Anyway, given my fear of dentists, I just naturally wrote the following scene from the third Cuno Massey book, .45-Caliber Manhunt, the ebook reprint of which will be up at Amazon and Barnes & Noble by the end of tomorrow. The formatting is nearly complete.
In the mean time, I'm working on a brand new Yakima Henry prequel series, FORT HELL, the first book of which will be out from Signet next September.
"My tooth!" the giant bellowed, sounding as though he had a large rock in his mouth. "Pull the damn tooth! Oh, Christ! Pull the damn thing out!"
The doctor's features flattened and his flush abated as he realized the reason for the bizarre stranger's visit. "Toothache, eh?" Romer felt relief. "I see. Sit down. I'll get my knife. No, not in my chair — you'll break it. Sit on the floor against the wall."
Pacheca obeyed without hesitation, dropping clumsily to his knees, then twisting around on his butt, shoving his back against the wall beside the door.
The doctor reentered the room, carrying a knife and a thin pliers. "I'd offer you more whiskey, but from the smell, I'd say you've had enough."
Pacheca shook his head. "No whiskey. Just cut the sumbitch out. . . now!"
"Hold on, hold on," the doctor muttered, moving a green-gold Rochester lamp from his desk to the small, round table near Pacheca.
When he'd got it lit, he jerked up his pants at the thighs and dropped to his knees.
"Open wide." He peered inside the big, dark hole of Pacheca's mouth, squinting against the hot, fetid breath. "Wider."
The giant let out a weak groan as he opened his mouth another inch. The doctor canted his own head sideways, squinting into the smelly chasm, looking for the problematic tooth. It wasn't easy to find. They all looked problematic — rotten and crooked and half dead. He'd seen better teeth on taffy-chewing Welsh miners.
"Ah," he said finally. "There we go. Mercy."
He reached inside Pacheca's mouth with the pliers in his right hand, the scalpel in his left. As he tugged and probed, Pacheca pressed the back of his head against the wall, squeezing his eyes closed, cheeks rolled up into his eye sockets.
"Kuuuu," he gargled. "Kuuuu . . . ah . . . gaw . . . ammmmmm."
"Good Lord," the doctor exclaimed after several minutes, withdrawing his tools and shaking his head with a sigh. "The damn roots must be wrapped around your jaw."
"Oh, for the love o' Job!" Pacheca grabbed the pliers out of the doctor's hand, stuck them into his mouth, closed them over the tooth.
As his hand twisted and pulled, sweat washed over his pale, mottled face. His eyes turned dark and flinty, glazing, the pupils narrowing. A steady groan peeled up from deep in his chest, gradually rising not in volume but in pitch.
Wide-eyed with horror, the doctor backed against his desk.
"Ahhhh!" Pacheca cried at last, his head smacking the wall as his hand jerked back, the pliers exiting his mouth in a spray of blood. In their grip rested the molar, the size of a large-caliber bullet, its snakelike roots dripping thick red drops onto the knotted pine floor.
Pacheca leaned forward and spit a wad into the doctor's basin. Looking up, he saw the doctor staring at him in shock. He removed the tooth from the pliers, slapped it into Romer's hand.
"There you go. Did your job for ye." Pacheca smiled bloodily.
Romer looked up from the tooth in his hand, gray mustache twitching, brown eyes dark with awe. "My God, man. Who are you, anyway?"
"Ruben Pacheca. I'll take that whiskey now."