I’m deep in the blues, down in the Bottom, bottom of the Bucket of Blood, the bottoms of beer bottles, consumed by rotgut, roiled by raw, ripping, crosscut blues.
A heavy left-handed boogie on the piano.
He barges into the bar, Bull-necked, broad shoulders, twenty-pound hammer fist, slab-faced busted up, razor scarred highways and mountain ranges on neck, face, head, a battle field face.
A walking bass rumbling and rolling.
Look around. Looking for someone. No one looking back. Finds me. Too bad. Too bad for me.
The drummer like a Timex.
Light on his feet, feet too small by half, half way to my table. I see his ear looks half chewed off, recently.
Mouth harp mournful, whines and moans.
I would take off, but I doubt I could outrun the bullet from the pistol tucked in his belt.
Guitar talking back, sassy, smart mouth.
Stands like a monument to death by brute force, bone breaking, skull crushing, stomping timid flesh into the floor, floored forever and ever more.
Piano warning me, telling me, “Run nigger, run.”
They looking at us trying not to be caught looking, lowering the volume of voices and music to hear better, the gun shot, the scream, the crash to the floor, the pleading, begging, crying, dying. The death dealing gunshot.
The drums beat out, “Too late. Too, too late. Too late.”
He sits, stresses the chair to the bursting point. I crack wise. “My man, that chair crying in pain. You ain’t welcome to that seat or wanted here.”
The music stops, a spotlight on us. The main event, I guess.
Voice like the bass, deep full, no expression, ham hands on the table. “You need to see her, right now.”
Long, yellow, cross-eyed Lizzy limps to our table, a sad, goodbye fool look for me. She turns to him.
He orders. “Bring me three shots, whiskey. Call the undertaker. Call the priest.” He pat Lizzy on her thin arm. “Get your black dress ready.”
Lizzy about to say something, something smart, but he not ready to hear anything from her except the sound of her feet skipping, clip-clopping away from us. My Lizzy got some sense. She move away quick.
I need to slow this shit down. “I thought she wanted to see me? I think she meant alive.”
He sucks his teeth. “You taken up with a crip, a cross-eyed, jaundice faced junkie, part-time whore. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.”
I toss back my shot, try to drain my empty beer again, look into his huge globe-like eyes, see my death on his mind like dessert. I wonder what the main course was. “With Lizzie, I got my own, such as it is.” I reply, stalling.
Lizzie’s back, drinks on the table in front of him. Squints, nods toward me, narrows her lips spits out, “Whatever your business with him is I ain’t in it. We ain’t together and there never was a us.”
He chuckles. Downs one shot.
I shout out. “Hey, where’s the music at this party? Play something. I ain’t dead yet, damn it.”
They launch into “St. James Infirmary.” I curse them under my breath.
He laughs out loud. Downs his second shot.
I lean back in my chair. “You still running errands for her. Errand Boy, go on back to her, tell her I be there directly.”
“Oh, I think we go see her together. When you done seen her… well you and I… we need to talk.” He gives me a three-gold tooth grin. He downs his last shot.
I put all my cash on the table, my diamond ring, my will fulfilled, thirty-seven dollars, to lean Lizzy. Not much, but all I got. I stand, stretch, try to catch Lizzy’s eye. She watching him.
Half way to the door Lizzy there squinting at him. “You forgot to pay, or you just don’t intend to pay?”
He huffs, pulls crumpled bills from his pocket tosses them on the floor, grabs my arm, brushes by her, knocking her back.
“What? No tip?”
Something in her voice, evil, anger, a streak of madness makes him look back, like Lot, looked back into the barrels of the little two shot derringer. Last looks. Looks for the last time as she empties both barrels into his right eye, leaves a hole, neat, eye gone, big man dropping to his knees falls on his scattered dollar bills.
In bed, in her room in back of the bar, she fucks wild and free, laughs a lot, caresses that derringer. “I didn’t do that for you, boy. Don’t misunderstand.”
I don’t. I kiss her goodbye, take a last look into those crossed-eyes as I leave to see the her that summoned me.
Lizzy’s last words as I close the door. “Hey, boy, your momma give you shit about big man, you tell her one son better than none.” I hear her laughter through the cracked door. I don’t look back.
At her place, she been stabbed in the face twenty-one times, head hanging by a fleshy thread, naked on her back on her bed. A chunk of bloody ear near her mouth. The main course served on a blood soaked pink chenille bedspread.
I don’t look back.
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