I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given. This week’s cue word is Rodeo
Press Gang for a Bull
The rodeo clown chased me through town, his oversize clothes flapping in the wind, his shrieking laughter echoing about the deserted streets.
What a fool I was to get so drunk while on shore leave, to abandon my crew mates and walk alone in a strange town in search of adventure; yet, Lord, how could I have imagined to be so cursed as to cross that rodeo clown.
Finally he cornered me in a dark alley, and I bunched my fists to smite that crooked smile from his painted lips… but the last thing I remember was him clubbing my head with an iron bar.
Next thing I knew, I’m waking up at the rodeo, can feel syringes pulling out from my arm, and that clown telling me “Fella, all ya gotta do from now on is throw them skinny cowboys in the air and put on a show – who knows, maybe one day we’ll make ya champion.”
And as he led me out into the arena, I caught my reflection in the mirror of a Ford pickup truck, and, Lord, I was a bull – eighteen-hundred pounds of muscle and hide on four legs ready to buck, and that sonofabitch clown still telling me “Yes sir, you’re our prize Brahma now, and will go by the name of Lone Sailor.”
These days I’m treated like a star, and I put on a real good show for the folks who pay their dollars to come watch me throw cowboys in the air; though, Lord, I must confess, when I see that clown distracting me from making good a gore, I hunger for my old sailor fists to smite that crooked smile from his painted lips.
Words and drawing by Ford Waight.
My story Press gang for a Bull concerns just one of the many events featured at a typical American style professional rodeo – namely bull riding, which has been called “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.”
In Press gang for a Bull I wanted to explore the idea of a sailor transformed into a prize rodeo bull by the will of a magical clown. I was also interested in turning on its head the idea of someone in naval service being ‘press ganged’ into an alternative service. To press gang is to take men into a military or naval force by compulsion, with or without notice, and was a practice used by European navies between the 17th and 19th centuries as a means of crewing warships.
In this instance, my unfortunate sailor is press ganged into ‘becoming a bull’ and is renamed the ‘Lone Sailor’. He must now endure the rest of his days as a revered creature to the crowds, the judges, and the cowboys who try to ride him at the rodeo.
The rodeo clown
I based the clown of my story on the original rodeo clowns who back in the day were crowd entertainers who wore makeup and oversize clothing. As bull riding became more dangerous with the introduction of Brahma bulls in the early 20th century, the need for someone to act as distraction for a bull attacking a fallen rider fell to the rodeo clown. In the late 20th century, the term bullfighter began to replace the name rodeo clown, and in 2003 bullfighters in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) organization traded their traditional rodeo clown makeup and outfits for sport gear with corporate sponsor logos.
The job of the modern day bullfighter involves bravery and strategic team working to place themselves in the path of a dangerous animal to protect the rodeo rider. The valour of famous modern day bullfighters like Frank Newsom, Shorty Gorham and Jesse Byrne was something for me to behold while I was studying video clips when making research for my story.
I made it in pencils based on a photo of the bull rider Antonio Aguilars Charros riding a Brahma bull in Mexico circa 1975, although my story is set earlier than this.
Here are two digital renders of my original, as I wanted to see some colour and texture ‘popping’ in the scene.
Thanks for bucking with us 🙂
I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a prompt word given.
This week’s prompt word is Kaleidoscope
Eject! Eject! Eject!
(a DC Comics Watchmen fan fiction Six Sentence Story)
President of the United States of America Jane Fonda is currently holding a press conference on French TV, and I will translate: “Citizens of the Republic, our Thermosphere Interception and Mass Engagement programme is now installed at several locations throughout your great land, and you may have full confidence that any further (squid) attacks upon your nation at the hands of the evil Adrian Veidt will be swiftly dealt with by the brave men and women Collider pilots at your service.”
“But the survival rate of your pilots… these so-called Colliders, is only 50 percent,” said a journalist, “and those who do survive the escape pod ejection risk multiple injuries.”
