My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Now listen up folks, we’ve got a story to tell you. It’s 1876 and the garou numbers are on the rise. Wild Bill Hickok’s theatrical production Wild Bill’s Wild West has been hired by the US government to look into the garou gang known as the Pack (yup, them varmints) led by the Alpha as they have experience in such matters. Among his posse is a hothead out to get herself in a few tangles, an ambitious sharpshooter needin’ to prove herself and a dashing young fella living in the shadow of his father. This is the story of the real Calamity Jane, Annie Oakley and Frank Butler.
Wild Bill’s Wild West is parading down the Main Street of Cincinnati, Come one! Come all! While the young girls in the crowd sigh over Frank Butler, Wild Bill’s son, the pistol prince, others dismiss the plain looking Jane, surely that can’t be the heroine of the plains. This somewhat irks Jane as she likes the recognition but not the celebrity. While putting out filets she meets the gorgeous Miss Harris who compliments Jane on stepping out of the confines of her sex and not letting it define her. This makes Jane feel better. As she goes on her way, Jane is followed by Jack McCall, he’s got a message for Wild Bill about the woofs. Wild Bill isn’t a retired garou hunter, Charlie Utter isn’t Bill’s business partner. They are both working undercover, Bill for the US Marshall Service and Charlie for the Pinkertons, and are on the hunt for the Alpha.
Frank loves the show, loves his dad, and isn’t adverse to the adoring female fans either. His dog is though. George the poodle is not a fan of the simpering females, they don’t smell like Frank’s mate, and he makes sure Frank knows. Not in the usual way by barking or pooping in shoes, he straight up tells Frank because Frank can understand animals. Frank wants to keep the show going even after they’ve finally caught the Alpha and Wild Bill is more than willing to pass the torch on to his son, and if Jack McCall is to be believed, this might be sooner rather than later. Jack has come to tell Bill that he has found the Alpha, Mr. Badd. Jack is a woof hunter, basically a garou hunter but he works by himself and uses a less intimidating job title. Jack tells Bill and co. that Mr. Badd is the foreman at the P&G factory where there have been a number of disappearances. While Frank is sure Jack and his awful yellow-toothed smile are the same ones he’s seen at the card table in the last town, it’s a lead worth checking out.
Skipping back a day or two, we meet Annie Mosey, or as we’ll come to know her, Annie Oakley. A self-taught gunslinger, Annie can shoot the hairs off a caterpillar. While her mama and stepfather want to marry her off, Annie wants to run away to join the circus, I mean Wild Bill’s show. Her plan is put into motion and she arrives in Cincinnati and is given a room in the hotel of Mr. Frost who regularly buys the game Annie hunts. While her intention is to meet Bill and company at the show and impress them with her skills, Annie overhears them talking about Mr. Badd and arranging a coach. What could be better than sneaking on the back of the coach and following them to unknown danger, I mean adventure? Annie can’t think of a better opportunity so she grabs her father's Kentucky long rifle, a pouch of ammunition and dashes after the company.
At the factory, Jane is bored and Jack keeps being lecherous and creepy. In desperation and desperation, Jane leaves the coach to find a quiet spot to relieve herself. Instead she finds, not Annie who is hiding under the coach, but huge paw prints. Calling the others and following the trail, Jane finds a half-eaten raw lamb leg and garou fur and hears a sneeze (bless you!). The tracks go into the main factory. Do they go up which is dark and creepy or go down which is dark and creepy? Bill says down.
