Sunday, September 1, 2013

Smiling In the Sunshine; Prologue

                                                        It Was All A Dream

   “Goodbye, Sam,” I said, and I pulled the trigger. I don't know who was more surprised, me or Sam. I know Sam was surprised as hell that I had the nerve to shoot him in his stupid movie-star face in the first place, but what surprised me was that the damn beat-up old shotgun didn't make a huge roar and blow Mr. Handsome's head clean off. Of course it didn't. What happened instead was the gun made a loud “click” and a little plastic bullet more or less trickled out the end of the barrel and bounced off his forehead. But at least he let go of the girl he was dragging around by the arm and stared at me with a very surprised look on his face.

 “What the hell! Are you insane? I can't believe you were going to shoot me, you sonofabitch!”  He was really pissed.

     “Shut up, Sam,” I said, re-loading another shell into the barrel of the shotgun, “Or I'll shoot you again.” Which was actually pretty funny, because I was planning on shooting him again anyway, as soon as I could jamb a shell into the chamber and cock the gun and so on.  I sure as hell didn't want to get into a big wrestling match over the gun and I really didn't want to get into one of his goddamn movie-star fistfights, complete with witty threats and manly bon mots and all that crap. I had been in a drunk-ass wrestling match more than once in my illustrious career, rolling around punching and sweating and grunting and cursing. It was too much like sex and it always made me slightly uncomfortable afterward.
     But Sam wasn't crouching like a jungle beast preparing to spring or or drawing back his mighty sinew to deliver a knockout punch. No, he was still standing there cussing and glaring and just being pissed off. I couldn't help but think how typical it was of him that he would be more outraged that someone would try to kill his wonderful self than be frightened about it. But by that time I had the gun loaded and aimed at his head again. I could hear shouting and confusion in the saloon behind me and someone yelled “Don't do it, Blix!” and that gave me pause. Who was doing all this shouting? Just a moment before it had been only me and Sam and the lithe, beautiful femme fatal he was dragging around by the arm. Now who the hell else was in here?

     “Just stand right there,” I said to Sam, “And you might get out of this alive.”  I didn't really want to shoot Sam. I just didn't want to share the treasure with him. And he was such a pain in the ass about money that I knew who would get the best of the deal if I let him live. So, yeah, in a way I did want to shoot the sonofabitch. I was definitely sick of his “me first” crap and his movie star handsome bullshit. I backed away and turned around. Rusty was sitting at the bar, and over in the corner by the jukebox was a small cluster of tourists, all talking at once. The saloon had been closed since Molly's death and no one was supposed to be in here. And even though it had only been a few days since she passed away the place was boarded up and just dusty as hell and there was water dripping from somewhere overhead. “How the hell did tourists get in here?” I wondered as I walked over to the bar.

     “Wow, man, I can't believe you were going to blow Sam's head off like that!” Rusty said. He was really excited. “What the fuck, man! Are you crazy?”

     “Shut up, Rusty,” I said. “Let me get a grip on this. How did those tourists get in here, anyway?” I turned towards the corner booth where the gaggle of frightened witnesses had been babbling and pointing at me but they were gone. The girl was sitting there instead. She was wet, her diaphanous white blouse clinging provocatively to her heaving breasts. She was very beautiful and very frightened. On the table in front of her was the shotgun. Sam walked over with a ratty piece of paper in his hands. It was the drawing of the map that would lead us to the map.

     “Are you done fucking around, now, jackass?” Sam said. “Can we get back to work?” He spread the paper on the bar top. He was the boss. “Now look, the way I see it is we've got to cut this trench right through the concrete here going towards the rear door. That will be your job, Blix.” He was standing way too close, in my space and in my face, as usual. Mr. In Charge. He turned to Rusty. “Now you, Rusty, will...”

     “Excuse me just a minute,” I interrupted quietly. I slid off the bar stool as casually as I could, then I suddenly exploded across the room, jumping onto a booth seat to gain some spring action and dove through the air towards the girl in the booth. She was beautiful and frightened and too surprised to move. The tourists in the corner started babbling again. I grabbed the shotgun and spun around fast before Sam could make his move. He and Rusty were standing at the bar, looking at me like I was crazy. Sam had the map in his hand. I was moving closer to him, shotgun pointed at his face. Sam gave out one of his big dramatic “Here we go again” sighs and put the map on the bar. He was obviously planning to give me a good old-fashioned Hollywood ass kicking for my own good.

     “Good-bye, Sam,” I said. I pulled the trigger. Another loud click and another pathetic blue plastic bullet trickled out of the end of the barrel. This one didn't even have enough force to make it to his face. It just made a weak little arc and bounced off his chest. He was wearing a really expensive- looking white shirt, some kind of pirate get up, open at the chest. The girl in the booth tried to suppress a giggle, but I could hear her anyway. There was water dripping somewhere.

     My name is Blix Dixon. I woke up this morning and decided that I couldn't take it any more and it was time to just put it all down, write it all down and maybe get some of this stuff out of my head.  I mean, you don't have to be Sigmund Freud to see the symbolism of dreams like that one. Everyone has their story to tell and this one is mine. Not my life story or anything as mundane as that; who cares about all that stuff? No, I mean the story of what happened the summer after my second wife left me and I lost the house and my life fell apart and I got into the drinking and sailing and hell raising on the beach. 

 And meeting Ponce deLeon.