The Good, The Bad and The Living Dead


Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬


[1] Ennio Morrecone “A Fistful of Dollars”

[2] The Smiths “Meat is Murder”

[3] 45 Grave “Party Time”

[4] Jerry Lee Lewis “Meatman”

[5] Bon Jovi “You Give Love A Bad Name”

[6] Ennio Morricone “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

[7] Jon Bon Jovi “Blaze of Glory”



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 fifty-seven 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 semi-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.


Anywho, I can see those trigger fingers are getting itchy and, if you’re thinking of denying it, then allow me to remind you of the penalty for bullshitting a bullshitter in this here town. It’s death you boneheads and that happens to tie in rather nicely with today’s buzzword. Remember that 57-strong population I spoke about a minute ago? Well keeping track of figures was never my strong point but I believe that number may have just plummeted to around…well I don’t know…seven.


Fret not those pretty little heads as it is rather a magnificent seven, or at least, the least expendable townsfolk by a relatively lengthy chalk. Right now we’re holed up in the saloon, fending off wave after wave of decaying drifters and fast running out of resources. The odds are stacked perilously high and not in our favor either but, if there’s one thing that a maverick such as Randall Drake holds his hands up to, then loving himself a long shot would be it. I can’t guarantee the safety of the other six survivors but I can offer my solemn vow that those undead punks won’t be claiming their pound of flesh from this rump. No, sirree!


For a few dollars more, perhaps I would have considered saving Miss Clementine her last blushes as the things that she can do with a glass of milk and a frying pan are legendary around these parts. As long as she keeps her head down (in my crotch), then she may still make it through this ordeal and snag herself that full facial she’s been pouting for all evening in the process. As for the rest of the dead wood fouling up my personal space with their stanky breath and unwashed armpits, most of them could die screaming for all I care as babysitting ain’t in my job description.


But there is one young gun who may be worth putting myself vaguely out for. Every sheriff worth his badge needs himself a trusty deputy to effortlessly overshadow and Joe Jupp-McGinty just about fits that particular bill. Between you, me and the gate post, his performance has been average at best but I keep him around, mostly for light entertainment you hear although he does make a rather delightful human foot stall.


The owner of this establishment is Fergus O’Leary and I believe he’s of Finnish persuasion. Actually, that might be part-Irish, but I wouldn’t know as I don’t particularly give a hoot if I’m being perfectly honest. Dozy old bastard drinks like a thirsty guppy and can barely even string together a cohesive sentence without punctuating it with three rancid hiccups and a half-hearted fiddle-de-dee. In fact, the sole benefit of Fergus is pouring ale with a nice clean head on it and, other than that, he’s pure offal and the undead droves are welcome to his scrawny hide.

old man 002

On his last birthday, he was one year younger than shit and guess what fellow gunslingers? That was 365 sundowns ago to this very day. Now I wish to make it clear that I don’t make the rules (I do by the way), but the battlefield of the undead is no place for the elderly as it’s nigh-on impossible to suss out whether they’re turning. If I were taking side bets, then my money wouldn’t be on O’Leary’s strides not overspilling with piss and shit by midnight. And it’s 11:57 right now in case you were at all curious.


Don’t even get me started on the old girl on piano duties as Alma Crudewinkle already tipped the ton and her pulse is so desperately faint that only the blindest of prairie dogs can discern it. Should her head hit those piano keys with force at any time, then the best Alma can expect from me is a punch to the chest as I’m mighty choosy about who I perform CPR on and there ain’t no mouthwash in the wild west. Meanwhile, her granddaughter Polly is more than welcome to the kiss of life if her life is in danger and, if Clementine fails to make it through the night unscathed, then Polly’s my go-to-gal for any hand relief.


Her meemaw may not agree with her burlesque dancing but I’ve always had a thing for young ladies who can kick their leg above head height and it could prove handy when removing any stubborn window lickers from the fixtures and fittings. Just to be clear, if you remind her that she failed to put on her bloomers this morning, then I’ll shoot you dead where you stand. Nobody likes a buzz kill.


That leaves just one man, if you can call him that, and I’ve met buzzards with better etiquette than resident troublemaker Billy “Slack Draws” McGraw. There’s a bounty out on his head at this very moment and he can count himself damn fortunate that I haven’t already put a bullet between his beady little eyes on principle alone. Billy’s a lot of things but trustworthy ain’t one of them. He also thinks himself something of a crack shot and that’s the ony reason I’m even entertaining keeping him around.


