Friday, February 8, 2013

The Barrow Gang and Mexican Border Radio

It's 1933 and Herbert T. Barrow is a reefer-addled jazz musician and fervent atheist, who is fleeing the laws, heading for the Mexican border. He's got a plan. He's gonna get him a job as a singing cowboy on XER, the Mexican "border blaster" station, where every huckster, preacher, clairvoyant spook, and hillbilly quartet is already filling up the airwaves and getting rich in the process.

But Herbert makes the mistake of picking up a hitchhiker; a hairy-faced country preacher named Stevens, who turns out to be the Devil himself, and desperately in need of a favor.  Suddenly Herbert is stuck in the middle of a wager (more like an endless series of sidebets) between Stevens and this "other guy," whom Herbert doesn't particularly care for or believe in either.  Somewhere in the course of it, Bonnie and Clyde take him on a blood-splattered joy ride; Herbert becomes 'saddle pals' with Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, the only incorruptible lawman in the entire state of Texas; he falls in love with a pregnant teenage radio seeress named "Rose Dawn," and sings an awful lot of cowboy songs.

God and the Devil follow Herbert all the way to Del Rio, because his own individual moral compass gives him an unpredictability that the deities can't resist in their endless, mostly pointless, wagering. And no matter how much they interfere with his life, his steadfast refusal to believe in them makes him far more dangerous than either could ever imagine. It ends with a gun battle that's right out of Twilight of the Gods. Texas Style!

Friend of the Devil, available on Kindle

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