BORN FOR TROUBLE: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HAP AND LEONARD by Joe R. Lansdale preview: “Cold Cotton”
In celebration of the release of Joe R. Lansdale’s outstanding BORN FOR TROUBLE: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HAP AND LEONARD, Tachyon presents glimpses from the new collection.
Joe Lansdale’s compassion and humanity have touched thousands of readers, me included, right where we live. Of all his vivid and lived-in characters, none are as beloved as Hap and Leonard, and this new collection, BORN FOR TROUBLE: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HAP AND LEONARD will delight Hap and Leonard fans all over the world.—Lewis Shiner, author of Glimpses and Outside the Gates of Eden
Joe R. Lansdale
“You know I’ll love you, no matter what,” Brett said, “but I think maybe you ought to get something.”
“Something?” I said.
We were lying in bed. I had just made an attempt to make love to my wife and had failed. It was starting to be a regular thing. I had the urge, and just looking at her always warmed me up, but now my mind warmed, but the tool for the job didn’t.
“You aren’t a spring chicken anymore,” Brett said.
“But we aren’t that old, either,” I said.
“I know I’m not,” Brett said, “but we’re talking about you.”
“Oh, that’s nice.”
“Okay, here’s the thing. You can’t get the sock to fill up, you can always do other things.”
“I’m all for that,” I said, “and we already do other things, but what’s the end game for me?”
“Yeah, I guess it ought to be good for you too.”
“All I’m asking is you go see your doctor, ask him about it.”
“Don’t think I need pills.”
“You can be sure with a checkup.”
“What’s he going to ask me do, get a hard-on in his office, jack me off? I don’t think so. It’s all guesswork.”
“Right now, it’s not any kind of work.”
I turned on my side and looked at her. She showed me a Bugs Bunny grin.
“Love you,” she said.
Who would have thought me worrying about my erection problem was going to lead to murder?
“I think I’m okay, just tired,” I said.
I was in the doctor’s office and he had me sitting on the end of one of those tables they have, a paper cover stretched over it. I was only wearing my shorts and socks, as he’d given me an overall exam. I noticed one of my socks had a hole where the big toe goes.
“You’re okay, but you can’t get it up?” Doctor Sylvan asked.
“I haven’t been able to get it up lately. It’s a phase.”
“How long is lately?”
“I don’t know, couple months.”
“You are older, but you know, we can fix that.”
“You can make me young again?”
“Very funny. All the king’s horses, and all the king’s men, they couldn’t put your ass together again.”
“You mean Viagra?”
“Perhaps. You know, Hap, been your doctor a long time, and we’re close. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my finger up your ass feeling your prostate—”
“Always my favorite part of an exam,” I said.
“And mine. You are about as affable as anyone I know, a little smart-mouthed, but considering I have that disease, I let that go. Thing is, though, there’s rumors all over town about you and Leonard.”
“About our clandestine sexual encounters in the men’s restroom at the bus station?”
“No. About how maybe you two have done some things that are, shall we say, on the dark side.”
“Rumors. Said it yourself.”
“Lot of rumors, and some from good sources, and listen here, any of what I’ve heard is true, you’re doing what a lot of us would like to do.”
“I too would love to fuck sheep, but, you know, I have to be careful, being a doctor.”
“Oh, fuck you.”
“Look. Not kidding. I know you and Leonard have had your moments with miscreants. I tend to believe
those stories. Some of the scars you got, I didn’t sew those up, and some of the work looks like it might have been done by a veterinarian.”
“Their work looks different?”
“Not so much, but I can spot a different kind of stitch, also, some of those scars you got, they look to me to have been from knives, and gunshots.”
“I’ve been in the hospital for being stabbed, Doc. You know that. You were there.”
“Uh-huh, but a lot of those wounds, don’t remember those.”
“I was out of town. I live a clumsy life.”
“Here’s what I’m getting at, Hap. I’m all for giving you a pill that will turn your pecker into a Zeppelin, but I’m not eager to give out things like that if I think there might be another reason.”
“You’re buying that whole thing about me being tired?”
“Nope. You look pretty perky to me, and you’re in good health for someone your age.”
“I think Mickey Mantle said if he knew he was going to live this long he’d taken better care of himself.”
“What I’m going to suggest is you see a therapist.”
“A therapist? What the hell for?”
“If, and I say if, you have done what I think you’ve done, you might ought to talk to someone. Things like I think you might have done, and we’ll say it in code, killing a lot of fucking people, might build on your con science. This tough guy thing, I don’t buy it.”
“I’m not really trying to sell that image. And by the way, that wasn’t code.”
“Gonna give you a name. See her a couple times, and there doesn’t seem to be something under the surface, we’ll talk about Viagra. Thing is, though, if it is something other than needing lead in your pencil, and this other stuff is causing it, it’s probably affecting you in other ways as well.”
He leaned over and tapped my head with his finger.
“Might be a lot of stuff in there you’re dealing with and you just don’t know it. Little therapy might help you do more than get a stiff one back.”
“I don’t know Doc.”
“I’ll go get her card.”