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Always nice to get a positive review for one of my books and even better when it comes from another 'ex-pat' Burtonian!  Carol post...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Jambalaya - another excerpt that I said I wasn't going to do!

The story so far:  Max Vobiscus, a local ne'erdowell and Riverboat gambler, has decided to sate his passion at a nearby house of ill repute.  He meets up with Jay 'Zoot' Alors, a pimp, asks about the new girls he has heard were arriving, and the following conversation ensues:


“There’s been kind of a hitch there,” Zoot admitted, “seems they were travelling down, saw a welcoming light, stopped to rest for the night and then there was dancing and so on...”
“Yes, and….”
“Well, I hear they decided they liked each other more than they liked the paying guests, if you get my drift, so they’ve set up some sort of a commune.  I’ve got a girl from Kalamazoo.”
“Is she good?”
"Well, I don't mean to boast but I know she's the toast of Kalamazoo"
"Alright, she'll do."
"You'll have to wait, there's three other guys before you."
"Forget it, I've gone off the idea.”  Max snapped.  “Do I take it you are a little, how shall I put it, light on stock at the moment?"
"Damn right,” Zoot sighed, “if things don't pick up soon I'm going to have to start wearing lipstick and calling myself Priscilla......again.  I recall another friend of mine, Titus..."
"Titus?"
"Yeah, as in tight as a duck's…."
"Oh, I see,” Max groaned, “go on."
"Thanks, I was going to anyway.  Well, Titus, he started a brothel with no girls at all, just him, in the pitch dark, doing wonders with a sink plunger.  Man, he was something.  He would have done fine if this plumber hadn't visited him one night.  Last I heard there was a team of doctors working on him and they said even if they got the plunger back there ain’t no way they could ever use it again."
"You have some strange friends."
"You think so?”  Zoot said with surprise, “you should see my enemies.  So friend, what brings your parts to these parts?"
"Frustration, Zoot.  Can I call you Zoot?"
"Sure, here's my number, give me a call" Zoot handed Max a card.
"It's all dots and dashes!"
"What else, it's Morse Code, there ain't no telephones yet, wire me!"
"That's what I keep asking, why me?”  Max muttered despondently.  “Why should I fall in love with a girl who is promised to another?"
"Beats me!”  Zoot shook his head, “Now a girl who promises you another, that's somethin' else.  Tell you what, boy, if you buy me a drink I'll tell you all about my fascinating life.  Make it two and there might even be some truth in it."
Zoot steered Max over to a beer soaked table in the corner of the bar.  A waiter shuffled over to them.
“I’ll have a shot of bourbon, what are you having, son?”
“I’ll have two fingers of red-eye.”  Max said, with a view to impressing the cowboys.
“I really don’t think you should have...” Zoot started to say.
The waiter giggled manically and poked both of Max’s eyes.
“....ordered that.” Zoot continued, “guess I should have warned you, he’s the house maniac.  You know how every bar has this mad, violent, guy that everyone avoids?”
“Yeah.”  Max choked.
“Well, Nancy figured if you’ve got to have a fruitcake you might as well get some use out of him, so she employed hers.”
Zoot looked with concern at his drinking companion who was still wiping his eyes and trying to focus.
"Are you okay, boy?"
"I'll live."
"Now don't go making promises you can't keep.  Not round here anyway.”  He turned to the waiter, “bring a bottle of Rye and two glasses and cut the smart stuff, o.k.?”
The waiter flounced away.
“You're not from these parts are you?"  Zoot attempted to restart the conversation.
"Just down the valley a piece, I'm over Wilbur's Rise."
"I wish my Dora was,” Zoot said sadly, “that's what ruined our marriage and started me on this life of sin and debauchery.....”  he brightened, “guess I should thank him really."
"You were married?"
"Sure, I ain't been a pimp, sorry 'leisure negotiator', all my life.  Hell, I used to raise chickens."
"Down on the farm?"
"Nah, up to the second storey of MacDonald's Provisions store.  I used to work the hoist.  It was an up and coming job.  ‘Cept what I didn’t know was that while I was doing the upping, Dora was......doing something else entirely with Wilbur Macdonald.”  Zoot lit a cheap cigar and puffed on it reflectively.  “He was the eldest son of the family and stood to make a packet from his Pa’s seed corn fortune one day.”
“That’s too bad.  About Dora, I mean.”  Max commented as he wiped away the tears caused by the combined effects of violence and cheap cigar smoke, from his eyes.
“Damn right, but you couldn’t blame her really, the money turned her head.”  Zoot explained, “Wilbur stood there with his wallet bulging in his pants and she damned near ricked her neck.  When they said they'd made provision for him in their will, they weren't kidding.  Old Macdonald had a firm that was worth a pretty penny.”
“Did you know what was going on?”
“No sir!  When the Macdonald’s died, tragically, ‘cos of an unfortunate accident with the hoist, I thought me and Dora could buy the store up cheap and clean up.”
“Neat plan.”  Max agreed, without conviction.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Shame of it was, Wilbur wasn’t with his Ma & Pa when the hoist fell.  Seems he was with Dora.  Suddenly I find myself there in charge of a Provisions store with no wife, no hoist and a Sheriff holding a frayed piece of rope and a suspicious expression."
"Did they try you?"
"Nah, they seemed pretty certain so they went straight ahead and hung me.  Like they said, even if it wasn't me this time, it would be sooner or later, so it would save effort in the long run."
"Maybe I'm missing something but, you're still alive aren't you?"
"Sure takes a good 'un to get past you don't it.”  Zoot chuckled, “well, you see, the fact of the matter was that the local hangman also happened to be the guy who fixed the hoist at Macdonalds.”
Max took a wild guess “So, the rope broke?”
“You got it!  I sets off running and don't stop till I gets to Beanstown."
"The Windy City."
"Yeah, it seemed kinda appropriate.”  

You can find Jambalaya in its full silliness at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com amongst other places.