View Full Version : Chapter of My First Mystery Novel (5000 words - Profanity Warning)

April 23rd, 2013, 08:28 AM
The two whores who were set over in the corner at Wilsonís Tavern had been there for one hell of a long time.

Joe Pepper knew this because theyíd been there longer than he himself had. Heíd been there long. Least as long since the free lunch had ended and the daylight had passed on from the cracks where the stretched coon skins did not caulk to the windows and glimmers of the microcosmic activity of Memphis Street on a Wednesday evening flickered by autistically.
The coonskins held a perpetual embarrassment to Joe. Wasnít that he was real precious about such things, but he knew enough to say that a saloon whose landlord didnít care to invest in glass windows was never going to get any better than its lot. And the lot was the same. Had been the same since Joe had moved from New Orleans. Real nice place heíd worked there. Cafť Rimbaud, that had been its name. Placeíd had good liquor and better glass. Was a civilized place. A real nice place.

But then itíd been six months now. Six months at Wilsonís Tavern. Seven in Texas in all. Hadnít been so much a matter of choice as no chocie at all. When the trouble had ended back in New Orleans, Joeíd been left with nary to choose from beyond what eight points of a compass and fifteen dollars offered. Texas had not been the better choice but itíd been the easiest. And so he had come to San Antonio. Spent six straight months of nothing but pouring whiskey and watching a revolving scene of lowlifes and whores come and go like rabbits to a goddamn cloverfield.
Two who sat there now were as usual as any, their crimped lashes quivering like tore ravenwings with faces that were powdered like minstrels to cover places where theyíd got scarred up and burnt from all the years of the ugly life. Had Joe been ten years younger he might have pitied them. Twenty and he might have lusted for them. But, at the age of forty one, he no longer had room in his heart for much else but weary contempt. They would wave to him as he skulked behind the counter, smiling dirty but sweet, Joe brought them the whiskey. He did not smile back not engage them in conversation, but kept the bottle suspended. Kept it that way until each whore had laid down a dime on the table. When the dimes appeared, dirty and sad, and Joe would pour. Through the hours, the whores had drunk almost half of the quart bottle of Springer Six between them. By six, Joe had accounted for a dollar forty for the landlord and nothing more. He etched the sum on the ledgerbook with a dismal sneer. It had been a slow day and it would be slower night. Joe knew better than any when it came to keeping what meager money they had close to them, a whore was second to none. Not even the best Jew moneylender was gifted like a whore, Joe would think. Nothin on earth wiser than a woman who had to sell hesself to get by.

Junior Wilson, Mister Wilsonís son, he came in but once that night at around eight or so. Joe stood aside to let him pass but otherwise did nothing to acknowledge and for his part Junior said little as opened up the lockbox. He took out the five dollars the bar had made that day plus another ten. When he rose his feet jagged and Joe smelled the sharp odor of brandy as though his thick strawberry yellow whisker line though it was marinaded in the stuff. Money was all in pieces of nickels and pennies and he counted it slowly there on the bartop while Joe wiped the dust from the costlier liquors that he'd never witnessed anybody ask for and listened as he counted the money out loud like the rambling of a judge. Without saying a word he pulled the bottle of Courvoisier and lifted it. Gulping down a big mouthful, Junior thrust what was left back into Joeís grasp and smiled. Hell, he muttered, his voice drunken sounding, even at a low volume. I bet I know what youíre thinkin-
Youíre thinkin I shunt be suppin País brandy.
Aint that right?
Joe shrugged.
So, Junior slurred, ye think its all right if I do?
Like I say I donít know.
You donít know if stealin is a sin?
I believe it is.
So why donít ye know if tis wrong if I steal from my Pa?
I suppose because heís your Pa.
All right. Junior giggled. He placed the lock box on the table. Looking around to make sure the whores nor anybody else but Joe was watching, Junio Wilson pulled two of the bills from the box. One at a time he slid them into his breast pocket. How about now, he said. So this aint a sin in your eyes, is it Joe?

