An Excerpt from “First Born”
Here’s an excerpt from “First Born” for your reading pleasure:
“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” — Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
The whiskey burned like fire as it slid down the back of Brooks Autry’s throat, but seeing as how he’d always been a glutton for punishment, he nodded to the bartender to pour him another. No words needed to be spoken. The eyes did the talking. This was a man dead set on chasing his demons away with the only medicine at hand, and chasing demons was thirsty work, especially when they cloaked themselves in an old friend’s skin.
“How long have you known Jim Brewer?”
Autry turned to see Special Agent Evan Fox of the FBI hovering behind him like a cold and joyless emissary of the law. His suit was pressed, crisp, neat and custom fit, meant to intimidate by the very nature of its authoritative projection. Unfortunately for Agent Fox, Brooks Autry was not so easily intimidated.
“You talkin’ ta me, sunshine?” Autry slid around on the barstool and cocked his cowboy hat back a smidge, giving the agent a crooked scowl. “I reckon you must be, ‘cause there’s no one sittin’ here but me, lessin’ of course you’re tryin’ to chew Grady’s ear and I know damn good and well he never took a shine to Big Jim and would ne’er claimed ta know’im.”
“I’m not coming down on you, Mr. Autry. The Bureau is appreciative of your joining us tonight. I was just wanting to pass along our condolences on behalf of the Paranormal Operations Division. Your presence, especially considering your connection to the host, will be a tremendous help to our engagement.”
“Your damned Monster Squad ain’t appreciative of nothing save for me pulling your ass out of the fire. You asked how long I’ve known Jim Brewer? Hell, boy, Big Jim and I dug coal together so I reckon that means I’ve known him since the day I was born. That’s what diggin’ coal’s like, ya know. Bein’ born. First time you come up outta that shaft, back into the light after poppin’ your cherry, you’re born again into the world. Them mines are the very womb of Mother Earth.”
Fox nodded in faux understanding. “I’ve got to tell you, Mr. Autry,” the agent said with just a hint of a smirk in the corner of his mouth, “you surprise me. You’re not exactly what one generally thinks of when introduced to an exorcist.”
“Exorcist? Is that what you think I am? I’m nothing of the sort.” Autry downed another shot and lit one of his hand rolled cigarillos. “I ain’t nothin’ but a stone cold killer, and don’t you forget it. I take no pleasure in consortin’ with these fuckin’ demons, but I’ve a talent for it, for snatchin’ their ass up out of that meat and flushin’ ‘em back down into that shithole called the Nevermore.”
“Well, you come highly recommended.”
“That a fact? I suppose my legend precedes me somewhat, but it’s ‘cause I learned from the best.”
“You’re talking about Landon Connors,” the agent said nonchalantly.
“Yeah, me and Doc Connors go back a ways. Not as far as me and Big Jim, but the Doc was there when I was birthed into a whole other world. Set me on a new path, I reckon, gods be damned.” Autry turned back to the bartender. “One more for the road, eh Grady? My path’s leadin’ me to a dark place and I reckon I need to face it in the proper state of mind.”