Once Upon a Time in Some Shit-Hole Country.
McLintock leans in towards me, charming as Ted Bundy on one of his days off. His voice is brown, like a fat Greek Baritone, real dark.
He says, “A man should get drunk now and then, Soc’, out of principle, don’t you agree?” The words ooze from him with the dark smoothness of an old pistol.
At the other end of the bar half a dozen of his men are getting drunk; crazy, nasty drunk, their voices way too high, screaming like the damned down an ancient chimney.
There is a certain delicious depravity and unpleasantness about this, about McLintock. It’s hard not to identify, so I nod at my glass. He pours. “Drink the fucking Hemlock, Socrates,” he says.
There were four of them, his guys, he tells me, their tax-free thousand bucks a day suddenly terminated. I know, I say. I saw it, couldn’t write about it. And now I’m getting drunk with him, their CO, a man who I know could as easy gut-shoot me as buy me these endless whiskies. Four doubles in he tells me he is not fond of bears.
An RPG took out the vehicle. Then they watched them burn, cheering, and after, they hung their corpses from a bridge. McLintock is dark but not exactly angry. He seems unphased. Dead is Dead, he says.
I am trying to not get too drunk. Maybe, drunk, I’ll say the wrong thing, but McLintock starts talking like he’s me, how this is all so fucked up.
“A long and tedious concatenation of circumstance brings us here,” he says, “And oil, don’t forget oil.” He slugs another, “And revenge.”
Then McLintock says something that sounds almost poetic, that these guys, his guys, these all-in-black hired killers are “by this life defeated,” and I think I haven’t heard right.
“What about after?” he says, “What’s to do after? A cabin by a lake, a hooker for the weekend, Coke, hunt bears? Or do I fade away, work security in some poor man’s town full of dried up women?”
I say I have no fucking idea.
“Or maybe,” he says slowly, “I could shoot a President.”