Death Will Have Your Eyes

Death Will Have Your Eyes by James Sallis Read Free Book Online

Book: Death Will Have Your Eyes by James Sallis Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Sallis
    â€œPassing through, honey?” the waitress said when she brought more coffee. I’m fairly sure I had never in my life been called honey before this. She was thirtyish, virtually blond, with features you’d forget once you looked away. A woman who had made a sudden stop on the way to pretty, who would never quite get over how close she’d been. A white plastic rectangle over one high breast read Alicia .
    I nodded.
    â€œWell, should you have a taste for a cocktail or two, there’s this little place just down the road, Lou’s, you can’t beat.” She gestured across at the motel. “And you won’t do better than the Island anywhere within ninety miles of here if you need a place to sleep. If you’re of a mind, that is. My husband—ex-husband I should say, really—runs it like a cruise ship. I should know, I put in my share of sixteen- and eighteen-hour days over there. Anything else I can get you?”
    I told her no, and thanks.
    â€œYou change your mind, we’re open all night. I’ll be here to twelve, myself.”
    Alicia waited a moment, put down the check and walked away.
    Lou’s was everything I could have hoped for, though I almost missed it on my first pass since the neon sign overhead read BLUE CORRAL . But a wooden one in the window said Lou’s, and that was also painted above the front door in the same DayGlo green.
    Basically it was a feeding trough: bar running down the middle of a long shotgun room, with slots for livestock, or in this case stools, on either side. Pool tables floated in their islands of light off in the darkness to one side, a dance floor lined with stacked plastic chairs loomed to the other.
    I took a stool near the door beside a cowboy who looked like something from a wax museum and asked for a beer. Out in darkness on the dance-floor side, a guitarist and bass player tuned by harmonics. A dancing couple, the man forty or more and wearing slacks with white shirt and tie, his partner maybe half his age and wearing considerably less than half a T-shirt and jeans, periodically orbited into the bar’s dim light and back out into blackness.
    I drank my beer and asked for another. The cowboy was drinking coffee with bourbon in it. He had a little squeeze bottle of honey in his pocket and was putting some of that into the cup too.
    After a while, having made the round of drinkers, the bartender came back over and stood across from me. He was as quietly animated and as flushed with color as the cowboy was waxlike.
    â€œLou,” he said, sticking his hand across the bar.
    I took it. “Dave.”
    â€œGood to have you. Haven’t seen you in here before, I don’t think.”
    â€œHaven’t had the chance.”
    He nodded. “Quiet night. There’s usually a good group in here, though, most nights. Come in here either to drink and be left alone, or else to dance. Either way, mostly they don’t get to minding somebody else’s business.”
    I told him I knew what he meant.
    â€œNot like some places. You want a shot with that beer, maybe? Be on the house, you understand, first-time customer and all.”
    â€œThanks, but I’ll stick with beer. I’m not much of a drinker. Just unwinding a little. You know.”
    â€œOn the road.”
    I nodded, and he nodded back. Two good old boys who knew what a man had to go through.
    There was a loud thump from out of the darkness, then a voice:
    â€œAll right, you rebels, cowboys, horsewomen, Jaycees, JDs and all others within the sound of my voice.” A pause, an adjustment. “Keep those cards and letters comin’ in. And if you have a request, so do we: keep it to yourself.”
    Lights came up slowly onstage. A portly, youngish man stood there with a high-slung hollowbody electric. He wore preppy clothes—sweater, broadcloth shirt, tan chinos—and a cowboy hat. Behind him in shadow, as though they belonged

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