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Jackie Hope: The lasting mystique of ‘The Last Tree’

NOOOOO! Say it ain’t so! Please say we have not read the last of “The Last Tree.” Some of us really need to know what will become of The-Action-Hero-Guy-With-No-Name and Chris. Where will they go? What will they do?

Oh well.

We needed to get more info on this mystery, and the man behind the mystery. So we went to Mr. Holten, himself to get a handle on the buried box, before it drove us out of our tree.

Besides being a cowboy, “The Drill” manager and a Hall of Fame executive director — wait, that makes Kevin sound like he is in the executive directors’ Hall of Fame. Hmm, maybe he is. He’s sort of a mystery, isn’t he? But besides being all those things, he says he is a “storyteller with an overactive imagination.” Kevin says he looks at writing as being an “adventure” and he thinks up the story as he writes it.

And do you suppose that is why The-Action-Hero-Guy-With-No-Name’s truck went into the shop along about Chapter 2, and stayed there? Not to worry. No-Name always seemed to have some hot chick hankering to drive him around.

Kevin had no idea how popular his serialized cliffhanger would become. He wanted for “Our Town,” to have repeat readers and to keep them reading on a weekly basis. Whoa! Bonus! Not only does he have repeat readers, he also has folks who want to buy the “book version” in order to swallow it in one mysterious gulp. Kinda like binge-watching “C.S.I.” or “Downton Abbey.” OK, it’s nothing like bingeing on “Downton,” except for maybe some of Lady Mary’s and Chris’ characteristics being similar. They are both girls. And maybe Lady Mary rode a horse once or twice.

We asked Kevin if a serialized page-and-a-half-at-one-reading mystery was at all similar to life itself. Because it is tempting to wish we could compartmentalize our own lives into manageable chunks. And, hey, we all saw some people we knew in “The Last Tree,” didn’t we? We girls had crushes on the bad boys who were always questioning authority. Well, some of us did. Although we might feel drawn to the “Tree” characters, and the quick pace of their adventures, Kevin says, “attempting to serialize human experiences into … bits is like eating a picture of a steak instead of the steak itself. There is a major loss of flavor.” So go for the gusto, girl, and own that bad boy crush!

The-Action-Hero-Guy-With-No-Name reminds me of Humphrey Bogart in “Key Largo,” and Clint Eastwood in “Pale Rider.” Or was it Eastwood as “Bronco Billy?” Did you see “Bronco Billy?” Yeah, it was kinda dippy. It was a silly Billy. I only went to see it three or four times. Kevin says No-Name is not as rough as “Dirty Harry,” and does more introspective thinking. Well, I still think he is Eastwood-ish.

Can’t you see ol’ Clint, bellying up to the bar in Mesquite’s Virgin River Casino? “Your Cheatin’ Heart” is on the jukebox and Chris, played by Sharon Stone, is on the move. But now — now, No-Name and Chris are stuck in time, just like the truck that went into the shop and never came out again. Victims of the plot. Kevin says, “They are people who have ridden the roller coaster of life.”

C’mon, Kevin, we want another go-round!

And, finally, there is the real star of the show, The Box. What is it with boxes? Kevin wrote a serialized Christmas story a few years ago, featuring a box. “Pulp Fiction” had its briefcase/pseudo-box with a mysterious light inside. Even Sneak Pique’s “Charley’s Ghost Story” ended with a mystery box containing a mysterious light. No-Name had the key to the “Tree” box, and we waited and waited to see what was in the box. That box was even more mysterious than No-Name. Remember what was in the box? Nah, ain’t gonna tell ya, because anticipation is three-fourths of the pleasure. You can have your very own remembrance of things past.

Man, I am so gonna miss “The Last Tree.” Whatever comes next will be good, but we’re really jonesing for a “Boxing Day: Return to Mesquite.”

One question lingers. Inquiring minds want to know. Kevin, what was your total body count by the end of Chapter 50?