HE'S NOT HERE

(cast of characters)

All these events have already happened - "The Boys" are at The Answer recounting old town history. Do you recall the Trexler family?  Richest family in town for as long as anyone can remember - lots of buildings and streets with their name on 'em.  Made a ton of money with cattle farming and the son used that backing to buy his way into bootlegging.  Yeah the Trexlers owned both sides of the law.  When the son died they say all the businesses went downhill and changed hands without much of a fuss - but He woulda gone to jail anyway if he hadn't died.  That night also begins the story of our young heroine Evelyn Trexler and her woes.

The scene of the first crime - a bar called The Answer.

Dirty dollars come and dirty dollars go
'bout half a mile from the railroad tracks.
There's a place where all the local workers go -
they get to drinkin' and they don't look back.

Everyone goes but no one wants to be seen
in a town where the talk can spread like a cancer.
But when the bartender asks if you want something to drink -
don't tell him the story, just tell him your answer.

Running moonshine down the river has its risks
but we got this town firmly in our grip.
We got policemen on the payroll and it shows
'cause every night this bar's the main event.

Everyone knows the Golden Rule and it goes:
Keep the cards in the back and never take home a dancer.
But when the bartender asks if you want something to drink -
don't tell him the story, just tell him your answer.

Gold town - coal town - we know miners like to get down.
Gold town - coal town - we know miners like to get down.
Gold town - coal town - we know miners like to get down.
Gold town - coal town - we all know miners like to get down.

Come to The Answer where the
drinks are a pourin' and the
music's a-playin, we keep
people doing all the things
that people like to do and at the
end of the night we hope you
feel alright 'cause if the
mood is right we'll keep on
serving drinks 'til dawn why don't you
come to The Answer you won't
find nothing better share your
tears and your laughter
when we all get together.

But when the bartender asks if you want something to drink -
don't tell him the story, just tell him your answer.

--

Yeah of course He was there, and it was business as usual when Evelyn comes looking for him.  They've got a baby girl at home and Evelyn's been known to make a public scene to keep her wayward husband in line.  Gossip has it He doesn't go home frequently, and as he slips out back He has his buddies cover for him.

These men are not actually his buddies.  They are yours truly, The Band.

But being in the employ of The Answer, which makes its money selling illegal hard liquor (which the presence of is only made possible by Trexler money) - when He Trexler tells The Boys to cover for him, they do.

Hey little darlin'
tell me exactly who it is you are here to see.
Is it your husband,
some kin to you or could it even possibly be me?

Well he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he's not here.

Hey little sister
tell me you're not missing golden opportunities
to sneak off from your daddy
so you can go and dance and steal a kiss or two or three

Well he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he's not here.

Well he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he ain't here
(Is he here? He isn't here.)
No he's not here.

--

He has gone out back where as ill luck would have it, his brother-in-law and Evelyn's younger brother, Jeremiah is gambling.  This is nothing new but Jeremiah hasn't been around much lately which means he probably owes someone money and has been laying low.  Of course Jeremiah spots He immediately.  He's helped Jeremiah out a few times in a financial pinch and now it is a recurring annoyance.  Jeremiah tries to be casual and familial, buttering He up, and eventually asks for money.  There's this debt to pay off that involves starter money from a loan shark working in the moonshine smuggling ring, but then a hot-streak hit and Jeremiah bet big and is now doubly in debt.  Could his favorite brother-in-law please - invoking the name of his dear sweet sister Evelyn, who was like a mother to him growing up after their real mother died giving birth to him - please, please help him out?

But when he loses that money too our man doesn't wait for the bookies' strong-men and leg breakers to come 'round.  He kills his wife's brother with a knife right there on the spot.

Serious business
means serious cash flow
for those here that don't know
gambling is serious business.
I got the card count
I just brought the wrong amount
of money if you lend me the cash
I'll pay you back in a second.
I got the touch
I don't leave my fate to luck
I'm not hooked I'm just stuck
'cause I know this next one is a winner.

And this is what He said to me:

Chasing your fortune
can be kind of lonely
if you ain't got no money
then you ain't got no friends.
You get to play
when you pay what you owe
and you owe quite a lot
to the man with the knife.

Hit me, don't hit me,
right now I want to stay
where the action is hot
and I can double our winnings.
Emptied my pockets
and bet my sister's locket
'cause I got a system
that's doing me just fine.
Keep my feet on the floor
and keep my eyes on the door
in case I should have to
make a hasty departure.

And this is what He said to me:

Chasing your fortune
can be kind of lonely
if you ain't got no money
then you ain't got no friends.
You get to play
when you pay what you owe
and you owe quite a lot
to the man with the knife.
If you lose this hand
I don't know if I can help you man,
these boys don't play nice 'cause you know
gambling is serious business.

We all have mothers
and sisters and brother
you know there's always one
who ain't worth his weight
in anything.

Chasing your fortune
can be kind of lonely
if you ain't got no money
then you ain't got no friends.
You get to play
when you pay what you owe
and you owe quite a lot
to the man with the knife.
If you lose this hand
I don't know if I can help you man,
these boys don't play nice 'cause you know
gambling is serious business.

