The Wild and Wooly West!
The “time machine” gag seemed like a great little idea at the time. It was a good excuse to film the Raiders in even more ridiculous scenarios than what they had already performed. Anyway, Where The Action Is was meant to be a wild, musical romp, so why not?
What the producers failed to realize was that there was a serious snafu in the “machine’s” workings.
The guys went through the motions and crowded into the thing—It wasn’t much bigger than a closet—then closed the door and waited for their cue to come back out and change costumes.
Kip, the director, yelled, “Cut!” He waited for the Raiders to emerge from the contraption, but they didn’t. “Maybe they didn’t hear me? Guys! I said ‘CUT’!”
Still no answer. Still
“Smitty, would you kindly get your drumsticks out of my back?” Drake grumbled.
“I would if Phil would get his elbow out of my face.”
“I wish they’d cue us out already,” Paul said. “It’s getting stuffy in here!”
“Mark—ppllbb—would you turn your head the opposite—ppllbbbbppp—direction?” Phil asked, making spitting noises.
“Pppllblb!! Cos your stupid ponytail is in my mouth! BLEAH!”
“That’s it—I’m getting out of here, whether Kip likes it or not!” Paul growled. He unlatched the fastener on the inside of the door and stepped outside, happy to get a good breath. He felt a little out of place, however.
“Hey, guys? Uh…You remember anybody saying anything about us doing a cowboy scene today?” he called back in to his band mates.
“No, why?” Mark answered, sticking his head out the door. “Holy cow—They’re GOOD! Even the horse chips look real!”
Smitty emerged next, just peeping around the edge of the doorway. He took a sniff of the air, then held his nose. “I got news for you,” he replied nasally. “That horse crap is the real deal.”
Paul stood there, scratching his head and trying to figure out just what was going on. What were they trying to pull today? They were notorious for jokes on the set, but this was taking it a bit far.
Phil made his way out of the doorway, halfway pushing Smitty aside. “Cool! I LOVE Westerns!” He pointed his fingers like a couple of pistols. “Shoot ‘em up! POW POW POW!”
Drake was immediately behind him, fingers in his back. “Stick ‘em up, cowboy.”
“Consarnit all, it’s the Marshall,” Phil laughed.
“Hey, looks like the wardrobe department did a good job for us this time,” Mark said, just noticing his clothes. “We didn’t even notice they changed us!”
The others hadn’t been paying attention, but their eyes were suddenly directed to their own outfits. Their Revolutionary War styled coats and tri-corn hats were gone, replaced by jeans, cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats. Somehow, Smitty had wound up with one way too big; it kept falling over his eyes.
“That’s fine,” he groused. “I never really HAVE to see where I’m going…”
Paul snatched the hat from Smitty’s head, swapping his own hat with him. “Quit yer beefin’, little man.”
“Does this NOT seem odd to you?” Drake finally blurted. “I don’t see a camera in sight—Kip’s not around, the honey wagon’s gone… Aren’t you the least bit curious what happened?”
“I have to admit I am,” Phil replied. He adjusted his black cowboy hat, shielding his eyes from the sun. “You don’t just go into a room and then come out and have everything change….Right?”
“So, what gives with the prop department?” Phil thumbed over his shoulder at the “time machine,” glancing at it very quickly. He did a double take, then just stared at it. “Guys….”
They all turned around, noticing that nothing was left of the supposed contraption, except a door flapping open from nowhere.
“Okay, things just got seriously weird,” Paul said. “KIP!”
“KIIIIP!” Mark bellowed. “ROGER!!!”
Smitty climbed on a horse hitch, trying to get a better view of their new surroundings. He found it hard to maneuver with spurs on his heels.
Several passers-by stopped and stared at the confused Raiders, who were still crying for their director or manager or anyone that knew what was going on.
“Guys—GUYS!” Drake shouted.
Paul and Mark both quieted and looked at the guitarist.
“I don’t think that’s gonna do any good.”
“They’re not here,” Smitty reported, teetering slightly on his perch. “We’ve got plenty of horses, though.”
“You don’t mean to tell me that the stupid ‘time machine’ gag is real, do you?” Mark scoffed. “That’s just stupid.” He grabbed the edge of the door, wagging it. “It’s fake! It’s not even made out of good stuff—It’s a PROP!” He swung the door back…
“No no no—“
“Wait a second!”
