DEAD EYE

END OF THE RENAISSANCE

By Guy Rivera

 (discovered by Ray Banks)

As RAY BANKS is the definitive authority on the life and work of Guy Rivera, I will defer to him for insight. From the introduction to his monograph, “The Writer, the Man, the ‘Guy': A Critical Deconstruction of Guillermo Rivera”:

“Guillermo ‘Guy’ Rivera (1935–1989) is primarily known as the creator of the Dead Eye series, which started with Dead Eye (1979) and ended with the posthumous Lay Down Your Arms (1990). The series was, as Rivera himself put it, “the sum total of my passions*,” and was a sometimes schizophrenic attempt to mix the legends of Zatoichi and Zorro with spaghetti westerns, Italian Mad Max rip-offs and leftist political ideals. A heavy smoker and drinker, Rivera died of congestive heart failure in 1989 in his home town of Agua Prieta, Mexico.

* “In the Zone,” interview with Bob Leland in Dangerous Horizons magazine, July 1988.

 

They were headed for Yuma, six of them in the back of an open truck, another two squeezed into the cab. They’d been travelling for a couple of hours when they saw the young Mexican kicking dirt by the side of the road. The Mexican wore a dark suit, and a pristine white shirt. On his feet were black cowboy boots with silver spurs that jangled every time he dug his toe into the dirt. He carried a white stick in both hands. Behind his sunglasses, his sightless eyes were open and dead in their sockets. He said his name was Victor Cruz, and he was grateful for the ride.

Eduardo, a talkative man with a farmer’s accent, was the one who told Cruz where they were going. There was work in Yuma, he said. They were trying to rebuild, start again. Cruz nodded like he was listening, but all he really heard was an old story badly told. There was no hope in Yuma. There was no hope anywhere.

After a while on the road, Cruz closed his eyes, a force of habit, and felt himself drift, the gentle rocking of the back of the truck like a hand on a cradle.

The workers smelled of stale sweat, even staler mescal and nickel cigars. They chattered about television, the US Army rerun favorites that had the main character’s name in the title—Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke and Carol Burnett—and then they talked about drinking and gambling and their families. They complained about money, and there was a brief spate of filthy joke one-upmanship, culminating in a long story about a vaquero’s daughter with a snatch like a bucket. The man sitting across from him had too much phlegm in his throat and he breathed heavily. He told a joke about Eduardo’s mother. Eduardo exploded in mock rage. There was laughter, a chorus of jeers and some horseplay—slapping and play-fighting—before Eduardo’s voice cut short and a warm spray hit the side of Cruz’s face.

He opened his eyes, but saw nothing. He felt the air buffet at his right, Eduardo toppling forward into the middle of the truck. The other men panicked. Shouting, moving around, a lot of noise.

They were so loud that Cruz barely heard the second shot.

One of the front tires blew. The truck fishtailed. Cruz hung on. He turned his face upwards. The sun was gone, so they were in the mountains. Which meant there was a sniper up there somewhere and his aim was good. Cruz yelled at the men to jump. He felt hands on him, guiding him to the back of the truck as it careened off the road. Then he leapt, airborne for split-second before he dropped to the ground, kneeled into a roll which he broke by digging his stick into the dirt and hoisting himself upright. He heard the men scatter around him, looking for shelter. He heard them yelling at each other.

Then he heard the other men. They shouted in bad Spanish and better English. They were broad-voiced, professional bullies, the kind of men whose confidence came from the large guns they pointed at small people.

Cruz spat the foul taste out of his mouth and turned. The men continued to yell in a monotone. “Get on the ground, face down, palms flat, mouth to mud, mouth to goddamn mud.” He heard the workers do as they were told. He tapped one of them with his white stick as he walked past. They were all on the ground. That was good. It meant they wouldn’t get in the way.

Another shout, rising in pitch. The man shouting at him was keyed up and obviously armed, and there was already too much blood in the air for him to take it easy.

“Get your ass in the dirt, Pedro. Mouth to mud.”

Cruz stopped. His left hand moved to the top of his white stick, his thumb pointed up. One man in front of him, over six foot in height, the smell of fresh sweat on him and something else, unnatural, coming in small bursts, punctuated by a wet clicking sound that came from his mouth.

Juicy Fruit.

The gum, accent and psychosis added up to an American, and not a soldier, but Army trained. A merc, then, and a cocky one at that.

