents into bachelor tribes in the desert in order to see if they can return, a man, this is it; ‘Don’t worry, Roger,’ said I. ‘Nobody does it first time.’

I slapped him on the back and shoved him into the street — and then we all watched — with baited whisky-breaths, and everyone leaning slightly over, while the whores on the other side of the road did the same, and in that space of pure time didn’t even move to take a drag of their cigarettes — while that young purebread in his too-high heels and long-fringed jacket and Nudie Cohn chaps with huge pink roses embroidered over them skittered like a newborn on an icy lake [Bambi reference] and then — step by awful step — in shoes he couldn’t stand up in sober — launched himself like a giant reeling spider – all — twenty five — fucking–abominable– kneeless–sinking–paces — across that dark dirt road. He landed face first in a pile of green horseshit — just inside the fence line of the whorehouse.

Afterwards I often thought it was that moment which marked the end of Shitsville: Roger being lifted unconscious with a mouthful of shit by two whores and being carried like a sack of scarecrow clothes to wild applause up the steps into the whorehouse, whose lights were shining through the panes of different-coloured glass (and my drunken tears) like, oh, the finest Arabian jewels.

Jeff spat happily into the street. The crazy Baptist pamphleteer banged his tambourine and quoth: “For God so Loved the World that he sent his Only son…” Louella Jones and Evelyn Einstein swooned and beat their fans real hard against their flushed cheeks. Jack Daniel, always an aloof sort of fellow, simply stepped backwards into the striped shadows and raised a fat cigar to his fat lips, eyeing me strangely.

I felt like I should say something. After all, as mayor of Shitsville it was my job to say if Roger was alright.

‘A fine job!’ I said. ‘I didn’t think the boy had it in him! But when real talent comes along, well, we can all admire it!’

‘Sure,’ said Jack Daniel.

‘Hallelujah!’ said the pamphleteer.

Cont’d here: Scotch is an Unkind Mistress.

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From 1727 Greenville Dallas, Texas

Chicken Delight Greenville Dallas TX

Now my dear readers I have been away for a while for reasons which you may find interesting but which I cannot say fit the general tone of this blog and so I have no qualms about exorcising them from existence rather than admit that I (Miss Shitsville) spend a lot less time drinking, smoking & weeping than I have heretofore led you to believe. But you already know that I also spend a lot of time writing letters home to God knows who (my mother throws the letters out before she reads them; Archie Shitsville can’t read at all) on the back of fag packets or the verso of the postcards I got Complimentary from Chicken Delight, Greenville, Dallas, Texas (Postage Paid, note, which is nice of them.)

I have also got up a nice collection of advertisements for Astroturf (such wonderful radiant peerless green — the plastic of eternal summer) and burger mats which have crossword puzzles (half-done, and miss-spelled) and pretty poor mazes on the back, and coupons to upgrade my SODA from Large to XXX Large for only the price of a bucket of chips (benefits so immense and incalculable even the staff have no idea what the deal is). Thank you Chicken Delight, but I must decline; I really came only for the Postage Paid envelopes and the serviettes with a weave-effect made by the impress of rows and rows of tiny dots which, if they ever aspired toward absorbency, were severely undone by your insistence that they be made of tree bark rather than actual, processed paper.

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In Conclusion, TX

I am in Monroeville about a year too late. Last year was the 5oth anniversary of the publication of To Mock a Killingbird, and also, coincidentally, marked 50 years since anything of notice actually happened in Monroeville. The signs are still up around town but if you turn up to see any kind of lecture or parade all you’ll get is a myopic old gent sweeping fag-ends from the street. I watched him work while I was sitting on the metal fire escape of my hotel, it was a sight to see.  He finished up around 6 & scampered home no doubt to beat his poor wife. Legs crossed, the heel of one Beatle boot hooked ’round a balustrade, I am blowing the smoke from sixteen packets of Marlboro Lights into a god-like mist over the rooftops & chimneypots of Monroeville & singing the melancholy songs that I learned in Texas.

I still can’t remember whether Truman Capote lived here, or merely traipsed here one Spring day to have tea with Harper Lee and eat her wafer biscuits; I could look it up I guess but there are now as many dead flies as deadly sins along the window sill, all of which have died from boredom. Their sticky little legs and crumbled wings already tempt me to join them in their sweet repose, so I shouldn’t push it. This puts me in mind of another famous American literary femme, the ever youthful Emily Dickinson, who was from Massachusetts, nowhere near here, and nowhere I am ever likely to go, as I am terribly frightened of hippies, but that is another story altogether.

I heard a fly buzz when I died-  

[skipping a bit]

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
I could not see to see.

So you see where I am going with this.

