The Day the Music Died

The Day the Music Died by Ed Gorman Read Free Book Online

Book: The Day the Music Died by Ed Gorman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ed Gorman
Tags: Mystery, music
now deteriorated just as much as its owner. It hadn’t been tuned up for a long time. The windshield was cracked. The floorboards were muddy. Empty beer cans littered the backseat. A Chicago Bears brochure was angrily mashed up in a corner. It was four years old, dating from about the time Darin had tried out for the pros. He was great high school material, solid college material, but no material at all for the pros. Those guys brunch on iron bars.
    I got the motor running, albeit raggedly, and then pulled away from the curb. A forest of middle fingers poked the February air at us.
    Darin sat up. “I coulda handled that cracker with a gun if I needed to.”
    “Yeah, you were doing a great job, the way you slipped and fell down.”
    He glared at me. “You better watch that white mouth of yours.” Then, “And anyway, you be drivin’ my car, asshole, so I’d keep that tongue of yours real civil.”
    There wasn’t any point in arguing with him. He was speaking gibberish the way most drunks eventually do. Being near clinical death—his usual alcoholic intake was enormous—he should have passed out. But he just kept right on going. That was the kind of drunk both he and his pal Kenny had been. If they’d gone through everything alcoholic in the house, they’d go into the bathroom and start on the hair tonic that was 14.2 percent alcohol.
    We went two blocks and then he muttered something.
    “What?” I said.
    “Pull the car over!” he screamed at me.
    I whipped to the curb. Even before I had the car stopped, he had the door open and was vomiting into the gutter. A couple of lawyers were walking by. They looked pretty disgusted. Then they saw who was driving the Olds and they smirked. There’d be all kinds of jokes about the kind of clientele I had.
    He puked for quite a while. He was pretty good at it. He’d puke and then raise his head a little and then puke some more. Then he’d spit. He was almost as good at spitting as puking. I was glad that my next meal was still several hours away.
    When he was done, he leaned back inside and said, “Gimme a smoke.”
    “Yes sir, commander.”
    I gave him a Pall Mall.
    “Light,” he said.
    I took out the nice silver Ronson my folks had given me for Christmas. I’d already lost it twice but luckily it had kept turning up.
    “How much your lighter cost, man?” he said.
    “It was a gift.”
    “Lady friend?”
    “My folks. Look, Darin, I have to get going. But there’s something I need to do first.”
    “I coulda handled those two crackers, man.”
    “When you were sober, yes. Not as drunk as you are now.”
    “I sound drunk, McCain?”
    Actually, he didn’t. He sounded, in fact, almost cold sober.
    “It’s the puking,” he said. “It never fails. I just puke my guts up and I’m fine.”
    “Well, you can never underestimate the medical benefits of puking.”
    “Straighten me right up. That’s how I can last thirty, forty hours drinkin’. I just puke every once in a while.”
    I started driving again. I pulled into a DX station.
    “What you doin’?”
    “I need to make a phone call.”
    I jerked the keys out of the ignition.
    “Hey,” he said.
    “I’ll be right back.”
    “Where you goin’ with my keys?”
    “I told you. To make a phone call.”
    “How do I know you ain’t gonna try and sell this car or some shit like that?”
    “Oh, yeah. I could probably get twenty, thirty grand for this baby. I think the stale beer smell in the backseat is what folks are looking for in a car these days. Not to mention the puke.”
    “There’s that white mouth of yours again.”
    “Just shut up and sit there, Darin. You’re almost as big a pain in the ass as Paddy, Jr.”
    That quieted him down for some reason.
    The pay phone was next to the john. I looked up the hospital number and called. I asked for Lurlene and the operator said just a minute. Out in the car repair section, the greasy silver hoist was raising up a very cherry 1953 DeSoto. A kid in a

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