Sunday, February 01, 2009
High Noon: Contest Winners
High Noon. Or thereabouts. The stage arrives from Abita Springs, the horses lathered from a hard run. Josh Gramlich is driving; Arkansas Slim rides shotgun. They pull to a halt in front of the Lana Branch Saloon and Slim grabs the iron strongbox and leaps down to the street, his boots kicking up puffs of dust. A crowd begins to gather.
Hitching his gun belt higher, Slim carries the strongbox into the saloon and plunks it down on the bar with a loud jingle. Everyone follows, and a murmur builds among the people as the handsome and slender Slim first wets his whistle from a cold, foaming glass of beer.
“All right, pawdners,” Slim intones, then belches before continuing. “The winners of the Strange Worlds Contest are right chere in this box. But I’m afraid I don’t have the key. Only one lady carries the key to this here padlock. And to my heart."
“And who would that be, Handsome Slim?” a bell-sweet voice calls out from the stairs.
Slim breaks into his patented killer smile and doffs his hat to execute a bow before the Lovely Lana, the proprietress of the Lana Branch and the most beauteous woman in the territories.
“Why you, Lovely Lana,” Slim says. “Bring yoreself on down here and open up this box.”
The Lovely Lana sashays down the stairs in her scarlet saloon gal dress and drifts up to Slim where he stands by the bar. She reaches into the glory of her hair and draws out a key, which just happens to fit the lock of the strongbox. She opens it, pushes up the lid, then steps back a bit as Slim reaches in and pulls out: some gold coins, which he tosses aside like so much trash, some black diamonds, which he tosses aside, some bundles of greenbacks, which he tosses aside.
“Tarnation,” he says. “I know they’se here somewhere.”
He pulls out some rubies, then a few emeralds, and throws ‘em aside. But finally, nestled beneath a pile of silver ingots, he finds the two slips of paper he is looking for. These he draws slowly out as if they are worth a whole bunch more than their weight in platinum.
He looks at the gathered throng, all 43 of them. “Thanks to everyone who entered the Strange Worlds Contest,” he says. “It’s time to announce the winners. I appreciate everyone’s patience, so without further ado, the winners are:
If Donnetta and Avery will send me their addresses at kainja at hotmail dot com, I’ll get yore books ready for the Pony Express to deliver right away.
Yippe ki yay.”