Joe smiled uncomfortably. From the dark concealment of the pocket lip, the top of each greenback heaved with Juniorís inebriated breathing. He shook his head.
You dint answer my question, Junior said, smiling wolfishly.
Joe shook his head. He turned and picked up the courvoisier and wiped clean the smear of Juniorís palm. What time dya want me to be closin mister, he muttered. Iím slow tonight as you can see.
After a few moments, Juniorís smile cracked into a heckling giggle. Damn, he muttered. You sure is gutless Joe. Aint no wonder ye did what ye did.
It donít damn nor honor me.
Would damn most, Junior said. Reckon most would rather be damned.
If you says so, Joe muttered, a sweeping nausea whooping his belly. Will there be anythin more ye be wantin Mister?
Junior laughed again. He opened up the lock box and pulled out another two bills and shoved them in with the other two before shaking his head. Know whatís funny about you Joe?
Even if you did tell my Pa about me I still wunt be nowhere as near ter hell as you.

Around nine or so Joe rang the chain bell that was suspended above the modest selection of dusted bottles. Before the rusted toll was gone, the whores had risen, their knees buckling as they meandered towards the door and out into the night. Not long after heíd locked up and put the rest of the money away, there was a quiet rattle at the door. Joe looked up, his gut murmuring as it always did, always in hope that some breed of creature who had him deep pockets and a quiet mouth would present himself. For Joe, even the misery of the years and of Wilsonís had not extinguished this optimism entirely. Not in the face of money anyhow. Like any pauper on the dismal march to desitute elderly years, he obsessed for it. He had to. There were certain curses that came with bad choices, and they were harder than Louisiana mosquitos when it came to shaking them. Misery be damned, he was always a child of hope when it came to money. The trouble back in New Orleans had taught him so. He went to the door and opened it cautiously.

Good evenin, he softly said.
That you? came the reply. Joe?
Joe stared out into the dark of the porch. His eyesight, already bad, was made worse still by the muffled gaslight of the saloonís interior. As his vision regained focus he felt the optimism extinguish itself like a long sigh at the sight of an elderly man. His face grinning at him in the dark. Joe stared dumbly for a moment. Barís closed, he finally grunted.
Beg pardin?
I said the bar be closed, Joe said again. We close at nine. Yeíll have to go on ter someplace else.
I got money. All I wants a brandy.
Well I donít got no brandy left.
Whiskey then. You got that. Donít lie to me.
Its affer nine.
So what?
We close at nine, thatís what.

A quiet sigh filtered in the sleeping air. Now lissen, he said. Whatís a few more minutes? I just-
No, Joe repeated, his voice hushing with the shine of irritation. I aint partial to stayin no later juss to watch a feller drink hisself to hell.
All I wants a whiskey, the old man insisted. One of em. Here- Joe watched the wire of an dirty hand thrust through the crack in the door. Between a cragged thumb and forefinger was a dollar bill, the fingers trembling as above it his penetrated the void. -Take it, he said urgently. Joe stared at the green shimmer before wordlessly snatching it. He looked down at the currency and shook his head.
This here be moreín the cost fer five whiskeys, he said.
Restíll be for your labor then. What dya say?
Joe looked up at the hungry eyes. He laughed drily and shook his head. Youíre quite sure are ye?
What do you mean?
What I mean is I ainít in the habits of pickin an old timerís pocket. This be a lot of money to waste is all.
The old stranger shrugged. Ainít no place else I know, he said. I sure dearly want me a drink.
Joe sighed. All right, he said. All right.