“Don’t close it!”
“See? Stupid prop.” Mark nodded at the door, driving his point home. When he reached for the door handle to open it back up, however, it was gone. He grasped the air frantically. “It was right here, I KNOW it was!”
“Told you not to close it,” Paul sighed angrily.
“What do we do now?” Drake asked.
“I guess try to make the best of a bad situation,” Phil said. “Doesn’t seem too bad here.”
“What about the time machine—the ‘prop’?” Paul questioned with a sneer towards Mark. Mark cringed.
“Well, I suppose we could wait until the time window opens up again, then meet back here to go through the portal and back to the 20th century,” Smitty commented casually.
They all gawked at him incredulously, gaped-mouthed.
“Just a guess….ah….nothing more really…..no…” He pulled his hat down over his ears.
They agreed Smitty’s “time window” idea wasn’t too bad. If a faulty prop from the show had gotten them there, then most anything was possible. Instead of standing around waiting, they decided to split into teams and explore the place; Paul and Mark took one side of the Western town, while Phil, Drake and Smitty took the other.
“Wow,” Phil said, in awe. “This is just like on TV, isn’t it?”
“Even better,” Drake answered. He smiled and tipped his hat to a couple of young ladies passing by. “How ‘do?” They giggled and hurried past.
“Showoff.” Phil elbowed him in the ribs.
“Hey, when you got it, you got it—What can I say?” Drake noted the saloon just ahead. “What say we see if Miss Kitty’s in there?”
Phil laughed, “Sure thing, Marshall. C’mon, Smitty.” He looked over his shoulder and found Smitty standing in the middle of the wooden sidewalk. “What’s the matter? Come on!”
Smitty had somehow gotten his left spur hung in a knothole in the walkway. He stomped and pulled and cursed, unable to loosen himself from the planks. Finally, he stooped over, yanking his foot out of his boot, then instinctively grabbed the gun by his side and shot at the plank. The gun had such a kick on it that he flew backwards into the wall of the general store.
Drake and Phil hurried to help him up.
“What was THAT all about?” Drake demanded.
“It wouldn’t let me go!” Smitty argued. He limped over to the smoldering plank and yanked his boot free, slipping it back onto his foot. “I hate these stupid spurs!”
“You’d better give me that gun, Smit,” Phil said, taking the piece from his band mate. “You’re liable to get hurt!”
“Man, sometimes you really have a temper!” Drake scolded.
Phil was still holding the six-shooter, trying to empty out the bullets. He’d let Smitty carry it, but was not about to let him go around armed. If this was the work of the prop department, they shouldn’t have been so careless. That’s real ammunition! Phil thought, somewhat panicked. He put the bullets in his pocket and handed the empty gun back to his friend.
“Now I think we could all use a drink,” Drake said, still shaky.
“Step HIGH, Smitty,” Phil instructed.
Smitty simply yanked the spurs from the back of his boots.
As the trio headed to the saloon, they paid no attention to the crowd they had attracted. They were used to crowds and people staring at them. It was everyday business for a Raider. Unfortunately, they were also being eyed by the sheriff, who was not fond of strangers causing a scene in his town.
“Yee-hah! Straight outta Bonanza!” Drake laughed as soon as he walked through the doors.
“I hope the saloon girls are pretty!” Phil said, leering comically.
They took their places at the bar, ordering drinks just like they had seen done on television. They had to quickly change their orders when they realized the bartender had never even heard of Coca-Cola before…
“That rules out rum and Coke, doesn’t it?” Smitty grumbled.
“You can have straight rum, shorty, but we ain’t got that other stuff,” the bartender barked. “Where you from? I don’t reckon I’ve seen any o’you ‘round these here parts.” He stared suspiciously at Phil.
“You might say we’re just passing through,” Phil answered, grinning.
The bartender nodded hesitantly, then waved over one of the other cowboys. He whispered in his ear: “He’s back—Get the sheriff.” The cowboy left hurriedly.
“I wonder how many of these people have heard of us?” Mark pondered aloud.
“I wonder how many of them have even heard of TV,” Paul added. “This doesn’t look like the work of our guys—This stuff looks real.”
