Lights in the Night

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Chapter 6: The Next British Evasion

After the kerfuffle with the lack of rooms, Trevor with Cuff and Link in tow headed across the street to Junior’s. After all, it was the only place to eat, and grab a beer within a hundred and fifty miles, the choice was obvious.

Cuff and Link might have shared a lot in common with Junior if either of the three said more than two or three words... ever. Which some might think made for difficult ordering, but was interesting to watch for anyone who cared to take the time to study.

With Trevor interpreting the three Brits found themselves sitting at the bar their first night in town. In front of each a bottle of Shiner and a plate full of smoked meats, ready to clog the hardiest of arteries. Accompanied with the obligatory sides of bar-b-que beans and potato salad all compartmentalized on a paper plate. Banana pudding with Nilla wafers on standby for dessert.

After having sent Cuff and Link on their way, Trevor drank a few more Shiners. The alcohol having the desired effect of relaxing him into the new atmosphere. After a long day of traveling. The stress of the combined misadventures getting to this little watering hole in the middle of nowhere. He was ready to get more than slightly pissed.

Two of the town’s professional drinkers were sitting at the bar, nursing a beer and eyeing Trevor. Finally, Trevor rustled up the nerve to strike up a conversation, “You two live here long?”

It sounded like a repulsive chat-up line but he needed to find some information and had to start the conversation somehow.

The two drunks nudged each other and laughed, “All our lives, you’re not from around here are ya, mister.”

On the heels with, “Born and bred right here in the county. I only left in seventy-two when Uncle Sam gave me a summer holiday in Saigon.”

From the other, “I went to San Diego once, didn’t like it much.” The evening’s heavy drinking and debauchery was underway.

Trevor first learned their names. Butch was the Vietnam Vet. In his mid-sixties, his skin the texture of dried leather that someone wadded up and threw in a trashcan. Too many years in the sun taking its toll on him. Silver-haired, he was old before his time, and his Rhinophyma gave him a resemblance of W. C. Fields, or the red-nosed-reindeer.

His drinking partner was named Casey, Trevor seemed to think they didn’t understand the joke so he kept his comments to himself. To people that weren’t acquainted with them, Casey could have been Butch’s brother. A bit taller and a couple of pounds heavier Casey was the louder of the two cowboys. The same age they both spent too many long days in the West Texas’ sun. Sun damage visible on their faces with better than average chance for the early stages of melanoma. It might be a race to determine which would kill them first, skin cancer, lung cancer or liver cancer.

Trevor was careful not to give too much information about himself. He learned about them; how they grew up together, outside of town on neighboring ranches. Learned how they’d gone to school here in the little one-room schoolhouse. He learned how Casey almost died when Butch was sent to Vietnam and he couldn’t go with him because of a heart murmur. How they both lost their families land over the course of decades fighting against life’s hardships. They talked and acted like an old married couple, finishing each other’s sentences.

Odd, neither one of them talked about wives during all this drinking and commiserating. It was a miracle the two of them held on this long. They ended up sharing a little two-bedroom house in town. Where they both grew up and gave the impression both were ready to die never to leave again.

The night grew late, and the drinking continued, Trevor decided he’d gained enough trust to ask the real questions he was seeking answers for.

“Can I bum a fag?” reaching for the pack of smokes... “So, tell me anything exciting happen around here at night?” taking a smoke and putting it between his lips.

The two men stopped talking and laughing, gazes turned to glares. You could hear a mouse fart in the wall; the place was silent. After a moment, Casey asked in a not too friendly voice, “What ’cha mean by that?”

Trevor not understanding what transpired, tried to save the conversation, “I mean it is a pretty small town. Is this the most exciting thing that happens around here?”

“Listen Mister, I am not sure what you are implying but maybe you should leave,” the next reply coming from Butch.

With heavy beer goggles, Trevor could not understand what was happening to his fun night out with his new friends and drinking partners. He spotted the men’s hands balled up into fists ready to beat the crap out of him. Suddenly, wishing he had not sent Cuff and Link back to the room. Even though the two drunks were old, Trevor did a few quick calculations and they all ended up with him getting his ass kicked. He thought it better to take leave with his hide intact and he did, moving down the bar he settled his tab with Junior and walked outside.

