I went through brief period of trying to write fiction. I’ve since learned I’m better at writing the truth.
For about a year-and-a-half — the longest 18 months of my life — I worked as a crime reporter in southwest Oklahoma. This was in 2007 toward the end of the meth lab, we’ll call it golden age, in America when people used to knock pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine.
People were were pouring anhydrous ammonia over allergy pills and metallic lithium and smoking, snorting and injecting the resulting product. They robbed, stole and sometimes killed people. One time a guy ran from the cops and backstroked in a cattle pond until his high wore off.
It seemed like good fodder for a book. So I started writing it down. And then goddamn
“Breaking Bad” came out and it just seemed like I was writing fan fiction. Thanks a lot, Vince Gilligan.
Anyway, this would have been a chapter in a book called “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” The title originated during a conversation with a friend about how the Donovan song of the same name would sound cool during a shoot out in a meth movie. I later found out that a hurdy gurdy is a crank-turned instrument, much like the protagonist.
The Cowboy shot Mud at Boot Scoot’s this evening.
I was having a beer with my ex-girlfriend Trisha. She strips down at Mr. Peepers. We were sitting there, drinking Corona’s and The Cowboy walked in and shot Mud dead right there at the bar.
It wasn’t that crowded in Boot Scoot’s that afternoon, but The Cowboy will probably get the death penalty thrown at him for killing even a scumbag like Mud in front of a dozen drunks and a couple of heads.
The Cowboy told me last week that he was going to kill Mud if Mud didn’t pay him the money he owed him. It was about $1500 he said. I had stopped by Irish’s apartment last week to pick up some camp fuel and the Cowboy was there with his eyes wide open. He had old 12 gauge pump and had sawed the barrel and stock off.
I asked to hold it because I have an affinity for sawed off shotguns. He had taken the slide down to about five pounds and filed the serial number off.
After checking it out, I wiped the thing down because it constituted a parade of felony charges.
‘Why you gonna kill Mud, Cowboy? ‘I asked, playing along.
That’s when he told me Mud had burned him for an ounce of dope. He wanted $1500 or he was going to ‘pop a cap in Mud’s ass.’
I didn’t ask too many questions. I told him he shouldn’t be fucking with AIDS heads like Mud in the first place.
‘No shit, Sherlock,’ he fired back through clenched teeth. He was spun.
I thought he had just been talking shit and would cool off, but I was wrong.
The thing that stands out most in my mind is the music that was playing. Scoots is owned, operated and frequented by people with no taste and no class, so the usual music is country pop bullshit like Garth Brooks.
But for some reason, “The Memories of You and I” by Waylon Jennings was on. It was a freak occurrence.
I noticed it right off because its the kind of song that just drops you into a scene that seems like it’s been going on for a million years. The slide guitars, the sloppy drumming and Waylon drinking and crying about some rotten woman. It’s beautiful.
I had noted Mud’s presence when I got their with Trisha, who is an exgirlfriend but we still get a beer now and then. Needless to say, I did not say hello to Mud, as I find him to be a filthy junky who probably has AIDS. But I like to be aware of my surroundings.
We ordered and I went into the men’s room and took a rip off the pipe to tune myself into Trisha’s fucked up wavelength.
When I walked out is when “Memories of You and I” came over the PA, and I was pleasantly surprised.
The whole world slowed down at that instant. I suddenly felt as if I was way faster than everyone in creation. Only me and this swaying twangy song. I like that funky twangy 70s country.
The Cowboy walked through the door and the light flooding in from the outside outfitted him with a sinister aura. He was wearing a dirty white Stetson, shooting glasses and and a white shirt and jeans. The cowboy had transformed into the Great Methamphetamine Satan.
He levitated across the bank of tables near the front door. Once he hit the bar glided toward a seated Mud.
That furball Mud had his back to the door. He was drinking a Budlight and selecting a ring tone on his phone, oblivious to tuned up death floating up behind him.
The Cowboy was carrying the shotgun he had shown me the week before. I hadn’t noticed it until he pulled it up to his shoulder and fired one round into Mud, who was taking a sip of his beer.
Mud’s body rocked violently forward, then he slumped dead on the floor.
I snapped out of it. Everything sped up. I ducked down and looked at the Cowboy. His eyes met mine and and for a second I thought I saw him smile. He took Mud’s now vacant seat.
“A beer,” he said, setting the shotgun down on the bar.
The Waylon Jennings song was still playing. It sounded like noise. I couldn’t stand it anymore.
The Cowboy was looking at himself in the bar mirror, which was now stained with Mud. He took a sip of his beer and lit a cigarette like nothing had happened.
Most of the people in the bar were still on the floor. The music stopped and the room fell silent. I took a long circular route around the inside of the building and slipped out a side door.
Trisha yelled out my name as I walked out the door. She sounded like Leonard Cohen.
I reached my truck started it up and peeled out of the parking lot. The sun hurt my eyes and I didn’t have my sunglasses so I pointed it south toward Texas.