Time for the most exciting off-topic post of the year. I’ve been looking forward to this for ages (ok, weeks, really, but it’s felt like ages). It’s a post written by our friend, Balladeer, about a fictional me! Intrigued? I hope so, because I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the read.
But, before I reveal the amazing story of Lady London, a bit of context is required. Most of you will have seen Balladeer’s Blog being listed in my Blogroll. Hopefully, a lot of you will have clicked it, at least out of curiosity. If you haven’t, I think you should. It’s a most amazing place where mythology meets college sports, cinematography and a brilliant ‘movement’ called Frontierado, created by Balladeer from scratch. You know when something massively successful is born out of a little bit of fun? This could be one of those things, in my opinion. Ed was kind enough to invite me to join in, and I’m taking this opportunity to spread the word. If you like my saga, then visit Balladeer’s Blog and read the others. If you like them, too, then contact Ed and let him know you’d like to join the movement. He’ll send you a questionnaire and then write you a brilliant saga, making you a Frontierado hero for posterity!
OK, the wait is over…Here is the amazing saga of….
Lady London, a legend of the American West of the 1800′s, was born as Didi Wright in England in the 1840′s to parents who were active in the Chartist Movement. When her parents grew impatient with the slow progress of that movement they migrated to America with their young daughter and eventually settled in Chicago, IL. Didi’s father was a policeman and his daughter could never hear enough from her dear dad about how police went about doing their jobs. When Didi was in her teens she married a Chicago detective named John Malkovich. The two were deeply in love and the relationship also gave Didi plenty more opportunities to pick up the basics of police work.
Back when John was still a uniformed cop he had arrested a Southside strongarm hood named Jack Smith. When Smith was released from prison in 1871 after serving several years he had thoughts only of revenge on the man who had put him away. Showing up at a restaurant where John and Didi were dining Smith shot Malkovich to death right in front of his horrified wife.
After the funeral, Didi spent long days brooding over her bereavement and after a month of alternating anger and tears determined to kill the man who had robbed her of her beloved. Overcoming the expected resistance of the time, Didi eventually learned that Jack Smith had fled Illinois and headed west. Didi caught a train and set off in pursuit. Living off her savings and using all the investigative tricks she had picked up from her father and her late husband, Didi traced Smith to Missouri, where he had picked up the nickname the Slaughterhouse Kid, a reference to the years he had spent working in a Chicago slaughterhouse.
Didi learned the Kid was operating as part of the James-Younger Gang and, in a much celebrated episode, burst into Jesse’s lair with two six-guns and demanded to know where Smith was. Charmed by the pluck of this young beauty with a lingering trace of a British accent, Jesse informed her that the Slaughterhouse Kid had fled Missouri after an abortive attempt to betray the James-Younger Gang into the hands of the authorities. Jesse and his wife fed Didi for a few days, then, outfitting her in pants and appropriate western gear to replace her dress, saw her off at the train station as she left to continue her quest for revenge.
Didi traced the Kid through Kansas and Nebraska next, always refining her gun skills with daily practice, in each target picturing the face of her husband’s killer. A pattern soon developed. Didi would close in on her quarry and flush him out, but he always managed to escape before she could kill him. Didi was now able to live off the reward money for the lesser outlaws she nabbed or killed on her quest. Growing ever more confident, Didi had taken to wearing a small Union Jack as a neckerchief, which fashion touch led outlaws and lawmen alike to bestow the nickname Lady London on her.
In Colorado Lady London allied herself with the bounty hunter called Manco, supposedly the long-lost twin brother of the gunfighter Dirty Clint Eastwood. The duo captured the gang the Slaughterhouse Kid had formed around himself but, typically, the Kid got away.
