from Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, a comedy/thriller about horses, horse thieves, girl friends and murderers. In the following excerpt, he’s on the trail of whoever stole Mayor Clark Trail’s race horse Sea of Fire.
Coral Snake Smith needed two omelets to loosen his tongue. For an informed source who made his living trading information for food, one might think Smith would have picked up some table manners along with the details of everyone else’s life. Jock drank half a cup of cold, gritty coffee and tried not to watch. Smith’s pig-in-a-trough noise was bad enough.
Jock’s dear old daddy always said, “Jock, take my word for it. Sloppy people are all going to hell.” He also said, “If a man smells like a whore house, he’s going to hell.” Smith had two strikes against him today and it wasn’t even noon yet.
“What did Lucinda Trail have to say?” asked Jock while Smith was licking his plate like an all day sucker.
Smith almost dropped the plate.
“Are your people following me around?”
Jock shrugged. “That, plus you’re wearing her perfume.”
“We were together, but not in the Biblical sense,” said Smith, and he grinned like it was something he spent a fair amount of time contemplating. “A man can do worse.”
“Word is, Clark has.”
Smith did a spit take with the remains of his coffee.
“So has your boss, but none of this is what Lucinda asked me about. She wanted to know why Monique Starnes bought two sacks of Race Ready.”
“What is that, some kind of Viagra knockoff?” asked Jock, recalling that while his Scotch tasted funny last night his performance had been better than usual.
Smith sat there with his mouth open, for once empty of anything approaching food. He looked like he’d seen a dunce.
“Race Ready is a brand of horse feed,” Smith said, with a fair amount of exasperation and condescension. “Martin and Brian Bentley over at the seed and feed stock it especially for Clark Trail. A new employee who didn’t know the feed had been set aside for Sea of Fire sold one sack to Ms. Starnes at seven AM and another sack at seven thirty-two AM. Brian called Lucinda and apologized for being out of stock.”
Since the waitress had temporarily lost interest in her job, Jock went to her station, selected a pot of coffee with the least amount of sludge in the bottom, and refilled Smith’s cup as well as his own. Doing this gave him time to collect his thoughts such as they were. Out of the universe of probabilities, one begged him to allow it to come to mind. But he wasn’t ready to think that way. So Jock temporarily dodged that line of thought by considering why Lucinda came to the Purple Platter.
“What was a woman like Lucinda doing in a place like this?”
“We keep in touch on a daily basis,” said Smith. “She facilitates that by sitting where you’re sitting now. She’s not exactly eye candy, but she trumps your sourpuss look without having to bat an eyelash or shove a shoe up a man’s trouser leg under the table.”
So far, Smith had slung four sugar cubes into his cup. Now, he seemed to be studying the sugar bowl as though, what with the rain and all, Monday was turning into a five-cube day. He tasted his coffee, and then he dropped in another cube.
“Lucinda came in this morning dressed to the nines even though it was only eight thirty. Her face was blanched out more than her hair. She was disappointed when she learned that my network of quasi-ubiquitous sources knew nothing about the two sacks of Race Ready.”
“You’re not a seed and feed kind of guy,” observed Jock.
Copyright (c) 2009 by Malcolm R. Campbell
An interview with Smoky Trudeau, author of “Observations of an Earth Mage.”