Some Velvet Morning: Five
(Conclusion: “Something About Their Smiles.” “Some Velvet Morning” begins here.)
But something in me knew that before Bill even said it aloud.
“Goddamn it Davey!” I barked across the room, angry for reasons I didn’t quite know. “What’s that shit you’re singing?”
Davey looked down at the guitar like he was surprised to find it there. “…What? I don’t…shit, I dunno, Joe, I just started playin’…it just came out.”
That was enough. I looked to Bill. He was white as a ghost. “Bill, listen good: What you need is some rest. You go up to one of the rooms with Margie there, she’ll get you set with whatever you need. Come morning, we’ll sort this out together.”
Bill just stared at his reflection again. Like it scared him. And I wondered just what he was really seeing in that mirror.
“You hear me, Bill?”
He turned to me, understood my tone. Not his friend, right then. I was the owner of this place, laying down the law. “Yeah. Yeah, that’ll do,” he answered. He waved a hand at Margie. “C’mon then, girl. I need some rest, I think.”
They trudged up the stairs. All eyes were on them. Margie looked nothin’ but uneasy. Bill just looked like he didn’t know where he was. Or maybe where he was supposed to be.
The room cleared out after that with nary a word.
Bill was gone the next morning. Real gone.
There was no trace of him, save for his watch, sitting on the nightstand. Margie swore up and down she never heard him leave.
She told me she had a dream of a strangely-colored field. Davey’s song was playing. When she woke from it she said it was like Bill had never been in that room with her. But she confided that when she drifted off to sleep, she heard him mumbling, “Phedra” as he tossed and turned in bed.
I asked around after that. Hell, everybody did. But no one’s laid eyes on Bill Larkin since that night.
We all took to my explanation – some asshole with a grudge. And like it or not, we moved on.
But every now and again, Davey will play that song without meaning to.
And sometimes I’ll see some folks in my bar. Strangers. They seem pleasant enough, but something about their smiles haunts me. Too many teeth, feels like. Their eyes are just too dark. And they always leave before I get to talk to them. But nobody ever remembers ‘em walkin’ out the door.
“We’re coming soon, Bill.”
God help me, I believe it now. I just got plenty of questions. “Who’s coming?” “From where?”
But the only one that matters to me is, “What happens then?”