John.

He waited in an unremarkable car. An unremarkable man on an unremarkable street. Seated in the driver’s seat was a man of incredible patience, the payoff enough to quiet his strong will to move. He’d been waiting for what would seem ages to one less inclined to sit and wait.
Should be soon, he thought.

Soon.

The man struck a match, lit the cigarette. Continue reading

The Duke, part iii

Part i here. Part ii here.

The stairs were steel, and rusted from years of neglect. A waist-high railing, painted a chipped brown, snaked up from the ground, with patches of the same rust. When Duke reached the landing, he froze.

“Anyone been up here?” he yelled.

It sounded like hee-yuh.

“No sir” Morales, the less-shaken of the rooks.

“Send up a tech.”

Footprints were visible in the dust that coated the landing. Heavy tread, some sort of work boot. He scanned the rest of the landing, looking for something. Anything. Before he found it, the crime scene tech had reached the landing.
She was pretty. And blond. Duke put out his right hand. Continue reading

The Duke, part ii

Part i is here.

Their shift was three hours in before the Valentine’s Day love haze began to dissipate. Cops walking the night beat had found a body in an abandoned warehouse out in College Point. Woman. Raped. Beaten. Bound. Gagged. Shot. Each indignity spanned the spectrum of depravity, all inflicted upon one poor woman. An execution. Continue reading

The Duke

The phone call woke him up.

“Yeah”

“Detective Howell?” It was Sam.

“Yeah”

“Sorry to wake you sir, but I, uh, figured you would want to know before anyone else.”

“What do you got Sam?” asked the Duke. “Suspense ain’t my bag.”

To this day, he couldn’t believe what he heard on that phone.

*****************

TWO WEEKS AGO, the Duke liked being a detective more than anything else in life. This was fortunate, as he lived in a dingy little apartment, drove a musty old Buick, and had no close family. They were all dead. And gone. Continue reading

Steinbeck, Guthrie, and the Dust Bowl – Part 5

They drove through Tehachapi in the morning glow, and the sun came up behind them, and then—suddenly they saw the great valley below them. Al jammed on the brake and stopped in the middle of the road, “Jesus Christ! Look!” he said. The vineyards, the orchards, the great flat valley, green and beautiful, the trees set in rows, and the farm houses. (227).

Route 66 let into California at the town of Bakersfield. The quote above from The Grapes of Wrath describes their first impressions of California, after going through the desert and experiencing all the difficulties of a long journey with limited supplies. From their high perch on a hill, California does appear to have that “Garden of Eden” quality to it that had been promised by the handbills they found in Oklahoma. The reality was not Eden-like in the least bit, however, as the Joads of the story, and the migrants of real life, would soon find out. Continue reading