In the basement are about 14 men in various states of hairiness (bless you) that look to have wounds, some infected. They’ve been bitten by a garou. In the usual manner of these things, the group splits with Jane and Frank going upstairs to locate a key to release the prisoners. They hear voices coming out of the office and see the shadow of a tall man in a top hat who is very angry at a whimpering burly man. Eavesdropping on the conversation, they hear something about being desecrate, Tuesday and the Alpha won’t be pleased. The top hat man seems to be Mr. Badd, the whimpering guy doesn’t really matter because he is shot dead during his change by Frank? When the two come storming out of the office after hearing a loud noise. Frank goes after Mr. Badd while Jane scouts the floor. She doesn’t see Annie in the catwalks, amazed that she actually killed a garou, because Jane is attacked by another two who are chased away when Annie starts the machinery up and the “dead” garou comes back to life. Annie distracts it with a whistle which gives Jane the opportunity to kick it into the bubbling vats of candle wax below. Jane took down the garou by herself! Errr no. Nobody has noticed Annie yet. The garou in the wax turns back into a man and is in fact Mr. Badd. Bill and Frank come running up, the top hat fella, who is not Mr. Badd, has gotten away, Charlie has been hurt and Jack is AWOL. They release the newly infected people and Bill gives them the So You’re a Werewolf - Now What? speech and they are able to get back in time for the show. Jane seems quiet, and has a whiskey or two before the show, which is unusual. Could her mind be on something else, perhaps the garou bite on her arm?
The show is sold out. Jane missed a bottle with her bull whip which is unusual but, okay… she did have a whiskey or two before. George gives the split apple Frank shot off his head to a young lady in the audience because she smelled so nice. Yes, that young lady is Annie. Annie is waiting for Frank after the show and when the crowd of adoring female fans disperse she asks for a job. Frank doesn’t say “yes” but he also doesn’t say “no.” With an “um” Frank brushes the request off and heads to play poker with his father in the saloon. But is a saloon going to put Annie off? No, no it is not.
In the saloon, Jane is in need of a shot or two. First Mr. Buntline saddles up to her, buys her drinks for a few quotes about the P&G factory happenings, next Miss Harris now dressed as a man and going by the moniker Mr. Edward Wheeler tries to get the same information before Jack McCall inserts himself. Jane won’t give anything away but she’ll sure take the whiskey they’re offering. We’ll leave Jane to her whiskey and belching contests, which she is winning, and turn to the poker table where Frank and wild Bill are playing hands with some locals when Annie comes over and inserts herself into the game. Poker isn’t her strong suit but sharpshooting sure is. Mr. Frost, acting as Annie’s chaperone this entire time, says they should have a shooting contest and will give the winner $100. This is nothing to be sniffed at, so they both agree and as Annie leaves she ups her winnings to also include a job. Frank and Bill like Annie’s tenacity but there are other things to consider.
It’s competition time. Annie is dressed in her finest homemade pink gingham dress. Frank, well, Frank is just delicious. The competition is being presided over by the town mayor, up for re-election folks next November! He also wears a top hat which Annie is suspicious of as they “were the ultimate way to disguise bad behavior”. After many rounds where Frank and Annie escalate their showoffyness (yes, that is a word), Frank misses a shot and Annie wins. The $100 is hers and Frank offers her a marriage proposal and a job. Annie admits she knows about the garou hunting, but they’ll have to see about letting her in on that action. The next morning Annie moves in with Jane who has had a moon-filled fever dream as the garou infection takes hold. Whilst being shown the ropes, Annie accidentally lets slip that she was at the factory, how she saved Jane twice and how there had been another garou in the factory. Storming out of the barn, picking Frank up on the way, they go to tell Charlie who is watching a boy at the window holding a gun in his direction. It’s one of the lads they freed at the factory.
Frank manages to calm the situation down, the boy was being blackmailed by the top hat man and could give no further description other than he smelled of peppermint and moonlight (what does moonlight smell like?). While Bill goes off to follow a lead, Jane goes back to the horses. Frank, Annie and George practice for the show. It’s Wild West flirting at its finest. George is besotted with Annie, let’s her rub his belly and follows her commands, including to stop running after the fire engine! even though it’s so much fun. Annie questions Frank about garous and garou hunting. She’s awfully intent about it. It turns out that Annie was held prisoner by a garou couple who had a baby, they pretended to send her mama the money she had earned working for them, and they treated her appallingly - think Cinderella but much scarier and more soul-crushing with no Prince Charming or little mice helpers, but instead claws and teeth and being only 9 years old. One day, Annie walked out, got on a train and a kind, very facially hairy man named Mr. Oakley bought her a train ticket home and shared his peppermint sweets with her. Because of her time with that family, She hates the garou. And though she doesn’t share this back story with Frank, her sentiment does not sit well with him. Because he’s a garou. If you haven’t guessed that already.
