2005 - A series of original dialogues inspired by Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove.
A scruffy man came ridin’ up the hill on the north side of camp, where our welcome sign is. I could barely see from so far away who he was, but as he came closer I could see that they was two of ‘em. I figured they was coming up to Hat Creek Cattle Company to buy some cattle or maybe to rent some horses. No one come around too often ‘cause it’s a long way up the river, but when they do come around lookin’ to buy something or rent something they always leave satisfied, and we always satisfied too. As they came down near to our camp we all gathered by the sign to greet ‘em. The horses they was ridin’ weren’t very pretty, or well-kept for that matter, so we figured they wasn’t the richest fellas in town, but we planned on greetin’ them just the same as we would anyone else.
Call was the first to say something to them ‘cause the rest of us didn’t know what to say; we always leave important stuff like that up to the Captain. One of them came right up to us and the first thing he said was, “Which way’s the whorehouse?” He didn’t seem too bright. The other fella started talkin’ to Call and the rest of ‘em but the other fella was lookin’ right at me when he said it. I had no intention of revealing Lorena’s whereabouts to an ugly little cowboy on a swaybacked horse. So I said, “It’s over in Sabinas.” Of course that weren’t true, but only because they was no way I could let some fella ride in to Lonesome Dove and right away go lookin’ for a poke. I told him to ride on down the river and he’ll surely see it. “I didn’t ask for no smart remarks, you hear?” he said. “I’ve been told there’s a yellow-haired girl right in this town.” Right then I got so mad, I tell ya, I coulda pulled out my pistol and shot that son-of-a-bitch right in the goddamn face. “Well that’s just my sister.” Of course it was a rank lie, but it got the job done and he scurried off to find his partner and looked to buy some horses.
A few hours later the work was finished and everyone was loungin’ around on the porch feeding the shoats and drinkin’ whiskey, like usual. I decided to ride into town ‘cause I was thinkin’ of Lorie. I figured I’d pay her a visit, and maybe squeeze in a game or two of poker. Lorie whores over at the Dry Bean, the only saloon in town. I don’t think of her as a whore, considerin’ she’s the nicest and prettiest gal I ever come across. Lippy plays the piano and Xavier just goes around cleanin’ up tables. Xavier’s fond of Lorie, he’s always talkin’ to me about how he plans to marry her, but I know she’d never settle for nothin’ like that. I sat down at the table she was at and ordered a bottle of whiskey and two glasses. We was talkin’ and everything was fine, and then Jake Spoon came and sat down at the table with us. That bastard rode into town a few days ago, lookin’ for work after bein’ gone a few years. I don’t know why anyone would wanna come back to Lonesome Dove. Anyway, I could hardly take my eyes off this gal, she was so pretty, and when I did I caught Jake lookin’ at me. Then they started talkin’ and she was laughin’ like I never seen her laughin’ before. At that point I felt myself lose belief in what was happenin’. There was no place in the world I would rather not be than at a table with Lorie and another man, yet that appeared to be where I was. Lorie just sat there, laughin’ and flirtin’ and sippin’ her drink. She didn’t mind me bein’ there, but she wouldn’t have minded if I was a thousand miles away either. For a time, I lost sense of what life was about. I even lost sense that I was a cowboy, which is the strongest sense I have. Right then I was just a fella with a glass in his hand, and that was all I’d ever be to Lorie. I took a drink and then another and then several, and by the middle of the second bottle I forgot about Lorie and Jake and found myself sittin’ on the piano singin’ “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” while Lippy played.
Life in Lonesome Dove is a bore. Just the same over and over, I don’t think I could stand it anymore. Everyday some fella walks into the Bean lookin’ for a poke, and I give it to ‘em. They all act as if they desperately need me, like they can’t live without me, it’s all just horseshit. That’s why I fancy Jake Spoon the way I do. Most men when they come in they see me and they get nervous but this one day when me and Dish was sitting together, Jake came around and he ordered his drink and talked to Xavier for a while, and I just sat there lookin’ at him, expectin’ him to come over and ask for a poke or a game of cards. Before he even brought his bottle to the table and sit with me I began to want him to.
Jake always compliments me. “My goodness,” he said the first time he saw me, “I never expected to find nobody like you here. We didn’t see much beauty when I lived in these parts. Now if this was San Francisco, I wouldn’t be surprised.” It caught me off guard to hear him say that but from then on he promised he would see that I got to San Francisco, ‘cause he knew that’s where I belong. After several visits with Jake Spoon and talks about headin’ up to San Francisco and startin’ up a new life together, I began to feel like I wanted to play a part in keepin’ him alive, which is somethin’ I’ve never felt before. I mean, I’m used to men thinkin’ they need me desperately, just because they want to get their carrots in me, but Jake wasn’t askin’ that and that made me wonder.
After I had been goin’ with Jake a while, one day Gus came struttin’ through the Bean and came over to me and asked for a poke. Xavier stood behind the bar and just watched, not knowin’ why he would do somethin’ like that. Gus didn’t feel embarrassed or nothin’, he just sat back with his arm hangin’ over the chair as if nothin’ was wrong, as if he didn’t care I was with Jake now. I told him I wouldn’t do it ‘cause Jake’s my sweetheart. Then he offered me fifty dollars so I let him do his business. I felt so horrible doin’ that to Jake. I made Xavier swear he wouldn’t tell a soul. A few days later Jake and me was sittin’ on the bed together and I was tellin’ him about it and about the fifty dollars. Jake lifted his eyebrows like he does, like they was nothin’ he could possible hear that would really surprise him, like he knew it already or somethin’. “He’s a fool with money,” Jake said to me. “I reckon he got his poke.” He wiped sweat off his forehead and wiped it on the sheets. “Now that you’re rich you can loan me twenty,” he said. That was when I knew Jake didn’t really love me, and perhaps I didn’t really love him neither. I just kept starin’ out the window as if my mind had already left Lonesome Dove and moved up the trail. Jake sat up again and put his sweaty arms around me. He always said he loved the way I smell in the morning’, so he sniffed my shoulders and my throat. He did it again. I didn’t stop the attentions but I didn’t encourage them neither. I just kept thinkin’ that any other man woulda beat me black and blue after what I did with Gus.
The day before I left town I heard a knock at my door. It was Xavier. He was standin’ on the stairs cryin’ his eyes out. He said, “Is it true, what Jake says? You’re leaving?” I nodded and told him my plans about San Francisco and gettin’ the hell out of Lonesome Dove. He said, “I want to marry you, don’t go Lorie. If you go I don’t want to live. I will burn the place down. It’s a filthy place anyways. I will burn it down tomorrow.” He kept goin’ on and on and he wouldn’t stop even after I told him to. “If Jake kills me I would be better. I can give you everything.” Then he started pullin’ money outa his pocket, and the sight of it made me feel tired. I knew right then and there that no matter what plans I made or how I tried to live, some man would always be lookin’ at me and holdin’ out money.