Sometimes, to make a story work, you have to cut something you like. In movies, those things ended on the cutting room floor, and nobody ever saw them. Then came DVD’s, and gluttons for punishment could revel in 21-seconds of previously unseen footage. That gave me an idea. Deleted scenes from stories! (Please hold your applause for after the presentation.)
So, here’s an attempt at providing what may be a new feature. Enjoy. And please pass the popcorn.
Deleted scene from Willie ‘n’ Me.
Kansas was nothin’ but work, month after month. I got in the habit of writing Miss Ida now an’ then to let her know how things was goin’, and she’d write back real nice, talkin’ about the flowers and such there in Little Rock. It felt sorta like home to read her notes. A couple times, she said she’d heard from Willie an’ that she sounded real happy. Two years and two hotels later I’d had enough of Kansas City. I sent Mr. Pruitt a thank-you note, bought a horse and wagon, and struck out westward on my own.
I kinda followed the railroad, and after a couple weeks, found myself in Dodge City. It was a busy place then, and I wound up startin’ a little woodwright shop of my own. Between buildin’ saloons an’ such for some local business-types, and makin’ coffins for others that whooped it up a little too much after th’ cattle drives, I was doin’ pretty well.
In ’83, I thought I was gonna have to give up on a new waterin’ hole I was buildin’ near the railroad depot. It seems a bunch of bar room owners, including my customer, had caused a certain Mr. Short to abandon his business interests and leave town against his will. Well, it wasn’t long before the local newspaper was printin’ stories about how he’d asked some out-of-town friends to arrange the demise of them that had run him out. I didn’t pay no attention to the fuss until one day when I was workin’ on the saloon. This stranger walked in, lookin’ like twenty miles of bad road—an’ smellin’ like a pile of dead muskrats.
He hacked up a wad of tobacco on my new floor. “You Harshaw?”
I counted his two missing fingers and three well-worn colts. “No sir. Can I help you with anything?”
He just frowned, looked around real slow, then moseyed out.
When he was gone, young Vester Lewis, a local boy who was helpin’ me says, “Didja know who that wuz?”
“No. Who was he?”
He got all nervous and fidgety. “That there wuz ol’ Three-Fingered Dave. He’s big trouble fer sure.”
“Got nuthin’ to do with me,” I says.
“Well, fer sure he’s here about ol’ Mr. Short’s troubles, an’ if’n he or his pal Six-Toed Pete murders Mr. Harshaw, then we gonna be out’n a job here.”
I wondered if havin’ random numbers of body parts leads to a life of crime.
“Maybe we oughta finish up here for now, and start buildin’ up our stock of coffins.”
The next day, a buckboard rolled past my little shop. The sorrowful-faced stranger drivin’ it had a big shotgun across his lap. A couple cases of dynamite poked half out’ve a tarp in back. I figured young Vester was onto somethin’ for sure.
I was puttin’ a real nice shine on seven new pine boxes when some government big-shot from Topeka showed up to smooth things out. A couple days later, Mr. Short was back in business and all them folks who showed up lookin’ so ominous just kinda drifted away, actin’ as pious as parsons. Fortunately, I was able to use all those pretty, polished-up pine boards for the saloon’s bar and the like. When the building was done, Mr. Harshaw decided a drygoods store would be better idea. A little extra work gave him the shelves he needed, and we both slept good. He opened for business in July.
Then I got the telegram from Miss Ida.