“The story is a sad one, told many times…The story of my life in trying times…Just add water, stir in lime…How the west was won and where it got us…” REM

I packed up my laptop, strapped on my gun belt and began escorting the Black Hat to the train station. If I could get him to the train on time, he´d be a prisoner at the Googleplex by tomorrow morning.

I mapped out our route through Virginia City…we would head down Main St. all the way to Flowery St. where we would sprint the rest of the way towards the station. Initially, Google Maps showed me the best route to the train was a straight shot across D St. …however, we would be too exposed, making me an easy target for the Black Hat gang. No problem…with a little flick of my finger on my iPhone screen, I made a slight alteration to Google´s route. A journey down Main offered us the greatest amount of cover from our adversaries.

I wasn´t nervous as we walked through the hotel lobby / saloon. Sure, the Black Hat crew had run off the Pinkerton men, shot the local sheriff & coerced the local folk to turn against me. However, they failed to take into account two important factors…I was a crack shot with all types of weaponry and I had the technology that would get the Black Hat & I safely to the train station on time.

We walked out the front doors of the establishment onto Main St . It was a brutally hot and very windy day in Virginia City. The streets were deserted. A huge patch of tumbleweed blew past us. Morricone´s theme from “Once Upon A Time In The West” played in my head…wait, it was playing through the earpiece of my iPhone. I shut off the music to better concentrate on the task at hand.

Matt Cutts & the Google Spam Team were supposed to be aboard the Mountain View train to help secure the Black Hat for the journey to the Googleplex. I checked Matt´s Twitter account to see his status…

buyonlymylinks Took out a huge neighborhood today! Hehehe. Blasted those folks back to the stone age. about 8 hours ago from web

Was Matt still at work? Was he playing Halo 3? Hard to tell.

As we walked by the Bucket of Blood Saloon, a hail of gunfire erupted all around us. I pulled the Black Hat down to the ground as we took cover behind some old whiskey barrels just outside the Saloon. I returned fire and blew away a couple of their outlaws in the street…however, it was quite clear they had several men on rooftops and we weren´t going to get anywhere near the train station if I didn´t take them out.

Suddenly, I remembered that I´d seen a live webcam feed of Main St. on a local merchant´s website. Perhaps, I could use it to see the positions of some of the Black Hat Gang. As gunfire sounded around me, I quickly pulled out my iPhone and Googled the URL of the Virginia City Webcam. I was in luck…I had a strong Wifi signal and the camera gave away positions of 4 of their men.

Leaving the Black Hat out of harms way (I could tell he didn´t want to risk being shot in the confusion), I dropped my iPhone in my shirt pocket and ran out in the street with pistols in both hands. I shot two outlaws perched on the balcony of the Red Garter…they broke the railing of the balcony as they fell down to the street. I quickly dropped to the ground, rolled over, and shot two men perched in the windows at Molinelli´s…one fell out of the window on the hotel awning and one slumped back into the room. I sprinted back to collect the Black Hat.

I still had no idea if Matt would be at the train to meet me. I pulled out my iPhone to see if could reach him via IM.

Matt Cutts appears to be offline. Messages you send will be delivered when they sign in.

Great. Suddenly, I received an incoming IM. Who could it be? My wife back at our “soon to be repossessed” ranch? My son who had pulled a gun on the Black Hat when he had one on me? Another member of the Google Spam Team?

Hotsexybarelylegalteens : Cowboy I So Hot 4 U Tonite. Wanna Be My Boyfriend?

Another Viagra Spammer. I bet I´m going to be asked to click AdSense ads too. I clicked her (him?) off and tried to IM the train station.

DeadeyeDan: Trainmaster, is the 3:10 to Mountain View running on time?

VirginiaCityTrainDepot: Running a bit late. What´s all that gunfire I´m hearing from town? Is that your doing Cowboy?

I clicked off. He´d know soon enough.

