Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 Simon & Garfunkel “A Hazy Shade Of Winter”
 Bing Crosby “Do You Hear What I Hear”
 James Brown “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”
 Ennio Morricone “A Fistful of Dollars”
I’m not awfully sorry to see the back of November. Not that it has been a particularly lousy month but, let’s face it, it does tend to coincide with those happy stickers becoming unstuck. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very real thing and it’s all too easy for those storm clouds to come rolling in as the nights begin to grow longer. For those among us who struggle with our self-belief at the best of times, these thirty days are all curse, no blessing, and I’m sure I speak for the majority when waving them adieu using but two of my ten available digits. Let it be known that I’m not looking to disrespect them too much as the thing about November is that it’ll be back around the same time next year and no doubt sporting brand new steel-capped shit kickers. But I’m sure it wouldn’t object to one gentle “fuck you very much”, delivered respectfully of course.
So what comes next then? Well it’s December isn’t it? That’s right, it’s time to shape up pronto as this calendar month has absolutely no time for those who kick their heels and feel sorry for themselves. Besides, you’d have to be covered from head to toe in green fur not to see the appeal right? Granted, the attraction may start to fade somewhat the older we get, but anyone who still remembers being six-years-old should still be able to muster a smile for the occasion, especially if parents themselves. Reliving the event through the eyes of our children is an incalculable gift and we plough all our attention into ensuring it’s a magical period for them. Naturally this means enduring all the usual bullshit that comes packaged with Christmas and no other month is quite so riddled with reasons to misplace that cheer, November inclusive. But you’d have to possess a heart of stone not to get in the spirit however begrudgingly that may be.
As for me, well I’m soundly in the pro-Santa camp and not about to have my opinion swayed by the kind of cynicism that plagues society now more than ever. You see, once you strip back all the greed and televisual brainwashing, it’s a magical time with plenty to commend it on. For starters, the new year lingers at its tail-end, which provides us 31 more days to blow out before the slate gets wiped clean. In addition, the employable are guaranteed at least one additional day to kick back and enjoy the festivities. Meanwhile, seasonal decorations may not be everyone’s bag, but there are opportunities there to get creative should we wish. As for sweating over the amount of money we’re likely to throw at this annual celebration, well that’s what January is for. You see, what’s the point in wishing away every last Ho! Ho! Ho! when the first month of the new year is effectively November Part II: Revenge of The Thunder Face? Fuck it, I’m getting blind drunk on egg nog and stuffing my face with cold turkey sandwiches. If you can’t beat ’em right?
Anyhoots, in my somewhat less than infinite wisdom, I have decided to do my bit to assist this yuletide in dragging as little as possible. You see, the tools at my disposal are words, and I plan to throw as many as I can into the kitty, with the objective being to spread a little seasonal cheer. It has been a good couple of months now since my last lean spell and that is not subject to change as we hurtle towards 2017 either. I may not have quite sussed out the whole social networking deal as yet and remain only too aware that many of us haven’t conversed in some time but the number one priority has been to steady the ship so to speak and keep pushing out new and innovative content to prove that I’m not sprawled out in a ditch somewhere, getting buggered by badgers. My blog is the foundation and, without it, our paths wouldn’t have crossed in the first place. Thus I shall continue my recent resurgence and not let standards slip, regardless of whether I wake up smiling or groaning.
I happen to be rather big on self-reflection and have spotted where I went wrong previously and also what needs to be done to keep up this forward momentum. Those who know me intimately will attest to my tendency to fluctuate from being as happy as a pig in muck to miserable as same hog in a slaughterhouse waiting room. It’s a rollercoaster ride for sure and, every time I raise my hands excitedly, it’s down we go and that’s particularly bad news for any luckless saps populating the carriage behind me. This frustrates me to the nth degree as I’m at my happiest when going lucky and would wear my smile 24/7/365 if it only it wasn’t so damn defective. Currently my monetary resources are fast approaching zilch and that means there’s a very real possibility that I’ll be forced into a dead-end job I couldn’t care less for once 2016 draws to a close. Naturally that’s as sobering a thought as they come to one so determined to follow his passion to the end of the rainbow. But my bum privileges are about to be revoked and here comes that shock to the system.