They trotted down the opposite walkway across town, taking in the scenery. Paul was busy looking for someone they might know; Mark was ogling the pretty girls. He tipped his hat to several of them, revealing his ponytail. He was disheartened that many of them suddenly turned the other way.
“Maybe you’re just losing your charm,” Paul teased. He stopped in front of the gunsmith’s shop. “C’mere—We’ll ask this guy if he can help us.”
“Whatever you say, Unc’.” Mark trailed behind him, still miffed about the girls who passed him.
A bell above the door rang the minute Paul stepped inside the shop. He peered around the different racks and cases, looking for any sign of life. “Hello? Anybody home?”
“Just a minute—Be right there!” came a voice from the back. Only a few minutes later, an older, bearded gentleman approached them from the back of the shop. His sleeves were rolled up past the elbows; grease coated his hands and was streaked on his face. He wiped his hands and brow with his smock. “Howdy, what can I do fer ya?”
“Well, we were just wondering if you could help us out,” Paul explained. “We’re just…ah…passing through here and we’re kinda lost. Wondered if you could tell us where we are and maybe point us in the right direction to get us where we’re going?”
The gunsmith chuckled. “You really must be out of town! This here’s Dodge City!”
“Just like TV,” Mark muttered under his breath. He took off his hat to cool his head a minute.
The minute the gunsmith sighted Mark’s dark ponytail, he became quiet. He glared at Paul. “You can stay in here, but your ‘friend’ there has to go,” he demanded.
Paul and Mark looked at each other, equally confused. “Why?” they asked in unison.
“Cuz I don’t appreciate gun-stealin’ Injuns in my shop—THAT’S why!”
“What?” Mark stared at the man in disbelief.
“You heard me, Injun—OUT!”
“Now look, mister, he’s not out to steal any of your stuff,” Paul defended. “We just want directions so we can get back—“
The gunsmith pulled a shotgun from below his shop counter. He aimed it straight at Mark. “As far as I’m concerned, the only good Injun is a dead Injun, so you and your buddy here LEAVE!”
“I don’t have to take this,” Mark barked, angrily plopping his hat back on his head and turning sharply towards the door.
A shot fired past Mark’s head and into the doorframe. He and Paul both scrambled frantically for the door and ran into the street. They dodged horses and wagons, not to mention confused pedestrians, in order to reach the other side of the street.
Paul propped against the railing outside the general store. Mark collapsed next to the horse trough. Both of them were winded.
“What was that all about?” Mark asked between gasps.
“I could be wrong, but I think that guy’s not too fond of Indians…. Just a guess, y’know.”
“I wonder how the other guys are doing?”
“What did you DO?” Drake demanded. He peered out from behind the overturned table, then had to duck behind it again to avoid being hit by a bottle.
“I don’t know!” Phil screeched. “He just came over, grabbed me and was gonna punch my lights out!”
“And you did what? You decked him!” Drake pulled off his hat and clobbered Phil about the head and ears with it. “WHAT—WERE—YOU—THINKING?!?”
The saloon was a wreck in no time. Someone had apparently mistaken Phil for someone else and naturally Phil had defended himself. The minute he had decked the stranger, someone else came after him. It was a chain reaction—One punch lead to another and another and now here they were hidden behind a poker table that had been tipped on its side.
“What’s it look like out there, Smitty?” Drake asked.
Smitty removed his hat and waved it over the top of the table. The minute he did so, it was knocked out of his hands by a bullet. He crouched back down, wild-eyed. “I want my mommy…”
“Alright! Break it up!” a voice boomed over the din. “Break it up or else you all go in the hoosegow!”
“We’re saved!” Phil cheered.
“About time,” Drake said, relieved. “Smitty, you can quit cringing now.” He nudged him in the side with his boot.
The ruckus in the saloon settled at last. The trio arose from their barricade behind the table. Drake dusted himself off, making sure he still looked presentable. Smitty slowly peeped over the edge of the table, taking a good look around before he risked standing up. Drake merely grabbed him by the collar and brought him to his feet and proceeded to dust him off as well.
The sheriff had arrived to break up the brawl. He approached the three strangers.
