An interview with Clay Tidwell

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Clay Tidwell is the local schoolmaster and sometimes lawyer of Great Bend. When not shaping the young minds of the town he can likely be found at the local saloon. A connoisseur of alcohol since quite a young age he has a deep love of drink. One of the town’s most colorful citizens he can also be found from time to time filling in during shifts at the local saloon.

What is it like being a schoolmaster in a town like Great Bend?

Being the schoolmaster in Great Bend is thankless. People don’t care about education, so my efforts are mostly wasted. It’s lonely (most potential students are dead) and it’s a daily struggle to not give up on humanity. Other than that, I love it.

Was it refreshing to take a break from your teaching to work as a lawyer?

I wouldn’t say it was refreshing to take a break, because it wasn’t really a break. A break suggests that it was MY idea. I was forced into service. I was forced into prosecuting a very dangerous man who holds grudges. So no, it wasn’t refreshing. A lawyer is what people use when they wanna say mean things to a bad man, but are too scared to do it themselves. That’s why lawyers get paid so much. Oh wait, I had to do it for free as a “service” to the town. fun. refreshing.

Was it a particular scary moment when you had to hide all of those copies of Honey’s tell all book after Cole escaped those proceedings?

If by scary you mean that I pooped in my pants multiple times, then yes.

Did you ever forgive Hoyle for that whole ordeal?

I have not forgiven Hoyle for that debacle. I have a list of 49 transgressions that I have not forgiven Hoyle for. I call him the unforgiven. Hey, that’s a good title for a western movie.

What it is like to live in a town so closed minded to your particular lifestyle?

I know what you’re getting at with this “lifestyle” question. You’re not saying I’m gay, but you want me to out myself. Well…I just did. Yeah, I’m gay. And I don’t care what anyone’s attitude is about it. What I care about is that there aren’t enough men who share my “lifestyle.” Men that I could connect with. Although there are some, they just keep it quiet.

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Is it true you starting drinking when you were seven years old with your best friend Sam? Are those moments you remember fondly?

Sam was a dear dear friend. If I could remember specifics about our drunken times together I’m sure I’d remember them fondly. All I really remember is us taking long walks, then opening a bottle. After that there was usually a weird smell and a pool of vomit that I was lying in. But the walks and the opening of the bottle…I do think of those fondly.

Did it feel somewhat therapeutic to be able to open up and talk about your early experiences in the town meeting on alcoholism?

No, it did not feel good to open up at the meeting. People were small minded and insensitive. It’d be nice if there could be a meeting for alcoholics that involved zero judgement and a safe environment. Every time Shank does that weird throaty inhale it’s just a tiny little stomp on my integrity.

Did you enjoy filling in for Pearl for those couple of days? Did doing so give you a newfound respect for how hard the ladies all work over at the saloon?

I gotta say, I really DID enjoy filling in for Pearl. I had more sex than…well than I had since I took that trip to Dodge City when I turned 18. Granted, I had to dress and act like a woman. Believe it or not, that’s not every gay man’s dream. I’m a man. However, I was happy to make this sacrifice…for Pearl. Do I appreciate the hard work they put in now? No. It wasn’t hard. I had sex with men…and got paid. That’s a prize, not work. Although some of those men…have you seen them? Yikes.

Were you surprised to hear the accusations that some of the customers didn’t know you were in fact male? Do you find that insulting?

I don’t find it insulting at all. That means I did a good job. I didn’t want to get caught! Some men may not react kindly when they find out the woman they’re schtooping is actually a man. I will say though, that a few of the men allowed me to penetrate them, so I feel like they knew something was up.

Did you catch any grief for walking out after getting shot during the shoot out during the raid on Cole Younger?

I DID catch grief for walking out early, and here’s why that’s stupid: I’m not a trained professional law enforcement official and I’m not a criminal. I shouldn’t have a gun in the first place. I did a great job though, while I was involved. Then I got shot. I could’ve stayed in the fight and gotten blood all over everybody and distracted everyone from the fight. I was the bigger man and walked away. You’re welcome everyone.

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Was it nice to wear frilly dresses and get more in touch with you feminine side?

Like I said, I prefer dressing as a man and am very good at it. I have a panache that people appreciate. I will say though, that I looked the best of all the men. Did you see Shank? I actually felt sorry for how ugly he looked.

What was it about the Jehovah’s Witnesses that drew you into their flock at the time?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses caught me at a time of fear and vulnerability. It looked like the world was gonna end and I needed a ticket out. To be clear, i also signed up for Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and 2nd Presbyterianism. Wanted to cover all my bases. Gotta hedge your bets.

Have you always been a deeply religious man? What are your feelings on life after death and the like?

I’ve never been religious. My religion is survival. And it’s worked out so far. Part of me believes that when you die you arrive at a place where men wear skimpy outfits and fast music plays and we all parade through the streets of big giant cities. We all have so much pride and there are rainbows everywhere. I know that’s ridiculous though, so I’m pretty sure we become worm meat.

What are you about life in Great Bend are you most looking forward to next?

Life in Great Bend is comfortable enough. I’d like more respect to be honest. I’m obviously the smartest person in town, but I don’t get treated that way…because everyone else is so stupid and doesn’t realize how smart I am. Kind of a catch-22…whatever that means. I would like for a caravan of gay men, or at least flamboyant, cultured men to arrive in time. That’s my hope for the future.

Anything else you’d care to say?

What would I like to add? I’m open to a new sheriff, if anyone is thinking about taking over, I’d support you. Also, I worry about dying alone. That’s not supposed to be funny. I truly fear it and think about it every day. Now go enjoy your day everyone. Go enjoy your day.

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