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"Whacked Out West"
Chapters 19 thru 21

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12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Chapter Nineteen
-- by  Laura Collins --

Suits: What's the matter? Aren't you happy to see me?

He throws his head back and laughs, with a maniacal cackle. Chanel struggles to free herself from his grip.

Chanel: Let go of me!

Suits: All in good time, my dear, all in good time. First we're going to take a little walk down to the canyon, and you're going to be nice and quiet so no one interrupts us.

Chanel: You get your hands off me. I'm not going anywhere with you.

Suits: Oh, I think you will.

Chanel gasps as Suits removes a gun from his pocket and aims it at her.

Suits: Now let's go. You've wasted enough of my time already.

As they begin walking past the corral, they pass Lucy, on her way back to the house. Chanel begins waving her arms frantically.

Chanel: Lucy! Get your father, quickly!

Smiling, Lucy waves to her mother. Suits digs the gun into Chanel's side.

Suits: Never mind about that, Lucy. In fact, when you see your dad, tell him she won't be back for a long, long time. (under his breath) You're smart, Chanel. But try to cross me and you'll be sorry.

Chanel watches as Lucy continues on her way, relieved that at least she isn't in danger.

Chanel: You know, it's been a long time . . . Basil.

Suits: So you did recognize me. I should have known.

Chanel: It was that scar on the little finger of your left hand that gave you away. I still remember when we were children and you had that accident with the fingernail clippers. Now, what have you done with Yewell?

Suits: I? I haven't done a thing to him, my dear. It was all Preston.

Chanel: I don't believe you.

Suits: Oh, no? Surely you remember Little Rock.

Chanel: Preston and Yewell went there on vacation during college.  There was an accident . . .

Suits: That's right. As you may recall, my allowance had been cut off and I was disinherited, just for a few gambling debts. I heard Yewell was going to be in Little Rock, and I arranged to meet him.  You see, I needed money rather urgently before some charming gentlemen repossessed my thumbs. However, my dear twin refused to give me any money. Imagine my surprise the next day when I learned that Preston and Yewell's boat had capsized and that Yewell was missing. I simply pretended I had washed up on the lake shore with amnesia, and from then on, I was Yewell.

Chanel: That's horrible. How could you?

Suits: Pshaw, it was nothing. Well, here we are. There should be a cave around here somewhere; I'll be stashing you there for the time being.

Suddenly, a voice pierced the darkness.

Voice: Oh no, you don't!

Suits: (astonished) Why, it's . . .

Chapter Twenty
-- by  Debbie Dunlap --

Suits' eyes narrow as a figure emerges from the shadows.  A dark, gloved hand tips back the black hat, revealing sinister features.  (Victor McLaglan never looked more menacing.)

"Mack!  What're you doing here?" Suits demands.  "You're supposed to be keeping an eye on the ranch."

Mack gives Chanel a sneer before addressing Suits.  "Tex is wolfing down a rhubarb pie at the ranch house, and Mr. Preston Suits is sitting on a rock behind the barn," Mack turns to Chanel and sneers again, "weeping like a woman."

Chanel's hand clutches her chest.   "Preston," she chokes.  Turning fiery eyes on Suits, Chanel seethes through clenched teeth.   "You!  It's been you all along!  When Preston needed a vacation, it was you who put the hair-brained notion into his head about buying a ranch!  And you brought Armani here, didn't you?  Just to cause more trouble!  This plug-ugly is probably on your payroll, too, isn't he?  What evil little plot do you have cooked up now?"

Hands on her hips, auburn hair wild in the brisk evening wind, eyes full of fury and fire, Chanel is a prairie fire about to consume all in her path.

Mack grits his teeth to keep from smiling.  The glitter of mirth in his eyes appears as a malicious gleam.

Suits' own face reddens as his blood begins to boil.  "Don't you question me!  Don't you raise your voice!   All my life I've stood in Preston's shadow!" 