2016 has been a pretty steep learning curve for me and I’ll hold my hands up to making some fairly monumental errors of judgement during that period. If I could go back and do it all again than, I’m not going to lie to you, I’d be revving that DeLorean before you could say “Great Scott Marty!” The thing is, I have no knowledge whatsoever of how to measure a gigawatt and wouldn’t know a flux capacitor if it fluxed me in the exhaust pipe. What’s done is done, any ships that sailed have done so of the freewill they were more than entitled to, and bitching and griping over spilt milk has never been my style so why break the habit of a lifetime? That said, I’d like to think myself as older and wiser, and will never give up believing that the future is something I can still lend a hand in writing. What better way then than to place all remaining eggs in the 2017 basket and get to work on a celebrative omelette? I feel obliged to warn you that my culinary skills are for shit and the end product may well wind up resembling an oversized skin graft coated with puke. However, I do give my word that it’ll be prepared lovingly. Besides, as a long-term ambassador for acid reflux, I have to give credit where it’s due. Tart it may well be, but at least it has kick.
Nothing turns my speckles into freckles as much as receiving feedback from my readership and I endeavor not miss a solitary stem of spinach as it keeps me keeping on when times are hard and empowers me to reach higher when they’re not. Ultimately my goal is to entertain by whatever means I have at my disposal and my wicked (and occasionally mildly inappropriate) sense of humor tends to be there or thereabouts at all times as I believe that this is my chief bargaining tool as a scribe. That said, there needs to be a balance struck as there are more than one string to my bow and I don’t wish to be labelled a one-trick pony when I can turn my hooves to other things also. Remove me from my comfort zone and I learn more about myself than ever; just remember to return me there afterwards so we can get back to flailing those jazz hands. Being jack of all trades need not entail mastering none as long as you approach each with gusto. Mercifully, gusto happens to be something I’m seldom at a lack for.
Believe it or not but it helps that I’m not, by any stretch, what you would call an avid reader. Any skills that I possess have been self-taught, although I do thank the educational system for teaching me those all-important basics. While I may boast a wide vocabulary to draw from, I repeatedly treat the English language with borderline contempt, and twist and turn it for my own amusement. Take punctuation for example, I often refer to the apostrophe as “wigglers” during conversation as their official title perpetually eludes me. Indeed, without Google bailing me out, I would have been at a loss just now, but ask me ten minutes down the line and I’m certain I’ll be up to my cuticles in chin stubble once again. The reason for this is elementary – it really ain’t all that important to me in the greater scheme of things. To be honest, given that this is the first time I’ve made this admission through prose, I’m hopeful that I can finally buck that trend. But don’t expect it to become a mainstay when there are far better words like “catawumpus” and “gobbledygook” just crying out for a run-out. Gotta keep things in perspective right?
One consistent is that I’m looking to concoct something fresh and inventive every day without exception. After well over three years plying my trade using the Crimson Quill, I feel confident that I’ve ascertained what it is that others desire to hear and, just as critically, what falls largely on deaf ones. Should a particular post resonate with a sufficient enough audience, then I’ll steer my vessel in that direction wherever feasible as it’s no fool’s logic opting for the tried and tested. This is where I admit to being something of a stat whore although not with the same reasoning as previously. I can only move forward in the right direction if I heed the signs at my disposal and could never hope to beat off stiff competition at the Kentucky Derby by simply flogging my horse until the flies settle then flogging it some more. To me it’s all about progression and finding different ways to challenge myself so that my output never need falter. I knew a guy once called Joe and guess what one word best describes him – average.
On the flip-side, I also met a guy called Bobby some time back and he possessed the most extraordinarily large testicles. Joe still pays me a visit from time to time and I do my utmost to remain polite and courteous, but it’s hard to so much as notice his presence when Bobby’s big bollocks are so much darned fun to roll around. To any Joes or Bobbys reading this, any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental. But my point is this – I have absolutely no inclination towards phoning in a solitary syllable. Every last word written needs to pack some kind of punch, or else, I’m leaving myself open like a sucker. Attention spans are woefully short nowadays and I should know as I’d like to be excused momentarily so that I can cough up some phlegm. Fret not as the wonderful thing about words is that they’ll still be here upon my return, provided my laptop doesn’t freeze up like Jack Dawson as it’s been known to do so in temperatures rapidly approaching the sub side of zero. The moment that mucus touches down, and this tends to be an agonizingly drawn out affair, I’m back in the saddle faster than you can say “that ain’t a horse, it’s a fucking donkey you pleb” and primed for the gallop.