That said, the very moment this fried chicken-eating scum bucket steps out of line to the value of a solitary pinky toe, I’ve got a shallow grave already dug with his name carved into the tombstone. I’ll be double damned if I’m gonna be upstaged by some jumped up wannabee gunslinger like Billy and, if his days are numbered, then it’s a good job he can only count to one.


So that’s the personnel accounted for and, with the saloon surrounded by dead meat, I reckon it’s about that time to start popping some heads. Actually I reckon I might leave these good for nothings to fend for themselves for the time being as we’re all out of draught ale and Fergus is far too weak to change the barrels. You know what they say, if you want a job doing, then best be prepared to get your hands dirty as there ain’t a person present who wouldn’t make a botch of it and that leaves yours truly to make that trip to the cellar. Should be done and dusted in a matter of seconds and then we can get down to the real business at hand and start trimming the guest list some.


One thing’s for sure, there ain’t a shooter out there sharp enough to take Sheriff Randall Drake down and it looks like we’re stuck with each other for the time being as survival happens to be my forte. Right then you mangy mutts, which one of these barrels shall I change first? Well that’s odd, the brewery must have made a mistake as one of these kegs looks nothing like all the others. I wonder what the glowing green symbol denotes.


It appears to have taken a knock when being rolled down the stairs as there’s a curious gas escaping from the seal of this dubious cannister. What’s more, unless I’m mistaken (and that’s highly improbable), there’s a strange shuffling sound coming from behind that curtain in the corner and I swear I can smell crude oil come to think of it. Best check it out while I’m here. Let’s get this show on the road shall we? Ta-da.


Well slap my thigh and call me Shirley, that was far too close a shave for my liking. The once peaceful settlement of Mercy Ridge is fast turning to shit before my very eyes and, as sheriff of this godforsaken town, it is expected that I lead by example, dealing with any minor disturbances that may crop up along the way. Now I’ve seen some messed up stuff in my time and the hordes of festering fiends currently laying siege on the front entrance are easily among the toughest to stomach. However, for as much as I pride myself on being primed for any eventuality no matter how scandalous, even I didn’t see that sneak attack coming.


It’s one thing fending off wave after bitter wave of rotting cadavers but entirely another when one of those snide bastards has managed to find its way inside undetected. Fergus needs to be having some strong words with the brewery as all signs point to the bogus barrel currently omitting its noxious gases in the corner. My pops introduced me to ale at the age of five and I’ve become quite the connoisseur over the years. But I ain’t never heard of no brand called Trioxin and I don’t trust that shit either after what just happened.


It’s a good job I’m the fastest draw in the west as things could’ve gotten ugly there, had my head not been on a swivel. As it stands, I floored that waster before things could get real, and crisis appears to have been averted. He did manage to get one bite in but it’s more of a nick really and nothing a shot of whiskey won’t soon see good. That said, it is rather itchy and I’m glad I got that tetanus shot as I could do without coming down with some bacterial virus when it’s all going off upstairs.


Speaking of which, I guess I should go and rejoin the other lemmings, see how they’re faring up against the unwelcome visitors. Do me a favor will you and keep this under your hat for the time being; the last thing we need is to start a panic and McGraw’s already looking for an excuse to start trouble as it is. Tell you what, we’ll call it our little secret. How does that sound? If anyone asks, we were just sinking a couple of bevvies for old time’s sake. Nobody need suspect a thing.


Well ain’t that just bloody marvellous, I leave these fools to their own devices for five minutes and we end up in a state of emergency. My good-for-nothing deputy has failed miserably securing the building and we’re now overrun with rotting undesirables. I’ve got half a mind to leave them to clear up their own mess but what kind of a lawman would I be if I left the ship when it’s quite clearly sinking? I guess I’d better bail them out but I’ll be damned if I’m putting myself out for a single one of them.


The first thing I need to do is take stock and that means putting any goners out of their misery. This is bad news for Alma as she’s got hindrance written all over her and will only end up slowing the rest of the group down. It’s a crying shame, I’m gonna miss her catchy piano recitals but, the way I see it, she’s had a decent run all things considered. I’ll just wait until everyone else’s backs are turned and break the old girl’s neck; seems like the most humane way to me.