After several false starts Lady London next trailed Smith to Nevada, specifically to the enormous ranch called the Ponderosa, owned by Ben Cartwright and his sons. Staying in hiding throughout the sprawling ranch, Didi was stunned to see the Slaughterhouse Kid lording it over the Cartwrights and their hired hands. She soon shanghaied the oldest Cartwright son, Adam, and, holding a gun on him in a barn, demanded to know what was going on. It turned out the Kid was blackmailing the Cartwrights because he had unearthed their dark secret: Ben Cartwright was insane and had killed each of his wives after they had given birth to one son each. Before Lady London could act on this information the Slaughterhouse Kid himself burst in on her and Adam. Didi knocked Adam to the ground and in a running gunfight through the various levels of the barn, Lady London at long last found her Holy Grail by pumping three bullets into the head, chest and stomach of the man who had slain her beloved husband more than a year earlier. The Cartwrights were free from blackmail and took a liking to their rescuer, especially Adam, who began a passionate affair with Lady London, who now felt free to love again.
With the Slaughterhouse Kid now dead and in his grave Didi decided to turn her quest for revenge into a livelihood by becoming a bounty hunter. Operating out of Virginia City, Lady London soon proved herself as deadly and resourceful as her male competitors, sometimes even using their obvious infatuation with her to her advantage. Didi’s Virginia City base allowed her to continue her romance with Adam Cartwright, and the dark secret of Ben Cartwright remained a closed subject between them. Meanwhile Lady London continued to rack up an impressive total of fugitives, either captured or killed, and even the legendary bounty hunter the Blackwater Kid was known to praise her abilities.
Lady London’s quarries from those years included:
“Copper” Kent, the bandit who made his mark robbing payrolls intended for the employees at copper mines. Didi shot him to death after an epic gunfight through the streets of Tucson, AZ and returned the payroll to the struggling miners’ families.
Johnny Midnight, real last name unknown, who would break into the homes of wealthy westerners, rob them at gunpoint and then kill them all at the stroke of midnight.
“Widow” Wolverton, the notorious female mastermind behind Nevada’s deadliest gang. Lady London smoked her out by jailing, vamping or killing her stooges, then bringing the Widow in personally after a knock-down, drag-out catfight.
“Long Range” McKendrick, a specialist in killing via long-range sniper fire. Lady London trailed him into Deadwood in Dakota Territory and wound up killing him in a gunfight when he resisted being brought in. While in Deadwood Lady London was romanticallky pursued by Wild Bill Hickok, prompting jealousy on the part of Calamity Jane, who had a thing for Bill. Didi kicked Calamity Jane’s butt in a spectacular, muddy catfight in the center of town.
While getting reasonably well-to-do from the bounties she collected for various desperadoes, Lady London found her relationship with Adam Cartwright strained. Didi had noticed that whenever either of Adam’s brothers got close to a woman or married her that woman was not long for this world. Lady London suspected the mad Ben Cartwright was up to his old murderous tricks and pleaded with Adam to have him committed or at least confined in a prison-room on the Ponderosa. Adam refused and the monumental arguments between the two over this issue caused their breakup.
Didi headed south and set up her new base in a hotel room in El Paso, TX, right along the border with Mexico. From there she was in a perfect position to try to intercept fugitives headed for Mexico after the telegraph wires would carry word about the reward offered on them. Not that the beautiful bounty hunter was squeamish about pursuing her prey deep into Mexico. Lady London was known to laugh at international borders (yet Time Zones filled her with a vague sense of unease) and was even said to have pursued the famous paid gunman Paco “Pistols” Scaramanga, all the way to Mexico City itself. Scaramanga was the ancestor of the later Pistols Scaramanga who would clash with Great Britain’s Secret Service Agent James Bond.
A less strenuous adventure for Didi involved half-breed horse thief Keanu Reeves, whose first name was said to come from an ancient Arapaho word meaning “I don’t get it”. Lady London could see he was just a misunderstood and confused youth so she took it upon herself to reform Keanu rather than send him to prison, and also reportedly “made a man of him” in the process. When Keanu at last went on his way, he left Didi a gift – the last horse he had stolen before she reformed him. The original owner was now dead so Lady London was more than happy to keep the beautiful animal, whom she named George. Amazingly this horse would remain with Didi throughout the rest of her adventures. Since the handsome animal’s famous rider was called Lady London, George himself was often referred to in the newspapers and Dime Novels of the time as Gentleman George.
