How Tenji: Here I am in downtown
Austin, capital of Texas, the state which has conducted 35% of all executions
in the United States since 1976. This seems a good place to gauge public
opinion on this contentious subject…. Excuse me sir, (chases
after large man in a ten-gallon hat, cowboy boots, etc) would you
be prepared to answer a few questions for the Utterpants
How Tenji: No...utter pants. Two T's—no
Texan: Sounds like a faggot name to me, son. Ya sure
y'all ain’t from some liberal faggot outfit?
How Tenji: No, no, I assure you, utterpants is a bona-fide
British news organisation.
Texan: Boner? Now, lookee hyar, son—
How Tenji (pulling out a press card): Look,
two T's. No...um..faggots.
Texan: Then ah’d be honoured.
How Tenji: We are seeking public opinion on the death penalty. Do you
have a view?
Texan: Wha’ yes ah sure do.
How Tenji: Er... perhaps you might share it with us.
Texan: Wha’ yes Suh. Ah think we have seen enough
death sentences. It’s t’aam to try somethin’ new.
How Tenji: I must say our readers will probably be
surprised to hear that; are there many in Texas who feel the same?
Texan: Tha surely are, yes siree. We are sick an’
tired o’ judicial murder in God's own country.
How Tenji: In America, you mean?
Texan: No, ah mean Texas. The rest of the country is
going straight to hell in a Godless, faggot handbasket.
How Tenji: Well, I must say that's most heartening.
What would you propose as an alternative?
Texan: Ah favour lynchin' mah self.
How Tenji: Oh?
Texan: Yes Suh, Texans favour a short sharp shock rather
than ah protractified series o' appeals. We lost our enthusiasm for
the death penalty when O. J. Simpson and Michael
Jackson got off Scott free.
How Tenji: Weren’t they acquitted?
Texan: Precisely, with Texan justice they would have
gone straight from tha Sheriff to a baying mob with a clothes line.
How Tenji: That seems rather harsh.
Texan: Harsh? Ah’m a liberal through an' through,
Suh. Ah’d never take part in anythin’ which left the criminal
unrecognisable to his family. It would be unfeelin’ and against
Texan manners not to let tha widow an’ children mourn in a dignified
How Tenji: So not all Texans are so soft on crime?
Texan: Hell no. Have y’all spoken to Hank?
(Shouts and whistles) Hey! Hank, get over here this Limey faggot
wants to talk about lynchin’.
Hank: (Giant of a man approaches; ten
gallon hat, leather trousers, six shooters) Howdy, honoured to
meet ya’, Suh. Y’all ain’t really
a fag though are ya’?
Texan: Says he's from some outfit called 'Udderpants'
from England, Britain.
Hank: Jesus H Christ! UDDER pants? Sure sounds
like a faggot name to me, Tex.
How Tenji (peevishly): We've been through all that.
Here's my press card.
Hank (screwing his eyes up and turning
the card over in his ham-sized hands): Never did learn me no Limey.
Just because a chicken has wings don't mean it can fly.
How Tenji: Look, I'm not a homosexual. Here's
a picture of Tara
Reid in that dress and me shaking the President's hand
at a Dallas Cowboys hoe-down. And I drive a clapped-out old Diesel Astra
and beat my wife regularly like any regular guy.
Hank: Diesel? Fucking fag.
How Tenji: So you have strong views on the death penalty…
Hank: Ah sure do, Suh.
How Tenji: Could you elaborate?
Hank: Y’all sure ya’s a Limey? That ain’t
no kinda English ah’s ever heard. Y’all ain’t a friggin’
Frenchie faggot are ya? Them's the worst kinda faggots there is...
How Tenji: No! Certainly not! What do you think about
the death penalty.
Hank: Well Suh...ah’s agin hangin’, shootin’,
lethal injectin’, electrocutin’ an’ beheadin’
an' ah don't hold with burnin' cos it stinks worse than a coon in shit.
How Tenji: Well I am honoured to meet you, sir. I feel
much the same.
Hank: Ah thought you Limeys were soft on crime?
How Tenji: Not a bit of it, ASBOs,
community service, tagging,
even prison, with appropriate and clearly identified tariffs. No I think
you’ll find we know how to deal with miscreants.
Texan: Y’all sure ya ain’t French?
How Tenji: Er, yes absolutely. So Mr…er…Hank,
what would you suggest as an alternative in cases of serious crime?
Hank: Ah favours draggin’
How Tenji: Dragging?
Hank: Yes siree, draggin’. We ties their feet
to the tow hitch of a pick-up and takes ‘em for a Texan sleigh-ride.
How Tenji: Isn’t that rather dangerous?
Hank: Not if'n y'all use a good, long rope; git tha
rope too short and they can bounce up and dent the bodywork.
Tex: Tell him about the boots, Hank.
How Tenji: Boots?
Hank: We always takes off their boots on account of
it kin rut up tha dirt.
Tex: Now Hank, y’all know ah can’t abide
Hank: Tex, y’all know as well as ah that the
Reverend said it ain’t mutilatin’ if y’all can’t
see the damage. Last son of a bitch ah took for a ride was spread over
thirty miles of interstate. The coyotes ain’t complainin’.
Tex: Ah says it ain’t manners.
Hank: An’ ah says it is. Y’all callin’
the Reverend a liar?
Tex: No, but ah’m callin’ y’all ungentlemanlike.
