Old age had blurred Sol Horror into a walking ghost. He had made a living out of swallowing up this town’s demons. Until, that was, Rudy Russo handcuffed him to the slaughterhouse railings and thrashed him to within an inch of his life. He was an elderly man, and Rudy could have killed him with his bare hands, but he chose to use a tyre-iron instead. Sol died two days later, and Rudy took over his smack racket within a matter of days. Rudy was seventeen. He had rust coloured hair, bloodshot eyes and violent streak wider than his skinny, white ass. Me? I had all Sol Horror’s smack.
The men in the truck were drunk, and they had shotguns. I tried to focus on their faces, but the late afternoon glare left me sun-blinded. Alouette was standing on the rusted steps of the trailer, smoking a brown cigarette. Her unwashed face was a mess of cocaine snot and bleary bedroom eyes.
“So, are you gonna invite me in to this pretty little trailer of yours, or do I have to wait in the car.”
She turned around wordlessly, and I followed her inside. The truck accelerated away, back wheels coughing up dust. I was surprised to see Charles was already inside. I hadn’t seen his car in the parking lot. He was wedged into the patched-up armchair, gut protruding underneath his shabby polo-shirt. I looked quizzically at him, and he shook his head enigmatically.
“You want a drink, Joe?”
“You got any beer, Alouette?”
She drifted into the kitchenette and started fumbling through the refrigerator. I walked into her bedroom and took off my boots.
Alouette undressed with a slow-motion junkie dance that made my dick throb. She lay on the single-bed, reached for my cock and passed out. I played dot-to-dot with her puncture wounds and my tongue. I licked the translucent junkie prose off her pale, unwashed torso. The thin film of sweat tasted of saccharine. I fucked her motionless body until my cock burned. When I was done I lay down on my threadbare carpet, wishing I owned a gun. I gazed across at Alouette, demurely vulgar on the bed, already struggling to appreciate her sickly appeal.
I buttoned up my jeans and walked back into the sitting room. Charles was watching TV with the sound turned down. I wondered if he was listening to me have sex. He heaved his bulk out of the easy chair, trudged across the pockmarked linoleum and shut the bedroom door behind me. Charles looked at me, and dabbed at his swollen eye with a dirty handkerchief.
“Do the right thing, son.”
He coughs something into the handkerchief.
“If you leave her in this snake-pit they’ll pick her bones clean.”
He hands me another beer from the refrigerator, and we drink them in silence. Through the flyscreen I see the truck driver turn off his headlights as he enters the trailer park. He skids off the buckled concrete, and the tyres chew up the loose gravel as he pulls up next to my car. I stand on the steps, nursing my beer. Rudy opens the truck door and squints up at me.
“How would you like your wife made ugly?”
“She’s my ex-wife, but thanks for asking.”
“I’ve heard you’re a smart guy. Don’t be a smart-ass. Give me back the smack, Joe. That way I won’t have to hurt you too bad.”
“Fuck you Rudy. Fuck you.”
I let the screen door slam behind me and collapse onto the couch, suddenly bone-tired. After a few minutes I hear the truck reverse off the gravel and out of the trailer-park. Charles hands me another beer.
“Stupid fucking hillbillies.”
Two days later. The red sky over the motel looks angry and inflamed. Rudy is watching Nicaraguan snuff movies in his room, hands in his pants.
He flashes me a strychnine grin and I slash at his neck with my throat-knife.
“How does it feel to have your throat slit by a ghost?”