--

The conversation leading up to the stabbing - if you consider screaming in a drunken rage and bludgeoning your brother-in-law with a liquor bottle until it broke then smashing his face into the bar, now covered in glass, a conversation - He seemed to be finished and composing himself when he pulled out a concealed blade and stabbed Jeremiah.  Bar staff quickly restrain and remove He from the premises.  He knew no one would come after him or testify against him, it would shut down the bar, but it didn't stop Evelyn from seeing the cuts and bruises on his hands.  As Jeremiah's last of kin, of course, she had to identify the body and as a result decides to poke around asking The Boys, some other wives and even He himself (in a way) to see how bad he'll lie.  When he does, as she knew he would, she resolves to avenge her brother and rid herself of this horrible man in one fell swoop.

Someone's in trouble when they get home.

I hate the way you pick your nose.
I hate washing your dirty clothes.
You don't help out with anything
but now you're going away.

I hate your every harsh demand.
I hate holding your sweaty hand.
You make me want to hit the road
but now you're going away.

Blood is thicker and richer than gold -
wedding rings can be sold.
Widow me black, it won't change the fact
that my brother, my father's son, ain't never coming back
My wicked kiss will make you curl your toes
so tight you won't be able to let go.
Your paralyzed frame
won't have a chance to say my name
before the job is done and
all the poison's coursing through your veins.

You make poor choices all the time.
You won't commit another crime.
I'll find a way to make things right
'cause now you're going away.

You don't see from my point of view.
It's no use trying to talk to you.
I thought you'd love me 'til the end
but now you're going away.

Blood is thicker and richer than gold -
wedding rings can be sold.
Widow me black, it won't change the fact
that my brother, my father's son, ain't never coming back
My wicked kiss will make you curl your toes
so tight you won't be able to let go.
Your paralyzed frame
won't have a chance to say my name
before the job is done and
all the poison's coursing through your veins.

There won't be any hesitatin'.
I'll be home and I'll be waitin'.
Won't need no deliberatin'.
We ain't never gonna hear from you again.

--

And just like that we have two dead boys and a black widow on the run.

The bars stayed open.  This was because there's always someone willing to step up and take your money, and the local police force already accepted hefty bribes from the Trexlers to look the other way when it came to moonshine smuggling.  One man in particular is the sheriff, who was already a jealous man and lusted after everything He had - even his pretty wife.  The Sheriff brokered a deal with the same alcohol suppliers and also seized the opportunity to take the widow for himself through blackmail.  The Sheriff, even on his worst days, was as good a detective as he was terrible inside and could just as easily arrest her for murder if she said no - he already has all the evidence.

Go on and tell me a story
about two dead boys and a black widow on the run.
Go on and tell me a story
and if you promise to tell me the truth.
I promise not to tell no one.

Hey there little lady you’re a real bad baby.
There’s something going on here and your cover’s kinda shakey.
Go on and start again and this time try to get it right
‘cause I know what you been doing in the middle of the night
and it doesn’t do a pretty little lady like you no good.

Come on did you really think you wouldn’t be discovered?
We really should be looking for your husband and your brother.
Tell me what do you expect that we are gonna find?
You could tell the truth and save yourself some peace of mind
and maybe make believe this little meeting never happened at all

Go on and tell me a story
about two dead boys and a black widow on the run.
Go on and tell me a story
and if you promise to tell me the truth.
I promise not to tell no one.

You ain’t gonna get a better offer than the one you see.
You’re needing some protection, but ain’t nothing in this world for free.
You’re in the deep end of the water and it’s only getting hotter - 
I could take good care of you and good care of your daughter
if you take this ring and marry me beneath the Joshua tree.

Go on and tell me a story
about two dead boys and a black widow on the run.
Go on and tell me a story
and if you promise to tell me the truth.
I promise not to tell no one.
Oh, not to tell no one.
Oh, not to tell no one.

Go on and tell me a story
about two dead boys and a black widow, that widow that’s on the run.
Go on and tell me a story
and if you promise to tell me the truth.
I promise not to tell no one.
Oh, not to tell no one.
Oh, not to tell no one.

--

It had taken so long for the Sheriff to bring Evelyn in for questioning that she almost thought she'd gotten away with it, so she was surprised when Alvin tried so hard to make her crack and admit she killed He Trexler.  The Sheriff had always been fond of her and was so nice to her during the funeral.  Halfway through the interrogation he changed gears and when Evelyn caught on to his proposal she wasn't thinking blackmail - she actually thought it was sweet he had already kept her secret even if she was shaken up by how he had finally gotten around to asking her to marry him.  It may not be love, but...

a girl can pretend and hope one day it'll be real.  Can't she?

Oh baby, I could learn to love you.
Learn to love you, baby, I could learn to love you.
Oh baby, I could learn to love you.
Learn to love you, baby, I could learn to love you.
Oh baby, I could learn to love you.
Learn to love you, baby, I could learn to love you.

