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Posted 8 years 12 days ago ago by Francis Meyrick


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SHOOT-OUT at the OK CORRAL – Enter…  the Wild Ones 

The noise, first subdued, quickly becomes louder.

Heads turn in the direction. Pulses quicken. Eyes widen.

Horses whinnying, hooves drumming on bare earth, men hollering and whooping it up, Colt six guns being discharged in the air. Enter…  the Wild Ones. Riding in to town. The sense of rush and adrenaline.   The West being tamed. Or un-tamed. Nobody knows for sure.

The town folk, startled,  exchange glances.  They know what it means. The gun slingers are coming. There’s no denying the impact. Even the creaky honkytonk piano in the Old Saloon cannot compete against the rapidly approaching wind storm, and falls strangely and abruptly silent.  Mothers scoop up their children, and run for cover. Old men nervously finish their drinks. The bar tender quickly places a full whiskey bottle on the bar, double checks the cleanliness of the half dozen shot glasses, and then quickly retires to the far end of the long wooden bar.  He pretends to busy himself polishing glass ware, but he too is listening. And waiting.

The keen sense of imminence is heightened by dust flying past the windows.  The noise is deafening. It’s like an armada has descended on the sleepy town. Footsteps sound on the hollow wooden sidewalk outside. Heads turn to the swinging half doors. Everybody is watching. The bar man, pretending to have found a speck of dirt, is trying not to stare with the others. The old piano player, silently mouthing an inner conversation, is nervously stuffing tobacco in an old, cracked, ivory pipe. The card game in progress, high stakes Poker, is temporarily abandoned. There are only a very few occasions known to the players to warrant suspension thereof. But this, indubitably, is one of them.

Tongues lick lips. Throats go dry. Conversations stop. The ladies of the Saloon lean over the bannisters, craning to see.   Even the town mutts stay their barking, and back off, respectfully.  

The saloon half doors burst open. And there, in the dusty light, bathed by a respectful sun, stand the gun slingers. Their weapons of trade dangling by their sides, their intent expressions instantly taking in their surroundings. Unsmilingly, they march in, instantly taking charge. Nobody, but nobody, EVER demurs.

There’s a new Sheriff in town.   John Wayne ain’t worth shit here.  So get OFF your horse and drink your milk.  Get it?

And don’t you ever forget it, pard’ner…


The noise, first subdued, quickly becomes louder.

Heads turn in the direction. Pulses quicken. Eyes widen.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  I should know. I drove those boys. And gals. Oh, no, I was never a gun slinger. I’d have shot myself in the foot.  Or shot my mule by mistake.  You don’t want to trust me with anything sharp. No, I just drove them old horses, and pulled that tired old wagon, and rode along in the dust behind the team. I was the hired hand, paid to do a job, and I did it the best I could.  But you know, I was kinda proud of those dudes. I know there were times, hell, I hate to admit it, on account of my image and all that, but, if I was to be honest…

There were times I almost had a lump in my throat.

If you ever fly Emergency Medical Services, well, pard’ner, you’ve driven that tired old wagon.  And you’ve ridden into town, and you’ve messed with that there Poker Game.  Maybe blown the washing clean off the washing line.  And probably, like me, you’ve banked for a better view of the carnage on the road below. And you’ve listened to the gasps from your Medics. As toughened as they are, like a good knife hardened in the fire, they still have feelings.   You all survey the engines knocked clean out of big rig trucks, transmissions lying in the ditch, heavy duty pickup trucks rendered unrecognizable in mangled remnants. Fire crews attending not just to ominous smoke near gas tanks, or raging fires. But also to the many other hazards, electric cables down, noxious chemicals leaking, occupants trapped, screaming, in steel torture chambers.  And you’ve winced, quietly, at blood stained sheets, and inert figures being frantically attended to by overwhelmed ambulance crews. Sometimes, the repeated radio calls asking for an update of the helicopter’s arrival time, already prepares you. You already know it’s bad. You don’t need to be told the patients are critical. You can tell from the mess below.

And then, it’s your turn. As you gently, cautiously, respectfully, bring your old wagon in on short finals. Looking for wires, and cables, and trees. And dust, and an escape in case stuff goes bad. Down, down, those well worn wheels, until you touch down, ever so gently, in the middle of the road, just outside the saloon. The doors open, and the Med Crew, scissors taking the place of those old six shooters, make their grand entrance. They shoulder their packs, shake themselves, and head, resolutely, up that road.  Into the unknown. Sometimes,  into real danger. Just like the old gun fighters, with just as much raw courage, they wade in to a perilous scene. The danger of being ambushed by a host of unpleasant surprises is no different from the Old West.

And yet, the A Team, without a hesitation, stride forth. It makes you feel good. Just watching those men and gals, resolutely, put themselves in harm’s way. Like I said, as you cool your engine, as you watch them head up the road, it brings a lump to your throat. You can sense the relief of the ambulance crews. And the Volunteer Fire Fighters. Sometimes you can see it in their faces, and hear it on the radio.

“Thank God you guys are here…”

Horses whinnying, hooves drumming on bare earth, men hollering and whooping it up, Colt six guns being discharged in the air. Enter… the Wild Ones. The sense of rush and adrenaline.   The West being tamed. Or un-tamed. Nobody knows for sure.

Those Helicopter Medic guys and gals are the meanest, baddest, wildest things in the West.  Not many years ago, their job was –officially- the most dang dangerous job in town.  Yes, I’ve seen ‘em afterwards, drained, stressed, and exhausted. I’ve seen the emotion, and I’ve felt the intensity of pain at a child’s loss in the post de-brief group hug. I’ve sensed the hurt, and the frustration at the stupid things so-called parents do. I’ve heard the anger, suppressed, or not, at the inhumanity of man. But always, there was a learning. A striving to be better. An unstoppable force, moving forward.  Education never ending.

As I said, I’m just the old driver. I would be real dangerous with a six shooter. Or a syringe. Even a scissors. I’d stab myself first thing, I just know.  But I’m happy to tell you I’m proud of my humble role.

And I’m proud to be on that little team.

Take a bow, you guys and gals.

You are truly…  magnificent.




A Little About Moggy  - Francis ‘Moggy’ Meyrick (www.chopperstories.com) admits to not being terribly bright, but he did first grace the skies (more or less) totally on his own some forty-five years ago. He is rumored to have solemnly intoned these memorable words on the downwind leg.

“Holy Crap! NOW what have I done…?”

He is working dutifully on his eighty-sixth incarnation (he does, admittedly, get sent back a lot – for another try) , and he describes himself as a ‘chopper jockey’. He says it’s basically a case of a nut, hanging under a nut. (BIG nut, though).  Compared to trying to attain Wisdom (he was a Buddhist monk once) (before he got demoted to galley hand), he reckons it beats working for a living.  It ranks right up there with being a happy penguin, and spending all day sliding down icy slopes.

Moggy loves spinning a good yarn, and his greatest reward is simply your enjoyment. His many friends caution you he does tend to tell his bar stories with verve and gusto, and much arm waving, so you are advised to move your pints and other drinks safely out of his way. Peace. Got a pickle sandwich?