He was a lank-limbed fella. Had him a face that looked somewhere between run down and broken from years of drinking and God knows what else. Joe poured the last dregs of the whores Springer Six into one of the whores tumblers, smearing the thin taint of rouge from the lip with the face of his thumb. The dollar bill felt warm in his pocket, like it was a patch of fresh cut tan. He set the glass down in front of the old man, who nodded graciously as he took it. As he drank Joe keenly eyed the speed of the ingestion. However long it took the old dog to drink down the warming brew and skedaddle it wont be fast enough, Joe thought. Even a whole buck ainít enough for any kind of conversation this time of night and-
This is a nice place, the old man suddenly said. His voice broke the air in a quiet purr, like the churn of some rusted device. His eyes crawled around the room like a loose moth batting at every drab surface with which it collided.

If ye say so.
Real nice, he said again. He lifted his glass, nodding in agreement with himself. Matter of fact, I donít recall havin never drenk in a place so nice. Would be a long time anyways.
Joe sniffed. Spose thatís somethin to hear, he said.
How long have you been here?
Came shortly affer noon when the free lunch ended. We got us another-
I meant in San Antonio, the old man interrupted. He paused, his bright eyes seeming to dance in the cavernous skull. You aint from around here. I can see it in your eyes you aint.
Joe shrugged. I been here fer quite some time.
The old man smiled. Thought so, he said. He took another hit from the glass and smeared his furred lips across his sleeve. Well, lemme tell you somethin friend, this is one hell of a town. One hell of a town.
That right?
Donít ye agree?
Joe nodded. He saw the old manís glass was near empty and absent mindedly picked up the bottle of Springer Six. By the time he remember it was too late. He tilted it mutely and set it back down. Say, he said. I have ter ast ye something.
All right.
How did you know my name?
The old man frowned. Beg pardin?
Back there when you was at the door. You called me Joe. Thass my name.
The old man smiled. His teeth stuck out like yellowed pegs. He said nothing for quite some time. Did I, he finally said. I donít remember.
You surely did.
Well like I say, I donít remember.

Joe was quiet a minute. Suddenly he leant down and pulled away the cup poised at the old manís lips. Lissen to me, he said quietly, I donít suffer fools gladly, friend. If you have business concernin me you aint mentioning, well Iíd just as soon ye come right on out an say so. Else so help me Lord Iíll make you sorry, Iíll-
Suddenly he was interrupted by a sudden blurb of a cackle, the yellow teeth gnashing as whiskey drops gurgled from his mouth. Joe frowned as the old man shook his head, the laughter grinding from his lips like the crunch of soft tin underfoot. He coughed loudly, his eyes screwed and gleaming.
Iím sorry, the old man said. Real sorry. He paused and another ripple of dry coughs croaked from his gut. What all dya take me for mister, some kind of murderin nut?

He paused again and shook his head sadly. Iím just lonesome is all, he said. Aint no place else for an old timer who finds hisself alone in these parts.
Fine. I apologize.
All I wants a little whiskey. Some place warm to set. I ainít got nowheres else ter call upon for that see.
Round these parts most folks might consider sleep a fine callin fer the hour.
Times is tough Joe, said the old man vaguely. So what dya say for one more?
One more?
Well shit I-
Iíll drink it real quick, he quickly followed. Promise I will. Real quick an Iíll be moving along.
Moving along where I wonder.

The old man sighed. He pulled out another dollar and laid it on the counter top carefully and looked up. Please, he whispered. Just one more.
Joe sighed. He picked up the Springer Six and emptied what was left into the cup and put it down with a dull thud together with the bottle that contained only the dregs of what was left, the hollow body emitting a dull emerald shine like that of some forgotten monument. He had put the rest of the liquor away some time ago and its absence, together with the presence of the old manís dismal hulk, made it seem an even sparser, lonelier place than heíd imagined possible. He looked at the old mantel clock propped against the wall and yawned.