You’ve got the prettiest smile
and you’ve got a devilish way.
You think you’ve got what it takes
to steal my heart away.
Oh baby, I could learn to love you - 
if you could maybe learn to love me true.

If I’m gonna be the one that you love
then I’m going to need some basic assurance.
As your bride to be you’ll cling only to me,
call it my heart’s insurance.
You could take what’s rightfully mine
and make it rightfully yours.
So please understand this underhanded exam -
my heart just had to be sure.

We could shoot our guns and ask no questions after.
We could find a car that drives a little faster.
We could leave this town as if it never mattered.
Oh baby, I could learn to love you.
Learn to love you, baby, I could learn to love you.
Oh baby, I could learn to love you.
Learn to love you, baby, I could learn to love you.
Oh baby, I could learn to love you.
Learn to love you, baby, I could learn to love you.

You wanted to talk for a while,
had nothing to hide, said you weren’t in no hurry.
How you wanted a simpler life with me as your wife
before a judge with no jury.
For once in your career with the gun,
before a judge with no jury.

We could shoot our guns and ask no questions after.
We could find a car that drives a little faster.
We could leave this town as if it never mattered.
Oh baby, I could learn to love you.
Oh baby, I could learn to love you.

--

With most things in life, there is a honeymoon period before the grim reality of real life settles in for good.  The Sheriff worked hard to juggle catching outlaws that did not pertain to his business interests, keeping civility in the town and keeping the moonshine flowing.  If he had a bad day with any of these things he would get stone drunk and one time accused Evelyn of stealing his whiskey, when in truth he'd drank it all.  That was the first time Alvin Marsh struck Evelyn.  Before they'd been married even eight months, The Sheriff didn't have to be even a touch drunk to start knocking her around.

This law man liked to use a little excessive force at home if you take my meaning.

I know you want a family man
but that ain’t how I get my kicks.
I’m headed out the door
to buckle down and maintain my fix
on everybody in this town that
I’ve got under my thumb.

There are times I bring a storm cloud home
at the end of the day
and I go off into a blinding rage.
It don’t matter to me who you are
or what you done.

But it’s a bad love
that makes you hurt somebody,
and he swears
(and I swear baby) 
that it won’t
happen again.

To get my point across sometimes
I feel I gotta talk with my hands
and we’re going to talk until you understand,
and if you still don’t get it I can
show it to you real up close.

‘Cause every two bit bruiser knows
to measure out the pain with some praise
and try to show regret as soon as
you’ve been put in your place
and say he’s sorry just as fast
and as often as he can.

But it’s a bad love
that makes you hurt somebody,
and he swears
(yes I swear baby) 
that it won’t
happen again.

But it’s a bad love
that makes you hurt somebody,
and he swears
(oh baby I swear, no) 
that it won’t
happen again.
It’s a bad love.
Bad love.
Mm, bad love.
A bad love.

--

The silent witness, at least to start, to all of this violence was Evelyn's baby girl who quickly became scared of the Sheriff and would cry and cry because the bad man was even in her nightmares now.  She woke up inconsolably wailing only for the Sheriff to lay into Evelyn for not keeping the baby quiet and upsetting the little one even more.  Then Alvin completely lost his temper and stopped her crying for good.  She would never see her second birthday.

This town's going to need a new sheriff.

Here I am lonely and caught in the middle again
of two more cadaverous bodies that need burying.
One of these murders I have every right to claim - 
but the blood from the other is still on my hands all the same.
Time after time I have foolishly fallen
in love with bad men who were dangerous and rotten.
My daughter, may her soul not soon be forgotten,
is why I will do what I’m going to do to you.

I’ve got my alibi set
and don’t you question it.
I’ve got my box of regrets
but these husbands don’t count for anything.
No they don’t.

I’ve learned to cover my tracks
so I don’t have to look back.
I got my peace of mind by taking mine
and I ain’t got no witnesses.
I made sure there were no witnesses.

Don’t you know you’ve seen the last of me?
I’m gonna carry on and flee to freedom.
I feel like I am on my way to somewhere, starting over,
I’ll grab my boots and get my gunna and call it a night.

Ain’t got no family left,
ain’t nothing tying me down.
I’ll be a face in the crowd
before you know it I just won’t be found.
Wait and see.

Ain’t got no time for romance
or sneaking out to go and dance.
I hope my sins are forgiven,
but if not I think I’ll be alright.
What will be will be.

Don’t you know you’ve seen the last of me?
I’m gonna carry on and flee to freedom.
I feel like I am on my way to somewhere, starting over,
I’ll grab my boots and get my gunna and call it a night.

Don’t you know you’ve seen the last of me?
I’m gonna carry on and flee to freedom.
I feel like I am on my way to somewhere, starting over,
I’ll grab my boots and get my gunna and call it a night.


HE'S NOT HERE

tHE eND

 

(cast of characters)

*Gunna - All of one’s worldly possessions. In the case of a traveler, it is what he or she carries.