“Indeed,” said another journalist, “with this knowledge, how do the brave Collider’s cope?”
“Quite simply, by being brave,” said President Fonda, “and being armed not only with the most sophisticated thermosphere attack weapons ever developed, but knowledge; yes, knowledge, that they might die to protect others, and avenge the three million souls murdered by Veidt in 1985.”
Meanwhile, on Mars, or perhaps not, Doctor Manhattan observes the daily spectacle of Collider pilots ejecting over earth, as their interceptor ships explode head-on against Veidt’s squid cruisers; and as usual, there is not much he can do but watch these distant space fireworks with a blank stare, and sometimes a rock skimmed petulantly across the surface of a Martian lake.
While somewhere else, Adrian Veidt has quite literally lost his head, and he must use mind-control to replace his squid cruisers as fast as they are destroyed by Colliders, while his angry speech booms across the somewhere else and shakes his servants to their knees: “Look at those fools! Mere bees pitifully protecting a doomed nest against the might of murder hornets, ah, prevail they might – yet only for precious minutes on the clock face of time, for I have great pesticides to sweep and perish them on that blue disc of Earth they call their home, yes, I, Ozymandias, king of kings: look on my illusions, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Eject! Eject! Eject! written by Ford Waight
All images from watchmen.fandom.com and are property of DC Comics; HBO; Warner Bros. Pictures.
My story Eject! Eject! Eject! is a fan fiction Six Sentence Story based on the 1986/87 critically acclaimed DC Comics graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins; and the also acclaimed 2019 HBO limited TV series Watchmen created by Damon Lindelof.
Eject! Eject! Eject! makes a play on the Six Sentence Stories prompt word kaleidoscope with an imaginary force of TIME (Thermosphere Interception and Mass Engagement) ships piloted by Colliders to counter frequent squid attacks believed to be deployed by the world’s smartest man super-genius Adrian Veidt aka ex-Watchman member Ozymandias. In my tale, Jane Fonda is the current President of the USA, and presides over the TIME counter attacks with full knowledge of the fifty percent survival rate among its Collider pilots.
If you haven’t yet read the Watchmen graphic novel (recognised in Time‘s List of the 100 Best Novels as one of the best English language novels published since 1923) then what are you waiting for! Likewise, the HBO limited TV series Watchmen is outstanding viewing and was nominated for eleven Emmy awards. As well, the 2009 Zack Snyder film adaptation of the novel is a must-see.
Dear vintage mates, who watches the Watchmen?
PS. There is no irony lost on me that one of the major themes of Watchmen is masks, as I use my ‘enforced week off work’ to rewatch epsiodes of the HBO series, while at the same time writing this post, when wearing a mask myself during a period of positive infection for me in this – year 2021 of our dear Covid-19.
This week’s cue word is Mark
Editor’s note: This is the final chapter of a 6 part story started by fellow SSS writer Reena Saxena and continued by myself. Today’s chapter may be read as a standalone, or if you would prefer to read the entire story then chapters 1 to 5 are reprinted at the end of this post.
Let’s go! Allons-y, Alonso! It’s time for…
DINNER WITH DIANA
THE WOMAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (by Ford Waight)
Shhhhhh, and there fell a dreadful hush upon the world as every single one of Earth’s satellites ceased to signal – save for an unidentified sole transmission; and in state offices of the world’s presidents and prime ministers there fell the same hush; and the world media stared in shock at its screens usurped; and even Inspector Robert felt the same dreadful hush as he glared at his phone: the sole transmission… it was her!
Inspector Robert listened as the transmission Shriek-Shriek-Shrieked like a screaming newborn baby clamouring for milk and oxygen, heralding its intent, clutching all potential in tiny balled fists.
TRANSMISSION: “People of the world. I am Dr. Diana. And you will bend to my will.”