Reckon Iím goin ter bed, he said.
Bed? said the old man.
Joe nodded sullenly. He brushed the mould in his pocket made by the two bits the whores from earlier on had dropped in their drunken exit and the flat of the dollar bill. He pushed the remembrance that part of that dollar was for Wilson to the back of his mind. Wasnít like it was official business anyhow, he told himself. Anyhow, Wilson got money. Ainít like he gotta be set down here this hour. He looked at the old man. I suppose youíll find your own ways out anyhow, he said. I ainít about to deprive an old timer shelter. Iíll bring ye down a blanket or somethin an-
Youíre just gonna leave me down here, the old man suddenly said, his voice suddenly taught with a looming worry. The tone surprised the bartender enough to stare hypnotically at eyes which had widened in the old skin, the old face. Heck, the old man said, his voice an urgent his. But that ainít wise is it. It ainít wise. His wide eyes were glazed with a caramelized drunkenness. It was still a complicit drunkenness, though. It wasnít drunkenness that brought on the fever. Joe shivered. He didnít care to see it go no further. No, the old man said. No. It ainít wise. Youíll stay with me Joe wont ye?

I fixed the latch already, Joe said. Aint no fear of leaving her unguarded. Like I say, youíre welcome to sit down here until daybreak. This town ainít no place for an old man to be out wanderin the streets in the heart of night.
You caint leave, the old man said. No. You caint leave.
Joe frowned. Lissen, he said. Lissen to me, I-
Donít be leavin me left alone, the old man blurted. His lip quivered and Joe frowned in a mild preturbance. Please, he was saying. His lip began to shake and he shifted uncomfortably, dipping his head so the ridge of the carlsbadís brim obscured his face. Out of the corner of his vision, Joe watched his thumb and pointer whiten to a cream bloodlessness behind the curd of his cuticle where it pinched at the narrow sides of the whiskey cup. Please, he repeated. I beg of ye not to.

Hell. Joe said. He paused and laughed. This be a first aint it, a drinkin man pleadin not to be left by hisseld in a bar. Whatís your worry old timer? You donít gotta leave or nothin I-
Donít leave me, came a sudden screech. Not again. Suddenly there was a crunch sound and Joe felt a dozen pinpricks across the broad of his face like the bite of miniscule mosquitos. He raised his arm in reflex, his elbow catching the neck of the whiskey bottle which toppled like a frame of cards to a deathly clunk and crack. Joe groaned as he felt the sting of the glasswounds. When he pulled his arm from his face, the thumb and pointer had come together like a pin to a primer, blood emerging from the fingers. At his feet the larger fragments of the bottle glass sprawled in a thin pool of wasted liquor. The old man raised his eyes, his face kicked into an abrupt solemnity, and removed his fingers from the little pile of broken glass. Joe stared dumbly, his eyes stuck to the glass. He shook his head slowly.

The old man was quiet for a long time. Iím sorry, he finally muttered.
Forget it. Joe kicked aside the glass from where it had caught to his sole in a dull leechlike slither. Lissen, he said. I donít know who you are friend, and I donít care to know any neither. Fer now Iím goin to bed. You better hope this place is straight by mornin when Mister Wilson comes by else Lord help me. An if its Lord hep me for I then itíll be worse fer you.
Mister Wilson?
My boss. His quarters be immediately aside to this place. Joe paused. Iím half surprised he ainít heard ye a-yellin that ways an come by. But granted it ainít late enough fer that. Least not yet it ainít.
I donít mean no harm. Alls I wanted for were a place fer shelter.
An you got it, said Joe. He sniffed. As fer anythin moreín that, Iím about done with my charity so far as ye be concerned. You unnerstandin me right?
The old man opened his mouth and closed it again. Joe had already turned. He wandered wearily to the narrow, half-open stairway that led to the small loft space, his legs aching from the hours spent spoiling them. He began up the stairs with a wide yawn.
You want out, he heard a voice suddenly cry out. I know it.
Joe stopped. Below the lip of the rafter that boomed parallel to the stairtop he could not see the old manís face. He backed down some. The old man was staring at him, his face fixed in a quietly intent gaze, like a dog staring down a hunk of meat. Hear me, the old man called. Joe cursed quietly.
You best keep your goddamn noise down friend, he hissed. You want me to get my legs broke?
What you say, the old man loudly replied. Joe cursed again. He looked up to the gentle dark of upstairs and sighed and quietly returned to the old man who was watching him from the bar.
Damnit, he hissed. You caint be shoutin thataways. Not this hour.
Aw I weren't shoutin any-
Shut your damn mouth. Joe paused, eyeing the wall beside him, the only protection from Mister Wilson's slumbering ear. He eyed the mantle clock and felt a gathering sweat scratch at his crown. Joe knew Mister Wilson was not the kind to upset any. He was a rough sonofabitch. Cut with the same ruthless, unforgiving fervour that seemed to be bored into the character of just about every frontier saloonkeep Joe'd ever had the misfortune of laboring under. He couldn't ever admit such a thing, but the thought of upsetting Mister Wilson was of great concern. Maybe when he was younger he'd felt differently. Back then he'd have knuckled anybody first before. But he felt different about it now. The trouble had took care of that. I don't care fer how poorly you take liquor, Joe said, his voice trembling. You go makin noise like that an Iíll throw you out of here.
All right, said the old man. All right.
Now what do you want?
I ast if you wanted out of this place.
What are you talkin about?
The old man was quiet a moment. He sat back some and folded his arms. Hey, he said. How comes ye never ast me my name?
You dint furnish it ter me. An I dint feel the need to ask.
Why not?
Well, it aint none of my damn business is it?

