Blood on the Bayou

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"I done told you, Joe Bob," Maxwell LaForce said as he leaned across the bar counter, "I caught me the biggest catfish you ever done saw up in that old fishing hole, you know the one, don't ya?"

"You mean the one down south of Krotz Springs, yeah?" Joe Bob replied.

"That's what I mean, mon ami. Biggest damn cat you ever did see."

"Why ain't I seen it? Surely you'd have brought it to that crawdad boil Mama Thibodaux threw last Sunday."

"Are you doubtin' me, Joe Bob?"

"If I can't see it, it didn't never happen!"

"Well, it just so happen, a gator come along, and he wanted that cat more than me!"

"Ah, so that's your story now, is it?"

"It is!"

"Real convenient, Maxwell. The only witness to this feat of fishing is the gator what stole your fish. I take it he ain't available for questioning?"

Maxwell was about to respond to his friend when the front door swung open. A tall, handsome man with pale skin and long black hair walked into LaForce's saloon and took a seat at the bar. "Whiskey," the man ordered. "Neat."

Maxwell excused himself from his friend and went to serve the stranger. "How do, stranger," Maxwell said as he poured a shot, "welcome to Breaux Bridge! Might I interest you in a bowl of Martine LaForce's gumbo? It's chock full of shrimp and crawdad. Good for what ails you!"

The stranger downed the shot. "No. I'm looking for someone."

"And just who might that be, mister?"

"My boy Willie Brown."

At the mention of that name, Maxwell pulled away from the man, his eyes wide and his skin just about as pale as the stranger's. "Willie Brown, is it now?"

"Yep."

Joe Bob got off his barstool and ran out the nearest door. "Uh, what you be wanting with Willie Brown?"

"That ain't none of your concern, now is it?"

"Right, none of my concern. And who shall I say is calling?"

"The name's Jack. Jack Turner."

Maxwell turned from Jack and took a folded piece of paper from his apron pocket. He grabbed the corded handset from the wall-mounted telephone and dialed a number. "Yeah, this be Maxwell LaForce. You told me to call you when someone come into town looking for you. His name is Jack. Jack Turner. I reckon that he's one of ya'll. Bring him to you? Now? All right, I'll do it. Just remember, we got ourselves a deal, right?" He hung up and turned to Jack. "Willie Brown says I should bring you to him. He lives down in the bayou along the Atchafalaya. Ain't no roads where he is, so I'll have to take you to him in my pirogue. Is that all right, Mr. Turner?"

"It's been a while since I've been in a pirogue."

"All right, then."

"If you would be so kind, I am on a schedule."

"Oui, monsieur." Maxwell then went to the entrance to the kitchen. "Ay! Martine! I got to go. You watch the place, hear?"

"What?" replied a female voice from the kitchen, "you going fishing again, or drinking, or both?"

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