Home soon, soon, soon & will be good to see everyone again.

Miss Shitsville

Read Next: There’s No Place Like Home. In which I get home and carry on post-Texas.


Read More Texas:

Fine Dining Thru-Out the States. A collection of the best of the free diner postcards.

High larks in Amarillo, TX. In which I fondly recall the many and various horrors of Amarillo.

A Joint Outside of Town (Amarillo, TX). In which I recount my meeting with Billy Bob.

Texas Diary. I found my Texas diary in a box of junk in the attic and started the whole thing again. Evidently a lot that was at first repressed came back to bite me years later.

Runnin on into Shitsville. In which I recount my first impressions of Shitsville and its world-famous whorehouse and shitty saloon.

I was walking among the fires of Hell. An idle Tuesday afternoon amongst the damned in Shitsville’s finest saloon.

At the Very End, in Texas.

When I say I shot Roger accidentally I mean, it was a fair call in the context of the duel. However, I had not expected to kill him. It was accidental because, well, it is not my fault that I became a crack shot due to being lost in the desert and having to shoot seagulls to get food. You will recall that one of the first things I bought when I got to Texas was 2 ammo belts and a .45.

Second.  Any man worth his salt in Texas knows how to dodge bullets.

After the smoke cleared and the people saw that Roger was dead, it was very awkward. No one had expected me to win. They had even painted a “Congratulations Rodger!” [misspelled] banner and it was already suspended and flapping gently across the front of the Town Hall.

Well, what was I to say? This was what they had asked me to do. No one could object to me going on being the Mayor of Shitsville. The terms of the duel, or, “Leadership Challenge”, had stipulated quite clearly that there could be no coup, no objection, no revenge, etc. In Texas duels are very decisive.

I put my gun back in its holster and we just stood there for a long time. It is useless going into how bad I felt and how betrayed, how sick and sorry I was that I had to shoot Roger, how really I thought all of the residents of Shitsville could go fuck. I thought, but did not dare say, that their behaviour toward me had been in stark contrast to the Texas state motto, which is “Friendship.” But I took a few deep breaths and I had to say, “I am the Mayor of Shitsville, if you do not like it then you are welcome to leave.”

And they did leave. Every single one. It was going to be too too awkward having me as mayor when they didn’t want me, and the goldenness, the absolute sunshine of Roger Shitsville was still lingering in the whorehouse, the saloon, the Nintendo arcade, like the blended scent of whisky and myrtle on a Texas summer evening.

So I sat on the front steps of the Courthouse and watched them all leave.

I sat there for a very long time. I saw the last blazing saddle wink out on the horizon line, the dust from the wheels of the last wagon disappear into the foothills.

Shitsville was absolutely empty. A tumbleweed rolled past.

I thought about burning it down. No one would miss it. But it is best not to burn your bridges. Besides, Roger would have to be buried there.

After I buried Roger I pilfered 250, 000 US dollars from the Shitsville treasury and I packed my bag and put a picture of Roger in my locket and I left too. When you get to the border of Texas on Route 66, you will see some arsehole has put this sign, “COME BACK AGAIN.”

That is why I am in Monroeville, Alabama and flying out tomorrow.

Read Next: In Conclusion, Texas

High Noon. Shitsville, TX.

Nevertheless the tension remained, and something was going to have to give.  A town meeting was called and the chief vigilante/ whorehouse owner/ deputy mayor Jack Daniel (that was his name) said, “We want Miss Shitsville Out; we want Roger In.”

Fair enough, I thought, but what about all of the funding I had found for civic projects, re-opening the high school, restoring the historical blue room in the whorehouse, etc. I had organised six successful cattle raids, abolished the dreaded curfew, the Shitsville economy was booming etc. etc. etc. All to no avail. It was Roger they wanted. Outside the desert wind was blowing the trees straight over so they made snap-snapping sounds. The union reps from the Shitsville whorehouse clacked their lace fans at me curtly.

“Fine,” said I. “If you want Roger you will just have to come to the sheriff’s office tomorrow and fill out an Application for a Leadership Challenge form.”

So I was at the sheriff’s office at 12 the next day, oiling my rifle as I was wont to do at that time. Roger came in. He looked slightly awkward as he asked me for a form. I told him they were readily available on the internet so he went to the computer against the wall and printed one out. Then he came back to me and asked for a lend of my Bic so he could fill it out. Then he stood at the desk filling it out slowly. He looked very boyish and lovely filling out that form with his corn-golden hair falling in front of his corn-flower blue eyes, and sniffing every now and then so his moustachios twitched, with his tongue between his teeth to concentrate – oh and I should mention, he had a slight lisp. A mother’s heart would melt like a tub of butter in the white Shitsville sunlight. I have been very clever here and ably demonstrated the fine line you can walk between being in love with someone and wishing they were dead.

