Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Excerpt from Chapter 13: Roy Arrives in Less Dramatic Fashion

The text below is from a novel in progress. First draft so there's still plenty of editing that will need to be done before it's "ready."

“It was marked on the wall outside.”

“Show me,” Tex moved from behind the counter toward the door.

Outside, Roy pointed at the graffiti. Tex considered the markings for only a moment before heading back inside.

“I don't suppose, Canuck, that you carry a sidearm?” Tex was rooting behind the counter. “I've got one here if you don't.”

“A gun? For what?”

“La Madre is one of the local gangs. Involved in drugs, illegal hooch, drug smuggling. People sometimes,” Tex stood up holding what Roy knew was a shotgun, but didn't recognize the type. “Rile up all kinds of trouble in town. When they feel like it; when someone ain't paid up protection money or wronged them some way. Not happened in a spell, quiet lately. We've been marked for target practice, I expect.”

Tex banged a side of the counter top and a small spring-loaded drawer opened on the customer side of the counter.

Roy's wide eyes stared down at some kind of handgun. Growing up in the wilds of Canada, Roy knew about rifles – a tool that his family used on a regular basis to hunt game – but handguns? What use was there for a handgun? Using a rifle was all about keeping a safe distance from dangerous game. The effective range of a handgun made it impractical unless you wanted to make a lot of noise without getting much done. He reached for the gun.

“You've got eleven bullets,” Tex said as he took a position near the window facing the street. He didn't see anything stirring besides the weeds. “They'll probably just drive up, unload a few shots, then move on. They never seem to take umbrage with getting shot at, like it's all part of their job. Cletus potted one – dropped him dead in the street – and they just picked up the body and left. No revenge, no lawyers, no law. Canuck, take a knee or something! Standing up in middle of the room like that, you might as well paint a target on yourself!”

Roy suddenly felt the urge to knock over a table and hide behind it. He'd seen it in Western movies, though he'd always doubted that a half-inch of rum-soaked pine would offer much in the way of stopping power. And besides the only available table barely offered 4 square feet of formica and walnut veneer as cover. Roy settled on taking position at the opposite side of the window from Tex.

“Ever fired a gun before?” Tex said.

“Rifles, never a hand gun,” Roy looked at his camera sitting on the small table. He looked again out into the dusty half-paved street. “Do they usually come at a specific time?”

“Got somewhere to be?”

Roy considered the question. “Well, no, bu–”

A grinding, dusty, and muted noise kicked up outside. A growling engine was getting closer.

“Just stay in cover, we should be fine.”

A boat-like Lincoln car spun to a stop in a cloud of choking dust, it's hood mere feet from the front of the building. It was barely stopped before five dust-caked and gun-wielding wild men leaped from the vehicle.

Roy would see things later that seemed to happen in slow motion, but the most jarring time was this first time. The window glass expanded out in sheet of diamonds, the sun striking the glass and bathing the inside of the waiting room with a split-second of rainbows. Anything made of wood seemed to be splintering and expanding the same way a flower opens itself when seen at high speed. Tex seemed to stand still, shotgun stock against his shoulder, an expanding torrent of exploding gases and rounded projectiles at the end of the barrel.

He wanted to dwell in that slow time. There was seemingly no movement, but somehow he was taking it all in, thinking and feeling in real time but unable to move.

Then everything was moving at regular speed and Roy dropped to the floor, firing his gun blindly over the sill of the glass-less window. At this range, surely he would hit something. He did but nothing critical to actually defending himself. The “open” sign in the window of the abandoned ice cream shop across the street, might have deserved a bullet, but now wasn't the time. Another ricocheted off a sideview mirror and finally blasted through an empty beer can left on a rock across the street. While it was an interesting trick shot, it wasn't useful.

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