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Splendid Desolation (Part Two of Four parts)


dontravis.com blog post #337


Courtesy of Publicdomainpictures.com
Last week we meet Vince Lozander, an ex-trucker meets Davy, a twink, in the Eagle Bar, a bear place near the Continental Divide in western New Mexico.. They strike up a conversation, and it soon becomes clear the younger man is looking to hitch a ride. Vince wants to know a little more about him before deciding whether to help out or not. They are still in the bar.Let’s see what gives.
*****

SPLENDID ISOLATION


I showed Davy the Blue Room with a blonde UNM grad student and a smooth-skinned Navajo on the stage. Davy’s eyes bugged at the tiny G-strings struggling to cover their privates. We found a couple of seats, and I watched him with interest as he took in the show.

“I thought bears liked big, hairy boys,” he said eventually, sounding like he had a catch in his throat. His eyes never wavered from the two male bodies on the stage.

I laughed aloud. “You guys dance better,” I responded, watching him closely.

His eyes flicked to me momentarily, and he swallowed hard. “You a bear? You don’t look like one. I mean,” he hastened to add, “you don’t have a beard, and you’re not fat, and… Aw, I’m not saying this right.”

“I’m big,” I said, playfully pumping my biceps for him. “And I’ve got a rug under my shirt. I’m a bear, all right. All the way.”

“I…” he faltered. “You may be big, but you’re not fat.”

“Two eighty. But I try to keep it all muscle.” I made a quick decision. Might as well introduce him to the rest of the Eagle. “Come on. Show you something.”

“Where we going?”

“You wanna see bears, I’m gonna show you bears.”

As we passed through the crimson door to the Eagle Bar’s real den of iniquity, the kid stopped like he was pole-axed. The Red Room is the action arena at the Continental Divide Eagle. Little private alcoves lined the fringes, and sturdy backless divans occupied the middle where men lounged like Romans at a feast. And it was a feast. Naked bodies undulated in a tangle of erotic pleasure.

I grabbed Davy by the arm and led him to one of the unoccupied alcoves. The kid followed along blindly, his head swiveling to take in the action at the other sofas. He finally sat down beside me as if in a daze, but he sure came alive when I touched him.

“Hey!” he exclaimed, brushing my hand away and looking around wildly.

It took a moment to realize he didn’t object to being handled; he just wasn’t comfortable doing it in public. Or maybe he was just being coy.

“I always heard bears don’t go for guys like me,” he said.

“Normally, I’d prefer the sergeant over there doing his buddy. But sometimes a little change is exciting.”

“Don’t you have someplace private we can go?”

“We can get a room, I guess.”

“How about your truck? You’re a trucker, aren’t you?”

“A week ago, I’d have said yes. But I sold my rig and bought a pickup.”

“Can we use it?” he asked, but I sensed disappointment.

The guy wanted to do it in the sleeping space of a semi. I wondered how long that had been a secret dream of his. The mental image of my six-four frame laid out in my pickup’s passenger compartment brought a chuckle.

“The truck bed, maybe, but no way in the cab. They’d have to use the Jaws of Life to pry us out.”

“That would be okay, wouldn’t it? The bed, I mean. You can spread out, and I’ll make it good for you. I promise, Vince.”

“Doing it in public in the Red Room of the Eagle Bar is one thing, kid. The back of a pickup in a public parking lot is something else.”

“We can drive out to some place private, can’t we? I really want to do you, Vince. I’ve never had a bear before.”

I motioned to the center of the room. “Let’s go out there. You can have a cheering section all your own.”

“I…I can’t. Not with everyone watching.”

“Lots more comfortable here in the alcove. Not so public.”

He glanced around doubtfully. “Uh-uh. Still too many prying eyes.”

I sighed and got to my feet. “Okay. Let’s go.”

“You won’t regret it, big guy.”

I’m not certain, but I think he flushed. Hard to tell in a room full of red lights.

###

I blinked hard and glanced up into a cloudless sky, wincing at the strength of the sun. Where the hell was I? This was pure desert. What in the world had happened? I struggled to sit up, surprised by the unexpected weakness I experienced. My trousers were down around my ankles; my shirt was open. I’d apparently had a hell of a time before something happened that left me lying half-naked in the desert sand.

