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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

man in black meets man in black

[offscreen, the bartender says: You’re the Dread Pirate Roberts — admit it.]

Westley: With pride. A round for my fellow man-in-black here.

Johnny Cash: Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.

Westley [whispers]: I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts, but no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.

[the bartender brings two shotglasses and a bottle]

Johnny Cash [toasting]: I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Westley: Do you always begin conversations this way?
Johnny Cash: My daddy left home when I was three, and he didn’t leave much to Ma and me, just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze. Now, I don’t blame him cause he run and hid, but the meanest thing that he ever did was before he left, he went and named me “Sue.”

Westley: You admit to me that you hide your true identity?

Johnny Cash: I made a vow to the moon and stars that I’d search the honky-tonks and bars and kill that man who gave me that awful name.

Westley: You’ve done nothing but study fighting?

Johnny Cash: I was a highwayman. Along the coach roads I did ride with sword and pistol by my side. Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade. Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade. The bastards hung me in the spring of ’25. But I am still alive.

Westley: Have you ever considered piracy? You’d make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts.

Johnny Cash: I was a sailor. I was born upon the tide and with the sea I did abide. I sailed a schooner round the Horn to Mexico. I went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow. And when the yards broke off they said that I got killed. But I am living still.

Westley: I myself am often surprised at life’s little quirks. I was tormented as a farm boy by true love.

Johnny Cash [snorts in recognition]: I lie awake at night and wait till she comes in. She stays a little while and then she’s gone again. Every question that I ask, I get a lie, lie, lie.

Westley: Where I come from, there are penalties when a woman lies.

Johnny Cash: I wonder if she’s sorry for leavin’ what we’d begun. There’s someone for me somewhere, and I still miss someone.

Westley [nods in agreement]: True love saved my Buttercup in the Fire Swamp, and she treated it like garbage.

Johnny Cash [cries into his drink]: Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring. Bound by wild desire, I fell in to a ring of fire.

Westley: It’s not that bad. I’m not saying I’d like to build a summer home there, but the trees are actually quite lovely.

Johnny Cash: I keep a close watch on this heart of mine. I keep my eyes wide open all the time.

Westley: Singed a bit, were you?

Johnny Cash: I told her, “When your fickle little love gets old, no one will care for you. You’ll come back to me for a little love that’s true. I’ll tell you no and you gonna ask me why, why, why? When I remind you of all of this, you’ll cry, cry, cry.”

Westley: Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

[the door bangs open, and Agent Kay and Agent Jay — Men in Black — enter]

Agent Kay: Johnny?! When did they let you out of jail?

Johnny Cash: Far from Folsom prison, that’s where I want to stay.

Agent Jay [to Westley]: You know who this guy is?

Westley: I assumed he was no one to be trifled with…

Johnny Cash [to Westley]: I fly a starship across the Universe divide. And when I reach the other side, I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can. Perhaps I may become a highwayman again.

Agent Kay [to Johnny Cash]: You sold a carbonizer with implosion capacity to an unlicensed cephlapoid.

Johnny Cash: I always told Billy Joe, “Don’t take your guns to town, son.” [sighs]

Agent Kay: I want you on the next transport off this rock.

Johnny Cash: Well, I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free.

Westley [to Kay and Jay]: Who are you? Are we enemies?

Agent Kay: I’m just a figment of your imagination.

[Jay grabs Westley and holds him wriggling before Kay]

Westley [to the agents]: I’ll beat you both apart! I’ll take you both together!

[Johnny Cash just watches placidly, shaking his head at the unjust roughing-up of Westley]

Johnny Cash: You wonder why I always dress in black? Well, there’s things that never will be right, I know, and things need changin’ everywhere you go. But till we start to make a move to make a few things right, you’ll never see me wear a suit of white.

Agent Kay [to Westley]: Ever see one of these?

Westley: It’s possible. I see a lot of things.

Agent Kay: This is called a “neuralyzer.” A gift from some friends from out of town. The red eye here isolates and measures the electronic impulses in your brain. More specifically, the ones for memory.


[Westley stares blankly into space while Kay and Jay hustle Johnny Cash out the door, then slowly comes to]

Westley: I feel like I’ve been mostly dead all day…

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