Mean Street

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 4

MESCAL, AZ -- A pleasing, ebullient breeze fluttered the prop western movie town. We strolled amongst celluloid memories, snapping film to remember films.

The street corner of the hotel and blacksmith shed. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Donna Durrett, all rights reserved.These double hotel doors were familiar. I envisioned Val Kilmer in profile as Doc Holliday against the wall, drawing a cigarette, coughing a lung. I had to stop and get a picture for you kids.

Seconds later, Tombstone was under siege.

As I passed the alleyway leading to the Blacksmith's dilapidated shed, that aforementioned nemesis tumbleweed swirled through a second story hotel window, hit the porch rooftop, and bounced directly into my face, recently repinked, but now white with fear and bent for revenge.

I clutched the beast with a fierce determination to end his rampage here and now. We tossed and turned, turned and tossed. Once, we shimmied and arabesqued.

Pity. I could have grown to love this brute.

It was a nice beating you can dance to.

I tripped on a horseshoe. It occurred to me it had been worn by a pony. The training wheels were rusty.

We collapsed. The feverish battle advanced into the hot dirt. Our worlds forever changed, a waste of a perfectly good sponge soothing.

"I'm gonna kill you, Ryker," I said, soft and raspy. My spittle morphed bruised lips and grit into mud.

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We continued to fight, a beautiful day slipping by. Desperate and most frantic to regain my edge, I employed a medley of wiles to free feisty fingers, thatched and tangled within the attacker's relentless mass of roots. Progress was within reach, if only I could rescue a thumb. Yet, which one? It was Sophie's Choice.

But without the Nazis and Sophie.

But with a tumbleweed and thumbs and no Streep-throated accent.

Crazed thoughts like these shrieked through my head, while my whole life flashed before my eyes, except shown in VistaVision retakes starring Ken Weatherwax, TV's Pugsley.

I was nuts with the gnashing and the social faux pas. Truly, I did not know the tumbleweed's name. In a town like this, "Ryker" seemed a safe choice. I'd speak of it with the parson.

An upswing in the downwind propelled our intertwined forces to roll along in a kinetic, snowless ball to the end of the block. We came to a halt in front of the undertaker's shoppe, all spent and tattered. I choked for air. There was silence from the unholy mess resting on my nose, wrasslin' and pinning my thumbs.

I opened my eyes.

"Oh, my god," I gasped.

I've had dramatic training.

The tumbleweed was not a tumbleweed. It was unspeakably horrendous, exactly as seen in MGM's "Dirty Dingus Magee," shot on this very same turf. I was looking into the roots of Sinatra's wig, one of the worst of all time and, certainly, the most vile and vicious.

Ryker the Toupee had been left behind decades ago to forever revolve across this desolate earth.

If a hairpiece could talk, there would be stories of the Rat Pack, and dames.

And Jack Daniels, and chicks.

And Marvy combs, and Old Blue Eyes' Old Salmon Scalp.

What a cruel existence. A discarded clump of hair, while breathtakingly ugly, has feelings, too. I flipped him to a bird.

Between searing newfound back pain, skinned elbows, and 34-year-old The Dry Look fumes, I struggled to rise.

The main Mescal movie street. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.My camera was unharmed, fortunately, packaged in a protective casing. I removed it from the pouch and took this exposure of The Mean Street.

In the right foreground, a prominent image from "Dirty Dingus Magee." That's the bordello, as I recall.

Down the road at the far left, the Tombstone Saloon.

On the horizon, three figures.

The tour guide, my gal, and the friend -- who left me for dead.
Next: Chapter 5 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Street photo copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett. Hotel photo copyright ©2003-2004 Donna Durrett. All rights reserved.

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