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Billy the Kid rode a pinto horse. Nowhere’s petty gun strapped on his boot like a farrier’s rasp. Guts wrenched. Feral to the coffin bone. Rundown along the dismal trail. An inconsolable creature of The West incarnate, less wild than you’d figure though. Outside and in, derisive he dismounts, flask of buckshot rye at his hip, to proclaim with a snotty nose, “I’d rather be dancing in a saloon, somewhere outside of Pecos. I’d rather be dancing.” Takes his cigarette with charcoal and ginger beer. Leaning against the rotting staves of a used-up barrel, wearing a leather vest over a torn sweater, a slouch cowboy hat with a lice-ridden bandanna, gripping an 1873 Winchester rifle with its butt clanking on split planks, he spits in the sawdust and smirks like a dying pigeon. Always in need of a nap. Scraping by with the raw end of a ravaged rope tied in a sad lasso behind him. Robbing in circles, as the proverbial wagons just never seem to do, he never had a pair of proper roller skates growing up. In the hundreds, probably, the bodies would pile after the toll’s promise takes all comers. He’s unruly in the draw’s shuffle. Got a hobbled head on his shoulders, but a low pulse and the surefire steady hands of a supplicating nun. Lots of cutthroat enemies to contend with, dealt out randomly and crawling with vengeance for the demons posing as small animals in his skull. A bullet for you and a bullet for you and a bullet for all, with the aftertaste of coffee still sticky on the tongue. Chops licked. Hair parted low and flattened with pomade. Always the little skinny guys who surprise you. Just who he needs to be, as the time calls for it. Afford the shells before the bullets, sometimes, get slapped hard across the ripe kisser, and then to check-in to a Denver boardinghouse before midnight rules it all out. Dangerous to be poor in this country, even riding into the runny omelet colors of sunset with the best aim in Lincoln County, a mouthful of Spanish curse words and American prayers. Brushy and lawful as can be, Billy hollers out to anyone who’ll take it, “You’re the only son of a bitch I ever knew who’s worth getting seriously drunk with. The light here is too damn gorgeous for words, the way it slips in on wheelbarrow skin without a skip’s notice. Why aren’t we all dancing?” Billy the Kid? Billy the Kid rode a pinto horse. What the fuck have you ever done?

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