|I was once a little boy.|
Naturally, in writing my western in 30 working days, things happen. Like, I had no idea that Elijah Carpenter, who showed up while Matt Stryker was eating breakfast, was related to Molly Miller. I didn't even know that her maiden name was Carpenter. Things happen.
Matt Stryker is nothing is not pragmatic. That doesn't mean he has no feelings, not at all. But he IS a manhunter, and that means gathering information, which sometimes makes things happen.
He went to the Ridges & Hale stage line office in Tucson to see what he could find out. Any good private eye would do the same.
Stryker knelt by the fallen man. He grasped a shoulder and shook it. No response. Keeping his gun ready, he levered the body over. It smelled of whiskey, and he recognized Stan Ruggart.
Lying face up now, Ruggart began to snore.
Like the street, the lobby of the Rimrock Hotel was empty. A coal-oil lamp burned low at one end of the counter. The register lay open. Keys hung from pegs within easy reach. ‘Sign the book and take a key,’ said a sign next to the guest register. Stryker checked the signatures. Ruggart’s was last. No one else had checked in since. Stan Ruggart lived in an empty hotel and had done for nearly three months. Stryker picked up the lamp and climbed the stairs. Once the ground floor had housed a restaurant. Now it lay silent like the rest of the town.
Ruggart often said his room number brought him good fortune. Lucky Seven, he called it. Stryker raised the lamp to check the brass number over the door. No mistake – 7. He tapped on the door. Silence. He knocked. No sound. He banged. No response. He tried the knob, and the door
opened. A step into the room, Stryker raised the lamp high. Ruggart lay on his bed, fully clothed, his eyes wide as if in shock, his mouth open as if crying for help, his throat cut so deep the wound looked like a second mouth.
‘Ah shit. Too late.’ Stryker covered the body with the spare blanket folded at the foot of the bed and went to look for Tom Hall.
Hotels are deadly. Maybe you readers should think twice before checking in to one. Especially if its full of Western authors. Matt Stryker seems to find that things happen in hotels.
You see? Things happen.
Word count: 13,514