Friday, September 30, 2005

Almost Done, I Swear

I'm almost done, but I don't want to rush the ending. Some of you may be able to guess now how it will end, as I have laid clues out that are a little too telling to be giving without showing the ending.

By the way, it's my birthday today; I'm officially forty something at 41. Let's hope that life begins at forty, huh?

Part 1
Part 2

Ned pulled up to the corner of Main and Tupelo and looked through the front window of the bar Evie had mentioned, and remembered seeing the place while searching for a hotel in this backwoods midwestern town. He was fifteen minutes early so he parked across the street and waited for Evie to show.

His brain felt like a rock, and he wished not for the first time that he hadn't thrown his meds away. A woman with a short jean miniskirt, lipstick-red cowboy boots and long, dark hair that cascaded from a white cowboy hat down the length of her back danced in front of the club as the pounding beat from within pulled at her strings like a marionette. Ned stared for a moment and blinked twice. He almost didn't recognize her, but there stood Evie. It only now struck him as odd that she had found him so far away from home.

Evie looked around the street, and Ned ducked out of sight. She wouldn't recognize the car he was in. He dumped off the truck the night he left Hayden Lake, and stole the car to replace it. German engineering was known for it's excellence, but he had never actually driven a Mercedes before. The sound system was impeccable, and the ride was like skiing through fresh powder. Thinking about it made him dizzy, but try as he did, he could not remember what possessed him to make the swap. His pickup truck was his pride and joy. Many Sunday afternoons turned to dusk while he washed and waxed until it shined like a crown jewel.

He cautiously peeked over the steering wheel, and found that Evie had gone inside. His hands were cold, so he rubbed them together furiously to warm them. The doorman regarded him as Ned approached with a suspicious glare.

"You look like shit," the man boomed like a bass drum.

"Yeah, well I feel like shit too. I could really use a cold one, know what I mean?"

The doorman didn't respond, but leaned towards him and stared, probing and aggressive. Ned felt self conscious and tried not to blink. "Keep your nose clean and don't cause any trouble," the man said finally, but his manner promised a savage 'or else.' He moved aside just enough so that Ned had to turn sideways to squeeze by, and as he did, he felt the doorman's breath on his face that huffed in loud gusts from his overlarge, bull-sized nostrils.

The dance floor was packed with men and women dressed in colorful cowboy regalia line dancing to an upbeat western swing. His eyes were irritated by the smoke that hung in the air like billowing fog on a windless day. There was no circulation, creating a rank fusion of sweat, smoke, shit, sawdust and stale beer, tempered with a touch of perfume--like a clammy armpit with a swipe of chap stick. The bar was a corral enclosed by a ring of beer glasses, pitchers and stools, where three bartenders bounced around like pinballs, taking drink orders with complete indifference and eye contact on a need-to-look basis only.

Evie sat on the other side of the bar closest to front window, so Ned found a spot kitty corner from her. When the bartender asked, "What'll it be," Ned replied, "A Bud for me, and whatever the girl is having." The bartender looked to where Ned pointed. His eyes widened for a moment, then he shook his head.

"No way."

Over the bartender's shoulder Ned saw his reflection in a mirror between stacks of shot glasses. His face was gaunt and his eyes were sunken with dark rings. He pulled out a hundred dollar bill and placed on the bar. "Just do me this one favor and keep the change."

The bartender hesitated, then, cocking an eyebrow, took the money and went to Evie. He leaned over the bar and gestured towards Ned, then fixed her a Tequila Sunrise. She looked at Ned with a smile that wavered slightly when she saw him. When the bartender gave him his beer, he scooped it off the bar and made his way around to where she sat.

"Care for a dance cowgirl," he asked with a smile, that despite his bedraggled look, illuminated his face. She turned slowly with her drink in hand and took a long pull from the straw.

"I appreciate the drink cowboy," she said with some contempt, "but I'll settle for a how d'ya do, and thank you to be on your way."

to be concluded...


jenbeauty said...

OH man what a Bitch...ok that is the first thing that went through my mind. Ned is gonna lose it!!

I love it Scott.

Scott said...

Jen - I think you are right!

starbender said...

Happy Birthday! Just surfed in, enjoyed your story!

Scott said...

Oy, a newcomer, and most welcome. Thanks for stopping in; check back tomorrow (or Monday) for the conclusion.

Sadie Lou said...

"like a clammy armpit with a swipe of chap stick."

Nice. I like that. Happy Birthday, friend.

Mrs.T said...

... murder weapon = broken beer bottle ... or just strangulation?

Happy Birthday!!!

jenbeauty said...

OH geez I forgot to wish you Happy Birthday!!!

Scott said...

Sadie - Thanks Sadie, and thanks for the free plug today!

Mrs T - Perhaps rabbit, perhaps.

Jen - Why thank you Miss Jen!

Tee said...

Awh, poor Ned! LOL.

Happy birthday!

Mr. T said...

I imagine his hatred is to such a boiling point at this time.. that his eyes will pierce her skull with heat rays. He seems to be at the edge of sanity at this point... looking over into the abyssmal fate of a ruined man and seeing that its him.

Happy Birthday Old Boy... keep the juices flowing. Anxiously awaiting the conclusion to this grisly tale.

Shesawriter said...