Chapter 12: Into the Wasteland
Cuff and Link showed up at the store a few hours later. They both carried heaps of information, copies of maps, deeds, and most important they’d made a list of properties that were ready to buy.
Eager, Trevor kept glancing at the time. Having a hard time waiting for his meeting with Crystal. Not sure why he held such high hopes on this meeting. Chances were, it would be no different than so many of the other hopeful prospects from before, that turned out to e rubbish.
He set Cuff and Link to the task of getting the offices ready for business, and their more specialized equipment ready for production. Trevor went to slip into something more comfortable for the desert.
At least he was dressed more the part once he came down, jeans and a dress shirt. His gift from Crystal pinned into his left pocket. The Moreschi oxfords did not fit at all, “where you goin, lookin like that?” Grace stopped him cold.
Not wanting to give his true intentions he lied, “Going for a walk.”
“Bullshit. Can’t take those shoes for a walk. They’ll get tore up in no time. Come ’ere. I think I got your size.”
She led him to some boxes in the back, reaching around she pulled out a pair of Tony Lama roughouts.
“For you only three-hundred dollars. Much better than those Italian shoes you are wearing.”
Trevor tried them on, “You know they are much more comfortable than you would think. I never thought with the high heal they would be. Is that why Texans are so tall?”
She gave him a soft snicker, “Do you think I know how people are tall?” she regarded him from her four-foot-ten-inch frame.
“They look good on you. I put them on your room bill,” before Trevor said no, Grace moved over to the counter to ring him up.
“I’ll keep these for you. Don’t want to be late,” she motioned with his five-hundred-dollar oxfords and put them under the counter.
Checking the time, he noted he still had a few minutes until his appointment with Crystal, so he ambled down the street, getting a feel for his new boots. He was beginning to understand a few things about being a Texan. Something about the boots, they made him feel taller. They gave his gait a certain swagger.
Passing the bank picture window, he tried to inspect his butt while he walked. He envisioned it wiggling. Of course, the bank staff got a laugh at him admiring his posterior and his attempt at torquing in the reflection. One more thing to help solidify his foreignness.
Crystal opened the door while he was checking himself out and Trevor jumped to a normal walk the last bit to reach her. She closed the door and locked up shop as he stepped next to her, “My! Don’t you look spiffy. All ready?” as she admired him.
Trevor looked himself over again a little self-conscious, “Sure, all ready. How are we getting there?”
Across the street was parked an old pickup with a horse trailer attached, Crystal nodded towards the rig as they walked, “I borrowed a truck and some horses.”
Crystal stopping at the driver’s door, “You do know how to ride, right?”
“Sure, of course, I know how to ride,” he lied. “Let’s head out,” Trevor thought. How hard can it be?
They climbed into the truck as the sun hung in the sky.
Driving out into the country, he noticed fewer signs of civilization. They rode in silence for some time before Trevor finally asked, “What are the horses’ names?”
Crystal smiled and concentrated on the two-lane road, “Fireball and Hurricane.”
This caused Trevor to gulp and think to himself. Brilliant, I am a dead man.
An hour outside of town, they pulled off at an abandoned filling station garage. This was the time Trevor remembered the Sheriff’s warning about losing a body out here. Crystal pulled up to a roller curtain door. Getting out she opened the door to the garage and pulled the truck and trailer inside, next to a relic of a Ford Pickup truck.
Sitting in the truck with the engine off, “Old Sits likes his privacy. He has specific requests before we can visit him. Some think he is a little crazy. Are you sure you still want to go?”
Regarding his surroundings thinking: This would be an outstanding place to film a horror movie: “No, I have come this far. I need to speak with him and learn what he knows.”
He envisioned Barney getting the news, of the authorities finding his dismembered body, and cracked a nervous little chuckle to ease the fear; it didn’t work.
Crystal handed him a foil bag, “You need to turn off any electronics and put them in this.”
Agonizing over giving up his phone; however, he rationalized something must be worth it at the end. Deciding to comply, even doing a double check to make sure he had everything, “I’m good.”
The horses stirred, and the horse trailer rocked a bit, “I am guessing the horses aren’t for show.”
“There once was a road, but it washed out long ago. We need to walk or ride. I prefer not to walk in the dark. The horses have a natural sense and will help to keep us safe. Let the horse do its job. You’re sure you know how to ride?”
Lying, “Of course, I know how to ride,” he got out, inspecting the old Ford pickup next to his door. The Ford driver’s door was painted with a dark red splattering, the window had the dried spray as well. This looks like blood. He thought, followed quickly with, Shit.
“Old Sits won’t be too mad at us for dropping in? Seems like he doesn’t receive many visitors.”