Gesturing wildly with his hands, Suits forgets the gun in his hand.  Mack's eyebrows raise in alarm as the gun is leveled straight at his heart during one of Suits more dramatic arm swings.

Mack begins to bob and weave to avoid the moving gun as Suits continues.

"On the playground, Preston was always first pick.  Teacher's pet in school.  Grandma's little darling with that stupid crater in his chin.  Then her.  And then YOU!"

Chanel's eyes widen in disgust.   "Me?  Basil Yewell, you are not going to blame ME for this Aysgarthian behavior!  With her red hair and quick temper, she has a reputation as a woman who will punch a man ... and make him feel it.  Preston once sported a black eye for a week after teasing her about one of her hats.

Suits puts his hands in front of his face to protect himself.  He delightedly notices that he's holding a gun and turns it toward Chanel.

Chanel stops her advance.  Suits' eyes have become dangerous.

"Basil?"  Suits snorts.  "Basil?" he chortles.  "You see!?  You see!?" he screams.

Chanel takes a step backwards.  Mack raises an apprehensive eyebrow.

"There is no Basil!  I am Basil!"

Chanel raises an apprehensive eyebrow.  Mack takes a step backwards.

"When were ten, I fabricated a twin just to prove what a twit Preston really was!"  Suits throws his arms in the air in frustration.   "He didn't get it!  He never got it!  I had to 'kill' Basil off when I was 22, because I was sick of the game!"

"Then you are Suits?"  Chanel whispers.

"Yes, you dimwit!  I kept up the charade while we were kids, because it was fun to make a fool of Preston night and day."

"But why all those years?  Why did you keep it up for so many years?" Chanel asks quietly.  Pity's crept into her voice, pity for a man she's loved as a distant brother.

Suits calms a bit at her quiet tone, his mind drifts back in time, his eyes becoming dreamy.  "You might not believe it of this old bachelor, but once upon a time, I fell in love.  It was my freshman year at Yale.  Her name was Suzy.  We'd been dating steady for about six months."  Suits stops, focuses his gaze on Chanel, but it isn't Chanel he's seeing.

"It was just before summer break.  I had the ring in my pocket.   I'd thought, 'This is the night I make you mine forever.'  I pictured myself on bended knee, looking into your big brown eyes.  I even had your wedding present picked out."

Suits snaps out of the dream, a look of disappointment washes over him as he realizes it's Chanel standing before him.  He shakes his head to clear it.

"Preston and a couple of his buddies were already on summer break.   They came to the park that hot Saturday evening.  I'd had it all planned so beautifully.  So romantic.  I was just about to ask Suzy to be mine when Preston spotted me and stopped over to say hello."

He closes his eyes, his voice drops, his body slumps, "She didn't know he was a notorious lady's man.  When he looked at her, all she knew was the cocky pride and the promise of passion.  The minute they met, the minute Suzy saw him, I knew the truth.  The awful truth.   Preston had beat me again."

Looking up at Chanel with hard eyes, his voice is steely and his body is trembling with controlled fury.  Ever since that day, I've plotted to destroy whatever Preston loved.  I kept up the twin ruse, because it suited my purposes.  When it no longer did, I 'killed' my brother."

"Little Rock?" Chanel asks.

"Yeah, Little Rock.  One of my better schemes gone bust.  I thought Armani would be just the ticket to tempt Preston into some monkey business.   Who'd have thought once he met you, his wenching days were over?  I was disgusted that all my plans were for nothing.  So you see, this is all your fault.   If you'd just left him over the Little Rock incident, none of this would have happened.  But the seeds of suspicion were planted in your mind.  I knew I could use that to my advantage in time.  This time."

"Preston and Armani never .... ?" Chanel gasps.

"That woman can be accused only of trying, your husband of being faithful," Suits' laugh is ugly.

A tear falls, "Oh, Preston ... I'm sorry."

"You made this set-up so easy, Chanel."

Chanel looks at Suits and he feels her loathing.

