The Hills has fallen victim to the recession. Yes, a single job loss has swept the dusty mounds, and, presumably, has blown over the actual hills as well. We weep for Handbags, deprived of employ.

You'll remember that last week Lauren was tasked with the wicked job of firing Handbags because Handbags is a mutton-faced idiot who isn't really capable of anything but staring at walls and applying more and more makeup. But Lauren was scared, so Lauren delayed, and the whole drama was dragged out over a scuttling little half hour.

Audrina, all pear-like and twinkly now that she's free of the dark Justin Bobby, was off at work for music. Audrina has been working at music for a while now, but music has finally let her hang out with bands and sort of weakly put coats on them. "Here... c-...coat..." Audrina mumbles when she is working her hardest. Audrina was especially happy last night because her favorite band in the world was filming a music video. They are called The White Tie Affair (that is a play on the phrase "black tie affair," which means a fancy party, so I guess this would be the opposite? I don't know, I don't really get art, I'm more of a meat 'n' potatoes kinda guy, y'know?), and they are four or so boring boys from Chicago. Because they are boring and blisteringly lame, Audrina and Handbags are in love. Oh, yeah, I forgot. Handbags showed up to watch the music video after saying, "sorry I'm late, I couldn't get out of work." Which, hahahaha. Won't be a problem for ya pretty soon, Handsy!

So the girls flirted and the boys simpered and acted above it all, secretly thrilled to be on the telebbision, and they made plans to go and have some shimmerdrinks at the crystalpalacebar and Handbags said "I'm gonna need to put on some more makeup..."

Past the killer jackrabbits, past the cow skulls bleaching in the sun, past the flaming trashcans, past the old crone cackling with her two teeth whistling, past the moldering pile of raccoon cadavers, there is a little sun-dappled house that smells of onions and cowpies, low-slung and sunken into a hill. This is Heidi and Spencer's house. The lovely couple was talking about Heidi's dad, who is coming to town to shoot Spencer. Yeah, see Spencer's dad is a crazy cowboy and he carries a gun at all times, even on the aeroplane, cram it with beaver biscuits, FAA, and he is mad at Spencer for not asking him for Heidi's mangled, bearclaw-like hand in marriage. So Spencer put on some Kevlar and said "Well, I guess I'm meeting your dad, huh?" "Guess so..." whined Heidi. Guess sooo, blubbered the rest of us.

When Mad Dog Montag finally ambled into town, everyone went to a sprinkly tinkly luncheon where Mad Dog wore his cowboy hat and glowered at Spencer. After a spell he pushed back from the table and said "Well, yep, let's get on with this thing, huh?" So he stood up, and quaking in his spurred boots like little Leo DiCaprio in The Quick and the Dead, Spencer stood up too. The two men eyed each other, and then in a bright, leathery flash Mad Dog whipped out his pistol and shot Spencer square between the eyes. Dead as Dilbert. Heidi fell to the ground and, clutching Spencer's lifeless body, cried "Oh lordy no, Oh lordy lordy no, not mah Spencer. Oh Daddy, why'd you have to go 'en kill mah only beloved? Oh lordy lordy no. Spencer. I hate you, cruel West! Why must you take all the good ones, Lord?" Basically it was the episode of 90210 where Dylan has the Wild West past life flashback.

Actually, that didn't happen. What happened was that Mad Dog wasn't that scary at all. Yes, he was wearing a cowboy hat, but he and Spence seemed to have a rapport. Spencer made fun of Heidi's mom, Marla Hooch, which Mad Dog didn't seem to disagree with. Then Mad Dog started talking about how the West works and Spencer says "Hah, I think I should move to the West then." Which, um. Spencer. You're... You're in... Cali-.... Here. Here's a coat.