A turning point in Lady London’s exciting life came in 1878 when she was once again pursuing a dangerous fugitive into Mexico. The name of Didi’s quarry has been lost to history but he was one of the few to escape Lady London once she was on the hunt. The reason he got away is because Didi’s pursuit of him led her into contact with the notorious gunman called Django, but whose real name was believed to be Franco Nero.
Django is best remembered for the coffin he transported with him everywhere, a coffin which contained a gatling gun, his ace-in-the-hole that saw him out of many tight spots. Django was living in a now abandoned border town called El Aguila (the eagle) when he and Lady London met at the local saloon. Eyeing each other, both of them were happy with what they saw, and shared a night of passion that would change the British beauty’s life forever. Just before dawn the next day, assassins broke into the hotel room the two had checked into. The killers were gunned down by the famous pair, but the innkeeper, realizing the assassins were sent by the barbarous General Hernandez Suerte, told the couple to leave at once, or General Suerte would burn down his establishment and kill him, his wife and his children for revenge.
As Lady London and Django rode out of town, Django told her how General Suerte was the local dictator, ruling his own little kingdom in the general disorder, impoverishing the people with taxes so that he and his soldiers could live grandly. Django had run afoul of him after he had gunned down one of his Colonels for attempting to rape a young teen. Now Lady London was on the General’s bad side, too. Catching word that a 30-man strong detachment of the General’s men were closing in on them, the two decided to make a dash for Texas and buried the coffin containing Django’s gatling gun to give them more freedom of movement.
Unfortunately for the two legends the 30-man detachment was led by Colonel Ramon Velez, General Suerte’s only true friend in the world. Velez was a very savvy and capable man, and his men managed to maneuver themselves in between Lady London and Django and the border, cutting them off time and again. Only Lady London’s trail instincts, honed as the huntress instead of the hunted, kept the duo a few steps ahead of their relentless pursuers.
After nearly a fortnight of thwarted attempts to cross over to Texas, Lady London and Django decided to fall back to the cemetery outside El Aguila, dig up Django’s gatling gun and make a stand. The two did so, and in the mini-Alamo scenario that unfolded they first fired the gatling gun until the ammunition was exhausted, then relied on their six-guns in a running battle with the 11 remaining soldiers, all combatants ducking behind gravestones amid the gunfire. Soon Colonel Velez was the only Mexican combatant left standing, and he took his own life with a gunshot to the temple.
Once back in El Paso, Lady London and Django shared a few more weeks together until they tired of each other, then Django rode off, coffin in tow, and Didi tried to return to bounty hunting. Unfortunately, she soon got word that General Suerte had placed a price on her and Django’s heads, and potentially all of the thousands of men in his army would be trying to collect it. Lady London realized that as a lone bounty hunter she stood no chance, but as part of a larger organization she would have the equivalent of “diplomatic immunity” or perhaps “security in numbers”. And not just any organization, but the Texas Rangers.
Lady London sought out Texas Ranger Cordell Walker, whose descendant of the same name would also be a Texas Ranger, but in the 20th Century. Walker and Lady London had had a love/hate relationship for most of her time in Texas because of her tendency to beat the Rangers to wanted outlaws. Walker persuaded his fellow Texas Rangers to welcome Didi into the fold and the two sealed the bargain in an Austin hotel. Lady London’s first assignment was to bring in the Point Break Gang, led by Dancin’ Pat Swayze … single-handed. Didi was unfazed by this and yawningly gunned down most of the gang’s members when they tried to ambush her near Waco, with Dancin’ Pat then surrendering after he was out of ammo. As Lady London escorted Dancin’ Pat to jail, the outlaw reportedly used all his powers of carnal persuasion night after night along the way, hoping to coax the lovely Texas Ranger into letting him go. For her part Didi found it a pleasant way to pass the time back with her prisoner, but, unpersuaded, happily turned him in at the end of their journey. After serving his prison sentence Dancin’ Pat would go on to become one of Buckshot Bryant’s Poker Studs.
