Greg Caldwell had scandalized the town when he starting running ads from Stumpy's Spur.
Stumpy Clark wore wide-striped suspenders, had a wooden leg and walked with a limp. But he was the fanciest two-stepper in the Texas Panhandle. His dance hall at the north edge of Darling, Stumpy’s Spur, reeked of beer and urine and cigarette smoke. Attracting bands and dancers from the entire Panhandle, the Spur was Darling’s biggest attraction, although the chamber of commerce wasn’t too proud of it. The gravel parking lot covered two acres, and would be packed with pickups and cars every weekend.
The Darling Index needed the money. Even the Ministerial Alliance had called to protest what they saw as a newcomer changing the paper. Greg ignored them, reminding them they all wanted 20 percent discounts for their church ads, and were often late paying.
Stumpy always paid cash, pulling out a thick roll of bills and flipping out twenties until the half page a week ad was paid for.
He and Greg would have coffee once a week at the Fat Lion, and Greg always got an earful about what was really going on in town—not the official view—but the gossip and behind the scene politics of the town’s leading citizens.
“What you hear at the Spur is usually reliable—once you clean the bullshit off the boots,” Stumpy would say, tearing off a wad of Beechnut tobacco and putting it in his cheek as they left the Lion.
He’d asked Stumpy about the brick thrown through the newspaper door.
Stumpy winked. “You ever dance, Greg?”
“Yeah, but not much…you know those Baptists.”
“Bet you step on toes when you do, then, right?”
“Yep,” Greg’s face flushed, thinking of the last person he’d held close to him and hurt her feet.
Stumpy smiled. “Any more questions about the brick?”
Greg stopped, then laughed and waved at Myrt for more coffee.