Jane is about to drown her sorrows in the hotel bar when Miss Harris walks in. “Saving her” with air quotes from a creep of a man who turns out to be the bellhop, they go and have dinner together. It’s a lovely meal and lovely company but on the way back things go a bit rough (ruff?). Jane coughs up a hairball, disguising it as a less embarrassing belch, and feels tufts of fur sprouting from her knuckles and chin. Miss Harris seems not to notice and Jane once again escapes to the saloon where Bill and company find her before she can get drunk. They think they have located the top hat man… it’s the mayor! The confrontation goes as well as you’d expect. The Mayor runs, they catch him, he won’t tell them anything, Jack McCall gets up in the mayor's face triggering his change but before its complete, Jack shoots him dead.
The next day after that mess takes place, Annie is heading to the post office to send home her winnings when she spots Jane looking into the butchers shop almost trancelike. Jane pulls away and wanders off, leaving Annie alone. Earlier Frank declined her company claiming he needed to teach George a new trick. It’s a bit lonely at this point but tonight is Annie’s first show and it goes fantastically, the crowd eats her up and she basks in it. Frank gives her the cold shoulder as soon as the curtain goes down which she assumes is jealousy because she was so successful and had reporters wanting to interview the great Annie Oakley. Yes, to honor the kindness of Mr. Oakley she takes his name for the stage.
Jane has more fever dreams, this time remembering her drunk layabout father and the terrible conditions she grew up in. That all ended the day of the fight and he started to turn wolf and kicked her out and she reported him to the Sheriff. Her pa was promptly put down. Upon waking with a lot of extra hair, Jane heads to the saloon out the window (she could have used the door) and meets Jack McCall who gives her a pamphlet about a cure to the garou curse being in Deadwood. Jane takes the pamphlet to Miss Harris to read it because she can't read then decides she must go. Another unnecessary trip through the window to gather her things and “borrow” $10 from a sleeping Annie, Jane takes a now necessary trip out the window as Frank and Bill are knocking at her door. Frank had seen Jane talking to a dog while she was out, and putting 2 and 2 together with the extra hairiness and moodiness, realizes she is turning into a garou. Fetching Bill from the poker table, they go to confront and reassure Jane. At this point it must be noted only Frank (obviously) and Bill (he did raise him) know that Frank is a garou. Jane isn’t in her room and after they find a slip of paper mentioning a cure in Deadwood they go to chase her down but she is long gone. We must also note that Annie slept through all of this. All of it. Yeesh.
The next morning Annie is in a panic, a thief has stolen her $10 and left a shiny pink rock in its place and Frank is banging at her door. Frank reminds her that the show is a cover and that her attitude doesn’t fit with the show so they need to part ways, Annie thinks its jealousy over her sudden popularity and in their argument Frank admits that he is garou and his parting shot is that Annie isn’t as nice a person as she thinks she is. She sees garou as monsters, he sees them as people. Annie tries to get a new job, well, she asks at the Post Office who obviously makes a lot of money charging 3 cents per stamp but instead receives her contest winnings marked return to sender. Rejected by the show, rejected by her family but now with funds, she decides to follow Jane to Deadwood to help her (no she doesn’t realize Jane is turning).
In a town not far from Deadwood, Jane is arrested for indecency and drunkenness. She's stumbled up Main Street after her first night changed. The Sheriff lets her use a jail cell out back for the next couple of nights and it’s whilst there, her dreams continue. Her mother was a garou and not a nice one. She doesn’t agree with restrictions on her behavior because she is a Wolf, an apex predator. During an argument, she changes and attacks Jane’s pa so he has to put her down but not before biting him. Meanwhile Frank and Bill are on the train following Jane’s trail. Frank is struggling to write a letter to Annie when Edward Wheeler idles up and starts asking questions about Jane, then a fellow with a huge handlebar mustache walks past who Frank recognizes. He saw him in Cincinnati train station being given money by Jack McCall. Following him into another train car, the man admits to his name, Judd Fry and that he is a thrawl, someone under the control of the Alpha wolf. Rather than answer questions, he throws himself from the train.
