Saturday, October 3, 2009

47. Silver


Dark Secrets of the Western Heroes

Here's something they didn't tell you on TV: The Lone Ranger was desperately afraid of werewolves. That was his darkest secret. That was the reason behind his silver bullets. Sitting by a campfire out on the prairie, the sound of coyotes howling would make him turn pale behind his mask.

"Werewolves no big deal, kemo sabe," Tonto would say in his endearing pidgin. "They creatures of nature, like you and me. What the hey?"

But the masked gringo wasn't listening. In Abilene, after stopping a range war, he went to see a Freudian psychologist. "Your fear of werewolves is obviously a projection. Most likely the result of some traumatic experience as a child."

"Such as?"

"Well …" The Freudian psychologist shrugged. "Were your parents by any chance killed by werewolves?"

In Laredo, after preventing the massacre of an Indian tribe, he went to see a Jungian psychologist. "The werewolf is your Shadow, your dark Other," he said. "It represents everything you're afraid to face."

"So you're saying I have nothing to fear from werewolves, then?"

The Jungian psychologist gawked. "Are you crazy? Werewolves are dangerous—stay away from those suckers!"

Near the border, after freeing a village of Mexicans forcibly enslaved by a greedy landowner, he went to see a Shoshone shaman. "The werewolf is a spirit animal," the shaman said. "It brings enlightenment. You must not fear it."

"I feel a lot better. How can I ever repay you?"

"How about some of those silver bullets? There's been something prowling about here these last few nights, and regular bullets won't stop it."

That night, back out on the prairie, Tonto snuck out behind the Lone Ranger's tent, put hands to mouth, and let out a soul-chilling howl.

Cursing, the Lone Ranger fired shot after shot through the canvas of his tent.

Stooped over to avoid the bullets, Tonto ran off, giggling, into the night.

Here's something else they never told you on TV: Tonto wasn't the stuffed shirt he was portrayed to be. He was also an inveterate practical joker.

© 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM.

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