Surtch Pherther pulled to the dirt road’s edge, switched off the ignition, and listened. Doom Canyon behind him was quiet. He lowered the stand, dismounted, shed his gear, and crept back to the wash… Still nothing.
Back at the bike, he popped the top case and grabbed the Glock he’d bought when things got sketchy after a meth dealing ex-con moved in next door. He undid his belt, forced it, with the aid of his knife, through the cross-draw holster, and re-belted. Though he unstrapped the gun, he stopped short of racking its slide to chamber a round.
After listening again, he geared up, mounted up, kicked up the stand, started Escape Artist, and rolled to a swap-spot. Then, at low throttle, he crossed the wash and entered Doom’s mouth, rounding the curve to the flat where the broken-down trashed Blazer sat. The man emerged as Surtch approached along the road’s far edge and stopped several yards back.
“Okay,” Surtch said abruptly, “I’ll do it. What did you say your name is?”
“And your friend’s?” Surtch didn’t care that the man saw the pistol: The remoteness draws outcasts and outlaws and can be ruthless with the reckless. He had to dominate.
“Floyd… Just around the next bend.”
“Okay.” Surtch watched the mirror until he was out of sight. He was puzzled: On his first approach, the man said he’d been there for a day and a half. Yet he hadn’t walked the mere bit of a mile to meet his friend. Yeah, he’d mumbled something about bad knees, but nearly forty hours broken-down in the remoteness?…
Opting to continue on foot, Surtch took a short spur road to a stash spot for his bike and gear. It was a dead end, sure, but so was the main. In fact, with Blazer man below, Doom was as good as dead at both ends. Walking back on the spur, then up the main, he was nearing the drop to another wash crossing when two large dogs suddenly appeared, barking and charging. He went for his gun, but held off drawing. They bashed him repeatedly as held his hands above their nipping. “Go! Go on! Stay away!” He was worried that they might change upon knocking him down, might get fierce.
Post-scuffle, the grumbling dogs led Surtch across the wash, where the road got thinly overgrown. Crossing an opening in a poor fence, he entered a clearing with a small camp trailer at its head. “Floyd? Hello, Floyd?” No one answered. A fire ring, a lawn-table and -chairs, tiki torches, a grill, and some wind chimes and colorful twisters dangling from low limbs were well-placed and well-kept. He continued calling Floyd’s name as he cautiously approached the trailer’s open door. Inside, a man in a Hawaiian shirt was combing back his gray hair before a mirror.
“Howdy. What can I do for ya’?” asked the man, stepping casually to the doorway.
“Riding up the canyon, I encountered Brad. His truck broke down on the flat near the old bin.”
“Well, he’s mighty lucky you came along. I’ll be right there to lend him a hand.”
“I’ll tell him. You have a good day, Floyd.”
“Be safe out there, kid.”
“Will do. Thanks.”
The dogs quietly escorted Surtch back to the road. He’d forgotten about the pistol.
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