Bart and Jim slipped into the saloon just as the beefy proprietor was telling everyone to shut their filthy traps and enjoy the show. Even though St. Louis was as urban as you got around these parts, the saloon wasn’t much different than the one in Rock Ridge. Fewer cows, maybe. Bart ordered a finger of whiskey. Jim ordered a whole hand.
“Charming place,” Jim murmured. He drained his first three drinks without blinking.
“I don’t know,” Bart sad, slouching down in his chair. “Might be a little lacking in something.” He tipped his hat to the nearest cowboy, a skinny man with a face like a rat, but dirtier. The little cowboy sneered and spit on the floor, turning his back to Jim and Bart. “Terribly rustic crowd, don’t you think?”
“Nobody likes a critic,” Jim said, sliding his glasses around in an absent-minded sleight-of-hand. His eyes crinkled at the edges, winking with suppressed laughter.
The stage lights flared and Lili emerged-- well, her leg emerged, encased in red fishnets, slowly followed by the rest of her, wearing bits of red satin and dripping with rhinestones.
Bart whistled low in appreciation, earning him another nasty look from Ratface.
“She’s keeping fit,” was all that Jim said.
Lili walked up and down the stage, sneering at the front row. Her heels --- bedroom slippers tipped with marabou -- clomped on the dusty floorboards.
“I'm going to tell you a story, darlings. You like bedtime stories, don't you?” She tried her best sweet, innocent smile at the audience. Bart gave it maybe a 4 on a sweet scale of 1-10. She was improving, but she still looked like a man-eating shark in fishnets.
“Well, this isn't the kind of stories you tell babies who are still sucking on their mommies' bazoombas, if you know what I mean.” She thrust out her perfectly round titties for the slower ones in the crowd. If looks were any indication, that was all of them.
“Atta girl,” Jim applauded. “Play to the lowest common denominator. In this case, that might actually be a negative number.” He signaled the waitress for another drink. When she brought over the tumbler and a bottle, he thanked her, ducking his head and smiling, but firmly took the whole bottle and cradled it to his chest.
On the stage, Lili was warming to her song, legs spread apart, hands clutched to her heaving, pale bosoms.
“It's a story about...a man. A tall, dark, and handsome man. Very, very dark. And tall. And very, very long...” She smiled dreamily and let one delicate hand flutter to her brow.
Bart snorted into his drink. It was enough to make a white man blush.
“Where was I? Oh, yes. A man.” Lili took a deep breath, straining the boundaries of her corset, and began to sing.
“The Hero of Rock Ridge...” She winked at one of the men in the front row. “And when I say rock, I mean hard, darlings.”
“Thrusting his justice all over the West is his game...he whipped those baddies and then whipped my fanny and made me call out..his naaaaaaaaame.”
She held the last note, warbling like a nightingale, eyes shut tight, hands clutching at the poor, abused satin of her costume. The men howled.
“That woman has some serious lung capacity,” Jim said, cocking his eyebrow at Bart.
“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you,” Bart said solemnly, kissing his fingers. “Magnifico.”
“Hey boy,” Ratface shouted. He was well into his own bottle of whiskey already. “Hey boy, I don’t like you looking at the lady like that.”
“Oh, he’s not a lady,” Bart said, rising his glass to Jim. “Though I see how you could get a mite confused with all those lovely curls.”
“You got a smart mouth.” Ratface spit on the floor again. Really, he needed a new habit. Or a bucket. “You think you’re so smart; don’t even know why they let you into this place.” He smiled, slow and nasty. “Maybe I’ll let you in on my poker game, huh? You like that? I’ll teach you how to play like a real man.” He giggled into his bottle. “Oh wait, guess that wouldn’t be fair, huh? Since all you could play are...spades.” He took a gulp of whiskey, choking on it a little as he laughed.
“Jim,” Bart said, turning to him, wide-eyed and blinking. “We are dealing with a profound wit of the highest order.”
“I thought that puns were the lowest form of humor.” Jim scratched his chin thoughtfully.
“I don’t know that even qualified as a pun--” Bart started to say, but was interrupted by Ratface rising from his chair, fists clenched.
“You mocking me, boy?” he shouted, just as Lili’s song reached its climactic...climax.
“Tonight!” Lili called from the stage, throwing her hands out to the audience. “We have the hero of Black Rock here in the flesh!” The lights in the saloon brightened, every man craning their heads around and looking as dumb as their mamas made them.
She pointed at Bart. Every head in the place swiveled around to look at him. Ratface dropped his bottle.
“Well, shit,” Bart sighed.
He turned on his heel, nodded to Jim, who already had his gun out, then swung around to hit Ratface square in the jaw before he could to any damage with that broken bottle.
Narrator: Well, after that, the saloon just exploded. Punches thrown left and right, tables and chairs being smashed into splinters. A string quartet appeared out of nowhere and managed to get out a few bars of the 1812 Overture before they got caught up in the fray. By the time a cello was broken over the head of a passing water buffalo, our heroes had escaped quietly out the rear exit dressed as showgirls. Ugly showgirls. Although, one of them did have a nice head of...hair.
And with a song in their hearts and large satin heels on their feet, they rode off to the sunset in search of a town where the drinks ran as free as the men who drank them.