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Comes a Chopper Paperback – June 3, 2014
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From the Author
It was an unfriendly town Bronson found out as soon as he got there.
After taking one look at him, the townsfolk shied away from him and took a powder. They weren't big on strangers. Small towns could be like that, he decided with a sigh. They would close ranks as soon as a stranger set foot in them.
It wasn't like he wanted to be here. He had come here to find his brother Sam and tell him that their mother had died. Bronson didn't look forward to doing it, but it had to be done. San Remo was Sam's last known address. Bronson had been unable to contact him either by phone, e-mail, or snail mail. That left a face-to-face meeting as the one remaining option.
It had been over ten years since Bronson had had any contact with Sam. Bronson wouldn't even swear to it that Sam still lived here. San Remo was the last address Sam had given him.
Bronson hailed a thirtysomething man with a wind-scoured face that looked like crumpled sandpaper. The guy's face looked inordinately dry, like it was leached of all fluid. He was dressed in jeans and suede boots and was walking with bandy legs on the sidewalk toward Bronson, his inch-high heels clacking on the sun-warmed cement.
"Hello," said Bronson. "Do you know where I can find Sam Bronson?"
The man cut his squinty eyes toward Bronson then strode off toward his pickup parked on the side of the street.
A knee-high tumbleweed blew down the macadam past the man. He didn't give it a second look. He climbed into his pickup, slammed the door behind him, and peeled off down the street, his pickup fishtailing on bawling tires.
Par for the course, decided Bronson, sniffing burnt rubber as he watched the trucker speed off, typical of the kind of reaction he was getting from everybody in town.
Tricked out in a suit and wearing a green surgical mask over his face, the next man that walked by Bronson ignored him when Bronson hailed him. The suit's only response was to quicken his gait away from Bronson.
Talk about weird towns, decided Bronson and kept walking. It was like nobody wanted their face to be seen. They either turned away when he looked at them or ran away or wore a mask.
Bronson walked with a slight limp courtesy of a car accident this side of six years ago, which reminded him his feet were aching. He had been pounding the pavement around town for hours after he had disembarked from the bus and cast around asking local residents where his brother lived. Now he could do with a rest.
He glanced toward a window of an apartment house up ahead and picked up on the curtain swinging shut as a shadowy figure shied away from the window. Somebody had been sizing him up from the apartment, it seemed.
Bronson wondered if he should just say to hell with it and hightail it out of town. He hadn't wanted to come here in the first place. He was a bearer of bad tidings for his brother. Not much of an incentive to be here. Maybe Sam was better off not knowing about their mother's death. Maybe he should spare Sam's feelings and not tell him.
Bronson could beat it out of here on the next bus. It was giving him the willies just standing in this town. He felt hungry. He hadn't eaten all day. He decided to grab a bite to eat.
Shading his eyes from the California sun he could make out a Tex-Mex joint at the corner ahead. He struck out for it.
A couple of cars cruised by him on the street. Maybe he was imagining it but he sensed the passengers were scoping him out. He couldn't be sure. But why else would the cars be going so slowly, almost as if they were dogging him? The blinding sun was reflecting off their car windows, its glare blocking his view of the vehicles' interiors.
Copyright 2014 by Bryan Cassiday. All rights reserved. Excerpt of "Condemned" from Comes a Chopper.
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