Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anasazi Strip - Chapter 1 - Part 1


Happy Hour was starting at the Buckskin Tavern as the killer strolled through the door, saluted the stuffed rattlesnake coiled atop the juke box, and headed for a stool in front of the bar. The bar the longest one of its kind in Arizona--at least that's what the gaudy neon sign in front of the place proclaimed. The killer scanned left and right, taking in the patrons of the cowboy hangout. Both pool tables were in action, rugged-looking shitkickers and pseudo-shitkickers boasted about work, a couple of randy-looking country western queens sat atop the red leather bar stools like nesting birds, and the smell of beer and cigarettes hung over the innards of the saloon. The place was half full...and there were no Indians in sight.

"What'll it be?" asked the smiling bartender as she placed a Budweiser coaster down in front of the big stranger.

"Make it a Bud," said the Killer. He fished a neatly folded wad of bills from his well-worn jeans and deposited a five dollar bill on the polished wood bar top.

"You got it," said the barmaid.

She pulled a beer from the metal cooler beneath the bar and opened the beer against a brass bottle opener in the shape of a steer's head. She set the beer in front of the man who looked like a logger. He was a little over six feet tall; about 250 pounds; untrimmed beard; long, mangy, red hair crowned by a baseball cap advertising the virtues of Red Man tobacco. She tried to place the face but drew a blank. She took one of the bills and stepped over to the old-time cash register.

"Beers are only a buck until nine. It's Happy Hour."

"Sounds like a sweet deal," said the man as he took a swig from the frosty beer. "Uhhhhmmm, the first one's always the best." The killer licked his lips and grinned at the bartender.

His smile was infectious and the pretty barmaid found herself smiling along just for the hell of it. She liked his eyes; they sparkled like dark green marbles and seemed to reflect the light like sunglasses. That was it. He looked like he had shades on, but he didn't.

The juke box kicked in with the song "Whiskey River", by Willie Nelson, and the bar erupted into dog barks and wolf howls. Friday night in Fredonia, Arizona was officially out of the gate.

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