Annie isn’t having the best journey, though the train to Chicago went well, the wagons she is travelling with keep having breakdowns and mishaps. Oh, and then there is the bear attack. Annie is saved by Many Horses, a young American Indian girl who has been following Annie for several days and asks for her help. Many Horses' younger sister has been taken, bitten and is being held captive in Deadwood by someone called Swearengen. Many Horses needs Annie to help get her out and gives her a mixture of wolfsbane and other herbs to combat the thrawl her sister may be under.
Jane loves Deadwood, it’s her kind of town - brown, dirty and rough with free chamber pots! She located the Gem Saloon and witnessed Alice Swearengen “cure,” with air quotes, an old lady who is garou. Al looks familiar but her hat and shape disguise her face. The old lady looks familiar too, but Jane is too amazed with the cure to question this further. After the show one of the Gem’s painted ladies takes Jane up to Al’s room where she meets her. “Oh. Hello, Ma” Jane says. WHAT?!?!
Frank and Bill reach Deadwood and locate the Gem. Outside they happen upon Annie who is trying to climb a post to enter through a window. Explaining the events with Many Horses, Frank and Bill go inside since they won’t stand out and honestly, entry via the front door is much easier. They find Jane in Swearengen’s office looking mighty comfy yet cordial, agreeing to all of Swearengen’s demands like taking their meals together, staying at the brothel and doing a few jobs for her. They escape unnoticed and Bill follows the pair as they emerge from the saloon. Annie is even more determined to go back in now that Swearengen’s not there, but Frank has a plan. And it ain’t good… Annie disguises herself as one of the painted ladies. Locating the basement door, because the upstairs is for business purposes *wink, wink,* they find a hidden room with Walks Looking, Many Horses' sister. She’s tied up because Swearengen’s serum to control her wouldn’t take, Walks Looking is too stubborn and angry to let it. She also confirms that there is no cure for garou. They leave the brothel with Walks Looking hidden beneath Frank’s hat and coat.
Jane is being washed and dressed by her ma… she’s in a dress, a corset and a flowery hat. So obviously Jane needs a drink and heads to the bar. As usual, Jane is accosted, first by Mr. Buntline and then by Mr. Wheeler. The former, she tells him where he can stick his pen, the latter she agrees to walk with. As they stroll and talk, Jane leans into and kisses him, I mean her, well Winnie/Wheeler. Winnie confesses to be writing a story about Jane being a garou which upsets Jane to such a degree so has to rush back to her rooms to hide from changing into a garou. Mid-change there is a knock. It’s Frank and when she opens the door he is rather furry but still dashing in his suit and hat. Frank gets Jane to say "woooo" with him which calms her down and they both revert to human form. He tries to tell Jane what is going on. In an exceedingly crushing scene where Jane proves to be dumber than a sack of rocks, things start clicking into place but she won’t believe Swearengen doesn’t have a cure, it’s her mother! Gasp! So she takes a dive out of the window to escape. Yes, we know, she could have used the door.
Annie returns Walks Looking to her sister and as they walk, the conversation makes Annie realize a few truths about herself and Frank. Garou, like people, can be good or bad and she needs to see everyone individually. The next morning as Annie is walking down the street she sees a news headline - CALAMITY JANE IS A GAROU! - gasp! Jane lives in ignorance of the publication for a few hours but on her way back to the Gem from the stables she spots a paper on the ground. Now remember, Jane can’t read, but she can recognize her own name and she knew the story was coming out so 1 + 1 = stones being thrown at her and abusive shouts from some dickheads. When Jane gets to the Gem she is forced to watch her mother's show again and realizes that the person getting the cure, a man with a cane, is the same person from the last time and that it’s actually Jack McCall. In Swearengen's office, Al tells her Jack is her Beta but she wants Jane to take over. In order to do so, she needs to complete a task first., Kill Wild Bill Hickock. Jane says “no.”
