Friday, May 18, 2012
Now Playing: The Songbird of the West
New to these parts? To start the story from the beginning, click
Episode One concluded with:
The laughter suddenly stopped. Laughing man had heard Dehner approaching. As Rance drew closer to the lighted room, the door was pushed open wider, creating a small carpet of light which also splattered a murky tinge of yellow against the opposite wall.
The detective could hear anxious, erratic breathing coming from inside the room. Someone was waiting for him.
Rance Dehner stepped into the light and faced the man who had disrupted his sleep. He was young, maybe twenty, and stood at a fraction under six feet. His hair was sandy and his arms were muscular, ending in large hands. In one of those hands he held a Colt .44. The gun was pointed at the floor.
“Howdy!” He shouted at Rance.
“My name is Holt Conley. Ever heard of me?”
“No. Can’t say I have.”
“Well, you’re gonna! Say, you with the hotel?”
“If you were, I was gonna tell you not to worry none about that bullet in the wall.” He pointed with the .44 toward a side wall. The gesture was casual. He was using the gun as if it were a school teacher’s pointer.
“See, I was practicing my draw. Gotta kill a man tomorrow. Know how much I’m gonna get paid?”
“Eight hundred dollars! I ain’t foolin’.” Conley holstered his gun and pulled out a billfold from a side pocket of his buckskin jacket. He yanked out a fistful of bills and waved them at his companion. “Four hundred dollars! Get the rest of it after the job’s done. Won’t have any problems payin’ to get that wall fixed.”
As he observed Holt Conley, the detective realized his earlier assumptions had been wrong. The young man’s eyes and words did not speak of alcohol, but madness.
Without returning the money to his billfold, Conley stuffed both back into his pocket. “When I checked into this hotel, I told ‘em to give me the finest room they had. The clerk said he’d give me the room with the biggest window.” He pointed behind himself with his thumb. “Bet you ain’t got a window that big in your room.”
“You’re right!” Dehner noted that the window was unusually large for a hotel. The curtains were red, thick, and clean, another unusual find.
Holt Conley was obviously delighted by Rance’s concession. His eyes took on a friendly, though condescending look. “I didn’t catch your name, friend.”
“Guess I didn’t toss it to you. The name is Rance Dehner.”
The friendliness left Conley’s face, replaced by an intense fire. “Well, now, we got ourselves an interesting situation here, Rance Dehner.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re the man I’ve been paid to kill.”
Monday: Episode Three of The songbird of the West