Problem solved and not a single one of these lame brains any the wiser. No doubt Polly will be devastated when she realizes that her meemaw has expired but, right now, she has far more pressing concerns as she’s currently outnumbered by three to one and about to become tomorrow’s bowel movement. This raises a minor red flag as our bartender isn’t shaping up much better and it looks like he’s poured his last drink unless I step in to rescue his inebriated ass.


What to do? Save the busty twenty-three-year-old girl who can touch her toes without arching her spine or the withered old coot who I’m fairly certain waters down his ale when his patrons aren’t looking. Fuck it, they can both rot in hell for all I care as I’ve come over a little queasy and think I need a sit down. Charity begins at home right? Besides, I need to keep an eye on my deputy and make sure he’s not getting himself any deeper into hot water.


Well I’ll be buggered with a hot poker, neither he or Miss Clementine are anywhere to be seen. I’ll be having some stern words with that boy when I manage to track him down and, as for my little bit on the side, well she’s been gagging to be put over my knee for days now so it looks like she’ll get her wish after all. Actually perhaps I’m being a tad harsh on them as it does make sense dashing upstairs to buy themselves some time and I presume that’s where they snuck off to.


That leaves just my arch-enemy McGraw to fight off the advancing legion of undead and his sharpshooting skills are about to be severely tested as there are seven of ’em advancing on him as we speak. Do I lend a hand? Nah. He’s been a thorn in my side since he first rode into town on his scabby horse and I hope he gets it the worst. That reminds me, I wonder if I can still claim the bounty on his head if he’s missing a few of his body parts. This could turn out to be quite a nice little earner you know.


Meanwhile, turns out that I needn’t have worried about Polly as those self-defense classes her grandmother paid for seem to be paying off and I’m rather impressed by her improvisation skills. Apparently the only way to stop these shuffling deadbeats is to destroy their brains but I’ve never seen that achieved by can-can before. Better yet, she’s still not wearing any bloomers and, from where I’m seated, I can just about make out that she had tacos for lunch.


If only old man O’Leary could boast her elasticity then he wouldn’t be on his back and about three seconds away from having his skull-cap collapsed. It’s a shame he’s from Finland as I reckon he could do with the luck of the Irish right about now. What’s that? Help him you say? Do I look like the cavalry? Okay if I really must, I’ll take out the imminent threats, but after that he’s on his own. Deal? You drive a hard bargain you lot.


There, happy now? Not to be pedantic but you’ve not once asked how my hand is doing and I’m starting to suspect that you don’t even care. In case you were wondering, it’s fine thanks, although I’m a little perturbed by the bright green gunk it’s weeping if I’m honest. However it’s not that that’s got me in a cold sweat as I can’t seem to shake this sudden unbearable craving for fresh meat and I’m not entirely sure a sirloin is gonna cut it anymore.


Polly may be useful with those long lustrous legs of hers but it’s her intellect that I can’t get my mind off. Do you reckon she’d mind if I bowled over there and gave her brains a quick sniff? Nothing untoward, just a harmless whiff of her cranial bouquet should keep the wolves from the door. I’ve got to do something as these hunger pangs are getting out of control and I can’t be expected to clear this almighty mess up on an empty stomach. Already one of my legs has gone dead and I’ll just have to drag it for now until my circulation improves.


That ungrateful wench. I could have sworn that last kick was intended for me and, had I not been the fastest draw in the west, then I’d be attempting to dislodge the business end of a stiletto from my forehead instead of watching those delicious looking brains of hers dripping down the wall to her rear. On the bright side, I guess she would no longer take exception to me borrowing some of her spilled surplus, just a quick slather should do it. Fergus doesn’t look best pleased but nowhere in a bartender’s job description does it state that he’s permitted an opinion anywho.


Actually, best pleased may not be putting a fine enough point on it as he just reached down behind the bar for his 12-bore shotgun and is waving both barrels in my direction with a look of contempt in his eyes as we speak. Evidently it’s slipped his mind who’s the swinging dick around here and who cleans the glasses. Are you gonna tell him it’s not loaded or shall I burst his bubble?


Never mind, Fergus O’Leary is no longer my concern. That dodgy ticker of his has been threatening to pack up for months now and just did precisely that. I almost feel bad for him you know as his cardiac arrest was so intense that the poor bastard bit his own tongue clean off. However, his loss is my gain, as it doubles up as the ideal item to collect Polly’s spilt brain matter with and will make a rather neck pendant keepsake once I’m done. Now all that’s left is to finish off Billy McGraw as this town ain’t big enough for both of us and I’ve had just about enough of his constant efforts to undermine me.


