Today, I have a guest author showcasing his book on Fragment Friday. May I offer for your enjoyment, Phillip T. Stephens, who today will be sharing an excerpt from his southwestern suspense novel, Cigerets, Guns & Beer.
Can I point out, that the spelling of cigarets appears as it absolutely should. It is an alternative spelling in the south US, but it is also a running joke, as the town sign painter can’t spell!
Dodd, a lawyer and ex-convict secures fifteen-year-old Bobby’s release on probation. The following Sunday, they hit the river in inner tubes.
“How’d you end up in jail? Robbing a liquor store?”
Bobby tried to look nonchalant, but he pushed up on his elbows watching with interest.
“Gas station. First time out of jail? Only work I could find was fry cook. A buck an hour. One night two buddies came over with twelve packs and we got to complaining about how broke we were. Before I knew it we decided to hit some gas stations. Never occurred to us that a fry cook and two counter clerks wouldn’t win a Nobel Prize for brains even if we multiplied our IQs and squared the results.”
Bobby was transfixed. No bluffing this time. Dodd thought maybe, just maybe, he could see his own sad story coming.
“We made a beer run, Johnny says, ‘What the hell, boys, let’s do it.’ We stole two shot guns and a .44 Magnum from his old man. Lucky for me I talked Johnny into leaving the ammo.”
Bobby shook his head. “How’d it go down?”
Dodd pulled the thermos from the water to pour another cup of coffee. He balanced the cup on his chest. “Drove out I-10, past Katy. Drinking, getting our courage up, the others asking, ‘You done time, right?’ Me bragging jail’s a cakewalk.
“So we find this mom and pop gas and grocery. Johnny goes in with the gun under his jacket and we slide the shotguns down the sides of our trousers and walk in a couple of minutes later.”
“What happened next?” Bobby was grinning now. The kid was eating the story up as though he still thought it would have a happy ending since Dodd was alive to tell it.
“Johnny opens his jacket to pull that Magnum out. What we don’t know is that the owner is a gun nut like Sheriff Meeker. Before Johnny can get the gun past his waist band, the owner has a twenty gauge aimed at his stomach. So Ray and I step up to the counter with our shotguns. It’s a Mexican standoff, see, only none of us has a loaded gun. Then, for some reason, Johnny pulled the trigger. Just like that. We heard the hammer click, and nothing happened. So the owner smiles, pumps the shotgun and blows Johnny from the counter halfway down the center aisle, covered with broken glass, ketchup and blood.”
Now Bobby’s eyes were wide and round. “No shit? He killed him? In cold blood?” Dodd didn’t answer, figuring that would speak for itself. Unfortunately, Bobby was more aroused than horrified. “What’d you do?”
“Dropped my shotgun. Yelled, ‘The guns ain’t loaded. Nobody’s is.’ Ray doesn’t drop his gun, and the old man pumps again and blows the right side of his head off. So now that son- of-a-bitch aims his shotgun at me.
“I pissed in my pants, begged, ‘Please don’t shoot me. Just call the cops. Cold-eyed bastard said once I was dead he could claim he didn’t know that and I swear to God he’d’ve shot me too if his old lady hadn’t talked him out of it.”
Bobby shook his head, more in worship than in horror. “Can’t believe you got away.”
The action sequences weren’t having their intended effect. “I did eight years for that robbery,” he stressed. “That old bastard never did a day for killing Johnny and Ray.”
Bobby whistled. “God damn. Nothing cool like that ever happens to me.”
About the author:
Told he was condemned to live a life of liars, Stephens became a consummate liar, publishing four novels and finishing in the finals of the Texas Liars competition in West, Texas three years in a row but never defeating George Bush, or Donald Trump (who provided a Texas Birth Cerificate). He rescues and fosters cats with his wife Carol for austinsiameserescue.org at their Austin, Texas home.
Cigerets, Guns & Beer:
Where to find Phillip: