Chapter 7

You can have your Lears, your Falcons and your Gulfstreams; for my money, a Citation 10 is the only truly civilized, comfortable and safe mode of airborne transportation. Since the demise

of the Concorde, it’s the fastest civilian craft in the air. Forty-six minutes from wheels-up at San Diego to touchdown at Nueva Celaya Regional, a thirty-five hundred foot gravel strip scratched out of the scrub brush and cactus in northern New Mexico. I might add that my particular C-10, The Argosy, is the only bizjet in the hemisphere that is equipped for landing under such primitive conditions. I almost expected to see a sign by the taxiway saying, "Welcome to the Big Ugly", this country looked like the backside of the moon after a roadgrader stampede. The bug-eyed little wetback that shuffled out to meet the plane was as brown as a betelnut. He stood there with a slack jaw and ogled the equipment. The little gal who manned, or galled as the case may be, the car rental counter was just as brown. It struck me that these poor people have nine thousand feet less of atmosphere between them and the virulent ultraviolet rays of the sun, not to mention a singular lack of smog and its comforting sunscreening effect. Air that pure can't be good for you and I assumed that was why these people moved so slowly. "Yew Enna. Yew Enna. Bi. O. Sphere," I exaggerated each syllable and made big, globe shaped gestures with my hands. "Donde esta? Como se va?" The little hombre had been discouraged from trying to top the Argosy's tanks off by Lars' MAC-10, and he and the senorita tapped at my map with fingers and chattered between themselves for a momento and then pointed in opposite directions. "Feefteen mile, no mas." "No, he's loco. Ees almos' to Colorado. That way." We chose north, mostly because I had a hunch that the little hombre would tell us anything just to get some distance between himself and Lars' pistola. We got their top of the line rental, a '73 Duster, and paid top dollar, too. "Cowboy, you're a bright man. Why don't you tell these people about asphalt?" Lars drove with his machinegun bouncing around in his lap. The road steadily deteriorated from gravel to packed dirt to two track cow trail the further we got from Nueva Celaya. The Duster earned its name by sucking the fine desert dust into the air conditioner and blowing it back out at us along

with gusts of superheated air. Fence posts were the tallest things evident in this hellhole and they appeared more alive than the sad clumps of gray brush. Aside from the Duster, the only things that moved in the desert were the dark shadows of buzzards gliding across the hardpan, waiting for the car to break down. "Vacationland, USA," I kidded Lars. "Entertainment Capitol of the Great American West. Keep an eye on that temperature gauge." We entertained each other during the long, dusty trip by trying to name as many of the variations of the color beige that the countryside around us displayed. After thirty or so shades, I stumped Lars with ecru. He trumped me with vomit. It was a good two hours before we could see the purple peaks of the Sangres on the horizon; in the middle distance sat a squat row of Quonset huts, an array of satellite dishes and a gleaming half dome of glass. It looked like some giant twisted toddler had partially buried one of those shake-me-up-and-watch-it-snow toys in the hard desert floor and then had gone off to torment the cat. "No security. What the fuck..." Lars tends to notice these things. The compound had a chainlink fence around it with the bottom wire at least two feet off the ground, presumably so that the free movement of local wildlife would not be impeded. The double gate was chained open and the U.N. logo on the welcome sign was plastered with "Save the Whales!" "Boycott Tuna!" and "Gaia Rules!" bumper stickers. Little feathered fetishes, God's eyes and cute tie-dyed totems decorated the top strand of barbed wire. "Your tax dollars at work," I told Lars.

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