Old Paria

Rex's USA Diary

Dusty Background

It was hot out there.The road seemed to go on for miles and the distant hills wobbled and shimmered in the heat.

Through the hills and along thevalley

Couldn't tell if my eyes were packing up or if I was coming down with some bug. Darn hot! And talk about dusty!

Pink and white painted hills

I had turned off the main road back there a bit and pointed the 'cross-country all-terrain wagon' (rental car) up this side road as it looked like a good short-cut. To where, I had yet to find out!

Yellow wildflowers

'Might be on the back side of the moon' I thought. But no, there was a crappy old sign pointing off this cart track into a gulch. 'Old Paria' it said. ''Damn' I thought. I'm dreaming and landed in the middle of an old film set. Wonder what the barmaid is like?'

Finding Old Paria

''Woah! Where had that thought come from?' I wondered as I steered the car around an old tumbleweed and the big rock it was lying against. The wheels spun in the sand a bit but I got the wagon back on the track and around the rock. That was when I saw the saloon. So now I knew I was dreaming and that anything might happen.

Old Paria

I stopped the car, stuck my hat on, strapped on the guns, found the guns were just a figment of my imagination and had vanished - but I was lucky - my hat was real and was keeping my head warm. Too warm! I needed a drink of water. ''No way', I thought. You won't catch me that way'. You know - 'A stranger walks into a bar and ask for a glass of water ...' You never know how that might end - even in a dream. It was then I spotted the dog!

The Red Rock Saloon

There it was! A pretty run-down looking dog that was limping - looked like it was missing a foot. It was making a bee-line for the saloon, so I put a wee spurt on, got up beside a wall and put my ear to a crack to listen as the dog went inside under the batwing doors. It was quiet in there - darned quiet. But then I heard this rough, growly voice that made the hairs on my neck stand up. It was the dog and he was pissed off!

'Bartender,' he growled in a menacing way, 'I'm looking for the miserable sidewinder that shot my paw!'


Well I was flabergasted, as you might expect, and quickly checked through my dreams to see if I had accidentally shot a dog, or any critter. The flapping of the batwing doors jerked my attention and I stuck my ear back to the crack.

I'm Sheriff Jake', a voice says, 'and I'm gonna need your attention!

Everyone in the bar (?) hushes up and I hear the Sheriff say 'I'm lookin' for a wanted man.'

He has their full attention, cause no one even murmers. 'Let me tell you what he looks like' he says. They are all ears, as is the person at the outside wall.

The sheriff continues. 'Well now, this dude has been seen wearing a brown paper shirt, brown paper pants, he also wears brown paper boots and has a brown paper hat. We're calling him the Brown Paper Cowboy.

There is a growl from the dog near the bar, but everybody is stunned. The dog breaks the silence. It was just a small fart, but it obviously prods the Sheriff to finish his message. 'And the varmint is wanted for rustling!'

The saloon from upstairs

'Bugger' I think to myself, 'I am about to wet my trousers!'. I take a quick detour round the back and save the life of a stunted little cactus.

I decide to slip into a building across the road so I can get a better view of the saloon door. I have just set myself up when I see the cowboy riding into town. 'No' I think, not a lone stranger!' But indeed it is and as a ghostly voice recites the plot in my ear I watch the events unfold.


''A cowboy rode into town and stopped at a saloon for a drink' comes the thought into my head. I look around but there is only me in this completely bare room.

'Unfortunately, the locals always had a habit of picking on strangers, such as him.

When he finishes his drink and exits, he finds his horse has been stolen. He turns back into the bar, handily flipped his gun into the air, catches it above his head without even looking and fires a shot into the ceiling. "Which one of you sidewinders stole my horse?!?!?" he yells with surprising forcefulness.  No one answers.

"Alright, I'm gonna have another beer, and if my horse ain't back outside by the time I finish, I'm gonna do what I dun in Texas! And I don't like to have to do what I dun in Texas!"

There is a shuffling sound as the man, true to his word, has another beer, then walks outside. He sees his horse has been returned to the post so he gets up in the saddle and starts to ride out of town.

'Hey!' a ghostly voice calls from the window, 'pardner, before you go... what happened in Texas?"

The cowboy turns his head and calls back, "I had to walk home."

The other saloon

The dog limps out under the batwing doors and thows up in the middle of the street. I sympathise with him, but take the time to scoot around the back of the building and look for a less smelly viewpoint. It takes me a few moments, but when I look out the window I am just in time to see an old Indian going into the saloon, and a bear sniffing at the dog vomit in the street. 'Oh my poor bladder!' I think', as the ghostly voice injects a new narrative into my brain.

The Saloon patrons are not expecting to see an old Indian in the bar and there is some murmuring, but when the bear follows him in, making the batwing doors flap hard, they freeze in fear! The saloon-keeper points to the Native American and whispers "There's a bear right behind you!"

The Native American man holds up a calm hand and says, "I can explain. Bear with me."

The batwing door view

I feel an urgent need to leave this town, but wonder about the source of the ghostly voice telling me narratives.

'Ah' comes the voice. 'I lost my job as the saloon piano player. I was playing well when a mysterious stranger walked in the door. And unfortunately I just kept playing!'

I get the feeling he hasn't had an audience for a long time, as the ghostly voice asks me if I know the difference between a saloon and one of God's farts? I turn for the front door and start running, but his punchline still rings in my head amid ghostly laughter - ''One is a bar room. The other is a BAAAROOOOOM!'


Bugger! I was so panic'd getting away from him that I tred in the dog sick and inadvertently stumble through the batwing doors into the bar. I feel the silence surround me like a damp cloak and turn to see ...

Two armed ladies

Glowing buttons in the air beside two figures. The ex-Piano Player says to choose a button - but to make sure you get the right one, because the outcome will be final!

I rapidly make my decision!!!

Outside I sprint back to my car, past the old graveyard ...

Old Paria graveyard

... ignoring the two suns glowing dimly in the dusty sky ...

Two suns and yelling at two dusty, hikers to stay away from the town.

Two strangers

I leap in the car and make the tyres squeal in the dust as I U-turn and zoom off, carefully avoiding the herd of crazy buffalo things that all face to the left.

Buffalo things that face left

With relief I see my dusty track meeting an old cracked, but paved road, and turn into it as though it was the road to sanity and normality.

There is just a faint sound of a ghostly chuckle  echoing in the back of my head!

About Old Paria