Savage, p.46Richard Laymon
Crouching by Jesse’s head, he clamped his teeth around the bottle’s cork, popped it, and spat it toward a nearby cactus.
“We’ll have her fit as a fiddle!” he called, and winked at me.
“Dead as a doornail, sorry to say. But don’t fret.” He hoisted the bottle toward me and gave it a shake. “Glory Elixir. Good for what ails ya.”
“Howdy there,” Ely greeted me, coming into sight from somewhere near the wagon’s front, all gawky and grinning. He flapped a hand in my direction.
He looked so…chipper.
Dead. Jesse was dead. Dead as a doornail.
Of course, I’d feared as much.
I stared at her. My “pardner.” My love.
I’d known it would come to this, if she rode with me.
Lazarus pried open Jesse’s mouth.
“All set to watch the miracle of the Glory Elixir?” he asked me.
All the Glory Elixir under heaven wouldn’t be enough to bring Jesse back to me. And I hated the old fraud for playing out his game.
“Just leave her be,” I muttered.
“Leave her dead? When I, Dr. Jethro Lazarus, am possessed of the mighty revivification powers of the Glory Elixir? Prepare yourself for the miracle of miracles!”
“Hallelujah!” Ely shouted, and clapped his hands.
Lazarus poured Glory Elixir toward Jesse’s mouth. Some splashed off her bloody lips and chin, trickled down her cheeks. But not all of it. Plenty found its target.
And Jesse coughed.
Wherein I Wind Things Up
Jesse and I talked it over considerable, later on, and judged she’d likely never been dead at all. That’s our opinion, and even Lazarus confessed he hadn’t been sure, one way or the other, when he gave her that dose of his Glory Elixir.
Though a flimflam artist down to the soles of his moccasins, Lazarus claimed to be an actual doctor. He had surgeon’s tools to prove it, and did a fine job with them when he went into me for the bullets.
He and Ely spent most of the evening patching us up. Ely stank considerable, but we didn’t complain.
Jesse was in awfully poor shape. Among her many injuries, she had a split on her forehead, and underneath it a lump the size of an egg. It had likely come from the last part of the fall, when she crashed to the ground facedown. She stayed out cold after choking on the Elixir, and didn’t wake up till late the next day. Then she was too dizzy and weak to move under her own power.
Lazarus and Ely seemed in no great rush to press on. For a week, we all stayed put at their wagon by the trail. They took the casket out of the wagon, and we slept in there at night.
They tended to us like a pair of nervous mothers. They cleaned us, fed us, saw to all our other needs, and poured Glory Elixir into us every chance they got.
By the end of the week, Jesse and I were both on our feet. We were still banged up and hadn’t a lick of strength between us, but we were eager to move on.
We moved on with Lazarus and Ely, riding in their wagon.
And got to Tombstone.
Jesse entered the town inside the casket. I didn’t like the notion, but she’d insisted. She’d also insisted that she lay in that casket by herself, saying to Ely, “You just keep that dang stinky varmint outa here, pal!”
After a crowd gathered, Lazarus and Ely dragged the casket out and set it onto the ground. Lazarus was in fine form, expounding on the miraculous healing powers of the Glory Elixir. Soon, he threw the lid off. Jesse, stretched out in the pine box, her face still cut and scabbed and bruised and swollen (with some fake blood added to improve her appearance), her dress soiled and torn, looked so ruined and dead that the sight of her made my heart sore.
Then Lazarus dumped some Elixir into her mouth.
She slurped it down, groaned, and came to life so spry it was purely astonishing. I was dumbfounded, watching her. She cried out “Glory hallelujah!” as she sprang from the casket, then acted like a nitwit and hobbled out and hugged just about everyone. She hugged me, too. I was the only chap she kissed. She had a grand, merry sparkle in her eye.
Afterward, Lazarus allowed as how he’d never sold so much Glory Elixir at one show.
Well, Jesse had put Ely out of his job. He didn’t seem to mind, though.
We joined up with that pair of flimflam artists and traveled south with them.
Down in Bisbee, we got married. It was Lazarus’s idea to make it part of the show. Jesse figured it was a bully notion. So she no sooner got herself revivified than her eyes lit on me and she limped over and threw her arms around me.
“Marry me!” she cried out.
“But we don’t actually know each other,” I claimed.
“Don’t matter! I been dead and now I’m alive, thanks be to the Glory Elixir! You’re a handsome feller! I’ve gotta have you!”
The crowd went plumb wild, and likely would’ve carted me out of town on a rail if I’d denied her wish.
So I agreed to have her.
So they sent someone off to fetch a preacher.
Jesse climbed inside our wagon. A while later, out she came. The fake blood was gone from her face. And the nasty old tattered dress was gone, too. In its place, she wore a splendid white wedding gown that she’d bought after our Tombstone show. The crowd just oohed and ahhed like they’d never seen anything so glorious.
I’d never seen anything so glorious, myself. She was still banged up some, but looked ever so beautiful.
Pretty soon, along came the preacher.
And marry us he did.
The whole situation was a sight peculiar. But we had us a grand time, and Lazarus sold enough Elixir to keep the Bisbee folks fit as fiddles for at least a century.
We all of us parted and whooped it up till late into the night. Then Lazarus and Ely showed us to a hotel room, and left us there by ourselves.
We had a passel of aches and scars and the like, but didn’t let them hold us back.
On the bed with Jesse, kissing her, feeling her skin against mine, and finally at last joining up with her—it was all so much finer than I’d ever imagined.
We spent the rest of the night in the room. And all the next day. And all the next night. Food and drink were brought to us. We slept part of the time. Mostly, we didn’t.
But it came time to move on.
We found Lazarus and Ely in a saloon, surrounded by other folks who’d been present at the revivification and the wedding. Another party ensued.
Finally, around dusk, the four of us made our rather drunken way to the wagon, boarded it, and set off for parts unknown.
We figured to make the wedding a regular part of the show. But that’s getting past the rightful end of our story. Adios, folks. Carry on.
Rave Reviews for Richard Laymon!
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—New York Review of Science Fiction
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—Painted Rock Reviews
Other Leisure Books by Richard Laymon:
THE MIDNIGHT TOUR
THE BEAST HOUSE
INTO THE FIRE
COME OUT TONIGHT
TO WAKE THE DEAD
DARKNESS, TELL US
NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER
THE MUSEUM OF HORRORS (Anthology)
IN THE DARK
THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW
AMONG THE MISSING
ONE RAINY NIGHT
A LEISURE BOOK®
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Richard Laymon, Savage
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