Friday Night Write – Somewhere Down the Crazy River
Somewhere Down the Crazy River
Matty knocked back another shot of rotgut island rum and wiped the sweat off of his face with his sleeve.
He grimaced at the sting on his cheeks and the outside corners of his eyes.
His shirt was made for him by a women he’d gotten friendly with during his first month on the island and should have been soft with wear but it rubbed him raw every time he mopped his face.
The ceiling fan labored but the hot air near the ceiling wouldn’t be moved.
Matty slammed the shot glass down on the bar.
“Un otro, Antonio,” he barked at the bartender. Two years in country his Spanish still wasn’t any good bur he could order a drink.
Antonio, a wide, white-haired man in a canvas shirt and a pair of Buddy Holly eyeglasses, shambled over with his arms crossed in front of him.
“All right, Antonio. All right.”
Matty reached into his pants pocket and dropped a handful of crumpled notes on the bar. The money represented most of what he had left.
Antonio retrieved a grimy bottle from beneath the bar and poured the shot.
Matty raised the glass in salute and put it down untasted.
Antonio returned to his newspaper at the other end of the bar.
None of the handful of other drinkers sitting around the bar looked up to note the transaction.
The early-birds at Antonio’s were either old, broken, or both. Few of them favored him with a glance, let alone a word. He knew they were aware of him though. More than once he’d overheard the word, ‘gringo’, in conversation around him.
He knew he had to move again, further inland, and the thought made him sick. His days of hustling tourists on the beaches where the air smelled of suntan lotion, money, and pussy were far behind him.
Those were good days.
Matty drank off his rum and waited for Pedro to show up.
Pedro, a little man with a crew cut and more tattoos than Matty had ever seen on one body, was his ticket out. He was one of those guys who knew people and made a living at getting fugitives out of jams.
He’d been easy to find and Matty thought the price he quoted for passage was reasonable. It was a lot less reasonable when Pedro showed up two days later with a big grin and a newspaper clipping in hand.
Matty was about to try to wheedle another shot out of Antonio when Pedro arrived.
He stopped in the doorway and motioned for Matty to join him outside.
“It’s all set,” said Pedro. “You gotta go down the river.”
“What’s down the river?”
“Another town. Another man who will help you. We must go now. There is a boat.”
Matty looked around and nodded. “Let’s go.”
As they walked, Pedro thought about the bounty hunter waiting downriver. It was turning out to be a most profitable partnership.