I seldom watch TV at sea for reasons I cannot understand. I might watch an occasional movie or something on an otherwise boring evening every once in a blue moon, but I generally don't.
Last night was a bit different as I am sailing with a certain shipmate. He's a real character and probably one of the oldest guys out here. The guy sure loves his Westerns and it's funny as all git-go to watch him watch a Western.
Now when I say Western here, we're not talking about something modern like the recent remake of "3:10 to Yuma" or "Unforgiven". This guy just love the old Grade B Westerns out of the 40s and 50s.
We're talking about real 'Head 'em off at the pass" oaters here with chases on horseback and plenty of shoot 'em up revolver play. Yes, they are hokey as all hell, but not to him and that is what matters.
So the guy comes stumbling out of the rack and being evening there really isn't a whole lot to do so he grabbed his coffee and sat down. I had the remote and had the tube tuned into something I just knew he wasn't interested in and he glanced up with a bored look.
I looked at the clock and knew it was time, having planned my moves out earlier.
"What do you want to watch?" I asked.
Being courteous, he told me he didn't care, so as I had planned I clicked the remote and brought up the Western Encore channel and an old Gene Autry type movie or some old horse opera. He looked up with some interest and I sat back to watch the masterpiece of entertainment I had created unfold.
I didn't really want to watch the old movie. Truth is, I wanted to watch him watch the old movie.
The movie was part of the fare of the fifties or maybe even the forties consisting of the usual ingredients of those old movies. The heroine had an old father and the greedy old banker, in cahoots with a gang of outlaws, was trying to steal his ranch to sell it to the railroad.
His interest here was mild to begin with and I knew he had seen this old oater several times before, which was OK as he never seems to bore of these movies. I knew his interest would perk up once the action got started.
First there was the arguement where the old rancher told the banker he wasn't moving out or selling out, complete with the lecture of pure old western gibberish about having built the ranch and fought Indians to keep it and so on.
Next the heroine gets all afraid and warns her dad that those men mean business and that the banker is in cahoots with the outlaw gang. She goes over to the saloon and talks to the hero that promises to help them out and the usual scenario takes place. My shipmate, with anticipation looks up as the first fistfight of the movie takes place and he puts up his dukes to help the hero out.
Of course, the hero wins and the losing outlaw makes dire threats and my shipmate puts his dukes down because his assistance wasn't needed. The hero thumped the bad guy soundly.
I have been watching this out of the corner of my eye and find myself greatly amused, but the best is soon to come.
The first chase of the movie is about to begin and my shipmate is ready. He's sitting there and his left hand balls up like he's holding the reins of Old Paint and they are sitting between his thighs ready to ride after the gang soon to be chased.
The chase scene begins and he takes the imaginary reins and his whole body starts to move the way it would if he were riding a horse. His hand comes off of his thighs and he starts riding his imaginary horse. Then he starts a galloping as the chase picks up speed. His right hand comes up and his index finger becomes a Colt .45 as the posse members draw their revolvers and fire. The chase is on!
As the chase continues, the man is no longer on board the vessel. Although his body is sitting there on the gallley settee, the rest of his entire being has moved to the Silver Screen where he is now a part of the posse chasing the outlaws.
Three outlaws are now being chased by a posse of six movie riders on the big screen and one old merchant mariner sitting next to me in the galley. I have to surpress a smirk and turn away and type something on the computer because if he sees me watching him he will get embarrassed and this entertainment I am getting for free will go away.
I hear his voice start to growl as he ride with the posse.
"Git 'em...git 'em," he growls in his old gravely voice.
He fires a shot with his index finger. A miss. He fires another shot. Another miss. I watch him carefully take aim for his third shot and his timing and aim is true. A nanosecond after the old tar fires his imaginary index finger shot, one of the bad guys on the screen falls of of his horse. In a voice reminiscent of Yosemite Sam he croaks,"Got him!" .
I look up. There is a deckhand looking at me and it is obvious that he knows what is going on. I look at him and flick my eyes torards the chair next to me and he sits down. He give me a grateful look and I return it with a grin.
Although the deckhand was doing something constructive, I know it can wait. Nobody will go out on deck and steal the mans work and the work will not run away. It will still be there when he gets back to it, but the opportunity to watch this old salt watch a Western won't. It is a precious fleeting moment and can not be re-lived and I won't cheat the deckhand out of such an opportunity as this.
The kid sits down and almost immediately I know I made the right decision to let the kid take a break. The kid repositions his chair to get a better view of the old salt in such a way that he can look like he's watching the movie while getting a good look at the old sailor from a reflection off the portlight. It's dark and the portlights reflect images like a mirror. The kid is sharp enough to know this.
The posse stops, they round up the body of the dead outlaw and tie it to his horse and head back into town. The old sailor holsters his right index finger and his left hand drops to between his thighs as he rides Old Paint slowly back to town.
The movie goes on and to he honest I can't tell you one damned thing about it because even though I was facing the screen, I was preoccupied with the entertainment I have just enjoyed and I was anticipating more of it.
Sure enough, another chase comes up. This time the hero is going mano a mano with the outlaw band leader.
The old coot is riding his imaginary horse hard now, he's a gallopping away. His index finger pistol is drawn and again he fires. The outlaw shoot back and the old sailor ducks. Then he returns more fire.
The kid hat joined us is having a hell of a time keeping a straight face now, and gets up and leaves the room to keep from laughing for a few minutes but returns and takes his seat to watch a little more of the old salt watching the Western. The kid was smart enough to know that if he started laughing the old timer would be embarrassed and the spectacle before our eyes would disappear.
The kid returns just in time for the bad guys horse to trip and fall, throwing the bad guy into the dust. The bad guy draws on the hero, but our old salt is quick with his index finger and shoots the gun out of the bad guys hand. Quickly the old tar holsters his index finger and as the hero hops off his horse for the fistfight scene, the old salt puts up his dukes, ready to pitch right in.
The hero and our shipmate win, and they head back to town so the bad guy can get turned over to the sheriff and our guy joins the hero as the banker gets called into the street for a genuine old-school High Noon shootout.
The cowardly banker slips out the back way and sneaks around to shoot the hero in the back, but at the last minute my old shipmate beats him by drawing his Colt .45/index finger and getting an imaginary shot off to save the day.
Of course, the heroine gets credit for it as right after the shot is fired, the camera pans onto her holding a smoking Winchester, but we all know the truth. It was my shipmate with his .45 caliber index finger that saved the day.
The movie goes into the credits, the kid gives me a very grateful amused look and goes back to whatever it was that he was doing. I turn to the computer at the desk and start writing this little piece.
The old man is pretty damned close to retirement now, and I have to admit that when he does pull the plug and swallows the hook the business out here will grow noticably smaller. Who will replace him to fight the forces of evil n the Silver Screen?
my other blog is: http://officerpiccolo.blogspot.com/ http://piccolosbutler.blogspot.com/