Title: Taming the West
Disclaimer: Back to the Future III belongs to Robert Zemeckis et al., The Buffy’verse belongs to Joss Whedon et al.
Summary: Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen and his gang tried to settle in another California boom town before settling in Hill Valley.
The sun shone brightly on the parched clapboard buildings that made up Sunnydale’s main street. Horses were hitched along various posts while their riders did business with the merchants inside. At the end of the main street was the old Spanish mission. Unlike most boom towns in the young state of California, Sunnydale boasted a large church going populace, keeping the Spanish monks busy. That’s not to say Sunnydale didn’t have its fair host of sinners; the gamblers, fighters, and drinkers just had a stronger notion that the great reckoning would come sooner rather than later, justifying the trip to the mission every Sunday morning.
On this idyllic Sunday afternoon, there was a small crowd gathered at Wilbert’s Saloon for the monthly kitten poker tournament. “Now boys, I want a fair tournament. If I catch any of you cheating, well, actually, I won’t do a thing about it, but I’m sure the others at your table will have a few choice words to say.” The young Mayor Wilkins smiled at the room of intimidating figures. “Also, I’d appreciate it if you kept your swearing to a minimum. Remember, we’ve got women and children in this town, even if none of them are in this room. Now, if you can all take your seats, we’ll begin.”
The assorted men, demons, and vampires found their tables easily and the dealers dealt out the first hand. The mayor watched the games get under way then moseyed over to the bar. “Now that’s what I like to see.” He smiled, surveying the crowd.
“What’s that, Mayor?” Wilbert asked, pulling out a clean glass and setting it down on the bar.
“Just look at everyone playing together so nicely- black, white, brown, purple- it doesn’t matter. That’s what I love about Sunnydale. Sure, this may be the wild West, but that just means we’re free from the social prejudices back East. You know what would make this even better? Fresh milk. I don’t suppose you have any?”
“Sure thing, Mayor.” The barkeep agreed to anything the young mayor would ask for. Sure, it was a pain to keep a jug of milk in the root cellar, especially considering how fast it went sour around here, but it meant a happy mayor, and a happy mayor was a happy Sunnydale. “If you could watch the bar for a minute, I’ll get it out of the cellar.”
The Mayor waved at one of the tournament spectators as he took his place behind the bar and began wiping it down. “Hey, Danny!”
“Howdy, Mayor.” The demon tipped his hat at the human. While most humans smelled just slightly off, he couldn’t help but like the young man who had ridden into town just three years before being elected into office.
“I don’t suppose you’d be up for tickling the ivories a bit?”
“Well, I don’t know…” The demon looked at his posse, but they seemed more focused on how their fellow Kelprath was doing at table three.
“Oh come on, it would be the perfect thing to lighten the mood a bit.” The Mayor smiled. “If anyone gives you a hard time, I’ll take care of it.”
“Well, alright.” The demon took a seat at the old stand-up in the corner. After a few false starts, he settled on a key and began to play an old song his mother used to sing.
Richard Wilkins recognized the song immediately, and began to sing along. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray… come on, everyone sing.” He cheered.
Those weren’t quite the words the Kelprath clan was used to, but it was close enough. “You never know just how much I love you; please don’t take my sunshine away!”
Danny was about to break into the second verse, when the outer doors swung open. The cowpoke seemed a bit surprised to see another set of swinging doors to help block out light for the more temporally challenged, but soon swaggered through the second set of doors as well. “What’s this I hear about a poker tournament?” The man bellowed, as several of his men followed him in.
The mayor stepped around the bar to face the men down. “You heard right, it’s the monthly poker tournament. Are you staying to watch?”
“Me and my boys are gonna be dealt in now!” The man ordered.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible.” The mayor said. “We’ve already got the round robin set up. You can register for next month’s tournament, but it’s too late to get in on today’s game.”
“I got me my ante, I’m gonna play.” The cowboy pulled out a wad off bills from his vest.
“I’m sorry, but no.” The mayor stood his ground with a smile on his face.
“Do you know who I am? I’m Mad Dog Tannen!” The man roared, and several of his men cheered at the name.
“I’m Mayor Richard Wilkins. It’s a pleasure to meet you Mad Dog, but I still can’t let you play. Even if we could deal you in to the round, which we can’t, you don’t even have the correct ante.”
“My money’s good anywhere.” Mad Dog punctuated his statement by spitting on the floor.
“Perhaps that will get you into the games at Hill Valley,” several men in the saloon scoffed at their rival town. “But, here in Sunnydale, we don’t tempt the good lord by gambling money, for that is the way to sin.”
“I ain’t heard of no poker tournament that don’t take money.” One of Mad Dog’s men spoke up.
“Oh I assure you, this is a legitimate tournament. We just prefer to ante kittens.” It was only at that point that Mad Dog’s gang began to look around at the dimmed saloon, lit only by a few hurricane lanterns on the walls.
“Well, I never...” The man who had spoken up muttered as his eyes fell on the kennel of kittens being guarded by two cowboys that appeared to have horns sticking out of their hats.
“Ain’t nobody tells Mad Dog where I can and cannot bet!” Mad Dog insisted. “If you let them negroes play; you damn well better let me play, or else.” Mad Dog pulled out his pistol and began waving it at the ceiling.
Mayor Wilkins looked back at table four where several black vampires and even blacker Flipik demons were glaring at the newcomers with hate. “Now son, I don’t like that attitude you’re taking with me. Sunnydale is a clean town, and we don’t put up with that vulgar language!” The piano player couldn’t help but get a little green around his gills. Nobody liked it when the mayor got riled up.
“I’ll say whatever the hell I wanna say.” Mad Dog growled. “And you can’t stop me.”
“Maybe I can’t,” the mayor allowed. “After all, it wouldn’t do for me to set an example of violence in town. However, in your case, I might just turn a blind eye if some one else would take offence at your words.”
That was all it took for table four to leave their posts. Within a minute, Mad Dog and his gang were on the floor, bitten, drained, and bruised. “What do you want us to do with them, Mayor?” One of the Flipik demons asked.
“Well, it strikes me like this gang is more fit for a town like Hill Valley.” The saloon cheered at that pronouncement. “Could I get a few volunteers to drop them off?”
“Of course, Mayor.” The Kelprath group volunteered for the outing, knowing their friend would make it until the third round at least, having a natural affinity for counting cards.
“Excellent.” The Kelprath were just about take off when the Mayor called a halt. “Now, is that any way for them to be leaving us?” The Mayor picked the red bandana off Mad Dog and wiped the tobacco juice off the floor before stuffing the bandana back in the cowboy’s pocket. “There, much better.”
That seemed to be the cue everyone was waiting for; the dealers went back to tending their tables, and Danny went back to picking out tunes. Just then, Wilbert came back from his cellar. “Did I miss anything?” He asked, stepping back behind his bar.
“Nothing I couldn’t handle.” The mayor smiled as he took his seat.
“Great. Here’s your milk, sir.”
Richard Wilkins took a deep gulp and smiled. Yes, life in Sunnydale was good.