The barstools are new, which means Eddie, the fat Indian with a runny nose, made them, because Hank Wilson doesn’t spend a penny on the saloon unless it makes him a nickel. The floor has rot in most corners, one where Eddie’s flipped a table upside down over it to keep critters out. Doesn’t keep Mabel Jankins out, though. She sneaks up through that rotted hole to loan hers out for a price after hours, couple times a week. Has been since October when the leaves on the trees turned brown, they way they do in what passes for Fall in a dust bowl.

Dust “bowel.” That’s what Hank calls it. “Nothing but shit.” He just said it, in fact, commenting on the wind outside, as he set a beer in front of me and walked away. I don’t care what he says. I’m never leaving this shit bowl and neither is he. Only person ever left and stayed away more than a year in my lifetime, excepting the Turner kids who burned up in their barn and fled on the winds as ashes, far as I know, is Eddie’s mom. She worked here, which is how Hank and the saloon, itself, kind of inherited Eddie. Eddie was 7 when his mom sat down at the bar after closing one night, asked Hank for a shot of Irish Rose, then socked him in the face so hard the bridge of his nose cracked in two places, and took off running. She must’ve had it timed, because it took 35 minutes of trotting at a good pace to to make the 3am freight train that stopped once a month at Toro Ranch. She didn’t leave a note for Eddie.

This beer has a fuzz in it. Some kind of seed or another blown in and making noses sneeze and eyes water.

Fragments 1

Nonplussed, Dalziel ate the hula hoop.  She’d had worse.

Hopeful, Emily reached out with a crooked right index finger—log-lumpy and cozy, campfire-evoking sturdiness—and touched the “POST” button on her status update.

Irritated, Annabelle tipped the coffee cup to look inside.  Sure enough, that stupid ceramic cat peeked back at her, unbroken, coffee to its neck.

A hard vinyl lip edges the backseat and digs into Darian’s ankles, leaving a ridge where they hit, small legs sticking out from his best shorts and pasted to the seat from heat and nervous sweat. Ripping them off was going to hurt.

Frightened, Lucy watched the tablespoon bend itself into an arrow, the sides of the bowl folding in on themselves to point directly at her brother.

“But I love it,” Malia cried, kicking wildly and wedging the gem further up into her nostril.

Please don’t, thunk the fern as Max nudged it with one finger off the window ledge in a fit of violent ennui.

“Your Dogness,” joked Blake to the ancient hound parked outside, “these are certainly exciting times.”

Slipping the Colonel Mustard into his pocket on the way out, John finally felt his anger give way to something else.  “Good luck winning with the next chump, Alice,” he thought, then grabbed the candlestick for good measure.

With elation, Eli beat himself about the head and neck, positive they wouldn’t make a bleeder wear an elf hat.