After that dalliance with Swayze Lady London and Cordell Walker became a tight couple and were always seen together when one or both of them were not absent on a mission. Neither thought it fair to the other to get married since they lived under the eye of the Grim Reaper because of their dangerous profession. By the late 1880′s however, their relationship became simply that of good friends.
In 1889 Lady London was sent out on an assignment that would have the greatest impact on her saga since her husband’s murder years earlier. Didi was sent out to bring in the wandering hired gunman Juniper Johnny Depp, the reputed descendant of pirate captain Jack Sparrow and coincidentally another old flame of the aforementioned Buckshot Bryant. Depp had escaped prison after finally being convicted of one of his many killings and led Lady London a merry chase all over Texas, from town to town before she finally caught him in Galveston, TX.
For the first time since Dancin’ Pat Lady London succumbed to her attraction to one of her targets and she and Juniper Johnny passed a night marked by a heavy Galveston thunderstorm by letting nature take its course between them. Depp also revealed to Didi what had brought him to the island. He had recently discovered the location of the hidden fortune in gold that his ancestor Jack Sparrow had concealed there. As the two talked the next morning, Lady London found herself warming to Juniper Johnny’s suggestion that they find the hidden booty, divide it and retire. Recently she had been wondering about the old age that she had imagined her dangerous life would never allow her to reach. Now that it seemed possible that she might reach it, a fortune would definitely come in handy.
Then Depp let the other shoe drop: to find the treasure’s exact location they had to find his gunslinging mentor and the man who had discovered him years earlier – Robert “Freddie the Kid” Englund, the nightmare of many a pistol-packing hombre in the 1800′s. As Lady London had been pursuing Juniper Johnny, he in turn had been pursuing Freddie the Kid. Freddie had recently researched, found and stolen the map after helping Depp locate it in a trunk from his (Depp’s) grandfather’s attic. The Kid had then mercilessly killed Grandpa Depp.
Over the next few days a wild chase with occassional gunfights raged around the busy port city as Didi and Johnny endeavored to catch up with Freddie and the armed Galveston port thugs he had hastily assembled into a makeshift gang, motivated by promises of a share in the loot. At the end of it all, Lady London and Juniper Johnny caught up with Freddie and his gang in the airlocked cave that housed the treasure just as they had uncovered it. In the orgy of action that followed, the Kid and his gang captured Didi and Johnny and planned to leave them to starve in the cave after they had removed all the gold. Once the gold had all been moved Freddie then betrayed his gang, leaving them to presumably die with Lady London and Juniper Johnny. Forming a quick alliance born of desperation, the duo and the gang members managed to escape the cave and confront the Kid. Freddie now offered shares once again to his gang members if they helped him kill our heroes. The gang members foolishly agreed, and by the time the dust from the new outbreak of shooting and dodging settled, Lady London was the only one left alive.
Now possessed of a fortune in gold that was all hers, Lady London could live comfortably in the old age she was beginning to fear the approach of. She wrote a goodbye letter to her old colleague and lover Cordell Walker, resigning from the Texas Rangers and relating all the details of this adventure. Lady London was never heard from again. Noone could ever figure out where she had gone from Galveston, since the whole world was a possibility. Over the decades various rumors placed her in the Bahamas, or in Brazil or back in England. One theory even placed her in the Aegean Sea, the owner of a small Greek Island where she lived in a mansion and had put her horse George out to stud. The truth will likely never be known and Lady London’s disappearance stands alongside that of Amelia Earhardt as one of history’s greatest mysteries. Actresses like Vivien Leigh and Angelina Jolie have portrayed the enigmatic bounty hunter on the big screen, keeping her legend alive.
The Blackwater Kid