Look at him thinking he’s the man of the hour when he’s actually little more than a disposable dog. Admittedly he has a mild dash of game and none of the others have made quite as decent a fist of things as he. But he’s now surrounded and with only a single shell in his chamber to whittle down the numbers. Let’s see how you find your way out of this mess Dirty Harry.


Have you ever heard of the term “stovepipe”? It’s when an empty cartridge case jams in the ejection port of your firearm and can be prevented with a little bit of maintenance. McGraw just suffered one such backfire and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a degree of sick amusement from watching his head split wide open like a ripe honeydew melon. I guess it’s right what they say about crime not paying and that’ll teach him for giving it the big I am.


Not that lucky were you punk. However, I feel obliged to offer a tip of the Stetson for making my day. Now unless my abacus is busted, that leaves only my Dudley Do-Right deputy and darling Clementine unaccounted for and I reckon it’s high time I pay the kids a visit and see how things are shaping up for them up in the penthouse suite. First things first, I’m Hank Marvin here and there’s quite a spread laid out before me so I guess it wouldn’t hurt to grab some finger foods for the long shuffle ahead.


You’ll have to excuse my appalling table manners but my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut and I’ve never felt quite so ravenous. Interestingly, none of the dead heads around me seem to be paying me a blind bit of notice, and I’m starting to suspect that the sheriff’s badge grants me immunity. What can I say? My reputation as a no-messing lawman must proceed me and I’m not about to argue the toss when there’s a slap-up meal going spare.


That said, I’m a little perplexed that my body parts appear to possess a mind all of their very own now and, judging by the fact that my entire left side appears to have become gangrenous, I’d say infection has now set in. I just caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and peaky seems to be the operative word here. When this is all done with, I think I’ll need to find myself a good doctor, and grab myself a course of multivitamins. For now however, there’s unfinished business to attend to upstairs, and I’m just about ready for dessert.


Okay so now I’m really peeved. Miss Clementine had no right to seek comfort in the loins of another man, especially when the alpha in question is none other than my own freaking deputy. I sense a demotion on the cards and Joe Jupp-McGinty is about to learn a thing or two about that pecking order as I plan to take him to task for snatching my gal from right beneath my nose while I was otherwise predisposed. When I’m done with this double-crossing dick split, there’ll be nothing more than a future mucking out pig shit to look forward to and he can’t complain about not having it coming.


As for Clem, well sloppy seconds ain’t my bag and there’s plenty more where she came from so she can consider herself surplus to requirements also. It will be with a heavy heart of course as she has got her uses, most of which involve a quart of milk and a frying pan if you recall, but there’s nowt worse than the smell of deception and it’s tough to plead her innocence with my back-stabbing deputy’s rancid meat pounding her tonsils.


Well isn’t this all dreadfully exciting, we may just have ourselves a high noon showdown on our hands. Not only is Deputy Joe showing not a slither of remorse for pinching my main squeeze but he also reckons himself as hot shit and has challenged me to a duel to prove his superiority. This is the problem with taking on a wet behind the ears underling as, sooner or later, they’re gonna get ideas above their station and stab you straight in the spleen. Let me just be clear that Sheriff Randall Drake has never before shirked a challenge and that duck ain’t about to be broken today let me tell you. If it’s a shoot out he wants, then a shoot out is what he’ll get.


Meanwhile, Clementine is free to watch as I make Swiss cheese of her fresh victim and perhaps she can use this time to rue her lousy decision-making as I’m saving my last shrapnel for right between her pretty little eyes. Let’s get this done shall we? Prepare yourselves for the most one-sided stand-off since Doc Holliday foolishly challenged Calamity Jane to a thigh-slapping contest. People like this need to be shown their place and Joe Jupp-McGinty’s spot is flat on his back beneath the blazing sun where the buzzards can peck out his eyeballs.


Having negotiated the madhouse, we’re now in position, and waiting for the long hand of the town clock to denote our starter’s orders. The rules state that ten steps in opposing directions must be taken before either participant can open fire but he’ll have to make do with shuffles as I’m still no closer to getting the feeling back in my left leg. Indeed, I’m really not feeling like myself at all and, regardless of how critical this gunfight is, I keep glancing over at Clem and pondering how succulent her brains are.