Meanwhile Handbags and Audi went out with Dirk and The Chancellor, two of the boys from the white tie party. They were stirring drinks and murmuring strange things to each other and then suddenly Audi and Dirk decided to get up and walk away. Fair enough. So it was Handbags and The Chancellor alone, grinning like idiots at one another. Then they got to talking about the road and girlfriends and stuff. Audrina has previously said that boys in bands are very promiscuous, so watch out. Handbags asked if The Chancellor had a girlfriend back in Chitown. "Um, y'know. Somethin' like that. It's hard. I got a situation, y'know? It's like... y'know." Then Handbags asked if they lived together. "Um, y'know. It's like... something like that. Y'know? Like, maybe." Which means, yes, he has a serious girlfriend and they live together. Or rather, he had a serious girlfriend and they lived together. Until last night.

So, props to her, Handbags said no way and instructed Audrina, in a loud stage whisper, that they had to leave right away. "OH! OK. WE GOTTA GO GUYS, EARLY MORNING TOMORROW!" Audrina said, trying to play along. Though yelling and winking at Handbags and poking her in the ribs with her elbow probably didn't do much to convince Dirk and The C-Spot that they really did, in fact, have an early morning. Plus they don't do any work, so. Y'know.

After that high holy debacle, it was time for Spencer to go on a romantic beach walk with Mad Dog. They held hands and talked about the future and stole kisses under the pier and then one sandy thing led to another sandy thing and before they knew it, Spencer was thrusting himself upon Mad Dog's tawny, wrinkled hide and they were both panting heavily, their brows moist with the sweat of passion. As they finished and fell into a California Cowboy heap on top of each other, Mad Dog whispered wetly into Spencer's ear "You kin marry mah daughter, pardner."

Then it was time for the firing. Lauren walked in. So did Handbags. "I'm so sorry... but Kelly feels... that she's busy... and... sad... thing... You can't... Here's... a coat." And then, like she was in a Daniel MacIvor play, Handbags said "This is me getting fired." Yes, dear. It was you getting fired. So she burst into tears! And didn't you kind of feel bad for her? I mean her emotions seemed really genuine. "These are the consequences," she fumbled. Oh poor Handbags.

Naw, I'm just pretending. I don't give a shit about that dumb old badger.

Handbags later when to Heidi or someone to complain about getting fired, but mostly to complain about The Chancellor having a live-in girlfriend and Heidi was scandalized, but then she had to go because Spencer told her to meet him at the Santa Monica pier. So she hopped into the bumper car she'd stolen from Magic Mountain three years ago and hovered off down the street to the beach.

They got on the big Ferris wheel they've got down there and away they went, wobbling up to heaven like two dead toddlers. Once they got to the top, of course the wheel stopped. "I spoke to your dad today..." Spencer cooed. "Oh yeah? What did he say?" Heidi chirped woodenly. "Well, at first he was just like 'faster, harder, right there, right there, oh god, right there.'" Heidi's nose wrinkled. "Weird." "Oh, yeah, but, um, then after that, he was all 'marry my gal. The hell do I care?' So... Will you marry me?"

He then pulled out an enormous yellow diamond ring that was actually made as a novelty ring for the episode of Sesame Street where Big Bird comes out. But that episode never actually taped, so the ring got lost in the studio's props loft. Until today! "This ring makes up for everything!!!!" squealed Heidi. And so they will wed, in a "big princess wedding." Good for them. Terrible for us. Though, on the plus side, the wedding will bring us something that is all at once old, new, borrowed, and blue: Kristin Cavallari. Whee.

So that's that. They probably just teetered on down back to the Earth and Spencer stared off to the underside of that wooden pier and could still smell Mad Dog's oaky smell on his clothing, still feel the warm sting of suede digging into his haunches. What a passion he'd known, for just a brief moment! And now there was this.

His cream of wheat bride. His quickly erasing future.

That night after a cold and rubbery bout of lovemaking, after Heidi fell asleep and the room was filled with her whiny hissing snores, Spencer too, after a long while, drifted off into dreams.

He dreamt of a ranch. Of brown grass spilling out for miles. Of mountains. Of how the West was fun. Of Mad Dog.

And in the dream Spencer knew that Mad Dog was going on ahead and he was fixing to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and he knew that whenever he got there Mad Dog would be there.

And then he woke up.