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Arthur The Author
A strange, smelly man walked into an even stranger, smellier tavern, with a Cowboy hat on his head, and a colt revolver in his pocket. He slammed his not inconsiderable mass so heavily down on one of the barstools that a glass fell off of the counter and shattered. The bartender, even stranger and smellier than his tavern, gave him a dirty look. The strange man smiled apologetically and said, “Give me a whiskey.”
The bartender eyed the man’s disheveled clothes and said, “You’re not opening a tab here.”
The strange man, sighing, pulled his wallet out of his gray coat and slammed it on the bar. The bartender, muttering to himself, poured the whiskey. Just as the strange man took his first sip, three more men strolled into the bar. It was obvious to the strange man that they were regular visitors; the bartender poured all three men whiskies without batting an eye. The three men sat down on barstools, and after drinking heavily, turned their attention to the strange man.
“What’s your business here, stranger?” one of them asked. The strange man ignored him and continued to sip his whiskey. “I asked you a question!” the man yelled, and he pushed the strange man off of his seat. Unconcernedly, the strange man clambered back up onto the barstool.
“My name’s Arthur. I’m a prospector.”
The second man snorted and said, “Yeah? A prospector of what?”
Arthur replied, “Stories. Characters. Plots. So far the pickings are pretty slim. That’s why I’m drinking.” He finished the glass of whiskey and burped. “More please.”
The third man narrowed his eyes. “What are you talking about stranger? Where’re you from?”
Shrugging, Arthur said, “At the moment, I’m not exactly sure. Judging by the taste of this whiskey, not around here.” Making a face, Arthur considered putting the whiskey aside, but instead slammed the entire thing down. “God, this town is terrible. Lord knows I’m the only one stupid enough to dream this up. A man walks into a dusty town, wearing a cowboy hat, goes into the tavern, and is confronted by three of the local big shots. Real original. This is why I drink, this is why I drink.” Arthur banged his glass on the table and said, “More please!”
The bartender and the three men had now deduced that this man was completely crazy. “I think you’ve had enough, son. Now pay me and walk the hell out of this bar.”
Arthur sighed. “This is where we have a problem. You should have checked inside the wallet before you served me.” He opened his wallet and showed it to be empty but for dust. “I’m even dirt broke in my fiction. I think I’ll be going now.” And he eased off the barstool and towards the door.
The bartender nodded at the three men and they all pulled out their pistols. The first man said, “Not so quick. If you can’t pay in cash money, you’ll pay in blood.” The first man punched Arthur hard in the face, and he landed flat on the dusty tavern floor.
He pulled himself up, muttering to himself, “That is by far the cheesiest line I’ve ever written.” Before anyone could stop him, he slid his Colt out of its holster and leveled it at the four other men in turn.
The bartender said, “Give it up, son. It’s four against one. I’ll make you a deal. You leave your coat and gun as payment for the drinks, we’ll call it even, and you can walk out of here with all your limbs. Fair?”
Arthur shook his head. “Afraid not. I may be outnumbered but I have the better weapon by far. Now, first thing’s first” Scrolled across what appeared to be a regular Colt revolver were tiny words, with a knob that could point to each one. First he twisted it so it pointed towards “Writer’s Block”. Before the other men could react, Arthur fired the pistol, at nowhere in particular. The four men instantly froze, as if time had stopped for them. Arthur, never one to miss a golden opportunity, emptied all of the men’s whiskies for them. He then fired the pistol again, and they unfroze, looking bewildered, their guns still leveled at Arthur.
Arthur then changed the knob so it pointed towards, “Misuse of the English Language,” and fired at all three men except the bartender in turn. All three men disappeared, but for their guns, which fell to the ground. The old bartender, horrified, asked, “Where the devil did they go?”
Still leveling his pistol, Arthur pointed towards the three guns. “You see those three guns? They used to be ‘their guns’. Now ‘they’re guns’. Dead simple, see?”
The bartender had always kept a loaded rifle hidden behind the bar, just in case. Occasionally he leveled it at ruffians to calm down bar fights, but he had never actually had cause to use it before. He now grabbed it and leveled it straight at Arthur. “You make one move, your hand even twitches on that Devil’s pistol of yours, and I blow your brains out against my tavern wall.”
Arthur smiled, “Take it easy now. I’ll leave peacefully.” He slowly edged towards the door, the bartender’s rifle leveled at him the entire time. Just as his hand touched the doorknob, he saw the bartender’s grip on the trigger relax somewhat. In one swift motion he switched the setting on the gun to “Deus Ex Machina,” and fired it.
The bartender, seeing Arthur move, fired immediately at his head. After he pulled the trigger, he dove beneath the bar, but he did not hear the sound of Arthur firing back. He slowly stood up and almost fainted. Arthur was standing there, perfectly calm, and with the bullet caught between his teeth. The bartender asked, “Wha- What the hell?”
Arthur grinned and said, “In my youth, I made money in bars by catching bullets in my teeth. Eventually I fell in with the wrong crowd, and that’s how I ended up in this town.” Arthur sighed. “Pretty convenient, huh?” Arthur tipped his hat to the bartender, and left.
The bar was again empty. Breathing a sigh of relief, the bartender collapsed onto a stool and closed his eyes. As soon as he did, the door flung open. Arthur fired a single shot at the bartender, who awoke startled. Arthur slammed the door and left, never to be seen again. The bartender examined his body for injury, but could not find a bullet. “He must’ve missed,” he muttered to himself.
Before, the bartender had never been much of a drinker. He couldn’t afford to drink his own wares. But talking out loud to himself, he reasoned, “I’ve had a hard day. I deserve a whiskey. Or two. Or three.” And the bartender spent the rest of the night drinking.
Turns out Arthur had set the gun to “Mary Sue”.