It’s a downright distraction is what it is and I could throttle the slag for taking my eye off the prize so shamelessly. Not that it matters a hoot as this bout is all but sewn up and I can smell my opponent’s fear as he takes another tentative step closer to his pine box. That’s quite far enough I reckon and all that is left now is for the bell to chime so I can equalize this nondescript and get back to doing what I’m second best at, not satisfying my woman and not caring either.


How’s that for a tale of the unexpected? While ordinarily my gun slinging skills are second to none, it’s no easy feat removing the firearm from one’s holster when there’s larvae crawling out from beneath your fingernails. As a result, I took three clean shots to my chest, and it would appear that this blundering young upstart has bettered his master after all.


Judging by his cocky celebrations, I’d say Joe suspects he’s got this win in the bag, although he may not want to count those chickens just yet as, either all three shots narrowly missed vital organs, or I’ve suddenly grown impervious to gunpowder. Sure it smarts some but no more than the time when I dismounted my steed awkwardly causing my right nut to explode in my sack. I’ve heard it remarked that you can’t keep a good man down and apparently this also translates to utter bastards as I’m feeling damn near fit as a fiddle here. Now what have you got to say about that buster?


Precious little as it turns out. I tore that boy a fresh asshole and do you know what? It felt good. Nowhere in the rule book does it forbid tearing your opponent limb from bloody limb should firepower not prove sufficient to settle your differences. Neither does it mention that it’s not permitted a light snack as duelling is hungry work after all. Joe may have been an average shot at best and positively sub-par with regards to loyalty, but there was nothing whatsoever ho-hum about his demise and I’d like to think I gave him the kind of send-off he would have hankered after.


With public enemy number one now well and truly out of the frame and the baying crowd growing ever more restless by the minute, it would seem discourteous not to provide my duplicitous other with a similarly epic denouement. She’s always been a shameless exhibitionist that one so I was thinking perhaps beating her repeatedly around the back of the head with her lover’s femur might be a good way to go. What can I say? That peer pressure’s a bitch with suggestion and she can’t say she didn’t deserve it after riding my deputy like Tonto.


And don’t say I never give you anything my darling Clementine. Now all that’s left is to seal the transaction with a kiss and, while it is traditional to plant that parting peck on the rosebud lips of one’s felled lady-love, I haven’t forgotten where they were positioned just a few minutes back. Besides, by around the thirtieth thwack to the skull, I dislodged some of those delectable brains of hers and it would be wasteful not to take a quick slurp for old time’s sake.


My decision is even more justified now as she appears to be catching something of a second wind against all conceivable odds. Better yet, during her short stint out cold, my beloved belle has acquired herself a taste for red meat and this could be the deciding factor in me deciding to take her ass back. Call me freaky but there’s something deeply arousing to me about a woman clutching a bloody heart and wringing it out in her mouth. The fact that said vital organ was donated not altogether willingly by none other than Joe Jupp-McGinty just makes it all the sweeter.


I’ve never been so aroused as I am right now and what precious little blood in my body hasn’t already been contaminated is all bunched up in one specific area, that being the second most lethal weapon in my armory. It turns out that Clementine is more than happy to make the most of her newfound undead status and I think it’s a splendid idea giving the punters a show just to get their pulses racing, figuratively of course. Indeed, this is the most vocal I have seen them and, were it possible to decipher their groans, then I’m dead set that it would translate to “take it off, take it off”.


That’s my girl, always the crowd-pleaser that one. All things considered, I’d say the night could have turned out a darned sight worse wouldn’t you? Granted, I’m decomposing at a rate I’m not altogether comfortable with and a witchetty grub just wriggled out from beneath my eyelid but, as the sheriff of this here town, I’d say we really put Mercy Ridge on the map this evening. We’re talking thrills, spills, free-flowing liquor, an over-enthusiastic stripper, true grit, a shit ton of wit, showdowns, hoedowns, all-you can-eat chowdowns, a dash of scandal and all courtesy of your old buddy Randall. So whaddaya say fellow pale riders? Y’all ready to hit the high plains, take this shit off the chain, and snag ourselves some of those nice pulpy brains? Well then saddle up buckos and don’t forget that good old-fashioned Kentucky fried yeehaw.


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