Had No Truck

04/02/24
Excerpted from an interview in the Hillsboro, TX, Beacon, October, 7, 1936.

Behind the counter, the cook stands eyeballing the three of us as we come in. There’s a couple of farmers at a table to our left and a husband and wife drinking coffee on the far end. We march to the right and sit down in two separate booths, me in one and them in another. I always did it this way to keep an eye on their backs. We was like family.

The cook storms back and stands right over their booth.

“Ya’ll are Bonnie and Clyde, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir, we are Bonnie and Clyde but most important we are right hungry. We want some eggs and then we’ll be on our way.”

A chair screeches. The husband sitting with the woman at the far end is headed toward us. I can see a gold badge under his coat and he’s unholstering a .38 Smith, old-timey little gun. His wife stands up and goes to screaming.

“Don! No! You ain’t got no truck with them!”

Well, this old law named Don is raising his gun as he walks and the cook sees it all and starts backing up.

“I’m gonna see about them eggs right now,” the cook says, or something to that effect.

I snatch my .45 from under my jacket and look at Bonnie’s booth and she’s turning around to face the lawman. She’s pulling out her .45.

My foot catches a greasy spot, like the busboy had dropped bacon or something right there on the linoleum floor.

“BOOM!” Down I go. Flat on my back with my .45 in the air. Miss Bonnie’s legs are right beside me. I’m looking up at her and she’s pointing the .45 at the Sheriff.

“BOOM!”  There’s a big thud and the floor shakes.

“BOOM!”  Then there’s a gunshot.

From where I’m lying on the floor, I look back down the cafe and through the smoke I see Don the lawman lying on the floor. He’s slipped on a greasy spot and bashed his head on the edge of a table. He’s gushing red all over the tan linoleum.

The cook is lying over by the kitchen door, his apron turning red and his paper hat off. He’s got a hole where his eyeball used to be that is spurting a fountain of gore. Sheriff Don’s gun must have gone off when he fell and he shot the cook.

All this time, Mrs. Don down at the other end of the café has not stopped screaming.

“No, no, no!” she’s wailing. 

“Cease!” Bonnie hollers. Then she pulls the trigger.

The screaming stops and I’m waiting to hear the thud of Mrs. Don’s dead body keeling over but it don’t come.

Clyde crawls out from under the table. Bonnie lowers the gun and she’s standing in a cloud of smoke. I’ve got a hot pain and my lower right leg is going the wrong way at the knee. It’s bent backwards.

Clyde’s face is white and he’s leaning over me.

“Your leg ain’t no good,” he says.

“What’s that mean?” I say.

“That means goodbye,” Clyde says, patting my arm. He pulls a roll of bills out and splits it in half and stuffs the money in my coat pocket.

 So much for family.

Clyde straightens up and steps real gentle over me and the lawman. He don’t want the greasy floor treatment. Bonnie’s already at the door, holding her shoes in one hand and the .45 in the other. 

At the far end of the place, Don’s wife is on her knees with her hands up in prayer, her hair full of splinters and a big hole in the wall behind her. She’s moving her mouth but nothing’s coming out, begging for mercy. Bonnie’s standing in the door. The last thing I hear is Bonnie speaking real soft to the old lady.

“You was right. He had no truck with us.”

The door shuts and they are gone like ghosts.

~ fin ~

davidfowler

David Fowler resides in the Deep South after many years in New York City. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Burningword, Sojournal and Cowboy Jamboree. He once lived on a ranch near Hillsboro, Texas, scene of a Barrow Gang robbery in 1932.