He felt a punch in the middle of his back. “You deaf? Down on the ground.”

Similar height to Juicy Fruit. He’d shoved with his right hand, which put the gun in his left and made him a southpaw. He heard the scuff of a boot about thirty feet away behind him to his left, at about eight o’clock. A cleared throat belonged to another merc about ten feet behind the Pusher. That was four. Probably at least another two in the pickup that rumbled at one o’clock, no doubt blocking the Mexican truck’s path. This new pickup was a customized Dodge, the chassis hanging low and most likely armored. It was tooled under the hood, a high-horse police interceptor engine with a nitro feed. That kind of customization was a white man’s folly, and one that required money, just like this small private army that surrounded him.

Six of them, maybe more, armed with machine guns and God only knew what else.

Cruz liked those odds. They were interesting.

“Goddamn it,” said the Pusher. He scuffed his boot, telegraphed his move to shove another square hand against Cruz’s back.

Cruz dropped, twisted, let the white stick show itself as a shikomizue, separated now into blade and cane, and then he lifted the sword high, hard and tight. He jammed the sword up under Pusher’s ribs and swung him round as he heard the thump of rifle butt to Juicy Fruit’s shoulder. Juicy Fruit unleashed a bark of bullets that tore the scream from Pusher just as quickly as they tore through his back. Cruz leaned in, found Pusher’s sidearm with his free right hand, pulled it upside down and squeezed the trigger with his little finger until he heard Juicy Fruit hit the dirt. He straightened, tossed the sidearm, kicked Pusher from the blade and then dropped to where Pusher’s rifle lay. A rattle of machine gun fire tore up the ground by his knee. Cruz span, pointing the rifle at the source, let rip in a tight arc, round after round punching through flesh, metal and rock before the clip snapped empty. He tossed the rifle, picked up his sword and rose through a blanket of smoke.

Someone behind him, approaching slowly. Cruz waited, played dumb until the sneak was within range, and then swiped a high boot across his face. Spur caught cheek, there was a brief sound of skin flapping like a pennant in a strong wind, and then Cruz lunged with the sword. The sneak grabbed Cruz’s shoulders. Cruz pushed him off and heard him drop.

Breathing hard. Throat dry. Again, waiting.

If there were any alive and well, they’d try to kill him. They always did.

But there was something else. A slow clap that sounded as if it came from the Dodge. Cruz raised his head.

“Very good, Mr. Cruz.”

Cruz smelled ozone, heard a crackle off to his right, growing louder.

And then something grabbed him by the heart and the world shattered into nothing.

He awoke to the smell of a woman, the touch of a woman and the voice of a woman telling him to be still. He ignored her, tried to sit up, but someone had replaced his spine with an iron rod and his head with a cement block. He grunted in pain and felt himself weaken. The woman hushed him back to the pillow. She spoke Spanish, she was young and she smelled like the air after it rained. She had a voice that spoke to him from the past, reminded him of girls who were too pretty to talk to, and for a second he felt like drifting off again.

“Where am I?” he said.

“Fort Johnson.” She moved a cloth over his forehead. “You are a guest of Captain Glenister.”

“Guest?”

“Yes, señor. He looks forward to meeting with you.”

Cruz moved away from her. The simper of the “señor,” the lightness of her touch and her cowed manner told him she was a whore. She stayed away as he shifted himself upright and gritted the pain away long enough to swing his legs over the edge of the bed. His boots found a stone floor. He tapped the floor with one foot. They’d taken his spurs. He felt the girl move to the end of the bed, heard her dip the cloth in water. He stood slowly and stamped his boots a couple of times, just to hear the echo. He was in a small room, open to a corridor to his left. He went over to the open space and his hands found bars. He breathed out. No spurs, no stick, and a whore to keep him company.

“What’s your name?” he said.

“Rita.”

“What is this place, Rita?”

“This is Fort Johnson. This is Captain Glenister’s new settlement.”

“A building?”

“A town. Built by us for them.”

“Them?”

“The Renaissance Men, señor.”

The Renaissance Men. Of course. Back before the Wall, there had been a border, and that border had been patrolled by a group called the Civil Defense Corps. These men and women good and true used to pack high-caliber hunting rifles into their armored trucks and go looking for wetbacks to cap.

Good clean American fun.

