Buffalo Bill in the Gallery of the Machines
by Mark Rapacz
“Buffalo Bill polished off two quick tumblers of cognac in an attempt to gather hot strength before confronting the problem, or rather the man, standing in the wavering amber and gold darkness, the finale’s flickering light licking the shadows as if skittish around the very thing that remained still, ominous, and hulking in the center of the room. For here was a man that had come for Buffalo.”
In Buffalo Bill in the Gallery of the Machines, legendary Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West, a menagerie of exotic animals and human eccentrics, are on the verge of bankruptcy until the troupe goes over seas for a tour through Europe. To his American audience, Buffalo’s Wild West is losing its appeal as the true West fades from memory and new technologies become more glorious than Western wonders. To his crew and inner-circle, Buffalo strains his closest relationships, especially with his confidant and friend, Sitting Bull, as the onetime cowboy hero becomes ever more dependent on the booze that dulled his senses and dimmed his conscience, reawakening the violent roughrider he once was. To himself, Buffalo tries to make peace with the West he once knew and tame the quixotic West of his own creation. All the while, the star of his show, a giant beast of a man with near-miraculous strength, threatens to leave his leading role to discover his mysterious past. Here is a Western tale told with the very same spirit in which Buffalo Bill Cody himself created his Wild West spectacle, where the truth of history is one to be stretched, ignored, and made all the more wild.