Then I told him he had to take the form to the Post Office. I would be there from 3. We went and had lunch together at the saloon while he waited for the P.O. to open. We got very drunk. He was a very cool cousin and did a rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on the saloon organ with the Shitsville drunkard/Baptist supplying Texas-style percussion by rattling his collection tin . Roger was quite musical like a lot of cosy upper middle class boys are. Then at 3 I opened up the P.O. and Roger came in there. I sold him a stamp and he posted the form. At 5.05 I was sorting the mail and at 6 o’clock I posted it in my own mailbox.

Well that is all very well and good but in Shitsville when you want to have a leadership challenge what you do is arrange a duel. Duels go back to jousting and courtly codes from like King Arthur’s times and basically the belief is that judicious God will fight on the side of Right and so hypothetically the good guy will always win. Unless of course God is a sly bastard, as I sometimes suspect. I’m sure you’ve seen it in the movies once or twice.

Roger had challenged me to a duel in the main street at 12 noon. Sorry to go on about the administrative procedures but they are important because essentially the form declared, officially and legally, etc., that whoever won the duel would be allowed to become / remain Mayor of Shitsville and no body would have the right to question their authority; whoever lost the duel would quietly withdraw and never challenge the winner again, nor incite violence, etc.

So at high noon the following day – the sun in the sky cracked Shitsville in half like an egg – the whole town turned out to see me and Roger duel. We shook hands. “All right, cousin,” we said, and winked. We turned our backs, we took twenty paces, the whistle blew and I – I –

– I shot Roger Shitsville dead.

Accidentally, of course.

Read Next: At the Very End, In Texas

Dialogue ‘twixt sweet Roger & I. In fair Shitsville, where we lay our scene.

Now of course my sweet cousin & I had a real simpatico. (Stop me if this starts to sound like a eulogy). One day we climbed the ladder up to the second story of the court house my grandpappy had built & sat with our legs dangling over the balcony smoking sixteen packets of Marlboro Lights and sampling the vino from the mayoral cellars. We got to talking, oh, about lots of stuff. As you know very well my journey to Texas, and thence to Shitsville, has been an epic journey into the dark heartlands of my very soul.  As it turns out Roger just rolled out of bed one day after a soccer final, blinked blearily at his alarm clock, and decided to go to Shitsville as a kind of joke. That explains the moustache & chaps & fringed jacket. Also Roger was a bit glam and I saw then he shared the same Lennon-like taste in glasses as our mutual great-great grandmama, dear departed Arabella Shitsville, who was nailed to the wall in a gilt frame, just above Roger’s sweet head and delicate neck that showed all the sweet bones sticking out.

I have already mentioned how the… uh, the respected citizens of Shitsville had ever-so-subtly, in a Texas kind of way (i.e. not subtly at all) turned against me as mayor since the advent of our sweet cousin Roger in our simple little town. He was a popular and beatific kind of boy, full of pep and joy de vivre, which is all very well and good. He always wore a gold ring on the middle finger of his right hand which showed a Lepidoptera in relief.

Let me take a minute to point out that Roger Shitsville’s mother had got up early to bake fresh bread for him every day of his eighteen years. He had never been hounded by a prying media into joining the uninspired ranks of the gainfully employed, he had never foregone his daily baths in the breast milk of first time mothers, never felt moral pressure to eschew his taste for diamonds, and so on.  In short, for one reason or another, Roger never felt the need to clip his splendid blue, scaled Shitsville wings and undergo a reverse chrysalis into the grotesque yet strangely luminous, pale body of a Texas prairie silk worm, a very down-to-earth kind of grub to be, whose abject produce is considered to have considerable beauty, strength and value, I might add. Now, it was perfectly clear to me that the plain, simple folk of Shitsville were absolutely enchanted by this epicene butterfly, Roger Shitsville. Even some of the mutants from surrounding areas travelled to Shitsville (wearing sort of beekeeper nets attached to their hats to cover their faces) just to get a peep at the supine Roger, gleefully alcoholic and irreparably lazy, soaking like a flower in langurous bands of honey-coloured sunshine.

“We are not very close family but I think we are very similar,” he said, wrapping a pink feather boa tight around his neck.

“Roger, Roger: you are RIGHT,” said I, wrapping a Pierrot-like frou frou scarf tighter around mine. “Now attend to me, lad: I know you would very much like to be mayor, but it is not all boots and badges, cousin. There is a lot of work to do, and there is paperwork besides, and we all know that you can’t spell very well. You should just stick to what you do best (whatever that is) and be happy to leave civic, council and mayoral duties to moi.”

