Chapter 54 - Slab City
The bikes slowed as we pulled off the road onto a well worn dirt track. Our guardian angels all signaled as they thundered away down the road in the shimmering heat. Little piles of white washed rocks marked the turnout.
I saw a hand painted sign “Slab City. 1.5 mi”. Another older metal sign lay on the ground behind it, but it was too rusted to make out.
We passed old wooden buildings that had collapsed and were now just piles of grey sticks and corrugated metal. A couple of rotting fence posts to mark a fence along the road, long since reclaimed by the desert. In the distance, I saw a mass of glittering metal and white fiberglass wavy in the desert heat.
Two large steel sign posts rusting away, was all that was left of the original sign. A new hastily constructed half billboard stretched between. “Welcome to Slab City. Previously the home of the Salt Basin Military Reserve base decommissioned in 1974. Lots of free parking! Watch for snakes. Population 3,600+.”
Where the guard shack stood was an unkempt flower bed of painted rocks with a cactus growing out of it. Aging RV’s stretched as far as the eye could see. Trailers of every shape and size aligned in crooked rows. Awnings and umbrellas bleaching in the sun, dotted the sides. Miniature picket fences, and pink flamingo’s stuck into the shifting sands next to strands of fading plastic grass lawns. Makeshift streets had formed between the slabs of the buildings. The slabs providing the perfect, level place to park an RV. Miniature dogs of every type strained at their leashes when they caught wind of us. They set up quite a racket. Red slowed and stopped to talk to a red nosed octogenarian out walking his miniature yapping ball of fur.
“Where would I find Alex James?”
The man turned a rheumy yellowed eye on Red. He pointed towards a newer black and silver rig at the end of the makeshift street. A small black octagonal satellite antenna and a solar array sat atop the rig.
“Much obliged sir.”
“Not at all. Shut up Mr. Piffles, or you won’t get another walk today. You are behaving very, very badly. What does momma say about naughty dogs?” But Mr. Piffles had caught the sent of Timber Wolf and he would not be dissuaded from trying to prove that he was not a miniature rug. Mr. Piffles was not afraid. ‘Warning! Warning, danger here!’ he cried. “What does momma say?”