He snaps the fingers of his free hand, one - two - three.   "That's how easy it was for me to convince Preston to leave everything behind and come out west.  That's how easy it was to make him jealous.  That's how easy it was to make you jealous.  If that nitwit Tex hadn't decided to lasso you, I'd have whisked you back to Connecticut myself and none of this," he nods at the gun, "would have been necessary."

Chanel grits her teeth, "If you think I'd ever have gone anywhere with you ..."

Finished talking, and finished listening, Suits motions to Mack.

Mack grabs Chanel's arm.  Startled and angry, Chanel begins to struggle until she sees the 12" blade that appears magically in Mack's hand.

He hisses in her ear, "In New York, they call me Mack ..."   he pauses "... the Knife.  Wanna know why?"

Chanel shakes her head no.

Already heading toward the ranch, Suits issues a command over his shoulder, "You know what to do, Mack."

Mack grunts.

Chanel's eyes grow huge with fear.  Mack holds the knife to her throat to discourage any questions.  He waits till Suits is out of sight, before he reaches into his pocket.

Chanel begins to plead for her life.

She's shocked, amazed, then angry when it's not a gun she faces, but an FBI badge and a smile.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

Chapter Twenty-One
-- by P.J. Thum --

"DADDY!!" Lucy screams as she runs around the ranch, "Daddy!! Where are you??"

Preston, upon hearing this, looks up, startled. "Over here, Lucy! What's the matter?"

Lucy runs toward him and grabs his arm. "Daddy! Mr. Yewell has kidnapped Mummy!! He's got a gun!! We've got to stop them!!! Quick!!!" She grabs his arm and starts dragging him in the direction she came from.

"Hold on, hold on dear!!!! We can't go rushing into this. We've.. we've got to get reinforcements!" Taking Lucy's hand, they rush into the ranch.


Back in the middle of nowhere, Mack is facing down an angry Chanel.  

"Will you let me explain! We've been after Yewell for a long time now, and it was necessary to give him some rope to let him hang himself, so to speak!"

"But how could you put my family through this!! How could you put our lives in danger! You're letting that criminal walk around-"

"Mrs. Suits!" Mack says firmly. "To arrest a man you need evidence. In order to get evidence you must catch him in the act. Suits Yewell is a very clever man. In fact, you're lucky I've managed to win his confidence and come out here, or you'd be dead by now!"

"But what about Preston?" pleads Chanel. "He's back at the ranch. with Lucinda. what will Suits do to them??"

"It's alright, Chanel. Preston is a part of the operation too. He knows about this. He's been a part of this operation from the beginning.  Thanks to our agents, we learned of his plan to destroy Preston. We contacted your husband and offered him the chance to save himself by working for us. Yewell, obsessed with destroying Preston, would grow careless, especially if he perceived Preston as a fool. Thanks to Preston, we got enough evidence to obtain a search warrant. I just got word from agents back East that we have enough to put Yewell away for a long, long time!"

"Oh no you don't."

They gasp, turn around. Unseen by either of them, Suits has returned. It is his turn to step out of the shadows, his gun gleaming cruelly by moonlight. "Drop the knife, Mack. And slowly pull that gun out and put it on the ground."

Cursing, Mack does so. "You'll spend the rest of your life in prison, Yewell. You can't escape. We have the evidence we need to put you away."

Yewell laughs. "So I heard. Hands in the air, both of you. Putting Suits Yewell away is harder than you think, Agent McLaglan! I've known about your little trap. You don't think I didn't have plans to escape, did you? The money is already out of the country, and by this time tomorrow I will be sitting on a beach in the Mediterranean!"

"You're bluffing."

"Am I?" Yewell laughs again. "I just have to get rid of the two of you, first." His smile abruptly vanishes. "March. We're going to Death Canyon." He picks up the knife and gun as Mack and Chanel, hands in the air, slowly start walking.


"Are they all that you could find?" Preston demands.

"They used to be the best gunfighters in the West!" Tex protests.

"Yes, but that was thirty years ago! Tex, Chanel's life is at stake here! We can't go around with these old codgers!"