Frank is drowning his sorrows, he’s upset Jane has rejected them and Wild Bill explains Jane’s history, how he was the one who killed her pa after she told the Sheriff a wild garou was in her house. He was actually hunting her ma and managed to shoot her once in the shoulder but she got away. She’d been indiscriminately biting, killing and eating people, staying wolf for months on end and terrorizing towns. Bill felt terrible and tracked Jane down, taking her in to hopefully give her a better life. Frank is upset Jane never told him this but then he never told her he was garou. Annie suddenly bursts into the saloon yelling that Jane is garou, it’s all over the papers and a mob is after her to force the cure on her. They head to the Gem where Jane is in the cage, still human, but Swearengen is directing the crowds' hate against her. They are throwing whatever they can at Jane who is cowering in a corner. Swearengen brings the crowd to a fever pitch, whipping at Jane until she changes, which gives her the opportunity to administer the cure. Bill tries to intercede, calling the cure a hoax and after the serum is injected, the crowd hold their collective breath. It doesn’t work. Jane remains a wolf which causes the crowd to go even crazier with Jack McCall stirring them up. Eventually they shout to lock her up and the mob, led by Swearengen and Jack, take Jane in wolf form to the jail.
Swearengen is MAD and disappointed in her daughter, she thinks Bill has brainwashed her and will allow the mob to take her tomorrow if she doesn’t submit. While in the makeshift jail cell at the back of the blacksmith shop, Bill visits Jane, offers her just what she needs: reassurance and family. He’ll win the $100 price for the “cure” at the poker table and buy her freedom. Once they are able to get out of Deadwood, they can reassess the situation. Jane is undone. It’s sweet and messy (she’s an ugly crier). Jane also received a visit from Winnie, and she rejects any explanation Winnie tries to give. After several hours, there is a ruckus outside. Jack MacCall is being driven out of town. One of the mob stragglers explains that Jack shot Wild Bill dead through the back of the head at the poker table.
Frank and Annie are in another saloon at a table playing poker. Frank's not doing so well, but Annie is clearing up when they see a commotion on the street. When they investigate, Frank can hear cries of Bill, Wild Bill and dead. Nooooo. No. No. No! Rushing to Bill’s preferred watering hole, they find him slumped over the table surrounded by a pool of blood. For the first time in his life, Frank can’t control the wolf and changes. Frank rests near Wild Bill and Annie tries to bring Frank back when another wolf bursts through the wall. It’s Jane. They both howl and it is so sad. They revert to human form when Mr. Bullock comes in. He tells them
Jack McCall hasn’t been caught. Frank and Jane turn back to wolf and are ready for the hunt and Annie gets a gun. They track McCall to the butcher shop and find him hiding in the corner begging for his life. They won’t be the cause of any more deaths, but McCall will hang, the people of Deadwood will see to that.
Jane is in Bill's room at the Marriott hotel getting drunk and crying when the owner, Mr. Marriott asks her to vacate the room and remove Bill's things. He also hands Jane a box of Bill's effects including a wallet with $128 and his twin pearl-handled guns, Susannah and Mary Ann. This brings back memories of how Bill found her and took her in which makes Jane put the whiskey bottle down. She goes to the Gem, slams the money down, accuses her mother of being yellow and backs out. Before she can leave the premises, she finds out her mother has sent for her siblings, Mr. Bullock has been appointed Sheriff, and coincidentally, someone who was a judge has recently arrived in town. Looks like the lawless town has suddenly developed a trial system for Jack McCall. When she is outside, who should turn up but Charlie Utter.
