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"Whacked Out West"
Chapters 10 thru 12

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Chapter Ten
-- by Laura Ann Collins --

Preston struggles to his feet and advances menacingly towards Tex.

Preston: Why, I oughta . . .

Tex: Take it easy there, partner. You don't want to do something you'll regret later.

Chanel grabs Preston's arm to hold him back.

Chanel: He's right, Preston. You're not yourself. Why don't you put some ice on your head and take an aspirin? We can discuss this in the morning when you're feeling better.

Preston: There's nothing to discuss. I know what I heard!

He breaks free from Chanel and begins to run across the room towards Tex, growling. With an alarmed expression, Tex opens the window and climbs out onto the porch roof. Preston, unable to stop in time, runs straight into the wall. Chanel rushes to his aid.

Chanel: Preston, darling, are you all right?

She helps him to his feet, then looks out the window. Tex has jumped off the roof onto the back of Chanel's horse, and is riding away as fast as he can.

Chanel: Oh no! There goes Loverboy!

Preston recoils in horror.

Preston: Why . . . why . . . you . . . you . . .

He struggles to find the words to express his heartache.

Preston: Not a finger!

Before Chanel can stop him, he climbs out the window and jumps off the roof in pursuit of Tex. As Bertha Arkana rounds the corner of the farmhouse, she is shocked to see Preston lying flat on his back on the ground, gasping for breath.

Bertha: Don't worry, I took first aid in junior high.

Preston: No, I'm fine, really!

Ignoring his protests, Bertha begins performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation rather enthusiastically. Just then, Chanel charges out the front door and is horrified by the sight she beholds.

Chanel: Preston Charlemagne Suits IV, what on EARTH are you doing?

Preston: Chanel, I can explain.

Chanel: I would be very interested to hear that explanation, you lying piece of scum!

Bertha: Would you like a ride to town, by any chance?

Preston: You know, it is a lovely day for a drive.

They leap into Bertha's car and drive away, as Chanel yells after them.

Chanel: That's right, you'd better run, because when I catch you . . .

In the car, Preston and Bertha are relieved at their narrow escape.

Preston: I really can't thank you enough, Miss . . .

Bertha: It's Bertha, Bertha Arkana. You shouldn't thank me, though. After all, I'm the one who got you into this mess.

Preston: Nonsense, it's the best thing that could have happened. Let her see what it feels like. Say, Bertha, you're a woman.

Bertha: So they tell me.

Preston: Well, maybe you can tell me what's so great about Tex Arkana.

Bertha: You don't mean that Tex and your wife . . .

Preston nods glumly.

Preston:  You'd better pull over now.

Bertha pulls the car over to the side of the road at the end of the Lazy Daisy lane.

Bertha: Well, I like that! No wonder he's been giving me the brush-off.

Preston: (with some distaste) Are you saying that you and Tex are romantically involved?

Bertha: Well, we used to be, until he divorced me. Didn't you notice that we have the same last name?

Preston: I just assumed you were related.

Bertha: Now, this may be the country, but it isn't Kentucky.

Preston: Look, Bertha, I think I know a way we can both get our respective spouses back, but I'm going to need a little help.

Bertha: You can count me in. What's the plan?

Preston: Well, it goes something like this . . .

Chapter Eleven
-- Debbie Dunlap--

A few moments later, Preston gets out of Bertha's car and waves as Bertha drives off towards town. 

Preston whistles and exclaims to himself, "That woman does bad real good!"

He looks toward the ranch, about 1/2 a mile away, and grins smugly.  He'd bet his last dollar that the bit of fire licking at the porch steps is his lovely red-head and that she was tapping her toe and had her arms crossed tight.  And if he didn't know better, he'd swear there was a three-alarm fire in her eyes right now, too.  A weaker man might run from such warnings of impending danger, but Preston limps toward the ranch, his lame ankle adequate excuse to avoid his wife's wrath for as long as possible.

"Serves her right to be a little jealous," he mutters. 

Stopping, he places one hand on his hip, another to his hair, striking a feminine pose.  "Oh!  Loverboy!" he purrs in falsetto.  Promptly, he drops his hand to his hip, furrows his brow and begins to stomp toward the ranch.  The first step reminds him, painfully, that his ankle will not cooperate with his ire.  Preston is forced to resume his previous, more leisurely pace.

