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Sons Of The Desert

By drhiller All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery

Chapter 1


Sons of the Desert

By David Hiller

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course on where you stop

your story.”

- Orson Welles


Grievous Angels

It was hot out when Rosco thought of the heist. Throughout the city, air-

conditioners were straining and tempers fraying but all he could think of

was the money. And it seemed like a simple, straightforward plan. But then

they always do. Combine last-minute scheming with an crazy idea straight

out of a ‘B’ movie and there you go. If only there was a heist development

workshop where budding criminals could get some solid advice about their

hair-brained schemes before they ended up in prison or swirling about the

bottom of a funeral urn.

Rosco ‘Coltrane’ Wallace lived with his girlfriend Lucy in Victorville, Cali-

fornia. But the city had not been kind to Rosco. He couldn’t seem to hold

down even the crappiest of low-skilled jobs, stumbling from one firing to an-

other. Of course, it never occurred to him that issues such as profanity, low

attendance and lousy work ethics could keep him away from the pot-of-gold

lifestyle he thought he deserved. And every time he returned to an employ-

ment office, all he could think of was all those reality show people who were

rich and famous and didn’t seem to be any smarter than he was. But the

only kind of luck he could muster was bad luck.

1

Rosco had first thought his path to success might be through playing

poker. On TV it looked easy as hell, but in real life, Lady Luck never did

come to stay. He learned how to wager, how to bet and how to bluff but he

never could get the right cards. If Rosco had a flush, someone would stomp

him with a royal flush. And if he had three of a kind, someone would lay

down a full house. He lost paycheck after paycheck and maxed out his

credit cards chasing poker glory. Finally most of the state casinos refused

him entry. He was a bad-luck story that made other gamblers want to call it

a night. “You’re bad news, Rosco,” the bouncers would tell him. “Get your

sorry ass outta here and don’t come back here again.”

Lucy was a waitress in a Victorville bar called Lost Horizon. She was still

in her 20s and knew how to charm her customers so that her wages and tip

money was enough to pay the rent and the bills and bail Rosco out of trou-

ble more times than she could remember. She kept telling him that ’tomor-

row would be your lucky day’ but even she was starting to have doubts. One

night she suggested they leave town and try their luck somewhere else.

“You need money to move and start over,” Rosco said, “and we ain’t never

gonna git that kind of money with the tips from your crappy job.” Lucy actu-

ally had some money saved in the bank from her crappy job but she didn’t

want to tell Rosco about it. If she did, the money would go right to a poker

game and she might as well have just tossed it out the window.

One night after his most recent firing and a few days shy of his thirtieth

birthday, Rosco was browsing online. As he surfed the web for new poker

sites he came across a news item about this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego.

He looked at all the pictures and read the captions explaining what all the

rare comic books were worth. He couldn’t believe it. ’Look at all the money

there,’ he thought. ’All those nerds were paying hundreds, hell, thousands

of dollars for comic books. If only I had some rare comic books I could make

a fortune.’ But Rosco didn’t own any comic books. When you piss away your

paychecks trying to be a poker star, there wasn’t any funds left for collect-

ing. And he had never read comic books when he was a kid. That money

went towards buying smokes. The only things he had ever collected were

pink slips from jobs, traffic tickets from cops and over-due notices from bill

2

collectors. He ran his hands through his short, red hair. Now he could smell

money.

Rosco went into the kitchen and grabbed an old phone directory that was

propping up one of the table legs and took it back to the couch. He looked

up Comic Books in the Yellow Pages and found one place at the top of the

list: Arkadin Comics. And it was right here in Victorville. So he went out-

side and got into his almost-outta-gas wreck of an uninsured car and drove

across town. Once he spotted the store he parked as illegally close to it as

he could.

It was late out, almost nine o’clock when Rosco walked into Arkadin Com-

ics. He wanted it that way with the place empty and the clerk itching to

leave. That was he could quick case the joint and then fade back away into

the night. When he came back to rob the store, he might finally have his

ticket to the good life.

Rosco walked around, looking at all the prices on the comic books; some

were stacked in crates, others were lying on shelves or hanging from

clotheslines stretched wall to wall. He saw a few expensive ones but not the

kind that were going to change his life and take him somewhere rich and

happy.

Puzzled, Rosco glanced over at the old man behind the counter and that

is when he saw the display case. It was specially built-in right below the

cash counter and it looked like it held about 15 to 20 comic books. He

started to move up close like a cartoon mouse floating along a cheese scent.

When he was right up front, all the book titles came into focus: Superman,

Spiderman, Batman and others he had never heard of. And when he bent

over and pressed his nose up to the glass he could see the price tags on the

plastic sleeves: $1,000, $2,500. $10,000, $35,000. This was too good to be

true.

“If you’re at all interested in any of these, you’ll have to come back tomor-

row,” the man behind the counter said.

“Excuse me?”

3

“Anyone who want to see these comic books has to show cash or a credit

card up front or they don’t come out of the case,” the man said. “We’re clos-

ing now and” - he looked Rosco up and down - “you don’t look like you got a

pot to piss in. Every day I dream of someone with an inheritance strolling

through my front door and all I get is you. So if you find a basket of dough

overnight, come and see me.”

“Sure thing,” Rosco said. He backed away from the counter, left the store

and walked to his car.

Rosco drove away in a daze. The comic books in the display case would

easily be worth $50,000. And once he had them, he could sell them at

Comic-Con and have all the money he needed to start over anywhere he

wanted. Hell, he’d have enough money to start his own poker tournament.

It was time for his luck to finally change.

Rosco drove around the block and parked across the street from the

comic book store. After a few minutes, the lights went off inside and the old

man came outside and locked the door. ’Probably has an alarm system,’ Ro-

sco thought. ’But that old man looks like he’s pushing 60 or 70. Good. He

probably wouldn’t put up too much of a fight.’

Rosco drove home through the dark streets of Victorville, lost in thought.

Once he parked his car in his space at the apartment building, he was sure

he had a foolproof plan. The store was empty near closing time and he

didn’t think he’d have too many problems dealing with the old guy. ’Knock

him out, drag him into the back room and tie him up. And if he gets hit too

hard on the head, the police might think he had a heart attack, dropped

and hit his head. Who’s gonna care about one less old guy? Then I open the

case, grab the comics and off I go,’ he thought.

Daniel Day watched from the upstairs window as Mr. Arkadin locked up

the comic book store. He was renting the apartment above the store and

once it closed up he didn’t have to worry about having loud guests or play-

ing louder music. But that was never really an issue. He had no friends in

Victorville and his spare time after work was spent writing on his manual

4

rt writing here…

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