When the Wall went up, the corps members lucky enough to have made it to Mexico or the Upper States became Minutemen, Wall walkers. They were cowardly scum to a man, smug and fat and safe behind the scope of their sniper rifles, and Cruz had already burned a few on his travels, but they were saints compared to The Renaissance Men. The Minutemen went home at night; The Renaissance Men continued fighting their good fight and broadcasting their white power propaganda to what was left of the nation. Captain Glenister must have been this chapter’s leader. It wasn’t a name he knew, but he would soon enough. Because Glenister had known his name, and that spelled trouble of a different sort.

“How many of us are there?”

“I do not know, señor. Hundreds, maybe a thousand. The men they keep in barns down by the river, the women in dormitories by the big house. The men work until they fall.”

“And the women?”

“We are for play.”

He returned to the bed and took Rita’s hand in his own. He touched something rough and raised on the back of her hand. “What’s this?”

“They mark us, señor, they—”

He put a finger to her lips. She breathed warmly against his touch. He leaned in to her. “Tell me everything you know about this place, Rita. And tell me as quickly as you can.”

He counted the steps from the cells to what Rita had called the big house. Two armed guards flanked him. They were both taller than him and they didn’t speak much. They smelled of good sleep, old sex and chewing gum.

Rita had spelled it out for him, every last inch of it, so he could almost picture the journey he was on. He’d been in a cell down in an annex to the whores’ dormitory. The cells were rarely used. “The men have cattle prods,” she’d said, and if the rebellion was any more serious than that, the offending party would be shot in the head as an example to the others.

Workers, and their lives, were cheap.

The stone corridors led to somewhere warmer and softer, and then outside, where Cruz felt the wind on his face. The wind carried the sound of the workers from down in the valley. It was all mechanical noise. No voices other than the odd shout from one of the guard, who tagged their pep talks with racial slurs.

It was a short walk across open ground to the big house. This was where Glenister and his men stayed. Cruz was taken up four steep wooden steps that led to a porch and the front doors of the big house. The way Rita described it, the place must have resembled something like a plantation house, a huge white palace on a big brown hill. Inside, it was supposed to be decorated with scavenged luxury. The floor under Cruz’s feet was marble and his steps echoed through the large entrance hall as he was led to Glenister’s office.

Captain Troy Glenister was a man who wore his influences on his sleeve. Rita had talked of a room draped with the stars and stripes and hung with paintings of stern men in old-fashioned clothes. Glenister’s chair was leather, large and heavy. It had to be, because Glenister himself was large and heavy. His breathing was labored, but Cruz didn’t take that as a sign the man was weak, just that he was overweight. The clicking sound that came from somewhere near his lap meant that Glenister was playing with Cruz’s shikomizue, sliding the sword from the cane and replacing it.

When he spoke, his voice was thick with butter and low like a Baptist preacher. “I must say, Mr. Cruz, this toothpick of yours is quite the weapon. Doesn’t look like much at first glance, and yet you used it to carve up my boys like they were wet-eared grunts. Even more impressive considering your obvious handicap. You are actually blind, aren’t you?”

Cruz nodded.

“Not so impressive that you couldn’t see a shocker coming, of course.” He chuckled. It was a throaty sound. “You’re not the only one around here with a talent for customization.”

“It won’t happen again,” said Cruz.

“I’m sure it won’t.” Another click, louder, Glenister shutting the shikomizue unnecessarily hard. “Perhaps I should have shot you. But the thing is, Mr. Cruz, I’m not a bad man, despite what that little whore may have told you. If I was a bad man, I’d have my boys pop a head every time someone looked weary. I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of providing them with the cattle prods.” He cleared his throat. “A chain boss don’t blow holes in his own damn gang just because they set it down without permission. Hell, you’d never achieve anything that way. Have one guy dragging six corpses, and besides, I’m well-versed in psychology, Mr. Cruz. I know the beaner mind. If I had my boys use deadly force every time your Pedro pals out there acted uppity, we’d have rivers of blood. A beaner would rather die than work hard, am I right?”

Cruz smiled but said nothing.

“But you buzz the son of a bitch with a thousand volts, he’ll know who holds his balls. And he’ll sure as hell think twice about resisting the yoke again.”

“Or he’ll learn to avoid the buzz,” said Cruz.

“Nah, your average beaner don’t think like that.”

“I do.”

