When hit with a burst from Gritt Calhoon’s sawed-off scatter blaster the short auburn hairs on the head of that lowly dew farmer spread into the atmosphere with such force that they actually managed to pierce the center beam that kept much of the roof of Dabeigo’s Gourd—a local watering hole for sapphire miners and the filthy indigenous good-people of Thaiwanland—and inserted themselves straight into the wood like nails shot from the center of a hurricane. His skull fared no better. Pieces of it were everywhere. Later Gritt Calhoon would recall this particular incident, or one like it, and say, “I blew his mind, man. S’all I can tell ye.”
Antwerp Angelinotoni’s mustache twitched. A fine Thaiwanlander, though he was of a more ancient descent. Not Thaiwanese. He was actually British. Whatever the hell that was. No longer did the Union Jack fly proud over the Isle of Wight, or of Man for that matter.
“You mind tellin’ me,” Gritt addressed, “exactly why you wanted t’go a meetin’ in a place whose patrons are so readily willing to meet booda—” he paused, “that they would menace an innocent man, one who has only come to this fine establishment in need of drink, and to cause all manner of retarded shit to run through his mind?!” Gritt flared his nostrils, giving him the facial expression most akin to that of some dead Nipponesian demon reading the Sunday newspaper.
The question wasn’t being posed to his old C.O. and friend, Antwerp, as much as it was being posed to every other human being left alive on this miserable planet: Earth.
Jesus. Gritt’s leather was tight. At six-feet eight-inches, he was gargoyle made out of Aaron Neville parts and Lemmy entrails. His sexy-ass chest hair glistened.
In an instant the volume of that jungle went from simultaneously opening one-million bottles of Coke-Cola to the sound of water evaporating so fast, in fact, that when Gritt turned to make for the table where Antwerp was sitting the leather he wore made sounds like a dog ripped in half whose pieces were being used to mop the floor of a movie theater.
Antwerp broke the silence first.
“Smashing as ever you old gator, you. Really know how to clear a room.” The way Antwerp nervously greeted Gritt by pushing his weight up and down on the stump he was seated at reminded him of a five-year-old with birthday cake incoming. Antwerp had lost much of his former discus-throwing style physique. He was more pale than Gritt remembered. Freckles had multiplied. The jungle roughed up this ex-Brit’s edges. The humidity steamrolled his reddish hair. Gritt guessed he’d finished a bottle or two of some rye without any Vicodin chasers. Guy probably didn’t even smoke opium anymore. His abuse of the drink made his arms one size from shoulder to fingertip, but had made his guts balloon. The skin of his face drooped slightly. Old Antwerp still managed one helluva handlebar dick broom though, he thought.
The pornagraphic sound of Gritt’s leather got louder as he approached and the zippers and skulls on his jacket jingled and jangled against one another.
“Chuffed to see it’s only your devilish good looks that’ve been slain with age and not yourself.” Where the leather of Gritt’s weather-beaten jacket ended and the skin of his neck began was a mystery. “Too much sun maybe, old boy. I always thought you hillbillies aged so gracefully.”
The table flipped.