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Tufas, Mono Lake © Robert Sommers 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Death don't have no mercy in this land...

I guess the best place to start is the end. Let me put this in proper context and setting for you. The time; yesterday afternoon.

I am crossing the Mojave. I mistakenly never got gas in Kingman. If my temperamental gas gauge is correct I can probably get to Barstow with about twenty miles to spare. But is the gauge ever correct? Showed about 145 miles left if I have some luck and a tailwind or two.

Sommers takes the final sand nap, Mojave

To make matters worse I only had a slight sip of water left, having a personal rule that you never take the last sip, ever. I know, I know, should have had an ample supply of water but I didn't so please give me a break. Run out of gas? Check. Die of thirst in the middle of desert? Check. Finish my novel? Damn, I never even started my novel.

Did I mention that it was really freaking hot out? How ironic that a well timed breakdown at that moment would have rendered all idle thoughts of suicide so pointless and futile... I cut the air conditioning off, if I was going to die in the desert I wanted to go out like a real man and not a pampered poodle. Parched but proud.

I ambled along steely on my journey through death's doggy door. After an interminable purgatory in the vast desert wasteland, I finally decided to cut my losses and apprehension. I stopped at the Indian clip joint in Newberry Springs for a single gallon of gas, priced to sell at a mere $4.93 a gallon. Would make my survival a near certainty. And let me make myself clear, when I say Indian I am talking red dot, not feather, although this guy may have been born on the other side of their own particular Mason Dixon line.

One of these places out here in Newberry, Amboy, Ludlow, Essexland used to have a sign behind the counter that said any complaints about the prices and you were 86'd. So you learn to grin and bear it. Take your whipping silently and skedaddle. Not like you have any options.

The gas I would say was a bargain at twice the price. I would survive and be able to live comfortably through both global warming and the next Presidential sweepstakes. I splurged for water to boot, attractively retailing in Newberry Springs for a bit over two bucks a pint. Had been dreaming about a popsicle but none could be found. I grimly settled on an ice cream sandwich but there was no way it could satiate my craving in the intense desert heat. What craven oasis from hell can't even sell a goddamn popsicle?

Did I mention that said establishment smelled like the worst abattoir in Calcutta? That the curry smell at the front door that mingled in a hellish symphony with the pungent body odor of the swarthy cashier was so strong that corpses on the Ganges would have jumped off their rafts and started dog paddling for the exits at one whiff of the place. You see there is a makeshift Punjabi restaurant next door or what passes for one in this lonely land of scorpions and crank.

Your devoted scribe will pretty much eat anything. But I would sooner suck the pig poop out of a chitlin than eat Indian food. Garam masala makes me hurl. And here I was trapped inside the desert's own fetid tandoori oven from hell.

To be continued...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gas in Newberry Springs - that'll teach you. Strategically located for those traveling on fumes across the Mojave towards Barstow which is so close but oh so far at such a time. Your gas tank isn't the only thing getting hosed. I stopped in that place one time, on fumes, starving and broke, took my hosing at the pumps and threw a Twinkies or Little Debbie, something like that, on the counter. You know, a buck and a half or eighty nine - a buck in some places. Not there. $3.50. Still sore over my hosing at the pumps, I griped, clearly, and was informed that I should be so lucky that they were there for me. Hmmm... she had me. Speechless, I didn't purchase it but she had me. I wished I could say that I haven't found myself in that same old jam since...but I can't.

Ken Seals said...

But, that experience can be turned into a good blog post!