Roger agreed & went back to fanning himself with the back of an old 33c Tattle Tale magazine we had found in the back office. I was reading a back issue of Vogue, which I think is a disgustingly uninspired rag, full of fashion sycophants, but what do you expect to get in the dustbowl of Texas. In’t were a lot of pictures appertaining to the Dior S/S 2010 collection, by this time a neat retrospective. As it turns out, Galliano’s collection took its inspiration from bouquets of flowers, the kind you give to old actresses & opera singers, the great gross madames of the stage who have been playing Peter Pan for forty years running, in the faint hope that they will finally go away and die somewhere quietly if you load them up with enough delphiniums.

Now when it comes to Galliano, let me be very clear: the man is a turd: an ugly, anti-semitic dick of the highest order (like Cecil Beaton), who designs couture gowns for Disney princesses and Barbie dolls (also like Cecil Beaton, who is now mercifully dead). I would swap John Galliano for the re-animated corpse of Alexander McQueen in a smoker’s-quickened heartbeat.

But in the blue, blue peyote-drenched afternoon of any given Tuesday in Shitsville, the photos of  his latest (and last, ha ha) collection for Dior set me to thinking thusly. The overblown, suffocating, cloying  “blossom” palette was the epitome of Texas desert sunbloom chic: shades just this side of sunburnt, pink flush & red thrush (yes I said thrush),  the lurid orange of a burning fag end in the electric purple of a Texas night, the triple shade of blue in the Texas sky, tortoise-shell & cacti green, dark lips and nail polish like fingers dipped in dried blood or crude oil. It also reminded me of the intense warning colours of certain kinds of poisonous frogs and butterflies (and oh, let’s chuck in some birds as well, chickens for instance, just for fun), or the bone-dry rattle of a certain snake, I forget its technical name.

Now I have always subscribed to fashion that works like this kind of aposematism. This tendency to become highly noticeable and distinct from harmless organisms is the antithesis of crypsis, or avoidance of detection. The benefits of aposematism are dual: creature one, the aposematist, (okay so I made that word up) avoids being eaten; creature two avoids an horrific & ironic death by poison because they had fair warning. Aposematism has been such a successful adaptation that harmless organisms have repeatedly evolved to mimic aposematic species, a pattern known as Batesian mimicry, or cheap “fashion” knock-offs worn by bogans, WAGS, and people who shop at ZARA. Another related pattern is Müllerian mimicry, where aposematic species come to resemble one another, but that is by-the-by.

Read Next: High Noon, Shitsville, TX


Coming to the end of Shitsville. Specifically, Roger.

I say a boy. I mean a dude, but boyish, a lad, laddish. Let’s say. I say he rode into town. He had rented a stallion from a Mexican on the side of the highway. Roger was in white leather chaps with fringe down the sides and a white studded jacket with 45-cm long fringe on the arms, it was so beautiful in the wind. And he had a golden moustache and sideburns like General Custer, and cornflower blue eyes and corn-golden hair and a rosy complexion, let’s say a peachy peaches-and-cream complexion because unlike me Roger Shitsville had never been lost in the desert for any substantial period of time. In fact he looked a lot like Brian Jones.

Roger Shitsville was my fourth cousin. His family was my grandpappy Jack “Washington” Shitsville’s brother’s side of the family. They had been living in Missouri. Young Roger lived a knockabout kind of life, by which I mean his hilarious friends had to roll him home drunk from soccer practice from time to time.

So one day Roger Shitsville, the beautiful, boyish, laddish, peachy keen Roger Peter Shitsville, rode into Shitsville on a movie-made white stallion in glinting chaps only a couple of weeks after I had been made mayor, etc.

It was like, oh. What are the chances. The residents of Shitsville had wanted a Shitsville as mayor, they had given it to me. But now – now, there was Roger.

And everyone loved Roger. I loved Roger. He was a sunshine person. He looked so ace in white chaps and with a moustache. He had the most fabulous smile, I will call it a Jack The Ripper smile which is when your teeth are longer and pointier than most; it’s a smile that cuts your heart out and eats it. Roger was a champ, Roger was one of the lads, etc., etc., etc., etc. You should really never underestimate the power that attaches to having fabulously skinny legs in white chaps.

Basically, the tide in Shitsville very subtly turned against me. I could do everything except three things, and Roger could do nothing but those three things, but those three things were what was really wanted in Shitsville.

1. Grow a moustache.

2. Look good in chaps.

3. Have a tinkly Jack The Ripper smile and look endearingly like a Texas prairie angel when slumped across the bar at Ginger’s in a Jack Daniel’s coma.

Read Next: Dialogue ‘twixt sweet Roger and I