“I said average beaner.” There was a smile in his voice. “You’re Victor Cruz, boy. You’re the Dead Eye. Ain’t nothing average about you.”

“The price,” said Cruz.

“You’re goddamn right, the price.” There was a wet sound as Glenister rolled his tongue around the inside of his mouth. It was the noise of a hedonist. He ate too much, smoked too much, drank too much, and if Cruz didn’t kill him, a venereal disease would.

“How much is it?”

“Six million.”

“Old or new?”

“Old.”

Getting up there. Add a couple of thousand for every uniform slashed to ribbons, every milk-fed American mouth that bit the dust. It would be a lot more soon enough.

“I don’t see how you’re worth it,” said Glenister. “But then I didn’t see the beauty in this here sword stick, either.”

“You want me to show you?”

Another throaty laugh. “You’re unarmed and blind, and you don’t know what I have pointed at you.”

He did. It was a Colt Anaconda, stainless steel finish and a walnut grip. Rita had remembered the name of the gun because it was the same nickname Glenister gave his dick. The Anaconda held six and because Glenister was lazy, it would be held at hip height as he lounged in his chair. Unless he was a crack shot or incredibly lucky, a sudden movement from Cruz would mean three or four wild panic shots and a throbbing wrist that would make him pause long enough for Cruz to grab his meaty hand, shove the barrel up against his chins and press on his trigger finger until the gun clicked empty.

But that wouldn’t do. That wasn’t the plan.

“You’re calling in the bounty,” said Cruz.

“Already done it. They’ll be here Sunday morning.”

“I see. In that case, I have a few requests.”

“Requests? You don’t get to request nothing, Cruz.”

“For six million, they’ll want me pristine. They won’t pay full price for damaged goods. You look after me, you’ll look after your money.”

“Six million’s a lot of money, Cruz. I could stand to lose a little bit of it.”

“But you don’t want to. You’re a grasping asshole. You’d never forgive yourself if you lost a single dime of that bounty. If I’m the six million dollar man, I refuse to live like a pig.”

He didn’t say anything. Cruz guessed he was thinking it over.

Finally Glenister said, “What do you want?”

“I want a room here.”

“Very well.”

“I want the same meals as you and the guards. Otherwise, I want to be left alone.”

“Why?”

“Because I want the whore you sent me. When I’m finished with her, she can go back, but otherwise she’s mine.”

“Okay. That’s fine. Was there anything else?”

“No. I’d like to be shown to my room now.”

The room was only fit for a blind man. It was comfortable, but according to Rita, every stick of furniture in here was old, dirty and ugly. It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that he and Rita had privacy to practice. The girl was trustworthy and had already proven herself a quick learner with a good memory. Cruz only hoped that she was as good a teacher as she was a student.

The first night she spent with him, they practiced disarm and destroy techniques designed to bring down the bigger assailant. He concentrated on a few quick and dirty moves—the girls didn’t have time to learn much more than that, and they had to do it right. Everything else would be easy just as long as that first strike hit home. Because tomorrow was Saturday, and that night would be the only clean opportunity they’d have. Saturday night was when the house guards laid down their arms and commenced to drinking and screwing their brains out. Only Glenister and Cruz were allowed to have whores in their own rooms, and so the guards had to stagger across to the dormitory, where, of course, the girls would be waiting for them. Only this time their smiles would be genuine.

Cruz ate his afternoon meal, but refused his dinner. He preferred to stay hungry. It would give him an edge. At eight o’clock, the guard outside his door knocked off for the night. Cruz lit a cigarette. By the time the ash reached the filter, he heard the guards carousing downstairs. According to Rita, they would continue like that for a few hours before they left the big house.

He waited. He heard the guards moving downstairs. Heard footsteps on the marble floor of the hall. Heard the front doors open and close. He saw them in his mind’s eye, moving out across the moon-drenched countryside in a slow zig-zag towards the dormitory. He moved his head, stretched his neck. He saw them bursting through, drunken grins, shoving each other as they picked their favorites and dragged them off to their respective rooms.

Midnight was the agreed time. It was the only time Cruz could hear. On the stroke of midnight, the church clock in the middle of Fort Johnson would chime twelve times. On the first chime, the girls disarmed their johns with a chop to the Adam’s apple, a well-placed fist to the balls, or a pointed hand in the eye. By the third, they had the guards’ sidearms. By the sixth, the guards were dead or incapacitated, and those puritan assholes who had stayed away from temptation would be next as the crackle of gunfire that had originated in the dormitory moved towards the big house.

