Interview with Shane Little from Kim Fielding’s Rattlesnake.
Kim: Tell me about your favorite birthday celebration, Shane.
Shane hands a margarita across the bar to Kim: Sorry it’s not blended. We’re not much of a blender-drinks crowd around here.
Kim: On the rocks is fine. Your favorite birthday?
Shane: Mom and Dad gave me a pony when I was nine. But, uh, I’d rather not talk about that. Let’s talk about Jimmy’s birthday instead.
Shane: Hang on. [He limps out from behind the bar and across the floor to the saloon doors, which he peers over. Then he returns behind the bar.] Coast is clear. I think Aunt Belinda has him reframing a doorway today. She wants to make that guest room ADA compliant.
Kim: Seems like a good idea.
Shane: Yeah. Some of us have a little more trouble getting around, right? No point having extra obstacles in the way. Um, what was the question again?
Shane: Right. Sorry. Brain’s a little extra bendy today, I guess. Anyway, Jimmy’s birthday’s coming up in a few weeks. Not that he told me that himself. I had to sneak a look at his driver’s license.
Kim: What are you doing to celebrate?
Shane: I’m going big. Um, don’t tell him, okay? I want to surprise the crap out of him.
Kim: My lips are sealed.
Shane: It’s gonna be right here at the Snake. It’s a Tuesday and I have the night off. Usually we spend those at home. We’re still fixing up the place, but we’ve got a real cozy spot in the living room. We sort of cuddle up on the couch, ’cause Jimmy’s into cuddling even though he won’t admit it. And then we watch TV for a while until we, uh, get distracted.
Kim: I’m well aware of how you two get distracted.
Shane: Me and Jimmy have been together almost a year already, but I had a damned long dry spell before that. We’re trying to make up for lost time.
Kim: But on his birthday…?
Shane: On his birthday I won’t let him get distracted. Aunt Belinda’s gonna call and say there’s a plumbing emergency at the Snake, and I’m gonna tag along with him for a stroll. We live just a few blocks from here. We’re gonna walk into the saloon and everyone’s gonna be there. Whole damn town, just about. Everyone loves Jimmy. It’s his stories, you know? He’s got something for everyone, and his stories always make folks feel good. So everybody wants to be here. My whole family. Mom says she’s even gonna get Dad to dance.
Shane: Oh yeah, that’s the best part. Betty Diamond’s coming from Sacramento with her band. She promised me she’ll play all our favorites. Johnny Cash, of course. And most folks are bringing presents. I told them books would be good, ’cause Jimmy loves to read. He built these monster-sized bookcases in our living room. It’s time to fill ’em up.
Kim: Sounds like it’ll be a good time.
Shane: Well, Jimmy’s gonna be surprised, that’s for sure. He might even be a little pissed off at me at first. He’s not real comfortable when people fuss over him. But I’m pretty sure nobody’s ever given him anything for his birthday, and we need to make up for lost time. He’s going to see for real how glad we all are that he’s one of us now. How much he belongs. I tell him that all the time, and I think he’s starting to believe me. But I guess more proof is good.
Kim: He already knows how much you love him, Shane.
Shane: Yeah. But more proof is good. So after the party’s over, well, I got a few more surprises ready for him back home. We can save those details for a more private conversation, maybe. [Shane winks and starts to mix another margarita.]
A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.
On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.
Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.
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