And the world harkened with pulsating ears and dreamy eyes, and the continents glazed over, and oceans became still, and the clouds robbed the sun, and the stars above became slaves in the plotting of new constellations, and planets called in their moons to bed, and comets tucked in their tails, and auroras made marks of religious sentiment across their dusty multi-coloured heads, and the Milky Way wept and sent distress signals to the cosmos – who did scramble to assemble all armies and mercenaries to fight the mightiest campaign of its life, as Dr. Diana went on: “In a short moment you will hear a song. And you will begin to feel sleepy. And after, you will do every goddamn thing I tell you.”
Meanwhile, back at the asylum, the three political prisoners known as Mr Sapphire, Mr Opal and Miss Amethyst, were busy at work configuring the sound system freshly built into the warder’s office: a small but grand-looking machine, a 1920s gramophone of all things – its horn burnished and swirled like a magnificent sea shell washed up on a shore, gloriously trumpeting its melody wound forth and blasted from each window of the asylum for the whole world to hear.
And as the song played, Dr. Diana spoke directly to Mr Sapphire on his phone, and she said: “Plan Louis Armstrong is in full swing. Now get me the President of the United States of America on the line.” … and somewhere, in space, a rogue satellite twinkled into life, and a call exchange was made to the soundtrack of the end of the world as everyone once knew it, and it sang, sang, it sang, it sang: I see trees so green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
Need to find out how this story ever got into its state of being? Then read the previous five chapters below…
As always, TVTA cannot promise answers, but will guarantee questions…
And, in the spirit of collaboration, if anyone else wishes to continue this tale…
This week’s cue word is Zip
Editor’s note: This is chapter 5 of a 6 part story started by fellow SSS writer Reena Saxena and continued by myself. Today’s chapter may be read independently as a standalone story, or if you would prefer to read the entire story so far then chapters 1 to 4 are reprinted at the end of this post.
Let’s go! Allons-y, Alonso! It’s time for…
DINNER WITH DIANA
ASHES TO ASHES (by Ford Waight)
ZIPPPPPPPPPP was the zipping sound the zippers of the body bags made as Inspector Robert stared at the corpses of the three escaped political figures: Mr Sapphire, Mr Opal, and Miss Amethyst, unzipped to the chill of a dark night in a dark forest in dark times.
“It’s them alright,” Inspector Robert said to the forensics officer, “no mistake, and now they’re dead, and we might never learn who instigated their escape from that damn asylum, let alone who killed them.”
Especially as you allowed Dr. Diana to escape your custody while being questioned, thought the forensics officer, and especially as your judgement is under scrutiny since you foolishly admitted you believed you were inexplicably dressed as an elf, when it was plain to see on the cameras you were wearing your usual suit and tie, and was, most likely, under the influence of prescription drugs or alcohol.
Had he been a mind reader, Inspector Robert may well have told the forensics officer in no uncertain terms that he was no addict, but had instead been subjected to a cruel hypnotism by that witch Dr. Diana; instead, Robert simply gave the order: “Have the coroner report back to me as soon as the causes of death have been established.”
Meanwhile, back at the asylum, Governor Armstrong was making himself comfortable in his new office, but then Armstrong was a man of comfort, and completely comfortable in his own skin – except it wasn’t really the skin of Governor Armstrong he was wearing, for this new governor was a chameleon unto the eyes of all who beheld him, while unto others – a select few indeed – he was simply Mr Sapphire.
And downstairs, sashaying through the hallways of the asylum and up the spiral staircase to Armstrong’s office, came the new doctor and PR specialist recently hired, and these two were also chameleons, and unto many they were established professionals with backgrounds and CVs to be jealous of, but in reality – unto the select few indeed – they were Mr Opal and Miss Amethyst, and as they waltzed along the corridor to Mr Sapphire’s door, the two were a-whistling a-jovially à gogo the tune: Zip-a-dee-doo-dah zip-a-dee-ay, My oh my what a wonderful day.
Thank you for unzipping with us 🙂
Read on for the previous chapters…