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Juvenile red tailed hawk with clean and pristine feathers

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Needles, CA. 3:25 p.m. Chapter 1








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Don with his rosy fingers reached down into his goody bag and pulled out the watch. "Check it out, Irv" he whispered in his tired, battered voice. " A Hamilton Pacer, two tone, got to be worth two hundred bucks." The corpulent pawnbroker didn't even bother to lift his eyes from the old television set that was bleating the usual tales of deceit and betrayal on the dirty scratched counter top. "Thirty bucks", Irv muttered "take it or leave it. And I won't ask you where it came from."" No, this is mine", Don protested, in a high pitched squeak with a slight touch of indignation. "Right kid", the old man intoned, with a measure of sarcasm. He had obviously heard it all before. "No one buys watches anymore, the market got killed by the cell phone."

Don grabbed the three worn bills and looked out the window to see if his sting ray bicycle was still perched against the brick wall. Twenty eight years old and riding a kid's bike around the town."This town", he thought - what kind of fool stops in Needles? Hundred degree plus heat every day and every road 'nother dead end. When the buckboards and carriages made there way across the desert on their maiden voyage, did some asshole say "Needles, Martha - we're not going another foot. This is heaven" Somebody who liked numbing heat, snakes and scorpions no doubt. Or more probably someone who was hiding - why else come but to hide?

Don stuck the faded cash in the front pocket of his cut-off levis. He had just enough time to get to the old Walgreens and pick up the cold medication- if there was any left. Rumour had it that the feds were starting to watch it pretty closely. And Frank would be surely pissed.

He angled the bike down the street to the old hulk of a hotel. The El Garces had been once a jewel in the Fred Harvey chain. These hotels with their famous "Harvey Girls" had served the early wealthy visitors to the southwest on the Santa Fe Railroad line. Now it was a crumbling pile of pillars, rubble and weeds and a familiar haunt to the sketchers and junkies who hid in its shadows. There had been rumours for years that it would once again be restored to its former glory but no one believed it anymore. "This is Needles, after all," he thought to himself. " Route 66 - add another 6 and you're in hell."

By Robert Sommers

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