The old man smiled. Suddenly he jolted out his arm. His palm opened up. McCoy, he said. He smiled widely so that the yellow-gray stubs of his teeth stuck out like flint splinters. Joe stared at him and then at the trembling palm. He cautiously took the hand so as not to get the old goat yelling again. The old man snatched it hungrily and shook it. Shook it like a dog with a wounded rabbit trapped in its jaw. Harland McCoy. The third.
Happy to be acquainted with ye Mister McCoy, Joe muttered. Now if youíll excuse me-
I own a ranch up in Raine County, McCoy interruped. His smiled had vanished. His expression was suddenly queer, his pale gray eyes staring without blinking in the dim of the late night saloon. Got me 200 good acres on which I graze the best longhorn cattle in the nation. Taint far from Shiola.
Shiola? That some sorta town?
The finest cow town in all of Texas.
I ainít never heard of it.
McCoy nodded. I figured you wunt, he said. A confident smile reappeared. He quietly took out a pouch of tobacco and a book of rolling paper. Pulled the brown tuft from the bag and wrapped it in one practiced movement before running the curl along the fat of his lip. As the flame appeared the light danced and McCoyís eyes seemed to gleam in the soft glower. But you will, he said as he stared at the flame. You will. He looked up. Iím in need of some help see.
Joe laughed. I donít doubt you is.
No, the old man said. I mean real help. Kind of help that pays.
What are you talkin about now?

McCoy put the cigarette back in his mouth and reached into his pocket. Wordlessly he pulled out a green cluster bound with a black band and placed it on the counter. He stared at it sullenly. Two hundred, he said. Go on ahead. Count it.
Joe was silent for a long time as he stared at the money in disbelief. Pardon me, he finally stuttered.
I say go on an count it.
Joe let out a hollow laugh. You some kind of nut, he said. This some kind of joke?
I ainít never bin none more serious, the old man said. He looked up and blew out a thick teal cloud. Consider this your first pay, Joe. Wont be the last neither. Not if ye hold up well-
What in Godís name you talkin about? You out of your damn mind?
McCoy frowned. His mouth like that of a hurt hare. He shook his head. I told you, he said. He spoke very slowly as though addressing a young child. Iím deadly serious. That there money is yours.
Fer what?
I want you to work fer me.
Work fer ye?
Wunt be no moren a few weeks, he said. Got me some trouble you see. The kind of trouble that be needin a discernin feller in good health to help. Seems at my age I ainít able to remedy my own affairs.
I see.
So whaddya reckon?
I reckon I caint see what you might need with a bartender in his forties.
Well, McCoy smiled. You ainít just a bartender though, is you Joe?