Chanel, impatient with Preston's slow progress, gives him one last scorching glare before turning and slamming the front door on her way inside.

Preston sighs, "A moment's reprieve."

Now free to appreciate his walk in the country, Preston further slows his pace and looks about him.  "Now THIS is what I pictured when I wanted to move out west," Preston thinks.  "Wide open spaces, mountain backdrop, sun setting on a beautiful ranch house."  As he says the words, the sun is just beginning its evening ritual of bathing the Lazy Daisy homestead in rosy hues.

Suddenly, Preston furrows his brow.   Then he raises an eyebrow.  Next he raises his hands in front of him and uses his hands to form a picture frame.  The portrait?  Tex's ranch house.  A puzzled look crosses his face.  He drops his hands, closes his left eye and looks at the house with his right eye.  He reverses the process and looks out of his left eye.   "Humph ....?" 

Preston again frames the house with his hands.  The parting shot is straight-on looking at Preston as he looks at the ranch.   From this perspective, his hands appear to frame Preston's face; one eyebrow is raised in confusion and wonder.

Chapter Twelve
-- by Aileen Mackintosh --

Meanwhile, in the nearby one street, one horse place that passes for the local town, a rather shady character by the name of Magillicuddy Murphy (or ‘Mack’ as his friends call him) is checking into its only hotel. He has the look of a prize fighter about him - a cauliflower ear and a nose that looks like it has been knocked sideways several times, his eyes a piercing blue. However, when asked by the receptionist

Mack: ‘I depends, I have a little business in town and I may stay several days, is that OK’?

Reception Clerk: ‘Sure we have plenty of rooms.’

Mack: ‘I understand you have some newcomers in town.’

Clerk: ‘Oh yes, at the Lazy Daisy Ranch - lovely people. Or so I hear.’

Mack: ‘’I must look them up some time, great chums of mine!" A look of amusement accompanies the last statement.

At this moment Bertha slinks past the Hotel entrance, and seeing Mack winks and says ‘Hello there big boy.’

Clerk: ’You know them, these new people?’ The clerk settles down for a good chat, but Mack grabs his room key and bags and heads for his room with a swift, ‘Thank you.’ On entering his room he dumps his bags and starts to ring a Manhattan number.

Mack: ‘Mr. Suits Yewell please.’ (a pause) ‘Thank you. Case? How are you? I’ve located your cousin and the family.’

‘Case’ Yewell: ‘Good, now here’s what I want you to do ...’

Several minutes later: ‘OK Case, I think I have an idea about that.’ (In his mind’s eye he sees Bertha) ‘Bye.’ He puts the phone down with a huge smile on his face.

The pictures fades and we return to the Lazy Daisy Ranch as the sun is beginning to set, where we see Preston, Chanel and Lucy sitting in silence on the front porch. Tex is nowhere to be seen. Preston is beginning to look like an Egyptian mummy after the doctor has finished bandaging his head and his ankle. Chanel and Lucy are engaged in animated discussion about their first day on the ranch.

After her initial, unrequited outburst of anger, Chanel has decided to act as if nothing is amiss.  After all, this whole nightmare of coming out west has been one strange mood after another where Preston's been concerned.  She'd just be patient and wait till it all passed and they were home in Connecticut once more.  Hopefully.

Preston, however, is in a sulk - ‘What a cheek that Tex has. Warm, friendly, country-folk indeed! He seems a might TOO friendly.’

Chanel: ‘Preston dear, what IS the matter?’

Preston: ‘Hmpf!’

At this moment Bertha reappears, heading in the direction of her house. Spotting Preston she stops, turns and heads in the direction of the porch.

Bertha: ‘Well H-e-l-l-o, stranger. You new in these parts?’ She winks a conspiratorial wink.

Preston (still feeling aggrieved about Chanel’s supposed affair) perks up and says brightly, ‘Hello, yes we arrived yesterday!’

Chanel, clearly more than a little annoyed at yet another attempt by this ... this floozy to flirt with her husband, turns an alarming shade of crimson.

Bertha (giving Preston a lingering glance from head to toe) says ‘You really must come round some time and see me.’

Preston: (with great force) ‘I will indeed!’

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