"Don't you worry, Preston. They've got a lot of life left in them!" 

The camera moves to reveal the Over-The-Hill Gang, Nash Crawford (Walter Brennan), Jason Fitch (Edgar Buchanan), Amos Polk (Andy Devine), George Agnew (Chill Wills) and the Baltimore Kid (Fred Astaire).

[N.B. I know that they probably aren't old enough yet to play the gang at the time of this story, but I've wanted to work them in for a while. Let's just overlook that small corruption of the flow of time, shall we?]

George is struggling to get on his horse, and finally manages to get on, with a push from the Kid and Nash. Amos, blind as a bat, is looking completely lost until Jason puts the reins in his hands. Even so, his first time up the horse has him facing the wrong way. Meanwhile, The Kid quietly sneaks a drink from his flask. He grimaces and looks a bit unsteady as the booze kicks in. Finally after assorted accidents all five of them are ready to go. 

Preston sighs and climbs on his horse. "Well, let's go!" They charge off into the night.

(A short while later)

"Well," says Tex, looking at the ground, "Looks to me like the varmint pushed 'em east, towards town."

"I don't think so," replies Preston, "If you look carefully over here, they doubled back. They're headed northwest toward Death Canyon."

Tex looks up in astonishment, and comes over to look at what Preston is pointing at. He stares at Preston in shock. "That's right. how did yuh know that?"

Preston smiles. "Is there anything in Death Canyon? Someplace to hide, take shelter?"

Tex scratches his head. "Well, there's a small abandoned church down there. it's not been used for years. That would be the only building left standing there."

"Let's take a look, then!" Preston turns his horse expertly and sets off at a trot. Tex is left with a look: Where did this guy come from?

(Some more time later)

"Windows are all boarded up," whispers Preston. "Is there any other way in or out?"

"Back door," replies the Nash. "That and the front door's the only way in or out."

"Alright. I want the five of you to spread out and cover both exits, two at each. Yewell may not be alone. Send one person to scout the region- he has to have a getaway vehicle somewhere. There's only one horse tied up outside, and he can't go far with a hostage. He's got to have something hidden around here." Nash nods and slips away to the other four marshals.

Preston turns to Tex. "We're going in." 

Tex eyes Preston uneasily. "Yah sure about this?"

Preston produces a pistol and looks at Tex evenly. "Chanel's in there."

Tex takes a long look at him, then nods his head quietly. Silently they rise and make their way through the shrubbery, covering each other as they pick their way to the silent church. Moonlight casts eerie shadows as they tiptoe up to the large main doors. Yewell's horse looks up as they approach, then whinnies, shakes his head and goes back to grazing.

The church rises up quietly above them, an imposing monolith, a monument to a by-gone era, to the once prosperous town that stood in the nearby area but was wiped out.

Silently, Preston and Tex flatten themselves on either side of the main door. Gently, Preston reaches out and eases the door open. The sound of bats fluttering about inside the church reaches their ears. Preston slowly looks inside. Moonlight pierces the dark interior like a knife, driving a sharp crack across the floor and cutting the room in two like a lance. Apart from the bats, nothing moves. The air inside feels heavy, still. At the far end of the room, several dimly lit candles stand upon the altar, illuminating the far end of the room with a meager light. A slight breeze forms, rustling the leaves outside and making Tex shiver.  He is about to say something when Preston raises his hand. Tex pauses.

The sound of a quiet sobbing gently reaches their ears. Chanel! Preston thinks. He moves to throw open the door.

"Stop!" hisses Tex, grabbing his arm. He slowly shakes his head. "On three. I'll go left. You go right. Duck and roll. Get behind the benches. We'll outflank him."

"Alright." Preston nods.


Preston feels the sweat trickle down the back of his neck, and shifts his grip on the revolver. It seems like an eternity ago, their quiet life in Connecticut, the advertising agency..


Preston takes a deep breath and pushes his fears away. Chanel is in there. He is coming out with the woman he loves, or not coming out at all.


