Chapter 6: Chicken Scratch 4-6
The whorehouse was all reds and blacks. Carpet, wallpaper, furniture, even nude paintings of women in the most pornographic poses imagined, were prints drowned in those colors. But, there was one painting on black silk: Elvis Presley holding a rooster in his hands with a huge halo hanging over his head, Mother Mary groveling at the king’s feet.
Thompson laughed and shook his head, pointing a finger at the painting. “The whole time no one knew that Elvis was the new Messiah.”
Two old Mexican cowhands watched, fuming at the presence of gringos perhaps? Most likely unnerved by the loudmouths that entered their world.
Brooks jabbed Thompson in the ribs with his elbow. “Hey,” he whispered. “Cool it. We don’t want any trouble.”
“That’s right,” Farelly added. “Just some Tequila and cooze!” Farelly and Thompson laughed boisterously, high-fived each other.
“Shut up you two. I mean it,” Brooks scoffed, bit his lower lip. “Nothing worse than getting kicked out of a whorehouse in Mexico. Where’s Paco?”
“Who cares,” Thomson said, looking around the reception area. “Where’s the girls?”
“I agree with Thompson. Hey!” Farelly screamed at the old cowhands. “What do you have to do to get some pussy around here?”
The cowhands shifted their eyes nervously at each other. Neither answered Farelly. A door opened and a heavy set Mexican woman in a glitter-overkill dress stepped into the room. Her hair was frizzy, two tone silver and black, streaks, decorated by multi-colored beads that fell to her bosom.
“That one’s yours, Farelly,” Thompson snickered.
The woman began to speak Spanish and Brooks panicked. “Oh, shit. Somebody find Paco.”
Farelly rolled his eyes. “We don’t need him. I can speak—“
“Almost none of the language. Asshole, go get Paco!”
Brooks SUV pulled into the driveway of a rundown shack littered with trash and kegs. It looked like a riot in a flea market. Paco’s ’79 Chevy pickup sat in the yard, the only clean thing there.
“What the hell do we need him for?” Farelly asked.
“He knows how to get to this place, Pete,” Brooks said. “Besides, he’s your friend.”
“Not anymore,” Thompson said from the backseat. ELP was playing on the radio, much to Thompson’s dismay. “They had a fallen out about a little redhead going to Texas A&M.”
“That asshole doesn’t need any more women. He’s got half of Austin already.” Farelly sulked, curled his upper lip
“You don’t either,” Brooks laughed. “You’re married, remember?”
“Ah, shut up,” Farelly dismissed the comment with a wave.
A short man with curly black hair and a wife-beater exited the shack, trotted to the SUV.
“There he is,” Brooks said, starting the vehicle.
The front passenger door opened. Paco and Farelly locked eyes.
“Shotgun,” Paco said.
“What?” Farelly laughed. “You can’t call shotgun if the seat is already occupied.”
“Look, man, I called shotgun. Get in the back. I never ride in the back.”
“What are you guys, twelve years old?” Thompson scoffed.
“C’mon, Bro…..I called it,” Paco pressed the issue. “I’ll just—go back in my house….”
“Go back in, who cares…go back in.” Farelly said.
“You’ll never find that place,” Paco shrugged, took out a pack of cigarettes from his front trouser pocket. He placed the cigarette between his lips and lit it. “Your choice, homes.” He said to Brooks.
Brooks sighed. He nodded. “You heard the man, Pete,” Brooks motioned toward the backseat. “He called shotgun.”
Farelly was appalled at this betrayal. Thompson erupted into laughter, fell over, clapping his hands. Farelly was incensed. Still, he didn’t argue. He climbed in the backseat, pushed Thompson out of his path.
Paco got in, slammed the door. He took a drag from his cigarette, made a face. “What the hell are we listening to?” He exhaled smoke same time as he spoke.
“That’s what I was asking,” Thompson said.
“Fuck you guys,” Brooks said. “My car, my music. Nothing wrong with Emmerson, Lake, and Palmer. They composed some complicated music.”
“Who needs complications when you’re just looking for a hard on?” Paco said. With his thumb and forefinger, he rolled the knob until he came on to a song with a woman crooning in between guitars and mandolin with upbeat drum patterns. “Yeah!” Paco whooped. “Kelly Willis. That’s what I’m talking about!”
“This is what I’m talking about,” Paco said, slapped down a photograph of three naked women in an erotic pose with a man on the table. He was sitting across from Brooks in a booth of an upscale bar, nursing a Heineken. Brooks never trusted Paco. He thought he was the most dangerous of all of Pete’s friends that sometimes hovered over the circle. He watched Paco carefully, trying to read the tattoos on his forearm whenever possible. Brooks thought it was odd Paco picked an upscale joint to meet, even odder that he was drinking a Heineken. “We get to have a good time…plus make some money.”
“Why come to me? Aren’t you and Pete friends?” Brooks drained the last of his bud from his glass, waved it around for the waitress to see.
“I’ll get you another one, sir,” She called out from the next table she was serving.
Paco looked around, sighed. “Yeah, Pete and me,” he said slowly. “We’re momentarily on the outs. Whenever we’ve had our business,” Paco flashed a quick smile. “I notice you were the smart one of the three.”
True, Brooks thought. On both accounts. He wasn’t as emotional as Farelly, nor as immature as Thompson. He also loved the Adderall Paco sold him.
“Is that what we’re picking up?” Brooks asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No,” Paco said, amused by the question. “And fuck you, I’m not telling you what we’re picking up. It’s my concern. Better off not knowing anything if we get stopped.”
“I wasn’t hinting at—“
“Yes you were. All of my family is here. We’ve been here in Texas longer than your family, Mr. Maple leaf.”
“So,” Brooks rubbed his bloodshot eyes, let the waitress deliver the beer and move on before saying another word. “Why should I do this? I need convincing.”
Paco looked around, then removed a dusty satchel from the seat beside him, handed it off to Brooks. Brooks peaked inside. A smile crossed Brooks’ face. “That’s a lot of money,” he said.
“Yeah. That’s just for renting that super smooth SUV you got.”
“We have to use my car?”
“Yeah, homes,” Paco chugged the left over Heineken, slamming the bottle on the table. “I can’t be embarrassed. Gotta look sharp.”
Next Tuesday, Chapter 6: Chicken Scratch pts 7-9
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