Everyone had been told to meet in the Gem Saloon. Alma stood in the center of the room with Sofia wondering what the two of them could have to discuss with the whole town. Not only were the usual town leaders there, but the whores, drunks, women, Chinese, and children had showed up too.
Sol stood serenely near the door hand in hand with Trixie, who looked deeply uncomfortable. Whether it was the purpose of the meeting, being back at the Gem or Sol holding her hand in public that bothered her was hard to tell. Doc Cochran coughed in the corner and Cy Tolliver stood by the bar trying to glare at both Andy and Joanie at the same time. Joanie was careful not look at him but didn’t have to work at it as she was too busy keeping Jane upright.
The Gem whores stood up on the balcony surveying the Bella Union girls who were clustered nervously around Cy. Wu and the residents of Chinamen’s alley stood near the whore’s quarters talking among themselves and periodically looking to Wu for reassurance. The Gem staff all stood on the stairs. Johnny wondered if they shouldn’t serve drinks, Silas worked hard to seem like he wasn’t curious, Dan scanned the gathering for any sign of trouble and Jewel leaned against her broom. E.B. tried to stand on the stairs with them, but Dan gave him a look to cut through steel and he retreated wiping his palms on his dirty jacket.
Merrick and Blazanov where leaned against the bar, Blazanov was trying to relay and anecdote but lacked the specific vocabulary so it looked more like a game of charades than a conversation. Charlie Udder wondered why both Seth and Al had convened that gathering. He knew that they had both been getting along better as of late, well the two of them had been talking a lot and hadn’t tried to kill each other so you could call that getting along.
He supposed it must be something very important if the two of them were both going to make an announcement to everyone. Just when Jack Langrish had jumped up on the table and asked if anyone wanted to hear some Shakespeare, Swearengen and Bullock came storming through the front doors.
“Listen up everyone! Al’s got something to say” Shouted Dan despite the fact that the room had gone completely silent.
“It’s fucking over people!” Yelled Al to the shocked congregation.
“Lanuage Mr. Swearengen!” Said Alma.
Al ignored her “We’re all fucking done for!”
Alma’s hand flew to her bosom as the content and not the means of conveyance dawned upon her. “But…but…I caved in to Hearst’s demands, I sold out. What can he do to us? And why he has what he wanted”
“Not him” Growled Seth as Martha walked to the front of the Saloon to join him.
Al was not in the habit of beating around the bush, whether it be female or metaphorical, and as much as he enjoyed seeing seeing everyone leaning forward waiting for his next words (especially Merrick poised with his notebook and pencil and his eyes bugging out) he wanted to get to the point.
“The hoopleheads at HBO cancelled us!!!”
Everyone gasped. Cries of “no” and “god damn it” and “how could they?” echoed round the room.
“But we just got here!” cried Jack and the theater troop in unison. “Without further development we just take screen time away from the other characters that everyone already cares about!”
“I just got here.” Proclaimed Aunt Lou indignantly “And I didn’t need to develop like y’all I was interesting real soon. Also Richardson and I got some great scenes.”
“I just started developin’” Said Richardson who perked up upon hearing his name.
Jane was the first to ask the simple question. “Why in fucks name did they do that?” then yelled across the room “Sorry Sophia!” as an afterthought
Seth took a deep breath and tried to keep his tone level. “Apparently our ratings weren’t justifying the expense of the show.”
“But that don’t make no sense” Cy hissed “Rome costs twice as much to produce and doesn’t get the same kind of ratings, sure we ain’t as cheap or well rated as The Sopranos but we’re still HBO’s number two”
“Not to mention the awards” Chimed in Charlie
“Or the critical acclaim” Added Merrick
“They’re HBO, whatever they do wins awards and Merrick no one gives a shit about what journalists have to say!” Al spat
Once again everyone saw the terrible logic of what Al was saying, except for Merrick who was telling Blazanov that Al was joking and that journalists were important shapers of public opinion. This was accompanied by a couple of coughs from nearby that sounded suspiciously like the word “bullshit” and Blazanov nodding (because that’s what friends do) but secretly agreeing with the surreptitious coughers.
“Isn’t there something we could do?” Said Joanie sadly.
“We could have a short season, like just six episodes maybe?” piped up Johnny.
Al motioned with his hand “Come here Johnny” Johnny nodded and enthusiastically bounded over to where his boss stood. Al proceeded to punch him in the face.
“That idea was suggested but David Milch didn’t think he could fuckin handle it.” Said Bullock more to a stunned Johnny that to the room but everyone heard all the same.
“Because it’s so hard to condense some vague ideas and character arcs into six episodes…” Al started, but since Trixie through her infinite experience could sense a rant coming on interrupted.
“There have got to be other options.”
“Maybe a made for TV movie” added Sol as brightly as could be managed under the circumstances. This idea was met with angry mutterings and so Trixie shouted at the gathering “Don’t you fuckin be like that! Something, however shitty is better than just being left hanging like this, and its not Sol and I that need it.
“Yeah, we’ve both been wrapped up. I’m mayor, Trixie has a job that doesn’t involve having sex with dirty miners who hit her and we’ve worked out a lot of our issues. Its you all who are being left hanging.”