Phil was the last to crawl from behind the overturned table. His legs felt a little weak, but otherwise, he was okay. He sighted the sheriff heading his way. He grabbed both the man’s hands in a thankful handshake.
“You don’t know how glad I am to see you, Sheriff,” Phil said thankfully. “I thought for sure we were all doomed, but you came in and you made ‘em break it up before anybody got seriously hurt and I just wanna thank you for being the responsible lawmaker that you are cos we all appreciate it, especially since we’re new here and don’t know anybody and wouldn’t know how to get in touch with our folks if we were to get shot or something, then we couldn’t get in touch with them if we DID get shot, could we, cos we’d most likely be dead around here, right?” He took a nervous breath and laughed, still frightened and frantic.
The sheriff quickly snapped a pair of handcuffs on the young man’s wrists.
“Hey! What’s that for?” Phil looked at Drake and Smitty, who were equally befuddled.
“That was real clever of you, Pete,” the sheriff barked. He grabbed Phil’s shirt collar, yanking him around the table and causing him to stumble. “Rob a bank, kill two of my best men, then try to come back posin’ as somebody else—Yeah, REAL clever, Pete. C’mon!”
“Guys! Guys—What’s going on?” Phil was panicked. He stumbled behind the sheriff as he dragged him out of the saloon and to the jail. Drake and Smitty hurried after him.
“For the last time, my name is NOT Pete! It’s Phil!”
“Tell it to the judge, Pete,” the sheriff growled.
“I’M NOT PETE!!” Phil insisted. He sat on the worn springs of the bed inside the cell. He picked at the moth eaten blanket, frustrated. “My friends’ll get me outta here! How much is my bail?”
The sheriff only laughed. “Bail? You have GOT to be kiddin’ me. You’re wanted in seven states, Pete—You think you’re gonna get out on a little bit of bail? Hah!”
“Just who is this ‘Pete’ person when he’s at home?” Phil snarled under his breath. He sure wished there was a way out of that cell. He couldn’t even find an old spoon to start digging with.
Drake and Smitty ran across the street, desperately trying to find Paul and Mark. Phil was in unbelievable trouble and he needed help.
“You go that way and I’ll go that way, okay?” Drake ordered. He pointed at opposite sides of the strip. Smitty nodded, comprehending and took off. Drake ran the other way.
Drake hadn’t gotten far when he spotted a “wanted” poster outside the hotel. He looked at it, puzzled. Something was familiar about the picture…
Smitty ran down the street, excusing himself as he ran past the pedestrians and even some of the horses. His eyes wandered away from his path momentarily and he crashed into someone else. He tumbled backwards, falling into the mud around a water trough.
“Sorry there, lil’ feller,” someone said. “I don’t reckon I saw you comin’ this a’way.”
Smitty was disoriented, looking up at a double view of the clouds overhead. He felt someone grab his hands and pull him up. When his vision cleared, he looked puzzled at the stranger who helped him up.
“You’d better watch which way yer goin’ there so you don’t git yerself clobbered,” the man said.
Smitty knew that face, although the mustache and the accent didn’t suit him one bit. “Phil?”
“Phil? Naw son, the name’s Pete,” the look-alike introduced himself. “Kinda keep it down, would ya? I’m wanted in these parts.”
“He’s got the wrong guy,” Smitty stammered absently. “You! You’re the one that he wanted!”
“I said keep it down!” Pete snarled. “You keep it down or you’ll be wishin’ you had!” He drew his gun and directed it at Smitty’s nose.
Smitty fell over again, trying to get away. He scurried to his feet and back up the street towards Drake. “Drake! DRAKE!”
Pete rolled his eyes, exasperated. “Looks like I’m gonna hafta take care of another big mouth…” He mounted his horse and followed the little man.
Drake had snatched down the wanted poster and was still searching for Paul or Mark. He found Paul, hiding out at the livery stable. He ran to him as fast as he could. “Paul—We’ve got trouble!”
“We got trouble of our own,” Paul whispered. “There’s this nut with a gun who’s out to get us!”
“Nut with a gun?”
“Where’s that Injun?” a bearded man called as he walked past the stable. He was carrying a shotgun with the intent of using it on anyone who remotely resembled an Indian.
“What’s he talking about?” Drake asked.
