"Jackhouse's Lumber Whisky! Three cents per bottle!" The saloon proprietor bawled. "That's right, all the whisky a rough-and-tumble stud can put down!"
An obstreperous drunkard of a cowboy, sitting in the corner with legs splayed, tilted his hat. "Aw, put that shit away. Ain't nobody wants to hear you whorin' out that cheap… fmglaggle shtuff." He seemed to forget what the object of his irritation was.
Tinny music eked from the hands of the three-man washboard band playing by the far wall. Five men continued their hand of poker. An attractive young waitress clicked her way over to the card table and handed the newest comer, who was having quite the bit of luck, a drink tray. She took a little too long for the other players' tastes.
The burliest of them shouted, "This dog's gettin' cards!" and upended the table with a blow of his massive forearms.
The brute's constituents drew custom pieces from hip- and ankle-holsters and commenced to shoot the living hell out of one another. The proprietor dropped his bottle and ducked under the bar for perhaps the fourth time that week, while glasses and barrels exploded in acrid showers above his head. The pretty waitress shrieked and hid under a booth.
The smell of sturdy cigarettes filled the air.
Suddenly a noise penetrated the furor. The brawlers stopped brawling, the proprietor of the joint poked his head over the counter, even the rogue in the corner appeared to sober up somewhat.
The noise was a guitar chord, and others followed it.
The double doors of the seedy establishment burst wide. Gilded rays of sunshine struck into the dark niches and framed the two husky men, one balding, who stood like demigods in the doorway. The second man began to sing wildly, and his curly locks shook with the force of the rock n' roll.
"Kyle's fingers be silver; my voice, then, be gold. Wahoa! In the search for Inspirado! We-are-Tenacious D!"
The members of the washboard band spontaneously combusted.
The patrons were awed. Dust motes streamed left and right, and the music continued to flow from the men's guitars. "We ride with kings on mighty steeds, across the Devil's plain. We've walked with Jesus and his cross. He did not die in vain, no!"
The big man asked them, "Be ye angels?" And they said "Nay! We are but men!"
"We have come to rock every house in the fuckin' Wild West, yeah! It's a search for Inspirado."
All at once they ceased the fervent strumming. "Myself and Kyle," said the raven-haired man with authority, "have time-traveled. We come from an era in which rock reigns sacred. Specifically, our rock." He squinted at the recovering patrons. "But now we are in desperate straits. Straits, you motherfuckers! Straits! Kick it!"
Kyle kicked it briefly.
"Alright. So we have come back to the cradle of civilization: 19th Century Western America. It's here we shall find the magic of song."
The shrewd owner found his voice. "So, ah, what's in it for us?"
Dark-Hair erupted. "The mighty Jack Black puts a pox on you! This is for the history of music!"
"Calm down, J.B.," said Kyle.
Jack quaffed a nearby bottle of gin. "Who's with us?"
Every hand went vertical. Both members of Tenacious D ran out of the building, crowd in tow. Soon the whole town had heard the enchanting story.
The semantics teacher looks up. "This isn't an essay on the importance of friendship and acceptance."
"Wtf," I say, "I don't need to write about that blither. Had you paid closer attention, you would have realized that. Go on. You've reached the good part."
She nudges her eyeglasses back up and resumes reading.
Before they could begin the quest for musical redemption, however, the settlement had to face off with their biggest problem: Injun raiders who stopped by occasionally to pillage and burn. A major foray was in the books for that very night.
The townspeople weren't afraid, though. They had the D.
Jack and Kyle assembled an impromptu town meeting in front of the gallows. The citizens clustered close as J.B. mounted the killing-floor and addressed them all. Behind him the swollen sun dipped low; before him, awed faces murmured raspy nothings.
"Good people of Tenaciousville-for that is what this place shall be called now-have you heard the rockin'?"
"Good people: do you want to save Inspirado?"
More plaudits this time.
Without warning, thick clouds of dust assembled low on the horizon. Thundering hooves gallumped in the hundreds, and the Redskin riders whooped raging battlecries. J.B. indicated the approaching warriors.
"My people: these are your fetters. Will you wear them?"
They rumbled as one.
"Then let's rock the fuckin' house and kick some ass!"
Everyone threw their hats up, then scrambled for disused Winchesters or hefty pitchforks. The Reds were upon them.
Breach-loaders flashed; waves of the Injuns toppled from their mounts. Tomahawks answered the volley, spiraling in to cut heads and sever hands. Then it turned into an all-out melee.
As horseshoes clove cowboy skulls and rifles pierced red skin, our heroes finally made their debut in the skirmish. Now they had cords coming from their guitars. The cords led to bulky devices that were being wheeled out of the saloon by barhands.
The pieces of hardware stood sixteen feet tall and nine wide, and the word 'Fender' blazed pink on them in the vanishing light. Tenacious D walked in the midst of the clamoring and killing, and ripped on their strings.
Sonic booms clapped forth from the amplifiers like Olympian bolts and cut down Injuns wherever they resisted. Jack's voice frosted the invaders solid by the dozens. Kyle's berserk finger-picking lanced through Native hearts and boiled Native kidneys. It was over in a quarter of an hour.
When the townspeople had picked off the retreating men with smart sniper shots, they heaved up the D and crowd-floated them back to the mayor's house. The mayor, a portly codger with a monocle and a limp, placed platinum medals around Jack and K.G.'s combat-sweaty necks.
And Tenacious D realized that Inspirado had been with them all along. It was a sodden boozehound in a cantina; it was an amp on a Wild West evening; it was also a town full of brave cowboys who fought back to save their homestead.
They went back to the streaked neon years of the smudgy future, and wrote a song. It was called "How We Won the West." It dissolved the North American Alliance, and it subdued the Twelfth Cuban Missile Crisis. It led, indirectly, to the dissolution of seventeen hazardous dictatorships and the breaking-up of the Post-Marxism European Arms Confederacy.
The world had saved Inspirado, and Inspirado had in turn taught society to set down childish ways.
I get the crinkled, ratty piece of paper back. Scrawled over the top of it in gauche red marker is a D-minus.
"Yesss," I say.