The bank manager’s name was Vernon Kincaid, and he was new to Handsome. He set a queer figure standing in his doorway, but I couldn’t pin it down. His hair didn’t have the usual Rotary Club cut and he stood so rigid, I thought he might have a railroad spike set in his back. He was taller than me, over six-feet, and his skin was creamy pink, like it was freshly scrubbed. I couldn’t get a handle on his age. His hair was longish, but not inappropriate, a thick pile of salt and pepper that made him look young and heady at the same time. He wore glasses, of course, set in sandy brown frames that looked too modern for someone native to Handsome. I suppose that’s part of my nature, so used to dealing with drunkards and crybaby husbands, but this was different. He was trying to act friendly when he had no cause to be. I was his meat, and he knew it.
Another hot one, Mr. Wasson, he said.
He had an office fan, a big one, and it was running cold enough to dry silage.
That’s what they say.
He shook my hand. His hand was as dry as a chalkboard. He probably powdered them.
He took a seat behind his desk. It was an expensive one, walnut maybe, and looked freshly polished. It smelled like lemons. He stared at me for a few minutes and smiled. His teeth were very white and even, and I knew he paid full price at his dentist for the privilege. Then he started sorting through the papers that were in the center of his polished desk. There was only one file folder, and it was fairly thick. He didn’t have any framed pictures on that desk, no photos of family. Either he hadn’t settled into the job yet, or he didn’t want any of his kin to distract him from his job.
He hummed to himself as he examined each sheaf of paper. I could see the reflection of the polished desk in his glasses. After a rehearsed pause, he put all the papers back in their folder.
You’ve been with us for a long time, Mr. Wasson, he said.
Seven years, I said.
Seven? That surely is a long time. You’re third-generation owner of The Handsome Hotel?
If you want to call it that, I said. I studied his folded hands, which were dead center on top of my file folder.
My grandfather built it from the ground up, I said. I reckon there was more commerce back then. Then my daddy took it from there and pissed most of it away. I’m trying to make amends, but times are lean.
Kincaid nodded sympathetically. Uh huh. I see you’ve got a boy of your own. Euart? That’s an unusual name.
Named after his great granddaddy, I said.
Uh huh. And do you – how can I put this? – do you expect Euart to take over when you’re ready to call it a day?
He ain’t dumb enough, I said.
Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0
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