Paul pointed to an empty horse stall with a pile of hay in it. A pair of tanned hands poked through it, followed by the dark hair of a one Mark Lindsay. “Is he gone?” he asked quietly.
“I think he might be heading on in a few, if we’re lucky,” Paul replied, keeping an eye on the armed gunsmith. “What’s your trouble, Levin?” He looked around. “What’d you do with my drummer and my bass player?”
“That’s the problem—Smitty’s looking for you cos Phil’s in trouble. Some guy in the saloon thought he was someone else. Next thing we know, there’s a fight and the sheriff shows up and throws Phil in jail!”
“I can’t leave you three alone for a minute, can I?”
“The sheriff thought Phil was someone else—Take a look at this.” Drake showed Paul the wanted poster.
Paul read aloud: “ ’Wanted in seven states for robbery, murder, horse stealing, chicken poaching and coyote molesting… Pete Mitchell, also known as Sneaky Pete, Snake-Eyes, and Snookums…’ Snookums? ‘Reward $10,000…’ ” He looked at Drake in a panic. “This guy looks just like Fang—‘cept with a lousy mustache.”
“Lemme see,” Mark said as he crept from his hiding spot to the other two Raiders. He crawled on his stomach. “Holy cow—It DOES look like Phil!”
“We’ve gotta break him outta there or something,” Drake insisted. “If they think he’s this Pete person, that means…”
“Yessir, you’ll hang high early tomorrow morning,” the sheriff boasted. He smiled at Phil, who saw no humor in the situation whatsoever. “It’s about time somebody caught you, you snake.”
“Look, my name is NOT Pete. It’s Phil Volk—I’m a musician! I play in a band! Not with coyotes and chickens and guns and….and stuff!”
“You just keep sayin’ that.” The sheriff took a long sip of his coffee. “I’m sure somebody will believe you…” He let out a nasty laugh.
“You just wait till my friends get here!”
“That’s not too likely, Pete ol’ boy—You don’t have any friends when yer in jail!” The sheriff tipped his chair back and propped his feet on the desk. He slid his hat over his eyes, preparing to take his afternoon nap.
Phil sighed heavily. What was he to do? He took his spurs from his boots and began trying to pick the lock with them, but the spines on them weren’t near long enough. He tried sawing at the bars with them, but only ended up wearing them down to rounded nubs. “Great,” he said disheartened. “Those will work for Smitty so he won’t get hung in the sidewalk anymore.” He tossed them on the floor. He sat on the bed again, leaning against the wall.
“I’m breaking rocks in the hot sun… I fought the law and the law won….”
“Hey—No singin’ in there! I’m tryin’ to rest!”
Phil rolled his eyes. The sheriff was intolerable and very pompous.
Only a little while later, Phil felt something hit him on the head. He looked up, seeing nothing but the wall behind him, the barred window just above his head. He turned back around to resume his moping when he was pelted on the head again. Someone was throwing rocks at him through the bars.
Phil steadied himself on the bed and stood, stretching to look between the bars. His face lit up the minute he saw who it was. “Smitty!”
“Sshhh!!” the little drummer insisted. “I’m gonna break you outta there!”
“Here—Catch!” Smitty threw a rope towards the window. Phil grabbed onto it, pulling it through the bars. “Tie it around the bars.”
“You can’t expect to pull the bars out of this thing,” Phil said. “They’re cemented in here solid!”
“There’s always a loose one, isn’t there?”
“Hang on, lemme see…” Phil twisted at the bars and discovered the last one on the right was slightly loose. “Okay, there’s one.” He tied the rope around it securely, then gave Smitty a thumbs-up.
Smitty tied the other end of the rope to the saddle of a horse he had lead behind the jail. He made sure it was tied tightly, then climbed onto the steed. He struggled to get his legs to go over the horse the first time—There was a lot more horse than there was of Mike Smith’s legs. He finally mounted the horse and gave it a hard kick on both sides to make it run.
The rope on the bars pulled tight; the single bar began to loosen, taking some of the stone with it. Phil kept his fingers crossed.
When the horse had reached the end of the rope, which took all of thirty seconds, it galloped right out of its saddle, sending Smitty crashing to the ground. He wailed in pain, huddled in a ball in the dirt.
