Excerpt from Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Honky Tonk Samurai

A Hap and Leonard Novel

by Joe R. Lansdale

Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale X
Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2016, 352 pages
    Feb 2016, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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I don't think we ask for trouble, me and Leonard. It just finds us. It often starts casually, and then something comes loose and starts to rattle, like an unscrewed bolt on a carnival ride. No big thing at first, just a loose, rattling bolt, then the bolt slips completely free and flies out of place, the carnival ride groans and screeches, and it sags and tumbles into a messy mass of jagged parts and twisted metal and wads of bleeding human flesh.

I'm starting this at the point in the carnival ride when the bolt has started to come loose.

* * *

The truck windows were rolled down and the heat wasn't quite unbearable yet, but the air had the smell toast gets as it begins to brown and you know the butter will spread clean. In less than a half an hour, about noon, my butt crack would be completely filled with sweat and breathing the air would be like swallowing fishhooks. I was already looking forward to loose clothes, a big glass of ice tea, and lots of air-conditioning.

We were sitting in Leonard's new-to-him pickup truck. He traded a lot. So did I. I'm not sure why, but we were always getting a different car or truck, usually used. This one was a Dodge and it was silver, and it was only a few years old. We were two blocks down from the house we were watching.

The guy who lived in that house, the fellow we were waiting on, had a wife who thought he was cheating and had hired the Marvin Hanson Agency to find out if he was and who with. She was brokenhearted and wanted everything to be all right, and if it wasn't she wanted to divorce him in a serious and financially lucrative way that would cause him to have to sell his balls for a place to sleep.

We weren't full-time employees, but we worked for Marvin quite a bit, a lot more lately. Divorce work, or potential divorce work, however, was not my idea of a good time, but the lady had hired the agency for two weeks of surveillance. We were on the last day of the job, and what we had pretty well determined was her sixty-year-old husband wasn't cheating on her at all, but he was going at odd hours to the gym, and we had a pretty good guess he didn't want to tell her.

Leonard thought it was because the idea embarrassed him, having to work out, or wanting to. That seemed peculiar to me, but Leonard understands that kind of thinking more than I do. For a gay guy he's much more tuned in to machismo than I am, so I guess he could be right. I figured the fellow was just going to surprise her with his new body, hoping one day she'd look up and say how good he looked. Maybe he kept going so much because she hadn't said anything.

Irony was, we had noticed that even in the last two weeks he'd dropped some pounds and muscled up a bit, and she had noticed over the last few months the same thing, but hadn't mentioned it to him because she thought he was dieting and buying new clothes because he had a chippie piece on the side. That's how she said it. "I think he's got a little chippie piece on the side."

I hadn't heard the word chippie used in many a moon, but the sad thing was I was old enough to remember when it was more common. I was starting to feel as if I were getting along in years and the recent ones were angry at me. By the time you're fifty you start to realize just how much of your time on earth you've wasted.

Anyway, we were sitting there watching him come out of the house, ready to follow, knowing full well by this time he didn't have a chippie piece on the side and that this was our last day so we would coast it on out for the dollar and give her our report. She had paid in advance and wanted two weeks, so I didn't feel we were sucking money she didn't want to spend.

I had been on a diet myself. I always exercised, and hard, and was usually in better shape than I looked, but lately I wanted to look it again, because Brett, my red-headed woman looked so good. I wanted to make my body more like the way I felt. But truth was, I had had to change my workout methods. I had dropped lifting heavy weights and gone to doing more reps with light weights. Jogging a little, but doing more walking than before. It seemed to be working. I was never going to be pretty, but I preferred not being able to rest a glass on my stomach when I was sitting down, as if it were an end table.

Excerpted from Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R Lansdale. Copyright © 2016 by Joe R Lansdale. Excerpted by permission of Mulholland. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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