Cruz stood and opened the door. Rita had gummed the lock so it wouldn’t secure, but until now it would have been suicide to attempt an escape. He moved quickly and silently into the hall. Counted his steps once again, skimming a wall with one hand. He walked with his head down, listening. The rooms were empty on this floor, but there was the sound of laughter and music downstairs. A door opened and the laughter grew louder. Cruz counted three or four. He touched the wall until he found a door and pushed inside as the laughing merc climbed the stairs. Cruz left the door open, disappeared into the shadows. The merc stopped on the landing and then crossed in front of the open door, a breeze and whiff of cheap bourbon like an olfactory tracer. The merc opened a door, closed it. Then Cruz heard the sound of water on water, hitting it from a height.

The merc was taking a leak.

Cruz kicked open the bathroom door. He felt the air shift in front of him and planted the heel of his hand in the merc’s throat. He grabbed a fistful of ear and hair and slammed the merc’s head into the nearest solid object. Something crashed off its fixtures. Cruz grabbed at the merc’s belt, found the cattle prod, and forced it past the merc’s teeth before he flicked the switch. The merc went rigid, there was the smell of burnt hair, and he tumbled backwards into what sounded like a tub where he kicked the sides in an off-beat jig before he passed out.

Cruz returned to the landing just as the front doors opened and the girls rushed into the hall, shouting and screaming. The music jumped in volume as one of the mercs came out to investigate and caught six bullets from four different guns. Cruz moved to the next flight of stairs. He heard Rita’s light step as she raced up to meet him. She was breathing heavily. “It worked, señor! They didn’t stand a chance!”

“There’s another in the bathroom,” said Cruz. “I’ll be back. I need to deal with Glenister.”

“I’ll take you.”

“No. It’s okay.”

“You don’t know the way.”

He put a hand on her shoulder. It was bare. “Secure the downstairs, Rita.”

She opened her mouth to say something, the spit clicking against her tongue, but he turned away before she could speak. He took the stairs that led to the top floor and Captain Troy Glenister’s suite. He followed the smell of sex and the sound of a television tuned to static and opened double doors.

There was movement, but only slight. The sound of silk sheets and a water bed. The hedonist at rest.

“Cruz?” He sounded groggy.

“Fort Johnson, named for Andrew?”

That throaty laugh again. “This is a country for white men and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men …”

“Where are my things, Glenister?”

The water bed made a sickening noise as Glenister moved on it. “He was an idealist who never went to school, and he became the leader of the free world.”

“It wasn’t free then.”

“And it isn’t now. Who the hell do you think you are, Cruz? You know I could call for a guard—”

“Your men are dead. The whores are in charge. And you have a choice. You can try to squeeze your ass through the bedroom window, pray you don’t break anything when you hit the ground and then run for your life, or you can die right here and now.”

Glenister laughed again. It was strained. He moved quickly, or tried to, and Cruz knew the Colt was within reach. He lunged forward, felt the air crack with the first bullet, ring with the second, but the third stayed exactly where it was as Cruz kicked the gun from Glenister’s grip and sent it bouncing across the floor. He grabbed Glenister by what felt like a robe and hauled him across the room. He swung the fat man into the hissing television set, smashing it and raining hot sparks against his skin. Glenister dropped to the carpet and Cruz lost him for a moment.

He straightened up and stood stock still. Listened. Heard the fat man scrabbling on the floor. He was making a noise like a truffle pig. Then Cruz heard him stand and then the squeak of a cabinet door. He pictured another gun, but didn’t move. Glenister was breathing heavily, but he was doing it through a smile.

Cruz heard the click of his shikomizue. Of course he’d kept it. And of course he meant to kill him with his own sword. It was the kind of cheap irony that appealed to men with dull minds. Glenister tried to creep to one side, but his breathing made locating him easy. “You’re a dead man, Cruz. You might have the whores on your side, but I have the whole US Army. I spoke to General Jackson himself, did you know that? Stonewall himself. We’re old friends. Anything happens to me, you’re a marked man. So now you have a choice. You can take those whores and get a few hours’ head start on the United States Bounty Service, or I can kill you now.”

