He offers to show me around. The workroom is a long shed of corrugated metal, open to thedesert sky in places, and piled throughout with samples of his onyx work over the years. Onyxin dozens of shapes and colors and in various stages of completeness, from huge, unworkedchunks down to delicate onyx beads, gemstone jewelry, and vases. And it is all for sale. He’sgot dishes and bowls. Telephones mounted on onyx bases. Tables topped with beautiful onyxof all patterns. Broken wooden crates spilling out hundreds of onyx blocks, each about thesize of a deck of cards. Breathtaking translucent onyx slabs lean against the walls, half an inchthick and as tall as a man. Fletch tells me that many Hollywood mansions and prestigious banks are outfitted with decorative onyx interiors and tables worked right here.
Now everything is covered with a heavy coating of dust. I get the feeling he just stoppedworking one day, and left everything to sit.At the far end of the workroom is an upright diamond-tipped circular saw he uses for cuttingstone. It’s about eight feet high, and run by a long continuous belt that loops out to a dieselengine sitting several dozen yards up on the hill.“Want to see how this thing works?” he asks. He flips a switch and the diesel engages with aloud snort. The blade begins spinning up at hundreds of rpm, the cutting edge showered by astream of water.