I watched the stranger come up from a way away. He stopped just before me at the steps to the saloon and looked around as though considering what to do. The street was empty at that time of day – well it was always empty. Across the street the whores were in a line on the balcony redolent in the Summer sun in their long silk kimonos, smoking for once without irony – the smoke drifted like fine feathers in the blue air as they stood agape – still and silent – the lemon tree creaked against the fence – a tumbleweed coming from downtown got caught in a cross stream and switched directions.
And there for the first time I saw that face that is now forever burned into my memory like a lovely ballad; golden hair and golden sideburns and long golden moustaches flashing like Custer’s; cornflower blue eyes, peachy cheeks that had hardly seen the side of a razor before he decided to grow the foliage. Finally the long lashed eyes turned to me.
I said, “Howdy stranger.”
“Howdy!” he said. “Anywhere round here a body can get a drink?”
“There’s a Schweppes soda fountain bout 80 miles back of where you come from, stranger,” said I. “You could get a long drink there. Ice cold.”
“I meant a bit closer,” said the stranger. “It’s like a desert out here. Is that a real gun?”
“Where you from, stranger,” said I.
“My name’s Roger,” said he. He reached a hand towards me; even his gloves had fringe.
“We don’t do that kind of thing round here,” said I. “It’s not the Texas way.”
“Oh? What do you do then?”
Verily I considered.
“You’d better come inside.”
[Continued here: Back in fucking Texas.]
I’ve been going through all of my stuff looking for a Miss Piggy toy from McDonalds in 1989, which I used to adore. It should be around here somewhere but I confess there’s an excess of dust about the Ranch (it’s true what Quentin Crisp said, the dust doesn’t get any worse after the first five years.) I’m not too sure how it got this bad – the carpets are grey with it – I struggle to read in the afternoon, when the sun comes in the windows, and the air itself turns into radiance so thick it’s hard to breathe. Anyway when I wipe the sheet of filth off the inanimate shapes in the attic gloom (high up in the hills on Shitsville Ranch) I find lots of treasures such as Nancy Sinatra albums with the plastic wrapping still on (never played), writing from the days before I gave up trying to compose coherent sentences and my Texas diary.
Of course I’m really very fond of Nancy: since Archie died she has been more like a mother to me than my own mother. I am particularly indebted to her for both her kindness and her extreme riches and her self-possession which is wonderfully inspiring and the fact that she has kept her 60s wardrobe intact for all of these years, so I get to go out dressed up like some fabulous Malibu Beach Barbie and sometimes people even stop me on the street and ask, “Are you dressed up as Lana Del Rey?” (No: FUCK OFF). Anyway cousin Francis, if he had been raised in the knowledge that he was her son, would no doubt have been a very great disappointment to her I’m sure.
While I waited to hear that familiar girlish-smoky gin-soaked voice creaking ‘Hello?’ on the other end of the line of my coral-pink telephone I couldn’t help but wish that our situation was reversed and that Frankie was Archie’s son and that I was Nancy’s daughter; I even considered a tactful blackmail angle, my own mother would doubtless be at no great pains to rush forward and claim me in the PUBLIC EYE, and Archie was, after all, supposed to be dead. At the very least the notoriety would mean the cuntish eternal Frank Sinatra Snr ‘TV and Variety Entertainers’ ban would be lifted from my lovely name and I could go on to make great pots of money modelling for Wheel of Fortune or something like that.