An absurd bar bet to tight walk along the top of a chain link fence in the rain leads to a broken collarbone, a romance and a brutal murder that a retired assassin is bound to solve even though the solution takes him almost three thousand miles away.
But somehow I had to admit, if only to myself, I was comfortable being here and looking forward to what the future would hold.
It was a dare with a few bucks involved, a bar bet. Seemed like a totally plausible proposition at the time, but I wasn't counting on rain slick on steel pipe, a stumble over my own foot and a broken collarbone. Then again I was quite drunk and celebrating a divorce, not from a woman but from a job, and the settlement of an estate, an inheritance. Freedom is heady and when mixed with alcohol can become pretty painful.
My only solace was that I made it twenty feet on the top of the chain link cross bar in the rain before careening into an empty dumpster pretty much head first with a torso twist to the right and a head tuck which put the entire momentum of my falling mass on my shoulder when I hit the steel floor of the container.
I was told later that it was a rather dramatic fall. The crowd in the alley behind the bar was quite large and appreciative of the twenty feet or so that I had advanced on the steel pipe connecting the fence posts. I don't remember anything about the actual event after the stumble and slip and the tuck, then black.
I was told that the crowd had clapped loudly though. It must have been very entertaining.
I came to with my shoulder in a sling inclined from the waist up in a hospital bed and a pretty indifferent staff of a local emergi-center who were used to the drunken antics of middle-aged idiots on Saturday night, or more accurately in the early hours of Sunday morning. No sympathy was forthcoming. Truth be known, I had even less for myself.
I wasn't completely sure if the headache that I was experiencing was a result of the fall, the quart of whatever I was intent on finishing before I took the bet and left the bar and headed toward the alley and the fence, or a combination of both. I was kind of obsessed with that question although it really didn't matter; my head just hurt like hell and I had an urgent need to puke.
She was in her thirties, wore scrubs, beautiful, medium height, compact toned body and she thought that I was funny.
At that moment I didn't feel very funny. In fact, the first interface that I had with her was while she held a pan below my chin resting against my chest and I threw up.
Four weeks later we were living together. A week after that she was dead. She was cremated shortly after the murder. It all happened while I was out of town. After settling what few affairs she had since I was the only one in Taos who seemed to know anything about her, I set out to find her killer.
Check out Big Lizard, the series prequel.