The trial is a joke, though witnesses repeatedly state Jack McCall did it, and Jack's own defense was that Bill killed his brother and had threatened him, the jury found Jack not guilty. Outrage! Mistrial! Absolute bullshit! Frank, Annie, Jane and George hatch a plan to right this wrong. Frank and Jane will get Edward Wheeler to write an exposé against Swearengen (yes, this conversation will be super awkward for Jane as she has kissed Wheeler and dismissed her article which turns out to be very nice women's liberation piece and not the trash she thought). Meanwhile, Annie goes to Many Horses and Walks Looking for the cure for the cure. Instead of giving it to all the town as wolfsbane is super poisonous, or just to the garou as that would be super difficult to work out, Annie will administer it to Swearengen, thereby cutting the thrall link. Super!
Winnie agrees to write Jane’s story (and we would like to point out it took Frank a ridiculous amount of time to put the Winnie/Wheeler thing together) and Annie has returned with the cure for the cure as they are heading off to the printers. Hours later, Jane walks into the Gem, tells her mother she will be Beta and agrees to kill Charlie to earn her trust. Jane slips the cure for the cure into Swearengen’s shot glass and they toast the new beginning. The cure for the cure kicks in pretty much straight away, first there is a mustache, then limbs changing, terrible full-body hair growth, and then Buntline runs in holding one of Winnie’s just-published articles and declares it to be the truth because the hair evidence is literally right there. Frank and Annie are waiting outside the Gem, Frank is so close to telling Annie he loves her when the newspaper boy comes running up with Winnie’s story. The townsfolk are lapping it up, but they don’t believe it. Jane comes running out of the Gem, followed by garou minions. As Annie goes to get her gun, Frank and Jane lead them on a merry chase (it’s not so merry really) until they reach an alley, stuck between some of the townsfolk and garou minions, but instead of being attacked, the two groups go after each other. Meanwhile, Swearengen is getting away with McCall in a stagecoach.
Our intrepid trio race to the livery for their horses. Charlie is there with something to tell them but they are in far too much of a hurry to listen. Catching up to the stagecoach, Annie takes an absolutely AMAZING shot to blow out the axel. It involves balancing on a horse going full pelt, a northwestern breeze, limited light and a small moving target. Seriously, this lady has mad skills. She is then able to take out the front axle, while Franks shoots the yoke, setting the horses free and driving the stagecoach to a standstill. Swearengen and McCall burst out of the stagecoach and hold Frank and Jane hostage. McCall is an idiot and only has regular bullets in his gun, not silver, so he takes Frank (they don’t know he’s a garou). Swearengen does have silver bullets, so she holds Jane. And Annie? They make her drop her gun. Then they tie them up in the stagecoach and place a stick of dynamite attached to a clock in with them (this has suddenly turned all Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner). Frank is pouring his heart and soul out to Annie who can’t talk what with having a dirty rag stuffed in her mouth by McCall. Jane is begging whatever almighty being is out there to save them and she’ll right her wrongs if they can also tell her what those wrongs are. Annie meanwhile has been freed by Many Horses and Walks Looking who had followed their trail and dismantled the bomb. Swearengen and McCall are not far away, arguing about which horses to take, so there is ample opportunity to get their guns back. As Jane is about to get them, an intense, painful whistle can be heard by Jane, Frank, Swearengen and McCall. Jane is able to focus on its source for a second. It’s Wild Bill!
A group hug ensues! Yes, WIld Bill is a garou, Frank turned him when he was a toddler while he was teething. Swearengen takes advantage of the touching reunion to pull a gun on them. While a dynamite distraction takes place and in a magnificent display of acrobatics, Annie vaults over the group hug and knocks the gun from Swearengen who promptly pulls another gun on her. Jane and Frank show that their bullwhip and shooting talents are not only for show and Swearengen and McCall are captured. Sheriff Bullock and Charlie happen along conveniently at that time to take them into custody.
This time, the trial goes as it should, they are found guilty and shipped out of Deadwood to stand proper trial. Wild Bill has his funeral, which is lovely. Charlie gives a wonderful eulogy which is good because the deceased was in attendance. The deceased’s son gets engaged at the graveside. One year on and the shows are more successful than ever. They’ve each found happiness! Annie and Frank, Jane and Winnie, Bill and Agnes (who is now the stagehand and ring master respectively) and good ole Charlie. They are now The Magnificent Seven...