“There’s no rhyme or reason for it,” Jim Donderern said about nothing in particular. Which is about par for Jimmie’s conversation starter when strangers were in the bar. He would say “no rhyme or reason,” lift a bait beer to his lips and sip. Waiting for a line of fresh beer bottles on the bar, so he had reason to delved the intriguing subject of “nothing at all,” and its linguistic cousin “nothing in particular.”
He mined both of those properties for all the gold they had in them. And since both properties were about as rich as common dirt, what he usually pulled into the conversation was fool’s gold. The other regulars at the West Bench Tavern, were completely aware of the banality of Jimmie’s rhyme or reason, so between him and them there was a truce. He didn’t say rhyme or reason, and they bought a beer or two for him just to keep him stable. He may have offered a word or two on cow prices, banker’s meanness, women and horse flesh conversations. And the other regulars listened as if what he said had some interest. Sometimes it might have.
But West Bench is a tourist village and there a lot of prospectors for local color from places like Mini Napolis, Lost Angels, and New Yawk who have listened to too much Copland and watched way too much Bonanza, and they are ready to pay good cash for something—anything—from the legend of the West and Montana in particular. And here on a bar stool is Jimmie, his ragged and soiled old white felt hat tipped back to show a few strand of what was once blond hair, his rheumy blue eyes and roughish, leather skinned face suggesting time in the saddle on lonesome ranges singing “I’m Riding Old Paint”. So, being ignorant of Jimmie’s mining operation and the real value of its ore, they will likely say, “No rhyme nor reason for what?” This of course, is what Jimmie needs to begin the mining operation. He begins to haul out the worthless ore of legend and myth chunk by chunk. He exhibits each chunk to its mean fullest. He explains each nuance of what has no rhyme nor reason, suggests glints that need further explanation, then without delving that explanation, he finds another glint that might be interesting and doesn’t explain why it would be interesting either. All this he offers on the scale for assessment with a final “Just no rhyme nor reason, just none.”
Since there is usually some hint that the glints might offer a lode of Western Legend and Montana Myth, Jimmie can usually prospect each dude for two, three or (for the real innocents) four beers before their innocence is shed and they turn to talking at each other about Royal Wulfs and particularly large trout they have not managed to land.
And if you listen closely—which of course the dudes, intent on lying to each other about the Last Lost River Cutthroat they almost landed, are not doing—you will hear Jimmie mutter something as he turns to processing his haul for a good old golden drunk. If you are sitting nearby and if you are not engaged in the larger lies of fishing, what you hear Jimmie say is “The rhyme is ‘because’. The reason is yet to be extracted, leached, paid out, and banked.”