Cruz made his choice. Glenister panicked as he lunged. The fat man’s feet shuffled for purchase. Cruz threw a jabbing kick under the fat man’s arms and caught him in the gut. It didn’t move him, but it made him belch air and swing wildly with the sword. Cruz stepped to the side of the swing and the gust of wind it produced, then dipped into its arc and grabbed Glenister’s sweaty forearm with one hand, his bicep with the other and pulled the arm down sharply across his knee. There was a terrific snap and the smell of urine filled the air as Glenister became liquid in Cruz’s grip. Glenister screeched and rolled away, the sword thumping onto the carpet. Cruz dropped to a squat and picked up the sword, following the sound of Glenister as he whimpered and crawled back to the water bed.

“You haven’t … you haven’t won,” he said, but his voice was too high-pitched to be confident.

Cruz touched the blade of the shikomizue. It needed sharpening, but it would do for what he had in mind. He heard Glenister scrabble on the carpet.

“You’re still a dead man. Jackson won’t stop. He’ll send more men after you. They’ll find you.”

“And they’ll die, just like the last man he sent after me, just like every opportunistic scumbag who thinks he can make his fortune on the backs of the poor. Just like you, Captain Troy Glenister, and all your men. We didn’t draw first blood, but we’ll definitely draw last.”

“Yes, you will,” said Glenister.

Glenister let out a cackle and rolled to one side. And Cruz realised why the fat man had crawled for the bed rather than the door. He heard the metallic click in Glenister’s hand and prepared to bring the sword down just as the Colt Anaconda roared its resistance.

There was a sudden rush of air, and then it was all over.

Rita was waiting on the landing when Cruz emerged from Glenister’s room. He kicked the sheet-wrapped bundle on the floor in front of her. It made a wet sound. He pointed in its general direction with his stick. In his other hand he held his silver spurs.

“A present,” he said. “Something to help get the new regime started.”

Her voice remained at the same height, so she must have opened the bundle with her toe. “His head.”

He’d expected her to be shocked, to act like a woman, but she hadn’t. He was impressed. “You’ll need it to assert power.”

“I didn’t do it.”

He smiled. “Yes, you did.”

“What about you?”

The smile faded. “There will be men from Mexico City arriving here in a few hours. You need to be ready for them. Tell them what happened, mention my name if they ask, but make it clear that you’re in charge now and that you and the rest of the people here will defend this town with your lives. You have an arsenal, you have resources, and you have a reason. They won’t have the guts to push you. They’ll be outnumbered and outgunned.”

“I don’t know.”

“You can do it, Rita. You’re the strongest person in this whole town.”

She kissed him on the cheek, and he turned into a second kiss that caught him on the mouth. She pressed herself against him. He allowed her for a moment. The warmth and smell were comforting.

“Victor …” she whispered.

“No.” He broke the embrace and gestured to the head again. “Take it to your people.”

“Thank you.”

He nodded. She picked up the head. He listened to her light footsteps on the stairs as she descended and something stumbled in his chest.

He heard a cheer from the women downstairs, then the sound of them running out the front doors and a rising commotion from the valley. Cruz attached his spurs and then tapped down the stairs.

Outside, he heard a mixture of male and female voices, the male outnumbering the female, but the female clearly the ones in control. Above them all was Rita’s voice, confident and charismatic, telling everyone what had happened, and how they didn’t have long to get organized. Cruz listened to her for a few seconds, then pushed his way out through the back of the big house.

Perhaps people really were capable of rebuilding what they had, given the right kind of head start. And perhaps Yuma wouldn’t have been such a dead loss after all, but Cruz doubted that it would be better than what Rita and her people could manage. They’d have to change the name of the town, though. Fort Johnson, the man Glenister had named it for, Glenister himself and the ideas he stood for, they were all dead. They were relics to be buried and forgotten.

That was the message the boys from the Bounty Service would get when they arrived. And if they needed it repeated, well, Victor Cruz—the Dead Eye—planned to do so until that whole damn Wall came down. Until then, he would carry on walking and enjoy the first warmth of dawn on his face.

THE END

Ray Banks shares his birthday with Chuck Barris and Curtis Mayfield and screeched into the world on the same day that Roberto Rossellini took his leave. He has worked as a wedding singer, double-glazing salesman, croupier, dole monkey, and various degrees of disgruntled temp. He writes novels (like the Cal Innes series) and short stories (like this one) and keeps a fairly clean online abode at www.thesaturdayboy.com

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