Together they rise, exploding through the doors, diving in opposite directions as a hail of bullets cut through the air, right where their heads had been only moments earlier. Preston comes to a halt behind the shelter of the bench, gasping for air. Adrenaline pounds through his veins.

"Hello Preston and Tex." Suits' disembodied voice floats out through the darkness. "I knew you would come." Preston catches Tex's eye. Go around, his hands signal, and Tex nods in assent. Slowly they rose, following the walls around the sides.

"Heroes!" Suits' voice sneers. "Came to save your precious Chanel, didn't you?"

Preston peers at the back wall. Chanel is bound and gagged, slumped against the altar. Next to her, another figure is also slumped, but he is still and unmoving. Preston advances cautiously. 

"You were always the fool, Preston. Did you think you could stop me? You and that. hick?" Suits voice echoes off the walls. It deepens with amusement. "I should thank you. This is perfect. You're going to be here to see the last vestige of your perfect lives end. I've taken it all away from you, Preston, and this will be the end!"

Preston is at front bench. He can see Chanel, and can make out that the other figure is Mack. But where is Suits?? Preston inches forward carefully. He has to get to Chanel.. 

A *click* of a gun cocking brings him to a stop. Slowly, Preston looks up into a cold steel barrel, and behind it, Suits' evilly grinning face.  Suits had been hiding behind the pulpit. 

"Stand up, Preston. Throw the gun away." Preston slowly rises, eyes locked on Suits, and reluctantly tosses the pistol away. Tex! Where was Tex? He thought frantically. 

As if reading his mind, Suits laughs. Without taking his eyes of Preston, Suits said, "You too, Tex. Or Preston dies. Stand up. Drop the gun." At the other side of the room, Tex slowly rises. Suits, standing up, laughs again. "Cheer up Preston! It's not so bad. I may still let you live. You can spend the rest of your life suffering and thinking about dear Chanel.."

"You'll never get away with this," says Preston quietly.

"Never?! I already have, Preston!!" laughs Suits. "Nearby waits a truck that will take me to the Mexico border. From there it's off to Europe to collect my money. Then I live like a King!" Suits laughs wildly, throwing his arms up in the air to emphasis his point. 

That is all the opening Tex needs. Roaring like a wild bull, he charges, knocking into Suits. Preston jumps in, clawing desperately at the gun. But Suits is filled with a maniacal energy, and manages to get his arm free to smash the butt of the gun down on Preston's head. Preston collapses in a heap as stars swim about his head and the room spins around him. Tex and Suits continue to wrestle about the room, knocking into furniture as they wrestled for control of the gun. Preston, dazed, looks up and his eyes focus on Chanel. 

Chanel. He had to save her.

Slowly he crawls over to her. Her terrified eyes look into his, then up at this head, and Preston is suddenly aware of blood trickling down his forehead. He shakes it off. Not now. He has to save Chanel. He pulls off her gag, and begins working on her bonds.

A loud gunshot interrupted his work. Turning around, he notices Suits standing over the prone form of Tex. Laughing crazily, he pulls the trigger again-again-again-again-again, emptying his gun into the broken form of Tex. He's crazy! thinks Preston with a shiver of fear. Suits turns around and for a long moment the cousins face each other. Preston gazes deep into his eyes, and marvels silently at the stranger who now resides inside those eyes. Slowly, he stands. 

"Give it up, Suits. You're going to be hung for murder now. You'll never get away."

Suits looks around wildly, and his eyes light on Tex's pistol, tossed away only moments before. 

Preston looks around quickly for his own gun. Where had he dropped it? He spots it, lying in the aisle. Their gazes snap up at each other. Back down at the guns. Then both dive.

Preston's searching fingers close around his pistol. Lying on the floor, he twists his body sharply, locking in on that face he knew so well, the face that he had laughed with, cried with, grown up with. The face of his cousin. The face of a stranger. He pulls the trigger. And the world turns a pure white.....

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