Hot Pants
by Bill Raymond

We were doing a show called TROUBLE IN SILVER PEAK. It was one of the smaller shows we did at the Ranch (a four-man show). Its main distinction was that it was where Bill Willingham got his nickname of Willy, from the character he created in Trouble in Silver Peak, "Willy the Drunk".

The show was about two men, a Miner and a Gunfighter, who get into a confrontation that escalates into a gunfight, which Willy, drunkenly (and comedically) staggers through the middle of. The Gunfighter kills the Miner, and the town Marshal then confronts the Gunfighter, killing him. I was playing the Miner. Monty Laird was the Gunfighter, Willingham was Willy, and Ricky Silva was the Marshal. Monty and I squared off against each other in the middle of the street. We said our dialogue, then went for our guns.

At this point, I need to say something about Monty Laird. Monty was, in reality very fast with a gun. After leaving Corriganville, he went on to a career at the film studios as a gun expert, teaching many stars how to handle a gun, and doubling for numerous actors in what are called "Hand Inserts", where the camera cuts to a closeup of the actorís hand drawing his gun in a very fast or very fancy manner. I really canít count the number of times you have seen Monty's hand and thought it was some actor's. Monty also competed in "fast-draw" contests, winning many championships. Not only was he fast with a gun, but he was also ambidextrous, being almost as good with either hand.

When Monty played a gunfighter in the Corriganville shows, he almost always wore a two-gun rig. This was the case on this day. As we finished our dialogue and went for our guns, Monty cleared leather with his left hand, but hung up slightly with his right, causing his first round with that hand to "go off in the boot" (our jargon for a round being fired into the holster). We then ran for cover. By the time he was firing his second volley at me, he had both guns up and blazing. I ducked into the corner of the sheriff's office, and Monty hid around the corner of the blacksmith shop. As we continued to trade insults and ammunition, Willy staggered out of the saloon and weaved his way across the street to Monty's position where he was to interrupt Monty's important business. Now, as the gunfight had gone on, I had noticed that each time Monty had stepped out to fire at me, he would pause briefly and sniff the air. As Willy approached Monty, he started laughing and pointing down at Montyís leg. Suddenly, Monty let out a yelp and jumped out into the middle of the street. His right pantleg was smoking and starting to burst into flame from the damage done when the blank round had gone off down his leg. He danced around in the middle of the street briefly, then casually bent down and threw several handsfull of dirt onto the fire, extinguishing it. He then, in true show business tradition, stepped back into character and killed me. I'm afraid I was a pretty active corpse though--as I laid there and laughed uncontrollably through the rest of the show.