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Life Arts    H2'ed 1/2/16

Packing Pistols in Texas -- "The Tonto Open-Carry Tragedy"

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1942 | Wild West Weekly
1942 | Wild West Weekly
(Image by e r j k . a m e r j k a)
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Let me tell you a tale of a little Texas town somewhere between San Antonio and Port Arthur. It was founded in the late seventeen hundreds by Canary Islanders that got hungry on the way to Port Arthur, discovered their stopping place was overrun with rabbits and wild chili pequin, feasted on piquant rabbit stew and rabbit tacos, took a nap, then decided to stay.

There was much debate about what to name the new town. Most wanted to call it "Conejo Sabroso". The leader of the group was Benito "Tonto" Fulgencio Almendariz. Don Benito briefly allowed the debate to go on, belching and picking rabbit from his few remaining teeth, then fired his musket in the air, growling. The town was called "Ciudad Tonto." Only his mother and brothers knew why Don Benito was nicknamed "Tonto" and they were said to have perished in a shipwreck somewhere near Velasco, present-day Freeport.

Tonto has prospered and not prospered over the years. The rabbits were eventually all killed off. Sulfur was discovered close to town, then a workman in the pit threw a lit cigar over his shoulder as he was leaving work -- the place smoldered for 28 years -- everyone and everything smelled of rotten eggs. Cotton became a big cash crop until the boll weevil showed up. In the 1980s a fishing-lure manufacturing plant opened in town employing many locals until the owner was shot and killed by his wife when she found him in coitus interruptus with a local school teacher in the paint booth at the plant. The slightly wounded teacher moonlighted at the Dairy Queen. The corporate folks at Dairy Queen thought it best to shutter the eatery rather than be tainted by the inevitable scandal.

Thankfully, the local wild chili pequins were rediscovered and Tonto became the "Chili Pequin Capital of Texas." Home of Chili Pequin Jelly and a Chili Pequin clothing line and The Chili Piquin Rodeo and The Chili Piquin 10k run and a brewery making "The Hottest Beer in Texas," and there was talk of a winery opening up with wine even hotter than the beer. Unfortunately misfortune struck Tonto again.

The State of Texas passed an open-carry firearm law. Many in Tonto were excited about this. There were parties and informal meetings discussing proper open-carry etiquette and the showing off of holsters. Unfortunately, very quickly it became evident that there were very few places in town to display their shooting irons. They weren't welcome at court buildings, jails, polling places, schools, racetracks, secure areas of airports, bars, hospitals, nursing homes, churches and amusement parks, and almost every business in town. To the surprise and horror of the gun toters all the business establishments in town were now run or owned by liberals with the exception of the local exterminator and a bakery owned by the aunt of the guy that had owned the fishing-lure plant -- however she hated the head of the gun toters, which was the wife of her deceased nephew -- she had been acquitted of all charges. The feed store was not even free from liberal infestation. The owners were two lesbians that everyone thought were just really good friends and equestrians. Signs reading "No Guns Allowed" were put up all over town.

So, the local exterminator, Darth Worthy, volunteered his place of business as "Open-Carry Headquarters." An Open-Carry Parade was held in the parking lot. Darth had to move his trucks and trailer home -- it wasn't a very big parking lot. They had the "First Annual Open-Carry Benefit Carwash", which was determined not to be a good idea -- the soapy water rusted many of the car washer's pistols. Dan Angleton, a local insurance adjuster, got stuck with a bunch of t-shirts -- it was cheaper to print both The First Annual and The Second Annual Open Carry Benefit Carwash shirts at the same time. A chili cook-off was decided upon as a better choice for fundraising. During the "The First Annual Open-Carry Chili Cook-off" the local notary, Bill Fountain, got pretty drunk and dropped his 9mm in the chili pot. The heat caused it to go off. However the band was playing Lee Greenwood's one hit song real loud and nobody heard the report. Everyone thought the chili was dry, but good.

At the close of the event it started sprinkling and all the local open carriers repaired to Darth's office. Bill Fountain's pistol was found at the bottom of the leaking chili pot and returned to him. His cousin cleaned it up and put it back in Mr. Fountain's shoulder holster. As they were all sitting around in Darth's office, a large rat ran out from under his deck, chasing a roach. Bill pulled his 9mm and shot wildly at the rodent. He missed and hit a gas can Darth had stored inside after weed-eating around the building earlier in the day. The fuel exploded and all inside the building were lost.

When the local pastor was giving his sermon at the memorial service for those lost in what would be known going forward as "The Tonto Open-Carry Tragedy", his wife, a native of San Luis Potosi, whispered into a neighbor's ear -- "It was destiny that Don Benito founded this place." She was a very distant relative of the original Don Benito. One of his brothers did not actually perish in that shipwreck. He settled in San Luis Potosi and told many stories of his younger brother, "Tonto." He especially liked to tell the story of the time Tonto stuck a scorpion in his ear on a dare. This story has survived in Mexico to this day.

From 'The Tonto Open Carry Tragedy' by Franklin Cincinnatus


Tonto -- Stupid

Ciudad -- City

Conejo -- Rabbit

Sabroso -- Tasty

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Kevin is an Artist, Writer, Carpenter and Gallerist in Texas.

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