Joe shrugged. Reckon I aint much moren that. He yawned. Anyhow you dint yet say what it is ye be needin help with-
McCoy stuck the cigarette back in his mouth and blew out another swell of blue. He smiled. For two hunnerd dollars, he said, the butt pinched between his teeth. Does it matter what it is?
Reckon thereís few fellers in jail whoíd tell me yes.
The old man laughed. He pulled the cigarette from his lips and the laughter cascaded into a loud and wheezing cough. Shit, he spluttered. Lord.
Here, Joe said, handing him a cup of yellow water. The old man took it and sat it down and did not drink it. The coughing subsided. The cigarette had burned into a stub. McCoy placed it down on the counter top. Lissen Joe, he said, his voice rasping. It aint nothin like that. Iím a good man who came out here for no ill reason and whose only cause be to find help. He picked up the water and supped it slowly. My livelihoodís at stake see.
Never met a man ter say that what carried on him five hunnerd bucks.
I have to, McCoy replied. His voice belching like a kettletop with muted hissing of steamed Springer Six. He shook his head. Donít got no kind of choice. I ainít a poor man. Not yet anyhow. But if I donít find me some help I lose everythin.
Because a thiefís been at my herd, the old man blurted. Tis to say, they done taken themselves best part of thirty heifers from the four score I got. Taken em from me, an in the dead of night too. So unless they is stopped and soon with it, Iíll be cold stoney. Which aint no place to be. Not fer a feller of my years.
I need me a feller, McCoy continued. Honest kind who aint afeared of workin hard an long. Need somebody to come help me stop the varmint whoís thievin from me. Thatís the job I be offerin to ye.
Oh, Joe said. He eyeballed the old man whose silver eyes were flashing in his head like two ugly diamonds. Well-
You got fightin experience aint you Joe? I sense as much in you.
I were once. Ben Bullard Tenth.
What did ye do?
I fired a gun.
A rifleman, McCoy breathed. He smiled. Man of my own heart.
Yeah, Joe said. But see now, the thing is, I donít know nothin about ranchin-
I know, McCoy said. He smiled again. But I donít want me no ranchin man Joe.
Maybe so. But I aint never even been out on no farm. Caint even remember last time I saw one. Werenít no time recent.
Donít want no farm boy neither.
Lissen, Joe snapped. What Iím sayin is while I do cherish such an offer, it aint my line of work. I must respectfully decline. He paused. An thatís-
Now wait a minute Joe-
The answerís no Mister.
McCoy nodded thoughtfully. He was silent for a long time, his eyes sinking like two small stones dropped into a pail. Four hunnerd, he finally muttered.
Four hunnerd, he repeated, his gray eyes soft in the dim of the midnight flame. Iíll up it ter four. Please just say youíll help me Mister.
Joe smiled. Like I say-
Five hunnerd.

Joe shook his head. Now lissen, he said. It aint a question of money Mister. Not altogether it aint.
A thousand, the old man said. His voice had hoarsened and Joe noticed his hands had begun to shake as he stared wide eyed. A thousand dollars. McCoy coughed and licked his lip. An if you stay the season, he croaked. If you stay the season an make sure my cattle is safe Iíll double it to two.
Two thousand dollars?
Two thousand dollars.
Are you out of your goddamn mind?

McCoy shook his head. I told you, he said, my cattle is the best. Took my Pa all his life to breed their lineage. Hell Iíd give anythin to rid meself of the dark forces that done taken so many. He sighed. But alls I got is what Iím offerin ye Mister. Now what do ye say?

