Appropriately enough, the anthology opens with “The Red-Headed Dead” by Joe R. Lansdale, an eerie tale of a cemetery battle between the Reverend Jebediah Mercer (the main protagonist in Dead In the West) and a vicious vampire. It’s a chilling yarn that serves as a good introduction to the character of Mercer, a Western version of Robert E. Howard’s supernatural pilgrim crusader Solomon Kane.
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“He arrived in the city’s harbor overlooked by the giant female statue on the eleventh day of their September, seeking
work that he might bring his family over. Haggard and somewhat changed by his journey, but unable to sleep at night, he nestled in trees of downtown’s long green park. He sniffed their passing words until he could speak them.”
“Picasso was drunk again last night. But that was not unusual. He could often be found drunk at Le Bacchanal, a seedy tavern in the 18th arrondissement, down the street from Lapin Agile and not far from his Montmartre studio. With the Nazis still occupying his beloved Paris, he had more than sufficient reason to render himself continuously insensible . . .”
“Officer Adohi Youngblood unsnapped his holster as he circled to the driver-side door. He knew the kind of driver he would see in the red Mustang he’d just pulled over: only a reservation drunk would barrel so fast down the winding, dusty back road. He steeled himself, prepared for anything.
Anything but the little old lady smiling up at him.
Youngblood felt the tension ease out of his neck and shoulders. He’d been dreading hauling in another intoxicated tribesman. He was fed up listening to jokes about redskins and firewater, and he’d heard enough comments on the number of reservation drunks he’d pinned. Hell, it wasn’t his fault if a guy couldn’t hold his liquor. Every man had his weakness—he’d been there himself—but drunkenness couldn’t be excused.”
“Remedios awoke to the bruja’s smiling face. Arylola’s wrinkles and teeth were brown and porous like a paper towel soaked in coffee grounds.
‘It was that inquisitive Spaniard, no? The jellyfish man?'”