Winnie leaned close to him and said, "Now I ain't been completely honest with you, Mr. Whatever-the-hell-your-name-really-is, but then again, I don't think you been too honest either. While I was laid on my back over in Seneca 5, I heard all kinds of stories about all kinds of people. One of `em was this mystery about what happened to Royce Halladay after his wife was murdered. Some say he chopped up a few itjins and a deputy sheriff in his own backyard then threw himself into Coramide Canyon. Some say he left Seneca to go find treatment for his disease. Some say he got a taste of blood that night of the raid and ain't stopped killing since. Whatever the real story is, Halladay vanished and was never heard from again."
He didn't move.
Winnie continued, "And then I heard these stories about a ghost living out here in Seneca Prime. A rude, drunken, belligerent, verbose scoundrel with no friends who spits up blood every time he coughs, but people are still too afraid to go after him on account of his speed and skill with his pistols and knives. A stone-cold killer, for certain, but never out of whim and never undeservedly. You know what I did when I heard them stories?"
"I dare not ask."
Winnie smiled wickedly at him and said, "I decided to see for myself. I gave a whole bunch of money to the most desperate imbecile I could find and watched him come and try to gamble it all away. I knew it was only a matter of time before that same ghost smelled blood in the water and talked him into playing a high-stakes game."
He leaned back in his seat and lifted his glass of water as a toast to her before he drank it. "So if I were who you think I am, what on earth makes you think I would be of any help to you?"
"Because I know Tom Masters was your friend, and that you are the only man alive who can kill them sons of bitches. I will pay you all the money I been saving up so long as you get revenge for him and my family. So which is it, sir? Are you JD Morrison or are you Doctor Royce Henry Halladay?"
He picked the cigarette up and placed it between his lips, closing his eyes to savor the taste as he lit it and inhaled smoke up through his nostrils for the first time in years. "I will tell you this much, Edwina that everyone calls Winnie. Ghosts are harmless apparitions. They can do little more than scare the dull-witted. And I am no ghost, my dear," he whispered. "I am the devil."