We sprinted further down Main St., taking shelter in a patch of brush between two of the larger buildings. I went to Matt´s Facebook page, looking for any clue as to whether he might be at the train station:

October 22

Matt and Warren Buffett are now friends. 3:57pm

Matt is buying Larry & Sergey´s Jet 1:25pm

Matt plans to attend What Country Should Google Buy First 1:02am

I already knew all this. I saw nothing that helped my current predicament.

Just then, I felt the touch of cold steel jammed into my neck. My pistols were lifted from my gun belt and handed over to the Black Hat who trained them on me. I was staring down at the gang´s #2…one mean-looking dude. He trained his pistol on me and spoke,

“Good shooting Cowboy, but you didn´t quite finish the job. Is that an iPhone? Toss it over here.”

I reached slowly into my shirt pocket for my iPhone and as I brought it out, a bright beam of sunlight reflected off its surface right into his eyes. Just then, the Black Hat drew his pistol and put a third eye between his other two with a single shot. The Black Hat walked over to the corpse and retrieved my iPhone. He then handed back my pistols.

“So Cowboy, have you figured it all out yet?”

“What do you mean?”

“The reason I ‘allowed´ myself to stay ‘arrested´ is because Google actually recruited me to go work for them. Your mission, which was bought and paid for by Google, is to get me to the train safely and to keep up the ruse until I depart Virginia City .”

“I don´t believe you.”

“Check your email. Google should have sent you a TOS addendum…if you agree to its terms, you will be a much wealthier man.”

The Black Hat wasn´t lying…in my inbox was an email from Google saying that if I agreed to complete the mission and signed off on a broad non-disclosure of anything having to do with it, Google would pay off my mortgage at the bank, force the railroad to assign me back the water rights to my property in perpetuity & deposit $10,000 into my bank account at that same bank. I agreed to the terms. I then immediately received an email from the bank confirming the mortgage fulfillment & deposit and one from the railroad confirming my water rights. I now had a strong feeling I had been part of a very elaborately staged event.

Perhaps a greater good was being served by all of this…however, I didn´t quite see it. All I saw was a lot of dead bodies lying in the streets of Virginia City , a whole bunch of property damage, and a populace scared out of their wits from all the shots fired. Would the suits in Mountain View ever know what events had to transpire in order to fulfill their objectives? Would they ever hear the stories from all those affected? Will they ever see the damage? I doubt it.

The Black Hat confirmed that his “gang” had all been wiped out. So, we left our hiding place and walked further down Main St. where the buildings thinned out and where we saw nice homes and beautiful churches. We turned onto Flowery Street and walked directly to the train.

Hanging about the tracks were Matt Cutts & the rest of the Google Spam team. As I approached Matt and began talking with him, I had two very strong thoughts:

•  For a person of such considerable power, he was an amazingly friendly, down-to-earth great guy.

•  Never had I seen anyone look worse in western clothing. He could not pull off the cowboy look at all.

Matt told me that we had to keep up appearances in case we were being watched, so he slapped the handcuffs on the Black Hat and escorted him into the railroad car. He then came back out and he and the rest of the Google Spam team told me some absolutely incredible stories, none of which I could remember fully because just as the conversation was getting interesting, I remember feeling a sharp pain in my gut. I spun around and could tell that I was shot from a great distance…perhaps from as far away as the local mine, but I couldn´t get a good view of who might have shot me before everything faded to black and I began falling…

The train pulled out of the station for the journey to the Mountain View. Matt posed for a photo with the Black Hat but was quickly pushed aside in favor of Google´s top Media Relations people who needed to prep the Black Hat for the surprise Googleplex press conference. Wall Street was expecting record quarterly earnings from Google and with the upcoming Annual Shareholders Meeting looming, Google´s top execs were working on programming the news that they would be presenting to investors.

Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing / Search Engine Optimization for S.R. Clarke and is on the Board of Directors at SEMpdx. Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn