Coming to the point in Texas

4 for Texas

‘So do you work in the whorehouse too?’ said Roger.

‘No,’ said I. ‘I’m the mayor.’

‘You’re the mayor!’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘This is my town. I make the rules. I decide what goes on here. Who comes and who goes. Who can stay and enjoy our fine Texas hospitality and who oughter go and get fucked.’

‘Wowsers!’ said Roger. ‘That’s really cool.’ He looked wistfully at the barman, who had already started to set up the next round without a word from me. ‘Must be nice being mayor.’

‘It is nice, Roger. It is,’ I admitted. ‘But it’s not all boots and badges. Takes a lot of hard work being mayor. I am largely responsible for keeping this place together. If I was sick a single day it’d almost immediately fall to shit. None of the guys would be here if it weren’t for me.’

‘Jimminy,’ said Roger. ‘They must all really respect you and praise the day you came on into town.’

There was a gunshot in the backroom. Plaster fell from the ceiling. Louella got a fright and said, ‘Shit on me. Goddamn I hate this fucking place.’

‘Of course they do,’ I said to Roger. ‘In their own sweet simple cretinous way. It’s different out here in the heart of Texas. Men don’t show their feelings. They think it’s a sign of weakness… Fact is, you can only get hurt when you love something. If you don’t love anything, nothing can hurt you. You could shoot this whole place to bits, or give it back to the tax department, no one would give a shit, they’d just haul their asses [donkeys] on to the next one horse town. But I know they all respect me deep down. It comes out in odd ways.’

By the side Jeff spat noisily into a spittoon. At the tables they were going on with the card game; Texas Strauss laid out a handful of aces; Jack said, ‘Son of a bitch.’

‘And of course it is my first duty as mayor of Shitsville to get on with the job no matter what,’ said I.

‘Who’s that?’ said Roger. He was looking over my shoulder to a bosomy blonde sitting on the lap of Texas Strauss.

‘Oh, that’s my sexy secretary, Miss Georgia Summertime,’ I said. ‘Miss Summertime works with me in the dim government chambers when I’m dictating important council matters.’

‘She looks like a good time,’ said Roger.

‘She can’t type for shit.’

Cont’d here: Takin that long walk off a short pier in Texas.

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The wettest thing in Texas

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We went on drinking for a while. Dialogue as follows.

I [Miss Shitsville]: Have you finished your drink yet?

Roger: Easy love. [Drinking deep.] Yeah that’s alright. Good stuff, isn’t it. The ice blocks is a bit big though.

MS: Those ice blocks come from NASA.

Roger: Oh like you mean. Are they those underwater people?

MS: What…?

Roger: NASA. Sailors and shit. They make Aerodynamics so you can breathe underwater for a long time.

MS: Have you ever been under water for a long time?

Roger: No.

MS: Would you like to be?

Roger: It’s hot isn’t it?

MS: You’d probably prefer the weather back in Melbourne.

Roger: Nah it’s fucking freezing in Melbourne. Gets you right down.

MS: Is that why you came to Texas?

Roger: It’s my gap year.

MS: You decided to spend your gap year on holiday in only the world’s worst places?

Roger: Football’s finished anyway. Do you like football?

I do not like football.

MS: In Texas the only sport is sniping.

Roger: That’s underwater, yeah?

MS: You mean snorkelling?

Roger: And you’re gonna take me snorkelling later?

I bethought myself to make a joke.

MS: In Texas the only really wet people are Christian.

Roger: ? Do Christians like snorkelling?

Now another whore, Evelyn Einstein, was eyeing him off.

Roger: [to Evelyn] What are you then, eh?

Evelyn Einstein: [in honeyed tones] I’m the wettest thing in Texas.

Roger: Oh. [To me] Is she a Christian?

MS: Evelyn Einstein works in the whorehouse… She’s the union rep.

[Continued here: Coming to the point in Texas]

Back in fucking Texas

Previous: I meet the strangerprintemps1

Roger came up the steps and into the bar. I motioned to the boys at the table and they went on playing poker as though there was nothing of interest going on. Behind the counter the great lumbering bartender emerged in his glossy shirt and bowtie and I said, “What’ll it be, stranger?” as Roger looked around.

The girls on stage had stopped smoking and twitching and were staring too; the crazy Baptist went on banging his tambourine at intervals; old Jeff had retreated into a cobwebby corner to whistle round his single tooth and shuck tobaccy as though he was dying of a kind of unnameable, irrepressible mirth – as though the same thing had happened before – years ago – in the old times. He cackled like a rocking chair on an old porch, squeaked like bedsprings, exhaled like a rusted harmonica, and then for the rest of the afternoon sat dripping and dribbling into a bowl of chutney that grew skin on top, he left it so long untouched in that damned god forsaken place.

Now the barman reached for a glass and started making up my usual; I considered him very well trained.

‘Jack Daniels,’ said Roger, which, as it happens, is my usual.

‘Make it two,’ I said.

It was hot that day. The air was like flypaper. For some reason no matter how hot it was or how hungover you were Frank the Bastard, a toothless redneck with a cripple leg, sat on twanging a reed in the corner.

We both took a long drink, and I said, ‘Where you from, stranger?’

‘Oh, Melbourne, originally. Where are you from?’

Actually I’m from Melbourne too. ‘I live here,’ I said.

‘Oh. I didn’t think you belonged here really.’

‘So what are you doing here, then.’

‘Just want to have a look around…’

He looked around with his big goggling blue eyes.

‘Is everything to your satisfaction?’ said I.

‘Don’t know. Who’s that big guy?’

‘That’s Jack. A very big guy.’

‘Oh yeah? What does he do?’

‘He runs the whorehouse.’

‘Cool,’ said Roger. Just then two of the whores came sidling up to the bar; Louella drew a very long blue feather across Roger’s front as she passed. ‘Hello ladies,’ he said.

‘It’s a tough job…’ I said. ‘Not just any man could do it.’

‘He looks like a tough enough nut,’ said Roger. ‘I’d put my faith in him. And who’s that…?’

‘That’s our crazy Baptist pamphleteer.’

‘So you’re all like crazy religious then.’

‘No,’ said I. Louella started giggling. When Roger turned back to me he was smiling.

‘Alright in here, isn’t it?’ he said. ‘Bit posh. Nice girls.’

‘Everyone’s friendly in Texas…’ said I.

‘Actually I thought they were a lot of dicks,’ said Roger.

Continued here: The wettest thing in Texas.