Pure Blues…An Excerpt From KILLER ODDS

KILLER ODDS coverJust after nine, Matt walked the few blocks from his place to the Delta Club. The foot traffic on Beale was light, as was typical on a weekday night. The weather had warmed up in the afternoon, and a pleasant breeze carried the scent of barbeque and steaks from the surrounding restaurants and clubs. Live music ebbed and flowed around him with each entrance and exit of patrons.

Neon signs of all shapes and colors lined both sides of the street for two blocks. On one corner a young man stood next to an open guitar case. He played an upbeat blues song, singing to the streetlamp above him. On the next corner an old black man sat on a bent up folding chair. A dingy brown pork pie hat rested on the back of his head. He played an old Martin guitar that was probably worth more than his car, if he had a car. His song was slow and plaintive, strummed with his thumb. Matt stopped and listened to the gravelly voice and slow, rocking blues beat.

 Do you still love me, Baby?

Just tell me yes or no.

Do you still love me, Baby?

Just tell me yes or no.

‘Cause the way you been actin’ lately,

You sho don’t let it show.

Matt dropped a few bills in the ragged guitar case and pushed through the painted door into the Delta Club.

The bouncer just inside the door recognized Matt and waved him through. The interior was dim. Most of the light came from the small stage at the far end of the room. A dozen small tables with dark red tablecloths were scattered between the stage and where he now stood. A pub-style bar stretched half the length of one side wall. The bartender nodded, snapped the cap off a bottle of beer and handed it to Fitzroy at the end of the bar. Matt walked over and sat down. “Who’s playing tonight?”

Fitzroy tipped his beer toward the bartender and nodded toward Matt. “A guy out of Byhalia. Plays lefty like Albert King and sounds like T-Bone Walker. The guy’s a classic. Plays a single coil ’67 Gibson Melody Maker through an old Fender Twin Reverb. It’s pure, man. You need to hear him.”

Matt accepted the beer and listened to Fitzroy talk about blues musicians and their equipment, the only subject Matt had ever heard Fitz talk expansively about. As more people came in and took seats at the bar, Fitzroy slid off the barstool and led Matt to a back table illuminated by a single blue-filtered light.

It took Matt no more than ten minutes to explain the situation and the information he needed. Fitzroy listened quietly, occasionally glancing toward the stage where the band was setting up. When Matt finished, Fitzroy nodded. “Okay. I got it. I’ll do a little research and should be able to go in tomorrow night.”

“Good. How do you plan to get in?”

Fitzroy shrugged. “Ignorance.”

Matt leaned closer to be sure he could see Fitzroy’s face. “Say again?”

“I have a way of getting people to ignore me. So, I use their ignorance.” Fitzroy’s straight face didn’t betray it, but Matt was sure he had once again been the victim of the man’s dry humor.

KILLER ODDS… The new Matt West Mystery available on Amazon in print and for Kindle.