“Well what about a made for TV movie?” Queried Jewell “Trixie’s right, its better than nothing”
“They can’t just end it” Muttered Adams
“No, there are fans and they will refuse to stand for this kind of treatment” Said Alma confidently.
“Well said Mrs. Ellsworth!” Cried Merrick “Ladies and gentleman Deadwood is in the possession of some of the most devoted fans in television history. Those executives may make their decision but they will not be able to follow through with it…no my friends. The vox populi will speak and it will speak loud and clear! The populous will send letters and phone calls and emails and they will vote with their pocket books and cancel their HBO subscriptions. The folly of cancelling the show will be born in upon the network and we will be restored to the bosom of our fond viewership!”
“Does bosom mean tit?” Asked E.B. Merrick made a mental note never to use that word again.
“Merrick what kind of fairly land were you raised in?” Yelled Al ‘’Get over here!”
“No, I have a distinct presentiment that you are going to slap me”
“And you would be right you stupid cocksucker”
“I do not think he is being stupid cocksucker.”
“Thank you, my friend. I appreciate that”
“We have many fan who very much like the show. Why should they not protest or cancel the subscriptions?” Blazanov appealed to the room.
“As I was sayin’ before I was interrupted” continued Bullock “The option of made for TV movies were discussed…”
“In fact HBO fucking agreed to them because of public pressure” interrupted Al
“Aha” crowed Merrick “What did I say?”
“I hadn’t fucking finished!”
“I’m terribly sorry” Muttered the newspaperman blushing a little at Al reprehending him on his manners.
“But Al you just butted in when I was…”Seth started to say
“The point is that HBO agreed to two made for TV movies but since this is the real world they just kind of let it run at that and the fans and actors went moving on to greener pastures and now Deadwood is officially dead and no one could put up a fight”
A gloomy silence fell over the Gem. Then Wu broke it by shouting what everyone was thinking ;
“But there’s no real ending” someone in the back said sadly.
“I just thought that season four was going to be a good one for me. “ said Joanie whistfuly. “Its just things were just startin’ to look up for me and I was hoping…I don’t know…I mean I got some money from sellin’ the Chez Amis and…” She let her sentence trail off.
“I sort of thought that I was going to grow a pair next season, and maybe do something cool” Remarked Merrick
“The day you do something cool is the day hell freezes over” Coughed the Doc
“I was hoping to get a new dress” announced Jewel “I’m sick of this one”
“And Mr. Swearengen has gotten so much better lately” Said Alma to a general cry of “Here, here” and Al giving the room a death glare.
“And what about our love triangle?” Asked Martha eyeing her husband and Alma
“Seth is still not over me.” declared Alma haughtily
“But I got the sense he was getting a lot closer to me this past season” rejoined Martha and both of them glared at Seth. Who looked between the two, panic stricken
“I don’t know, the writing left it ambiguous!”
“Like I haven’t heard that excuse before” muttered both women.
“Ladies, ladies, I know how to settle this!” Broke in Con Stapleton “Naked cat fight!”
“Mr. Stapleton it hardly behooves two ladies of such propriety and dignity to…”
“Shut up Merrick!” Hissed Al “I think that’s a great idea”
“Oh for crying out loud” groaned Merrick “This is an HBO show! I see much more…of the... female anatomy…then I even want to. I don’t know why any of you go out of your way to…”
“No one care what you think, your probably a cocksucker anyway.” Blazanov edged a little ways away from Merrick after Al said this.
“I am not! Unlike the rest of you I espouse a squeamishness that is entirely appropriate to the year 1876. “
“So naked cat fight?” Asked Jane
“Hey I know we’re all upset…” Started Doc Cochran until he had to start coughing again. When it subsided he finished “But I’m just happy that I’m not dead yet.”
“That’s a good point! We still have the Doc.” Cried Jewel “We’re all still alive, I think that’s good”
“She make good point, I was worried I might be killed off soon, after Ellsworth there are only so many nice guys left, and nice guys are best to kill off because they are more boring and make people sad when they die, is a win win situation for writers” Noted Blazanov.
“Your right, and Martha gets to last out the series with her marriage intact without Seth’s inevitable rekindling of our passionate affair.” Added Alma
“In your dreams bitch” muttered Martha, and Seth looked like he was wanted to bolt out the nearest exit.
“Naked cat fight!” Hollered The Tit Licker.
“As a final point I’d like to call to your attention the fact that we have completely jumped the shark.” Said Charlie.
“Exactly, we may not have an ending but we went out swinging!” Cried Al “Now everyone I believe its time to ride off into the sunset.”
“May I bring to your attention assembled citizens, that few famous Westerns end with as simplistic a conclusion. If you look closely at the works of John Ford or Howard Hawks for instance…”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP MERRICK!”
“Ok, ok, you all don’t have to get on my case”
Al poured himself a shot of whiskey.
“Here’s to fuckin’ Deadwood, lets be glad we have what we have.”
“Here’s to fucking Deadwood!” cried everyone, except for Wu who just said