My name is Earl Thomas and I’m a reporter with the Tombstone Tabloid. Every week we try to bring our readers an interview with one of the Wild West’s more prominent citizens. This week we have “One Shot” Calhoun in the Hot Seat in our saloon studio. One Shot, as surely everyone knows, is the notorious gunslinger and part-time Texas Ranger that everyone is talking about.
EARL: How are you doing today, One Shot?
ONE SHOT: “I’m very well, thank you. How ‘bout you?”
EARL: Just great! You can probably tell how excited I am to finally meet you. Let’s get this interview underway quickly. For starters, how did you get the name One Shot? Because you’re so deadly accurate with a gun?
ONE SHOT: Funny you should ask, Earl. People are always getting that wrong. No, it’s because I only drink one shot of whiskey before I go out and face a man. One shot is good for the nerves. More than one shot slows the reflexes.
EARL: Isn’t that interesting. And of course, it makes perfect sense. How many men have you shot over the years?
ONE SHOT: Well of course I don’t keep track of every one. But there are 35 notches on my gun. That’s the same number as my age.
EARL: 35? That’s an amazing figure.
ONE SHOT: Yes and it doesn’t include lawyers and politicians.
EARL: Why not?
ONE SHOT: They’re only good for target practice.
EARL: Boy I’m glad reporters aren’t on your bad side.
ONE SHOT: Heh, heh. Well not so far.
EARL: I see you brought the little woman with you today. She’s a very attractive lady. How did the two of you meet?
ONE SHOT: I met her in a Kitty bar.
EARL: Do you find that strange? That all saloons in the old west seem to be run by a Kitty?
ONE SHOT: It’s not strange at all. Kitty is the name the ladies adopt to keep the censors happy. I always drink tea in a Kitty bar.
EARL: Moving on quickly, what’s your wife’s real name?
ONE SHOT: When I first met her, she said she was Mabel Anne Weddy. Later, she said she was Mabel Anne Rilling. I don’t think her teeth fit properly. Anyway, she was telling the truth on both counts.
EARL: What has been the funniest moment in your life as a gunslinger?
ONE SHOT: That would be when I shot Pecos Pete.
EARL: Please share with our readers.
ONE SHOT: Okay Earl. I was chasing a bunch of cattle rustlers across the Rio Grande. They got spread out and separated during a stampede I started. I’d been riding and working all night when I finally caught up with Pecos Pete sleeping alone beside his campfire as dawn was breaking.
When he woke up and saw me, he was really nervous. He knew me by reputation, but I was able to calm him down. I told him I knew he was a good guy and he was the last person I’d kill under the circumstances. Me being tired and hungry and all.
EARL: That sounds fair enough.
ONE SHOT: Certainly. Then we sat down together and had a nice breakfast. Pecos even brewed me a fresh pot of coffee. Then, of course, I shot him.
EARL: What? Why’d you do that?
ONE SHOT: Cause I said I would. I’d taken care of the rest of his gang. He was the last one.
EARL: What was your saddest shooting?
ONE SHOT: Let me think a moment. (pause) I guess that would be “Mad Dog” McCall.
EARL: What was so sad about it?
ONE SHOT: Well it wasn’t sad for me. But he looked sad. He had such a long face. And now I remember why it affected me so much.
ONE SHOT: He reminded me of my horse. You know, the long face and all. Also he had an overbite and he whinnied when he had sex.
EARL: You know that how?
ONE SHOT: I heard it from my sister-in-law, Betty Pader.
EARL: How is that famous horse of yours, by the way? Boots. What a fine looking beast.
ONE SHOT: He’s my best friend. He’s also a great listener. And a really good spooner when we’re alone on the trail at night. But he’s not the first Boots, you know.
ONE SHOT: There was another Boots before him. I’m now riding Boots II. If something works the first time, I’m reluctant to change it. I don’t like to switch saddles, so to speak.
EARL: That’s a nice metaphor. So you’ve had a pair of Boots?
ONE SHOT: One more comment or joke like that and I’ll have to shoot you.
They both laugh good-naturedly.
EARL: Have you ever had a side-kick?
ONE SHOT: Yes, there was a Mexican gentleman I used to chum around with, a Senor Julio.
EARL: What happened?
ONE SHOT: He got too clingy. I had to tell him he was no pal-o-mi-no. That’s a little western humor, Earl.
EARL (smiling back): Just out of curiosity, where do you get your bullets?
ONE SHOT: I used to buy them from Mike’s Roe and Tackle Shop in Abilene. But he’s gone now and I’m looking for a new supplier. In the meantime, I’m making my own. It’s not that difficult.
EARL: What happened to Mike?
ONE SHOT: I had to shoot him.
EARL: Any particular reason.
ONE SHOT: Yes, he kept ogling my wife.
EARL: Now you’ve raised an interesting subject. There are lots of stories about friction between you and Kitty. Or is it Mabel now?
ONE SHOT: Yes, I once had to shoot Mabel.
EARL: Whatever for?
ONE SHOT: She’s faster than me.
EARL: On the draw?
ONE SHOT: No, in the drawing room. Shopkeepers, undertakers, dentists, teachers and tourists. She’ll show anyone a good time when I’m not around.
EARL: So you shot her?
ONE SHOT: There was this one time she got really mad. I called her a tumbleweed. She told me to take my little dogie and git along. Before I knew it, my gun was blazing and my holster was empty.
EARL: Wow! You two are hot. (wink wink)
ONE SHOT: What? No! I mean I shot her.
EARL: But she obviously survived.
ONE SHOT: Yes, she was wearing one of her formidable bustiers and the bullet bounced off. I said I make my own bullets. I didn’t say they’re very good.
EARL: That must have been embarrassing for you.
ONE SHOT: You bet. If more of my enemies wore bustiers, I’d be in trouble. That’s off the record by the way.
EARL: So I gather you and the missus have patched things up.
ONE SHOT: I don’t like the word misses. It has unfortunate connotations in my line of work.
EARL: Okay, well, circling the wagons here, let’s move on to another topic of conversation.
I hear you have a theory about what makes the best gunfighter.
ONE SHOT: You have to come across as crazy. You need to make the bad guys afraid of you.
EARL: But then how do you get along on a day-to-day basis in your normal life?
ONE SHOT: I don’t think it’s inconsistent. If you want to get anything done in this new fast-paced world that goes along with occupying the American west, sometimes you have to act nuts. If not, bartenders will serve the other guy first. Card dealers will be slow paying off your bets. And you won’t be able to get your gun fixed properly at the local hardware store.
There was a reason that Wild Bill Hickok chose his name. If I had it to do over again, I’d put it out there my name is Insane Igor or Lunatic Luigi. One Shot’s okay, but I’m not sure it’s wacko enough. Wait a minute, maybe that’s it. Wacko Waco Willy. I like that.
EARL: I’ve taken enough of your time today, One Shot. I certainly appreciate that you’ve been so open with us. And I’d like to wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Hopefully we’ll be meeting again real soon. And, of course, I don’t mean facing off against each other on the streets of Laredo. (They pretend to shoot each other with index finger and thumb.)
A natural companion piece to this story is May We Have Some Privacy Please featuring a more laid-back Queen of England than you’ve ever met before.
For a more contemporary audience, (i.e., a more “hip” crowd), speed dating leads to lively word games in The Ten Minute Date that Changed Everything.