OF MICE AND MINESTRONE by Joe R. Lansdale preview: “The Watering Shed” and “Watering Shed Moonshine”
In celebration of the release of Joe R. Lansdale’s enthralling OF MICE AND MINESTRONE – HAP AND LEONARD: THE EARLY YEARS, Tachyon presents glimpses from the book that is “a must-read.” (Bookgasm)
The Watering Shed
Joe R. Lansdale
When me and Leonard were young men, we decided to drive out to the Watering Shed to drink. We were underage, but we heard Shank figured if you could drive and had money, you could drink. I didn’t even drink, but the Watering Shed was a kind of rite of passage, and we wanted to go there just to prove our balls had dropped. It would be our first visit.
Leonard, being black, wasn’t exactly welcome. Though on the books East Texas was integrated, a lot of white folks were having a problem embracing it.
I think Leonard half-hoped he’d be denied, and that he could cause some trouble over it. Leonard has always been kind of angry, and he may have been even more angry then.
There was also this: he was queer as a six-toed cat and proud of it, and was as tough as a nickel steak and so masculine he made the macho tough guys look like they wore lace panties and shaved their balls.
The Watering Shed was well out in the woods, down by the river, and there were stories about how people went out there and didn’t come back, were later found in the river. Shank was known to settle some matters with a baseball bat or a cutoff shotgun he kept behind the bar. As for the clientele, well, let’s just say they weren’t sophisticated.
Frankly, I don’t know how it happened, but since Leonard and I met, we had become friends, and had bonded because of certain incidents, and truth was, we were moving beyond mere friendship and were becoming like brothers. Him being black and me being white broke some unwritten rules, and me hanging with him and him being queer, that just made it all the worse as far as many Southern folk were concerned.
When we got to the Watering Shed, there were a few cars parked out front, and the night was settling down on the world, and there was a glint of silver moonlight on the tin roof. We went in, Leonard bold as a cold, bare titty at a strip show, and me a little nervous, like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
When we entered, you could have heard a microbe drop.
There was tobacco smoke in the air, and it was a little warm, and it smelled funny, an accumulation of sweat and alcohol. It wasn’t packed inside, just a few folks here and there. Near the door was a round table, and there were four men at the table playing cards and drinking beer.
At the bar were two others, and in the back, at two different tables, a couple of men sat sipping beer. Joe Shank, who I knew from around town, was behind the bar. There wasn’t a woman in the place.
It wasn’t me they were looking at, of course, it was Leonard, black as an eggplant, cocky as a rooster. He sauntered over to the bar like Wild Bill Hickok, leaned on it, said, “Bartender, how about a beer?”
“How about some money?” Shank said.
Continue on to page two for more OF MICE AND MINESTRONE content with a preview from GOOD EATS: THE RECIPES OF HAP AND LEONARD by Kasey Lansdale.