From the novella in verse, Deliverance, 1961: A Novella in Thirty-Two Cantos, forthcoming from Pooka Press in late 2023:
…Ashe is holding court in the bar car. By covering a third round of double
For the three other chancers present, he has gained himself a laugh for every joke
and ersatz gasps of admiration
For each new, self-congratulatory anecdote. Slim, Scotty and Ben eye the fat roll
of twenties he pulls from his pants
Every time the bartender shuffles by to collect. “Tell us another,” pleads Slim
(who travels in furs). The station
At Calgary is only 30 minutes away and he desperately hopes Ashe will
spot them one last drink—
A double Tom Collins in his case—although, when he disembarks there,
he knows he’ll catch hell from the wife
For smelling strongly of booze and having one paltry sale of chinchilla pelts
For a whole week away in Vancouver and Seattle. Scotty joins in: “Yeah, tell us
that one about the buck knife.
We wanna hear it again.” Ben patiently drums his fingers, keeping time with a
tinny overhead speaker: the Tommy Dorsey Band.
Ashe, flattered, weakly feigns reluctance, then agrees: “Alright, alright.
But first, one more round of the elixir of life!”
He is too self-absorbed to catch the subtle nods of affirmation, the eyes meeting
fleetingly, the false ring of the guffaws.
They play him like a chorus of snake charmers. Right on cue, the roll of twenties
—a greasy cobra—climbs back into his hand…