It’s dark, it’s raining, and there is a long road ahead of me but I’m staying at the bar for one last drink. They call me The Kid. Billy The Kid. I’ve got 3 slugs in me and two of them are bourbon. It seems like ages ago, but I was something once. In a past life, I was lead detective of one of the best damn squads in the country. Now I’m just a dick that romances failure almost as much as a bottle of gin.
I’m not sure exactly when it all fell apart, but I’m sure a dame was the cause. At first, I was full of bravado and confidence. A brash young go-getter with a chopper squad of talent and bullets to spare. I shacked up with a moll from the Sunshine state. We were dynamite. She was plain, but I made her into something special. We had it all, not once but twice, and the world at my finger tips. That’s when I got sloppy and it fell apart quicker than a busted flush.
A country doll from a border state started giving me the buzz. My gal hated her, but what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. The country dame was in my league, but she had more class, a bigger house, and more suitors. The chase was fun. The give and take. It was a thrill. I listened to her story and feigned interest for awhile, but eventually I just strung her along and broke her heart. See, the Chief had been with her before. He advised me to keep at home. To appreciate what I had and not to get jingle-brained looking for greener pastures. I listened to the head Paisan and stopped her advances the way a telephone pole stops a getaway car.
I had my eyes on a bigger prize. She was a professional full of Magic and possibilities. The Chief warned me about her, too, but this bird had me more crossed up than Craig Ehlo on an inbounds play. I decided to shoot the works. I left my home and my steady and declared my love for the chippy in glad rags. I took the first rattler to her joint in Orlando. As soon as the door slammed behind me I felt the icy pang of regret rip through my chest like a slug from a heater. The lady was a harsh mistress and I realized I was in a clip joint of commitment and Satan was the bartender. The Chief was right. No man should try to hang his hat up at the brothel. There was too much pressure; too much expectation. I was a rube and I didn’t have the stomach for her lifestyle. I pulled a clean sneak and tried to flimflam my old dame. Thankfully, she was as smart as she was glamorous and the dizzy broad took me back.
Now we are a year removed from when the country dame last called. I didn’t even answer the phone. I hear she hooked up with some guy from Pittsburgh, got a make-over, and is doing gang busters. Me? I’m just a lap dog. A wag to the ordinary gal that was once my security blanket but now serves as a curtain for my manhood. I’m not as passionate or energetic. My heart is as empty as the brandy bottle in my bottom desk drawer. I don’t even take my gal out to the big dance anymore. She just settles for smaller events where we go home early.
Sometimes I wonder about the road not taken. About life with the country girl and all that could have been. Is the guy from Quaker-country living my life? I wonder if I could have hacked it with the professional dame. Would she have abused me for a couple of years and spit me out? Maybe, but it would have been fun while it lasted. I look across the bar at a nance that just dumped his one year fling for a broad from California. A regular Rocky Top heist. God speed, young man. It shouldda been me.
Inspired by Pat Dooley’s Column. An excellent read.