- You are the Kid!
- Was. Yeah, I was the Kid.
- Well, what happened?
- Well, it got so that every piss-ant prairie punk who thought he could shoot a gun... would ride into town to try out the Waco Kid. I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille. It got pretty gritty. I started to hear the word “draw” in my sleep. Then one day I was just walking down the street and I heard a voice behind me say, “Reach for it, mister!” I spun around. And there I was face to face... with a 6-year-old kid! Well, I just threw my guns down and walked away. [pause long enough that we think the monologue is over, then…] The little bastard shot me in the ass! So I limped to the nearest saloon, crawled inside a whiskey bottle... and I've been there ever since.
- Have a drink.
Obviously, in the tragic version, Waco would kill the kid, or at least traumatize him (the speech is, I believe, a parody of Gregory Peck’s in The Gunfighter), but Brooks knows how to push up to the edge of the tragedy and then flip it for a big laugh.
Journalism professors say that reporters should avoid dog-bites-man stories, no matter how dramatic they may seem, and instead seek out the man-bites-dog stories. In fiction you have your choice: you can wring the drama out of dog brutally biting a man (or a gunfighter shooting a kid), or you can create instant comedy by flipping it ...or both. The neat trick is that you can sometimes tap into the emotion of the serious version right up until you puncture that pathos at the last second.
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