Almost colliding with a young woman leaning against the hood of a car right outside the joint.

“Why the hell you bring that up?” was her question as soon as the door banged closed. Now it seemed like he was going to receive an ass kicking by a child of no more than fifteen, and a girl.

Trevor still clueless, only mumbled the following, “Bring what up? I’ve no idea what happened just now.”

He glanced back over his shoulder and then back at the teen.

“Round here we don’t call people fags. Gets people shot,” she motioned towards the closed door. “Those two really hate that word.”

Trevor smacking himself in the forehead, “Aw shit man, in London a fag is a cigarette... I need to go explain to them.” He started to move towards the door and was stopped by her small hand on his shoulder.

“Let it go. I will explain it to them later,” she pulled a six-inch buck knife from behind her back, closing it. “Now what information was you trying to get from those two old men?”

Trevor feigned shocked disbelief, “Me? Information?” and failed.

“Mister, I have seen enough TV to know when someone is getting others drunk so they can get some info from them. Now don’t lie to me,” waving the closed knife in his general direction.

He rubbed his head a moment pulling out his lighter, lighting the offending cigarette. Then taking a deep drag and blowing the smoke into the air.

She calls him on it, “Listen! Stop stalling and tell me what you want with the two old geezers!”

He wobbled a bit, leaning on the car next to her. Regarding her with defeated eyes and sighed. “A few months ago, someone took some pictures of lights in the night sky. I am here to learn what I can about that. That is all.”

“You from the government?” caution in her voice.

He laughed a little, “Do I look or sound like I am from your government?”

She eyes him a moment before, “You from any government?”

Trevor shook his head, at a speed compatible with his drunken state, “Miss, I can assure you, I am not a representative from any government past, present or future.” Giving a little laugh to himself at the absurdity of the thought.

Slipping the buck knife into her back pocket, “You look like a nice enough fellow... What you want to know about that night?”

Trevor was struck for a moment. Running the incident over in his head for so long, he never thought about what he might ask if he found someone that possessed information, not in the papers. So, he started simple enough, “Did you read what was in the papers? About that night?”

“Sure, wasn’t that much in the paper, kinda painted us as hicks,” she confessed.

“Did they leave anything out?” questioned Trevor.

She admitted, she did not see the lights. She was home watching a rerun of CSI. She went on to tell the story as she knew it, going over some details Trevor had not read but didn’t seem that important. Finally, she came to the end, leaving Trevor rather disappointed.

“Is there more? Is that all?” Trevor pleaded.

“Well... I did learn that Old Sits had seen something but ya’ got to keep this between us. Leave those two old men out of all this.”

“Old Shits? What’s an Old Shits?” Trevor still buzzing from the night of drinking, was finding it difficult to keep up.

“Old Sits is a crazy old Russian guy that lives out in the desert... I heard he was the one that ran into Junior’s shouting about an invasion,” she finally adds.

“Crazy old... what is all of this? I never heard of any of this. How did you learn about...?” He considers for a moment the microscopic town, “Let me guess word of mouth?”

“Kind of, yeah. My grandfather told me. Tried to explain it to me but I really wasn’t too concerned at the time. I do know Old Sits saw something though.” She held out her hand wanting some cash, the idea just coming to her.

Trevor glanced at her hand, reached for his wallet, but left it closed for the moment, “Who did you hear this from?”

“I told you, my grandfather. You met him as Butch,” she rubbed her fingers together.

He took out a twenty and let her touch it but not letting go, “Why were you afraid I was from the government?”

She played a slight tug-of-war with the twenty, “Grandpa and Casey, been lying to the social security people for years. One of these days, it will catch up with ’em.” Trevor released the twenty.

She pushed off to leave, brushing off her backside. Trevor mentions, “I never did catch your name,” turning to face him, glaring cold, straight in his eyes and lifted the middle finger of her right hand to him, “I never told you.”

Trevor was amused, “If you’re going to do that to a Brit, you need to...” demonstrating the reverse two fingered salute as it is done in England, “Like this.”

Stone faced, she scanned him up and down one last time, turned and walked towards the gas station.

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