By E.W. Wilder
The following is quite possibly as short-storyish as Bean Newton was
likely to get and resulted from his "cowboy phase" which was
itself inspired by Newton finding a box of trinkets in his parents'
basement from a family vacation to the Southwest. Newton had been only
five at the time of the trip, and the troupe of tiny plastic cowgirls
and the Matchbox lowrider he found in the box brought back a flood of
doubtlessly inaccurate memories.
Accuracy is the bane of inspiration, however, and the now grown-up
Newton clearly had other things in mind that influenced his own perceptions
of the past.
This piece, thought to date to July of 1994, also marks the first known
appearance of the character of Whip Shitback, Bean Newton's Wild West(ern)
Rurally Blightness: a Sketch of Hap Jones,
aka Whip Shitback, Cowboy Pitchman of the Burlesque West
by Bean Newton
Shovel-faced, spitooned, of an altruistic camel, he had my battle-sides
as a stack of vinyl records, still we loved him like sleep loves his
brothers, deveined night and crackling dawn, who, in these days of modern
clowning may as well be himself. Complexities abounded in his personality,
a pimple with a city inside. It was like the ground beneath the earthquake
had subsided, letting the quake float free through the air like a bad
song over the blown speakers in a '65 Impala. How's those for gold rims,
I'd believed in him from the very beginning, knew he could achieve
the lip-blow milk frothing award ten years running. But his own family
was more skeptical: "He can't froth eggs with a tulip," his
Pappy said. His mammy said, "His lips ain't fit to suckle my dry
old nipples." It was an art warming bit of family scansion for
me at least in my tutu and cardboard brassiere.
He did it, though, standing on his head in the peanut gallantry, out
of whacklike with the fryer hydrant brigade, taking up the rear to avoid
the dog pack. I told him if he could we'd have a parade, and as mayor
of this earthy little berg I made it happen, all 88 yards of ticker
tape and used condoms and the flash off a '62 Airstream of it too.
All Minnesota came out to watch, marching right out their closets,
half-anised gerontalia firmly in hand and chanting "Yes, M(0)ther,
we see you your milk girdle and raise you ten preteen pudendum fuzz."
I holed out for the bunker and got just drunk enough to declare myself
king. They'll be holding a special erection next week with the horseheads
and John Running Two Rivers working the bar. Be there for your own sake—my
first decree as potentate is to do a way with all the sinners.