“Smitty! Smitty, are you alright?” Phil called, concerned.
“NO!” came the squeaky reply. He went cross-eyed and hoped the blood would clear out of his head soon; he was ready to black out. “Terry will be glad to hear I can reach those high notes now! GAAAAAAH….” He writhed around on the ground, oblivious to anything else around him.
KA-CHINK KA-CHINK KA-CHINK
“Well, if it ain’t the little man!”
Smitty cracked open his eyes, finding himself staring at a pair of dirty black cowboy boots, complete with jangling spurs. His eyes edged up, sighting black pants, a black shirt, a black hat…and Phil’s face.
“Since you seem to like spreadin’ news, I figured I’d come and help you learn to keep yer mouth shut,” Pete hissed.
“Hey, you lay off him!” Phil called from the prison window.
Pete’s attention focused on the prisoner. “And who says I oughta leave him ‘lone? You ain’t gotta lotta room fer talkin’ since yer in jail!” He edged over to the window, peering upward.
Phil finally got a good look at this “Pete” person—He could have passed for his twin easily. No wonder there had been so much confusion. If he could get out of that stupid cell, maybe he could set things right.
Since the stone around the last window bar was a little loose, Phil stretched his leg up as far as he could and kicked at it determinedly. It was difficult, but a few stone chips began flying from the wall.
Pete was mesmerized by the prisoner. “Momma didn’t tell me I had a twin brother!” he cackled. “You ain’t Polecat Mitchell, are ya, boy?”
“Would it make any difference if I was?” Phil asked between kicks. He held onto the bars to keep his balance.
“I dunno…..” Pete stole a glance at Smitty, who was just beginning to get his bearings back. “Might save yer lil’ ol’ friend there.”
“If you so much as harm a hair on his head—“
“It’s not my hair I’m worried about, Phil—It’s the REST of me!” Smitty interrupted. He was soon looking down the end of a gun barrel again. “Colt 45—Silver finish—Very lovely—What are the notches for?”
“You don’t REALLY wanna know, pipsqueak,” Pete growled lowly.
Phil gave the stone one last hard kick, putting every ounce of energy he had left into it. Finally, the bar fell out and there was more room at the window. He held his breath and hoisted himself through the opening, hoping he didn’t get stuck. It was difficult, but he managed to squeeze through. He slid out upside-down, landing recklessly in the dirt behind the jail.
Pete quickly turned around, aiming his gun at Phil. Phil slowly stood. The two men circled each other cautiously.
“It’s gonna feel mighty strange to shoot my own reflection,” Pete sneered. His eyes closed into sinister slits. “How ‘bout it, Polecat?”
Phil wrinkled his nose, his brow furrowed. “You’re on, cowboy.”
Phil grabbed his gun and pulled the trigger. A little red flag with the word “BANG!” on it popped out of the barrel. “Oh crap! Stupid prop people!”
Pete was so taken aback, he began laughing. “That is the most PATHETIC thing I think I’ve ever seen!” It was so amusing to him, he was howling. He made the mistake of letting his guard down.
A bullet zinged past the villain’s hand, grazing his knuckles and knocking his own gun from his hands. As the bullet continued on its path, it just barely missed Phil’s ear. While Pete was cringing over his hand, Phil noticed Smitty holding a six-shooter. As before, the kick from the gun was so great, he was knocked to the ground.
“Nice aim,” Phil said. “I thought I unloaded that thing.”
Smitty grinned widely. “I swapped with Drake.”
Phil rolled his eyes, but was relieved. He reached for Pete’s gun as it lay on the ground, but his reflexes weren’t fast enough. Pete retrieved it and aimed it straight for Smitty again.
“YOU!” Pete screamed. “I have had ENOUGH of you!”
“This guy doesn’t quit,” Phil complained. He couldn’t do much without a working gun, so he kicked the guy in the pants.
“Oh, mule biscuits,” Pete muttered. He was getting fed up with those two. He turned to aim at Phil and Phil ducked, crawling between his legs.
When Pete turned back around, he was staring down a gun barrel. “Don’t even blink,” Smitty snarled. He held his gun with both hands; he shook unsteadily.
“And just what if I do?”
