the two open windows provided light and air. they also provided a decent view of the parking lot and the street area to the east. eddie catalina stood in the middle of the room smoking, watching and pacing. the past two days had been a wild ride. or was it three? adrenaline highs and crashing lows had brought him here. north eastern nevada and the stockmen hotel in elko. the corner suite on the 4th floor. probably not a real suite in most hotels but the view was ok and he could smoke in the room. and with all the photos of john wayne in the lobby maybe the duke had even stayed in the room way back when. tangents. eddie was tired.
he hadn’t smoked in over twenty years but he had started again once the mad cap car trip had begun down in los angeles. probably somewhere in northern california along interstate 5. stockton? maybe. eddie thought he’d spotted a tail somewhere around the tracy turn off. no, he had spotted a tail. smart bastards that they were. someone on or near the over pass. though in the end not that smart.
eddie was a good driver. once the tail was spotted he let the adrenaline kick in and instinct take over. getting enough of a jump on them and then getting off the interstate in the old downtown section of stockton proved to be the right move. after a few one way streets there, a few quick turns, then backtracking he had lost the tail. after losing them he spent ten or fifteen minutes sitting in the shady parking lot of the public health department just to be sure, while getting his nerves back together. nothing of interest in the parking lot other than a few pregnant women coming and going. a few obvious junkies as well. nothing of interest.
after he left the parking lot he had a bit of a problem. he wasn’t sure where the interstate was any more. he drove around for a bit before he found it again. about that time eddie also realized he was hungry. he had seen a chinese restaurant sign a street or so over. not in the mood for mexican it would do. he doubled back. parked on the almost deserted street and went inside. the place was an old huge worn out dump. though the owner was friendly and the food decent enough. best of all he was the only diner.
for some reason after lunch he’d walked across the street and into a liquor store where he bought a carton of camel lights. eddie had been chain smoking them ever since.
from stockton he’d driven straight through to winnemucca, nevada stopping only for gas. he spent the night at the winner’s hotel casino and walking the streets of winnemucca while avoiding the cat houses. a sleepy casino was one thing but the houses were another. a sure fire way of being spotted. instead, he ate a delicious lamb dinner at an old basque hotel before retiring for the night. he was up early and back on the road again before 7. an overnight rain had left the roads shimmering in the early morning sun.
so, here he was in the stockman. elko, nevada. the duke’s old haunt? he was for sure smoking like the duke. two days and six packs of smokes later. jesus. he thought stubbing out a butt and lighting another. what the hell happened? what the hell indeed.
this first appeared here in july of 2014.