Friday, October 31, 2014

News of Bonnie & Clyde's Death Spreads Through a Del Rio Diner

I stumble up the street, feeling like my eyes just been ripped out, and the whole time I got that dang song going through my head:

Death don’t take a vacation in this land 
Death don’t take a vacation in this land 
He’ll come to your house, he won’t stay long 
Look into the bed, somebody in your family will be gone
Oh, Death don’t have no mercy in this land.

So they got ‘em. Poor Clyde, poor Bonnie, poor stupid bastards. It’s not that I’m in the least bit surprised, or that I’m not massively relieved it was them that got killed and not me, but even so, I’ve now got an emptiness bellowing inside me that don’t want to let go. For a while I just wander the streets, like I got them alive in front of my eyes, so alive, so crazy, like they was gods from the old times. But now they’re dead, dead, dead, and poor dumb mortal me is still alive. I can’t wander the streets forever, I go into the Tastee Diner and order a blue plate special. They got the radio on with the usual worked-up preacher endlessly going on about Salvation and the Blood of the Lamb and his address, Box-435-Del-Rio-Texas. I keep waiting for someone to cut in and make an announcement, but twenty minutes and seven or eight Box 435s later, he gets replaced by another screaming preacher and I actually start half-believing it might all have been just crazy-girl talk. But then it dawns on me that, this being Dr. Brinkley’s station, they simply don’t broadcast news. So I stay on my stool, not really thinking about much of anything, just waiting for word to come, knowing it’s just a matter of time before it does. The counterman comes by and refills my coffee; I’m about halfway through it when the door opens and someone comes in shouting, “Did you all hear? The Barrow Gang’s been killed in an ambush!”

For the next few seconds it’s like this deep quiet sets in, as if, for that one moment, none of them actually believes it. But then the vacuum breaks and as the air rushes back in, I see their faces going off like they’re fireworks, some of them angry, some disappointed or glad, followed by a rumbling of voices, like we’re standing at their graves, with them already laid deep into the ground, and it’s time to offer final words, before the earth gets covered on them and we all walk away and get on with other things.

"Well, they had a good long run. Nobody expected them to last long as they did,” says one.

"They must’ve knowed they wasn’t going to get away forever,” says somebody else.

"Mean as snakes, both of them!”

"Couple of two-bit punks.”

After another minute or two, the topic has moved on to something else. I finish my coffee, pay my bill and go. A half hour later, I find Hector, ride the Tijuana Taxi across the border, do my show, collect my five dollars and then head back to Del Rio.
(Excerpt from Friend of the Devil," available on Kindle)

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