I’m digressing but the angle I’m dangling at is that I shall do everything in my power and more besides to deliver us to new year with a festive flourish. Should you harbor any requests, then feel free to lob them my way, and I’ll do my level best to accommodate them wherever possible. That is unless they’re ludicrous, in which case, I’ll probably accommodate them all the more as that ties in rather nicely with my chosen tongue. I can and will do the lion’s share of the legwork and won’t ever let Team Grue down intentionally, but thrive on the inspiration of those around me and love nothing more than granting those wishes. Which reminds me, one of my cherished friends asked for a fiction piece with a distinct zombie cowboy flavor many moons back, and I’d like to take this opportunity to say I’m on that shit like a mutt’s snout. Granted, it may have taken a full year to come good on my oath, but I don’t flap my lips for the fun of it. Alright you’ve got me, there is a degree of hijinks behind them waggling. But the wild west wasn’t built in a day and decomposition doesn’t happen overnight you know.
Actually, I reckon I may have come up with a plan of action and, wouldn’t you know, it’s a cunning one. There’s apparently no time like the present thus I say we get this show on the road right now and don those maggot-ridden Stetsons. So here’s the lowdown, my next pet project will be named The Good, The Bad and The Living Dead and no prizes for guessing the theme as seldom has the clue been more in the title. While I’m a firm believer in there being no better time than the present, I’m also mindful of the fact that I’ve kept you long enough and this one’s far too epic to simply shoehorn in for the sheer helluvit. Thus to get those wagons rolling, I shall supply a western flavored teaser and there seems no more fitting a name than A Fistful of Intestines (although High Plains Shufflers was but an Amish milk maiden’s chin whisker away). At any rate, it’s high noon by my watch and that makes it time for me to get off ma horse and drink ma milk Grueheads. Surely that one warrants a collective yeehaw? Just groans huh? I’ll put that one down to y’all getting in the mood. I will say this, I’ll make it well worth your while sticking around.
A Fistful of Intestines
Did you ever hear the one about how the west was won? If so then you’re clearly deluded as I’m right here, right now, and defeat appears to be more in keeping with the current odds for survival. You see, the town of Mercy Ridge is currently under attack and its 57 residents will be dancing with wolves just to make it through ’til dawn with a pulse at the current rate of decimation. How am I the big authority on all this? Well as the law enforcer of this here town, it’s kind of my job to remain in the loop. You heard me, Sheriff Randall Drake at your service and I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. Admittedly, the circumstances could be less ghastly, but my grandpappy tooled me up for moments such as this and I ain’t never shirked a challenge up until now so may as well keep up appearances. Some call me a hero, others savior, but none whatsoever call me Randy as I’d have ’em fitted up for pine caskets before the 3:10 to Yuma arrives and they damn well know it. There’s the quick and then there’s the dead and, in case you were wondering (and shame on you if you are), my stagecoach is stationed at the former.
Now I understand that time she’s a pressing but feel we’ve got some ground to cover before you place your blind faith into the first one-eyed Jack who claims he can stop the rot. I gotcha, playing those cards close to your chests, and I’d expect it no other way than the high country. So about those mad dog skills then. Let’s see, I once shattered ten green bottles from 100 yards away in a single shot and that’s likely what earned me the nickname Ricochet Randall. Well either that or the wonderfully novel fact that my sperm can turn corners. This was way back when a lifetime shovelling pig shit was about the strength of my career prospects but that soon changed when folk started to see my raw potential. Within weeks I’d made deputy and it was mighty unfortunate what happened to my superior six days later. It appears he lost his balance at the top of the saloon stairwell and regrettably broke his neck on south side arrival. Such a tragic loss this was and, despite the boot print on his back intriguingly mirroring my own size eleven, I had a water tight alibi in the darling Miss Clementine Wilson and a yellow ribbon tied round my Johnson to prove it.
Besides, with the Sheriff now out of commission, that left little old me to pay Clem her ten bucks and pick the reins up from my predecessor’s dead hands. In uncertain times such as these, you need a man with balls, real mule nuts, and I happen to have a couple of suitable boulders that fit that description right here beneath my holster. Play your cards right and I may just introduce you to Rio & Bravo, also known as The Wild Bunch but, right now, the clock she’s a ticking and there ain’t time to stick ma dick in. Chicken? Not at all, I’ll rise to any challenge set and do so with a twitch in my nutbag no less. But there’s clear danger on the horizon and no time like the present to do some sharp hip shooting before Mercy Ridge fails living up to its fine name.
Dedicated to Ginger
Follow the trail wherever it may lead, for fresh adventures await…