Daily Tribune (Philippines)

The gunslinger

- BERNIE V. LOPEZ Reactions to eastwindre­plyctr@gmail.com


you give,

you get


you know.


how life is.

If we are to survive the cruel jungle, especially during this pandemic, we must balance force with gentleness, and aggressive­ness with compassion, otherwise we foment wars we cannot win. In rare moments, a messiah descends upon us to the rescue.

This story is inspired by an old movie, starring John Wayne as a legendary gunslinger. Let us call him Matt Perry. Matt rides to a farm, tired from a long journey. He asks for water. The farmer’s wife, Rose, hands him a bowl of water, but Matt spits it out. It is murky and smelly. Rose explains that water is scarce.

Rose: I’m sorry. Water is scarce. My neighbor Pete refuses to share, and dams the water for himself and for his cows. Our sheep are dying.

Matt: So, what are you doing about it?

Rose: We are praying for him to share his water.

Matt: (Laughing) You cannot do it through prayer. You have to use force. That’s the only way.

Rose: No, prayer is more effective.

Matt: I’ll prove it to you.

Matt rides over to Pete’s farm and surveys the large pond formed by the dam.

Matt: Good morning, sir. My, you got plenty of water.

Pete: There is a dry spell and my cows will die.

Matt: How many cows you got?

Pete: Fifty.

Matt: You got more water than you need. Your neighbors also need water.

Pete: What’s it to you? Who might you be?

Matt: Matthew Perry.

Pete: Oh, THE Matt Perry, fastest gun from Tombstone?

Matt: Yup, that’s me.

Pete: Nonsense. You’re bluffing.

(He looks at Matt’s saddle and sees the initial “MP.”) Oh. Yes. you are the famous gunslinger, alright.

Matt: (Resting his hand on his holstered gun.) You better share your water, mister. Your neighbors are aching.

Pete: Yes, sir, right away, sir. He unlocks the gate to his dam and water flows instantly to the next five farms downstream.

Matt: Would you like to come with me? I want you to meet someone.

Pete: Do I have a choice?

Matt: Guess not.

Pete nervously joins Matt going to Rose on horseback. He introduces Pete to Rose.

Matt: You have something to say to Rose?

Pete: I am sorry for being greedy, ma’am. I apologize.

Rose: Thanks.

Pete: You’re welcome.

Rose: No, thanks to you. Thanks to him

(pointing to Matt). You wouldn’t share your water if not for him.

Pete: Well, this here fella made me change my mind.

Rose: Nice and neighborly of you. The water is flowing well. You just saved 120 of my sheep. Let’s have some coffee. Come in, come in.

Rose prepares coffee. They seat and talk.

Rose: Say, what’s that you got there? I would say that is one big ugly boil.

Pete: Yeah. Been bothering me for weeks now.

Matt: Ever since you kept the water to yourself, I bet.

Rose: I know how to fix that.

(Rose applies a paste on the boil.)

Pete: Appreciate it. Quite neighborly of you. Feels better already.

Rose: When you give, you get double, you know. That’s how life is. Let me put some of

this on a

bottle for you.

Matt: And if you don’t give, you lose double. Know what I mean?

Pete: Yes, sir.

Matt: (To Rose) Do you see what I mean? You have to use force to fight for your rights. Prayers will not do you any good.

Rose: My prayers were just answered. The Lord sent you to bring us water.

Matt: Well, I’ll be damned.

Rose: No, you’ll be blessed. Go your way.

The Lord is now with you.


Gunmen have strange ways.

Rose: The Lord has even stranger ways, my friend.

Pete: (To Rose) Come visit sometime, ma’am. I will prepare a steak dinner for you.

Rose: Thank you kindly, sir. I will. May I bring my husband, Gerry? You know him.

Pete: Yes, please. Tomorrow evening?

Rose: Okay. See, Matt, if you give, you get double. A bottle of skin balm and I get a steak.

Matt: Thank you kindly, ma’am.

Pete: I give steak and I get a bottle of skin balm. Not bad. (To Matt) You want to come along, sir?

Matt: No thanks, mister. Miles to go before I sleep.

Pete: Robert Frost.

Rose: (Raising her voice as the two ride out.) Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the beginning of time. For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. My sheep were thirsty and you gave them water. Matthew 25:35-45.

The two laugh as they vanish.

In rare moments, a messiah descends upon us to the rescue.

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