I got uncertainly to my feet and pulled my clothing into place, struggling to remember. Bits and pieces came back slowly. My name was Vince Lozander. Thirty-five…no thirty-six. I’d had a birthday last month. From Arkansas. Now on my way to San Diego. Sold my rig and bought a pickup. My pickup! Where the hell was my Ram? I looked around wildly. I could see for miles. High desert country. Nothing. No highway, no buildings…no pickup!

“Son of a bitch!” I cursed, beginning to remember. I’d been at the Continental Divide Eagle Bar last night. Met somebody new…a damned twink! Davy something or the other. We’d gone to the pickup because he was too shy to get it on in the Red Room. Too shy my fuzzy ass! He’d set me up.

I vaguely recalled driving a couple of miles and pulling off I-40 into the evergreen forest that dotted the high continental divide country. Then we’d got in the bed of the pickup and had a romp on a couple of blankets. The kid had been as good as his word. And then…and then….

Damn! He’d pulled a bottle out of the backpack he’d grabbed at the door when we left the bar and offered me a drink. Thirsty from all the action, I’d taken a big slug, and that’s the last thing I remember.

Son of a bitch! I’d been carjacked! The fucker was a crook. A criminal. That’s why he’d looked so disappointed when I said I’d sold my rig. He was looking to heist a hundred thousand dollar container, not a twenty-five thousand dollar pickup! Brazen little bastard had screwed me… and not in a good way!

It smarted a little that a pipsqueak I outweighed by a hundred pounds had not only dared take me on; he’d also succeeded. He’d doped my ass, rolled me out of the bed of my Dodge, and abandoned me in the middle of the desert. I took another look around. I was probably still in New Mexico. The horizon didn’t have the look of the Arizona Sonoran Desert. Wasn’t the malpais or lava tube country around Grants either. The bastard likely headed back toward Albuquerque and then turned south off the Interstate at one of the exits. Shit! Just plain shit! Wait until I caught up with the little twink!

That thought hauled me up short. Hey, man, this might be serious. The desert is a deadly place. And here I was in the middle of this desolation without water, without a windbreaker for the cold night, without cover from the blistering sun. Had he left me to die or just tucked me away somewhere nearby to give himself a lead?

With a sigh, I closed my eyes and called upon the reserves that had served me over the last ten years of long-distance trucking…my inner strength. After a moment of intense concentration, I felt power flow back into my limbs. I was shrugging off the effects of the drug…whatever the hell it had been.

Then I looked around the immediate vicinity. There were tire tracks all over the place. What the hell had gone on? Then I understood. Davy had driven around tearing up the countryside to make it harder to follow his tracks back out.

Taking an oblique look at the sun, I calculated north, assuming that was the direction I-40 lay. Pissed but not yet worried, I struck out in that direction. By noon, my tongue was swollen, and what little saliva I could bring up was thick with mucus. I hadn’t encountered a living thing except an occasional buzzard wheeling about in the sky, a placid Gila monster, and a huge, ill-tempered rattlesnake. Was every creature in this God-forsaken place sinister?

The oppressive, ever-present, overwhelming heat soon chased all other concerns from my consciousness. My skin felt as if it were cracking. I recalled reading that certain desert succulents were sources of water, but when I stomped one likely-looking spiny plant to a pulp, the small amount of revolting moisture it held convinced me it wasn’t one of those.

Forgetting about snakes and other poisonous creatures, I propped my head against a stone at nightfall and fell to sleep instantly. I woke freezing to death and vainly tried to warm myself by igniting the few dried plants revealed by the moonlight. As I shivered against the cold and listened to the far-off, lonely cry of some creature with a voice…probably a coyote. It made more sense to travel by night to keep warm and rest by day in the shade of anything that cast a shadow.

Deliriously happy when the morning sun broke the eerie loneliness of the night, I was cursing the burning orb two hours later. Every scrap of rare shade was host to a bunch of creatures unhappy over sharing space. Lizards and snakes and scorpions make poor neighbors. Unable to sit still, I staggered off cross-country again, taking step after painful step until I finally collapsed. By the end of that second day, I was on my last legs. As I drifted off into unconsciousness in the freezing night air, the realization I might not see the sunrise didn’t bother me a bit.


*****


A twink in a bear bar. What could go wrong? Lots, apparently. We see the desolation, but when does it get to be “splendid?” Maybe next week.


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Don


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