I watched the stranger come up from a way away. He stopped just before me at the steps to the saloon and looked around as though considering what to do. The street was empty at that time of day – well it was always empty. Across the street the whores were in a line on the balcony redolent in the Summer sun in their long silk kimonos, smoking for once without irony – the smoke drifted like fine feathers in the blue air as they stood agape – still and silent – the lemon tree creaked against the fence – a tumbleweed coming from downtown got caught in a cross stream and switched directions.
And there for the first time I saw that face that is now forever burned into my memory like a lovely ballad; golden hair and golden sideburns and long golden moustaches flashing like Custer’s; cornflower blue eyes, peachy cheeks that had hardly seen the side of a razor before he decided to grow the foliage. Finally the long lashed eyes turned to me.
I said, “Howdy stranger.”
“Howdy!” he said. “Anywhere round here a body can get a drink?”
“There’s a Schweppes soda fountain bout 80 miles back of where you come from, stranger,” said I. “You could get a long drink there. Ice cold.”
“I meant a bit closer,” said the stranger. “It’s like a desert out here. Is that a real gun?”
“Where you from, stranger,” said I.
“My name’s Roger,” said he. He reached a hand towards me; even his gloves had fringe.
“We don’t do that kind of thing round here,” said I. “It’s not the Texas way.”
“Oh? What do you do then?”
Verily I considered.
“You’d better come inside.”
[Continued here: Back in fucking Texas.]