Crystal, backing the first horse out of the trailer, “He likes me. Everything will be fine, he is just an old Hermit. Come here,” she gives him a motion to come take the reins from her.
Approaching, Trevor stuck out his hand and Fireball immediately pulled away, neighing as it did. Crystal placed her hand on Fireball’s jaw. Calming the horse with her touch.
She whispered to Fireball, “Now, we had this talk. You are going to be courteous tonight, behave and I will give you some sugar when we are finished.”
Fireball seemed to nod in agreement like he understood every word Crystal said, “Take him outside I will be right there with Hurricane.” Trevor nodded as well. I want some sugar too...
This last part was strange. Trevor was uncertain if she was speaking to him or the horse, but it was Fireball that led Trevor outside and stood waiting for Crystal and Hurricane.
Arriving, Crystal handed Hurricane’s reins to Trevor, taking a moment, she whispered something in the second horse’s ear. Completing this she went to close the roller curtain door hiding the truck and trailer inside. Walking back to Trevor and the horses she scanned the late afternoon’s sky as if searching for anyone watching them.
“Okay, looks clear, let’s go,” with ease and grace, she mounted the horse. Trevor noted how she did it, trying to mimic her movements, he failed but did end up in the saddle. They walked the horses behind the abandoned gas station and down a washed-out dirt road, leading off into the deserted area towards the far-off mountains in the north.
Passing a gigantic tank to the east, “Long way?” Trevor asked after a half an hour or so. He was more interested in staying on the horse and alive than making small talk as they rode.
“We should get there about dark,” Crystal was pointing to the mountains growing larger in their path.
With no phone or watch, it was impossible to judge time. The sun seemed to stagnate in the sky. About the time, Trevor was going to ask again, he started to distinguish some signs of human activity. Those signs were many but not recent. First came a near collapsed warehouse building, with a faded Dapper Dan Pomade advertisement on the side. Next some early twentieth-century mining equipment.
Crystal must have read the inquisitive expression on Trevor’s face. She answered his question for him, “During the depression, a small group of investors thought they might find gold or silver out here. The place folded and was abandoned.”
Trevor grunted an acknowledgment, lost in thought concerning his death and dismemberment yet again.
“Old Sits bought all this, decades ago.”
“You are sure he is not going to go all Texas Chainsaw Massacre on us for dropping in on him?” he thought at once. Why the hell did I think of that movie?
Glancing his way, she smiled. Not sure if it was a good or bad smile, Trevor for his own sanity, decided it was a good smile. He kept thinking; After all, there were easier ways to kill a guy, than an hour horseback ride to an abandoned mine. Then again no one knew where he was, or who he was with. If she wanted to take her time and kill him slowly. Cutting off little pieces and saving them for later. Later for what? Human flesh lampshade.
Crystal stopped in front of a shed that was more like a lean-to, “We’re here.”
Trevor visibly jumped when she spoke, so lost in his deep morbid thoughts of his impending doom, “Here?”
“Yes, we need to walk from here. We will leave the horses now.”
Trevor carefully got down off the horse, tying him up like Crystal did. Giving the horse a little pat and scratch near its ear, then said, “See you soon” adding in his head. I hope.
Crystal took his hand and led him towards the entrance of the mine, like a gaping mouth into the mountain. The sky was beginning to darken behind them, making the maw appear even more menacing. Picturing serrated teeth waiting to tear his flesh from his bones, Trevor stopped for a moment, “I thought hermits lived in shacks in the desert. The whole cave thing seems a bit trite don’t you think?” he was attempting so hard to remain calm.
Patting his hand, patronizing him, “Come on now who’s my brave boy?” with that, she lured him into the dark opening.
And on to a rack with some newer mining helmets stored on it, “If I was going to kill you, would I give you a helmet?”
Trevor noted the mine still had an air about it, like it had not been used in years, likely even decades. Considering it was hard to tell by the amount of dust covering a dirt floor. He admitted to himself, the whole place was a little less menacing with a miner’s helmet and light on.
Less than a hundred yards into the mine they came to a metal cage door, with a camera watching the opening. There was a doorbell next to the door, which Crystal pressed. In an instance, there was a buzzing noise, not unlike being buzzed into prison, or a loony bin. After they were in, he heard the door latch as if locked. He glanced back, not seeing a doorknob to escape. Fleetingly he thought. Shit!
Coaxing him to follow her deeper, she led him through the winding tunnel. He noticed there was a web of mesh wires covering the walls. This part seemed more used compared to outside the cage door, as much as rock walls could appear used. They came to a proper wooden door, set into a frame, with a porch light on. Approaching the door, it inched open.