Mike smiled at the memory, let his coffee cup rest against his arm, where Johnny had held him. But then bloody Stevie burst in again.
'Will you get the hell out of my head, you little shit!' whispered Mike with venom. He took a deep breath and ambled over to the window. The stars were bright. And the moon! It was a hunter's moon, but as Mike always felt hunted, it brought no cheer.
The hunter though, he felt fine and right on line to make a kill. In a diner on one of the seedier strips of downtown Pocatello, Rob Thacker felt close to acquiring his target. He didn't need to study the dog-eared six-by-four photo he carried in his wallet. He was a professional, and by now he knew every feature of that face like it was his own little brother. He was in no rush either, as he sipped sweet coffee and licked the sugar of his last doughnut from his fingers. Rob didn't look much like a hunter, and that helped. You walk wary of a man who in any way resembles your average TV hero. Rob though, you'd walk right by him and not give him a second look, unless it was to check out who the fat guy was. Familiarity - or an unwary attitude - breeds contempt. Then Rob would strike. Then Rob would bag his target. Rob's record was unsurpassed. Like a Canadian Mounty, he always got his man. Tonight his man was the other side of town and then some, hugging a cold mug of coffee to himself and having nightmares about another target who had been called 'Stevie'.
The hunter's moon also served well as a killer's moon. While Rob sipped his hot coffee, peering over the rim at the hustlers as they took time out to eat and hang with each other, a body grew chiller than the coffee in Mike's mug.
The killer's moon shone bright over the mountains. A coyote screamed and Billy Ray Williams nearly had an accident in his pants. What with that - that and the eyes. Vinnie's eyes were half-opened as if they could still see. Billy Ray kept out of their line of sight.
'Put his fuckin' shoes on, will ya'?' yelled brother Jimmy.
'You do it. I'm staying up this end where his eyes don't look,' said Billy Ray.
'His eyes - don't - look NOWHERE, you dumb shit! Now put the shoes on or I'll clip you, I swear I will.
Billy Ray chewed on his bottom lip for a moment, then picked up the black trainers and walked to the foot-end of Vinnie's corpse. He kneeled in the dewy scrub and put the trainers down while he pulled Vinnie's socks up. Then, loosening the laces, his slipped the left trainer on, all the while taking care not to make eye contact with the dead boy. He started to giggle.
'Now what?' said Jimmy close to the end of his tether with his brother.
'It's just that, well, these here trainers. Must be the unluckiest shoes in the State. We take 'em off a kid dead in the road and now we stick 'em on another dead kid. Dead man's shoes - get it.'
'Jeez, you cracked a funny. I'll send you a post-card when I start laughing.'
Billy Ray finished trying the laces and stood. Jimmy pulled at Vinnie's cheek like he was teasing a living boy. 'There you go, Vinnie boy. Now you's all ready to be some critter's dinner.'
Jimmy stretched the soreness out of his lower back while Billy Ray rummaged in the flatbed of the old pick-up going through the clothes that Vinnie had worn on the day he was taken. He grabbed a Texaco gas-boy's shirt and read the name patch. 'This here says "Bill". He weren't called Bill. Hey, can I keep the shirt Jimmy?'
'Nope. Now get in the cab. We're out of here.'