Smitty pulled the trigger, unveiling the red “BANG!” flag from Phil’s prop gun. It poked Pete right in the eye. While the villain was once again disabled, the two Raiders began running for safety.
“This takes talking to yourself to new extremes,” Phil puffed as he ran.
“Don’t get me wrong, man—I like you, but I’m glad there’s only one of you,” Smitty commented.
Phil took a quick peek behind him; Sneaky Pete was catching up fast, especially since he had the advantage of having a horse. As he looked ahead once more, he heard hooves beside him. Startled, he looked up at the rider. “Drake?!?”
“C’mon—Gimme your hand!” Drake made a grab for Phil’s arm and hoisted him right behind him onto the saddle. He kicked his heels into the animal’s sides and took off in a cloud of dust.
“What about ME?!?” Smitty called after them. He was tiring fast. “Fine! Just forget me! Forget about the drummer! I hope you know you can’t keep time without me, right? RIGHT?”
“Shut up and hold on!” Paul bellowed as he snatched Smitty by the belt. Smitty struggled to climb onto the back of the saddle. He wasn’t too keen on being bounced beside a horse like he was a sack of dirty laundry.
Paul nodded to an angry mule ahead of them. The rider was easily recognizable by his ponytail that was flapping with every buck and kick the mule made. “It was the only thing they had left. We drew straws.”
The Raiders thundered down the main strip, back to where they had initially “landed” by mistake. Smitty had been right—There was indeed a “time portal” in the very same place. The flimsy door to the “time machine” was flapping open in the breeze.
Paul snapped the horse’s reigns, making it gallop faster. He was alongside Drake and Phil in no time flat. “You see it?”
“Yeah, I see it!”
“Think we can make it?” Phil asked.
“If we hurry,” Paul replied. He pulled back on the horse’s reigns, slowing it down.
“I can’t remember how to slow down!” Drake looked to Phil. “My mind’s gone blank!”
“WHOA!” Phil snatched the reigns and pulled back as hard as he could, making the horse screech to a halt.
“Everybody in—NOW!” Paul ordered. He looked back towards town; Mark had not caught up yet. “Curse that jackass… That’s the last time I take a mule for an escape!”
“Hold the door!” Mark was charging forth on the angry mule, bounced and tossed almost like a rag doll. “Wait for me!”
The mule threw him a few yards short of the door. He quickly got up and ran as fast as he could, leaping into the doorway.
“My aching butt,” he whimpered.
Paul took a final headcount: Four Raiders plus himself was five and that was the whole group. As he closed the door, he saw Sneaky Pete and the sheriff, along with a number of angry townspeople making a run at them.
“Lemme at that Injun!”
“Close the door NOW, Paul!” Mark pleaded.
Paul slammed the door and fastened the latch. They all crossed their fingers for luck, praying they returned home safe.
“You wanna open the door yet?” Phil whispered.
“I’m afraid to,” Mark answered quietly. “What if that trigger happy guy is still out there? It’ll be my neck!”
“We can’t stay in here all day,” Drake pointed out. He sniffed the air. “Besides…You guys stink.”
“You’re not such a rose garden yourself, Levin,” Phil retorted.
“Would you guys pipe it? I’m trying to listen!” Paul had his ear plastered to the door. Everyone held their breath for what seemed like an eternity. “I don’t hear anything… Here goes nothing.”
He unfastened the latch and the door swung open, spilling the Raiders out of the flimsy prop and onto familiar California beach sand. Long blue coattails and tri-corn hats tumbled out with them. It was a welcome sight.
“What happened?” Kip asked as he approached them. “You guys forget your cue?”
“Kip, you’re not gonna believe this, but that thing—“
“Tell him the truth, Phil,” Smitty interjected. He winked.
“The latch got stuck and we couldn’t get out.”
“Hmmm…” Kip played with the latch a moment, noting it was a bit on the stiff side and didn’t move correctly. “I’ll get the prop guys right on it. In the meantime, you fellas go change for the next scene we’re doing today.”
“What scene is that?” Paul asked.
Kip sighed, exasperated. “The cowboy scene—Don’t you ever read the script?” He walked back to the camera crew. “Alright, everybody—Take five! Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!”
In total disbelief, the Raiders stood there on the beach.
“I am never watching Gunsmoke again,” Mark grumbled.