(Hank throws punch, Tex reels backwards, breaks the hitching rail
and falls in a horse trough.)
Tex: (Spluttering and spitting water,
a thin trail of blood dribbling down his double chin, emerges from the
trough soaked to the skin) Son of a bitch!
Hank: (Pulls Tex from trough) Bleeding heart
(Tex, now bone dry, punches Hank in the stomach, Hank doubles up.
Tex administers an uppercut which sends Hank reeling backward through
the double swing doors of a saloon.)
(The sheriff, a man who makes Hank look like a flyweight, emerges
from the saloon with Hank held firmly in an arm lock. He is followed
by mean looking posse of hookers, gamblers, cowpokes, sheep-shaggers,
sluts and other ne’er-do-wells. A slight smudge of blood is
visible on the corner of Hank’s mouth.)
Sheriff: Dadgummit, boys! What are you a doin’
of? Kickin’ up a ruckus in front o’ our guest. (Indicates
Tenji, now cowering behind large wooden Indian chief outside the General
Store). Ah hope y’all haven’t been debatin’ theology
(Hank and Tex hang their heads, all trace of violence has now vanished,
the hitching rail repaired, even the ground around the horse trough
Hank: Tex called the Reverend a liar.
Sheriff: (Releases Hank, and in a fluid movement
pulls his revolver and backs against the saloon wall). We’ll
have none o’ that talk. Drop that gun-belt Hank, ah don’
wan’ any more trouble. Are you carryin’ Tex? Open your wais’coat
nice and slow...boy.
(Tex complies and reveals a handgun only slightly smaller than
his hat, which he slowly pulls out with his fingertips and drops on
the ground. Hank’s gun belt clatters to the sidewalk. A gangling
stick insect of a man in a frock coat, who is clearly a man of the cloth
comes running across the street accompanied by a scantily-clad young
Reverend Jedediah. T. Armstrong: (for it is he): Now
boys what are two God fearin’ Texans like you a’doin fighting
in the street?
Hank: Ah was tellin’ this Limey faggot that we
are agin’ the death penalty.
Tex: An ah was a’ tellin’ Hank not to mutilate
Rev: Now boys, as a tol’ you last Sunday, the
good book tells us ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’.
How Tenji: Reverend, how pleased I am to hear a voice
of reason at last.
Cheerleading Slut:(pouting): Hi, y'all really
from England? You're cute!
Hank: Shuddup, Dolores. The Reverend is talkin'.
Rev: Honoured to meet y’all, sir. Welcome to
our town, ah hope these boys have shown you some good ‘ol Texan
Cheerleading Slut: (giggling): If'n they aint...I
Hank: (pushing her back): I ain't tellin' y'all
again, Dolores. Now—git!
How Tenji: (distracted by Dolores' cleavage):
Um..er..yes indeed. I wonder Reverend, if I might ask your views on
the death penalty. I um...understand enthusiasm is waning in the USA?
Rev: Ah have opposed the death penalty for many years—as
ah hope these boys will have tol’ y’all.
How Tenji: Well I think the message may have got a
bit mixed, would you like to explain?
Rev: Surely. The good book tells us ‘Vengeance
is mine sayeth the Lord’. So a criminal trial is clearly blasphemous.
Our saviour tells us ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged.’ Well
ah ain’t takin’ no chances on that one so ah don’
do no judgin’.
How Tenji: (Looking older and, perhaps, wiser):
So how exactly do you see that working out in practice?
Rev: (beaming): Well...the Sheriff here finds
the criminals and the good ol’ boys here does the summary justice.
Hank: By draggin’ y' faggot-loving, bleeding
heart liberal up tha road aways.
Tex: (glaring at Dolores): By lynchin’
y' Godless, baby-murderin',
lesbian slut by her own hair extensions.
Rev: (Laughs): You see we have a healthy theological
debate within our church community.
How Tenji: But suppose the Sheriff gets it wrong and
there is a grave miscarriage of justice?
Cheerleading Slut: (wiggling her hips): Gee!
Do y'all talk that purdee in England? Y'all wanna see mah belly button
Tex: Now y'all knows that ain't allowed, Dolores, ain't
that right, Reverend?
Rev: (placing his hat over Dolores' naked belly):
Amen! Y'all should be ashamed, child. Nekkid flesh is an abomination
in tha eyes o' tha Lord and against the laws o' the God fearin' state
o' Texas. 'specially when it's flauntin' a filthy tattoo that says 'get
it here boys.' Now run along home an' be sure to git your Daddy to give
your butt a good
How Tenji: Spanking? Look, I'd be glad to—um...you
know...if the young lady...
Rev: Y’all ain’t listenin’. We dispatches
the punks and sluts to Jesus, God does the judgin’, if y’all
are innocent y’all get to your reward in heaven that bit quicker.
Guilty, and its hot
branding irons ‘till doomsday.
(Sheriff advances, sound of gun being cocked)
Sheriff: Ah, think a bit o’ judgin’ on
this Frenchified Limey fruit is called for, there ain't been nothin'
but trouble since he arrived. Where the fuck has he gone?
(Tenji disappears at high speed on horseback pursued by the outside
broadcast van and a cloud of dust.)
Tex: Well, butter mah butt and call me a biscuit. No
wonder them Limeys ain’t got the balls to support our brave boys
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Story © 2005 How Tenji. Picture
and construction © 2005 utterpants.co.uk / 101205