Joe was quiet for a long time. He looked around the drab quiet of the bar. He wondered idly whether heíd still be working for Wilson in a year. Five years. Ten. There was a cold indifference to whatever period he imagined. Time and the slow dwindling of life seemed of little consequence. He might work for Wilson until the day he was too old to stand or for a day, a week, a month more and leave or be let go. It was of little matter and the toiling needed to summon enough of a care to think about it as arduous and uninteresting as picking at one gigantic knot of discarded wool. The thought he might die at Wilsons or someplace like it was distressing, there was no doubt. But he was old enough to be immune to such fears. Yet here was a man who, crazed as a loon he might be, was offering a way out. Even if the offer was strange an unattractive it was better. The money alone made it so. Joe thought about the money. Even if he was a goddamn liar when it came to all he offered, he had him at least two hundred bucks. And two hundred bucks was all right. With two hundred all the debts from the trouble could be settled, Joe told himself. Through either the right way or the thriftier way, they could all be left behind. Either way hereíd be enough left ofor a fresh start in there somewhere. And two thousand, well that was another thing entirely. Joe licked his lip. Of course, that kind of sum would mean staying the full term of the old goatís pleasure. But maybe he would. Maybe. And even if he didnít. Joe smiled a small smile. Even if he didnít there would still be two hundred.

Iím waitin Joe-
Joe looked up. McCoy was staring at him. A queer stare. Behind him Wilsonís faded wallpaper was gray with the color of purgatory. What you say?
I said Iím waitin, the old man said. He smiled. I ainít tryin to rush ye now. Only the train to Dallas be in a few hours. If youíll be comin with me Iíll need-
I ainít comin, Joe said.
McCoy fell silent. The nervous tinker of the clock permeated the smell of stale liquor and for what seemed like eternity the old manís gaze held a muted wound as he gazed quietly. I see, he finally said. All right.
Joe nodded. You can stay here the rest of the night, he said. Like I said. Itís all right. But only til dawn. Just be gone by dawn, you hear?
Oh, McCoy said. Aint no need. He rose slowly. His frail arms propping against the bar. He smiled and extended his twiglike arm. I do appreciate your hospitality anyhow, he said. Taint many men whoíll spare an old fellers a drink affer their closin.
Taint many old strangers who ask.

McCoy chuckled. Maybe so, he said. Maybe so. He hobbled to the door. Joe watched him fumble at the latch a moment before the door came open. Outside the dark was fresh and mighty and when the old man stepped into it he suddenly appeared older still and when he turned his eyes were shining like two sad stars. Donít see no knob on this side, he said. Nothin with which to close it.

There ainít nothin.
You gonna close it then?
Iíll close it.
All righty then.

The old man turned back. He immediately faded into the murk. Joe was still for a moment. He listened to the sound of the old manís footsteps moving, the faint sound fading like the beating of a dying heart. Joeís eyes dropped to the counter below. There the stub of the cigarette spat the dying tufts of smoke cocked in the fragment of wasted whiskey. He looked up. A queer expression marring his face.
Hey, he suddenly blurted. The sound of his own voice was deep and dense in the quiet. Hey. He stifled himself immediately, his mind racing back to Wilson for a moment. Suddenly he felt himself dash around the bar and to the neglected doorway. Craning his neck past the frame like a gopher and stared. The breeze quivering his whiskers as he peered into the night. He listened. He still heard the footsteps. Turning his head, Joe peered into the sallow cavern of Wilsons. He shook his head and inhaled quickly and deep.
Wait, he cried. Goddamnit.

The foosteps stopped and he stumbled out into the dark, the open door trembling by the swirl of wind left in the void.

April 26th, 2013, 12:02 AM
I don't know if you're going for a more slurred western version of English for the story but if not, please fix your grammar. It's okay to have any sort of grammar and spelling when it's a character talking or thinking because this develops the personalty of the character. It shows their behavior, manners, literacy, etc. So if your intention was for the narrator to have slurred language then I enjoyed this chapter. I like your use of profane language, it shows what Joe thinks of people just by looking at them. Your punctuation needs some work, and put quotes around your dialogue. Overall I liked the story, just improve the things I brushed over and I'll make sure to read your next chapter.