Last Chance Saloon


(Written for the_safehouse livejournal community "title" challenge (title: "Last Chance Saloon," by Marian Keyes))

The tail lights of the last squad car disappear, and Bodie's left looking at the grey Capri. It's the only car parked in front of the building now - a little like a solitary horse tied up and waiting for its owner emerge from inside the saloon.

Instead, Bodie heads back and pushes the double doors open in true Clint Eastwood style.

It's getting light now. Dust motes, a few overturned chairs and the smell of stale smoke make the place look and feel tawdry rather than glitzy - if it had ever looked like that in the first place.

Doyle's sitting where Bodie left him when he'd ushered the last uniforms out. He's looking at the patch of blood on the floorboards: the one where the body had been. It could have been Bodie's blood, but Doyle had fired faster.

Bodie's mouth starts to say something inane like 'Howdy pardner', but doesn't. Instead, he looks at the figure hunched over the table, watches Doyle's fingers still curled around the pistol. Then Doyle catches his partner's eye and leans back a bit.

"Drink?" Bodie asks, glancing at the bar. He quite likes the idea of grabbing a bottle of bourbon and sliding it along it in true Western style, but the surface is greasy and puddled.

Doyle just shrugs, then gets up and goes over there. Bodie reaches for bottle and glasses, pours, and then spots a Stetson hanging up next to a pair of plastic horns. He stares at it, then at his partner. Doyle's wearing jeans, boots and a shirt that wouldn't look out of place in Virginia City.

"Forget it. Havin' a Clint Eastwood moment, are we?"

Doyle has this habit of reading his partner's mind. Bodie's brain searches for a Clintish retort to that, but it fails to come up with one. Instead, Bodie looks at his partner and decides he looks miserable.

No, not miserable. What's the word?

Wistful. That's the one. Or is that just wishful thinking on Bodie's part, because he's been having rather too many wistful thoughts for his own good recently. And Doyle's been giving him some extremely odd looks now and again.

"You all right?"

Doyle looks surprised at the lack of flippancy. "Yeah. Fine. Christ, this is a dump."

"Tell that to all the country music fans in this bit of London. We all need a bit of escapism from time to time. Some people find it by playing the whole Wild West thing and calling a seedy little nightclub the Last Chance Saloon."

"The way you pranced in here just now I thought you fancied yourself in a waistcoat and a Sheriff's star like some of the blokes were wearing tonight. Maybe singing along with Patsy Kline."

"She the one with the big boobs?"

"That's Dolly Parton."

"I stand corrected. And nah, couldn't reach the high notes. The Sheriff's star might be an interesting fashion accessory, mind. Maybe we should get Cowley to replace our IDs with 'em."

Doyle doesn't answer. He's looking at Bodie - another of those strange looks. This one is particularly intense, almost challenging.

Bodie takes a swig of bourbon and comes to a decision, slamming down his glass in time-honoured Clint style, although somehow he thinks what he's aiming to achieve was never in Clint's repertoire.

"Could have been fun, though. The real thing, I mean, not this." Bodie takes in the whole room with a wave of his arm. "All that stuff. Cowboys. Honky-tonk pianos. Posses. And saloons."

Doyle rolls his eyes slightly. Bodie battles on.

"Includin' the women in frilly skirts and fun in the back room with 'em to celebrate massacring a few Indians. Didn't you play cowboys and Indians when you were a kid?"

"Suppose so." Doyle looks puzzled.

"I did, although..." Now Bodie's reached the nitty-gritty, his mouth's uncomfortably dry but he ploughs on. "As I got older, I was more interested in the other cowboys or the Indian braves than the squaws or the saloon girls."

Bodie downs the rest of his bourbon in a single swallow. There, he's said it.

Doyle doesn't say anything.

Bodie reaches for the bottle again, but a firm hand stops him. Bodie wonders if this is a prelude to Doyle thumping him. If he's read those looks of Doyle's wrong after all, the odds are that he will.

"Last Chance Saloon," Doyle finally speaks. "As good a place as any for a first fuck with a wannabe cowboy, I'd say."

No words find their way into Bodie's mouth this time.

Doyle picks up the bottle, and uses his other hand to run a thumb, very gently, down his partner's cheek.

There's something Bodie does need to say, however, before he grabs the provocative little bastard, wrenches the bottle out of his hand and rips his clothes off.

"Thanks for watching my back before."

"Welcome. Glad you came out with the cowboys and Indians stuff just now, for what it's worth. Saved me the trouble of finding a suitably corny come-on." Doyle says, grinning. "C'mon, Clint. Let's check out that back room."

-- THE END --

July 2005

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