It was long about high noon when Buck Clay drifted into town, framed on either side by a fleeting high-desert dust diablo, kicked up by a blistering Santa Ana wind. “It looked like trouble ahead,” Clay thought, and he meant it too, by thunder!

With a ‘ka-ching’ and another ‘ka-ching’ sound of spurs, Buck stopped momentarily and stood. The frying sound of a startled rattler’s tail piqued the air. For its arrogance, the snake was penalized by a pungent jet of dark spittle from Buck’s tobacco chaw, which struck the reptile squarely on its head. In the distance hung the faint screech of a Red-Tailed hawk. A solitary road runner dashed across his front.

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Ok… there were no spurs, no snake or hawk… but there was a no-shit roadrunner. Something was after it; Buck just wasn’t quite sure what. “Poor little roadrunner,” Buck thought, “never bothers anyone…Just running down the road is his idea of having fun. If that thing chasing him catches him; well… he’s through!” Buck doesn’t even dip, but that renegade maverick does smoke, and did so as he cleared the travel incidentals from the passenger seat of his vehicle. Buck noted that I didn’t smoke, so his well-mannered self profited from the opportunity to suck one before we parted on the prowl.

Buck Clay, or “The Reaper” as he is know here in the Southwest, recognized the potential negative affliction of a surveillance platform that is “burned.” That is, a vehicle that has been seen too many times, by too many of the people you are surveilling, and my truck was so burned by this point that it was actually glowing a nice U-235 shade of orange.

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Perfect; fresh wheels means I can get back inside the inner circle of perdition, instead of spying from the outside with binos and scopes. Not hack optics, mind you, like Bausch and Lomb, rather quality fast glass from Leupold. Yes, I digress… with my one-and-only grossly over-extended surveillance vehicle, I had taken to throwing my bicycle in the back of it. Parking my truck at a standoff distance, I would retrieve and ride my bike into the inner circle of debauchery.

We two made a momentary detour around a Super 8 Travel Lodge, a stately institute of nightly requiem, one that was reputed to house sporadic human trafficking operations, and was a magnet to some real gypsy untermensch. Even as we made our slow loop, local gentry of unintentional leisure tracked our trajectory with Vulcan death stares. I know, its supposed to be a grip… but in my story it was a stare—-play the game!

I noted quickly that Buck too did most of his operations solo, as he was well versed in the same fine art that I too have mad skills in; that is, the ‘art of multi-tasking way too much by yourself because you have no assistance’. Buck steered with his knee, operated a hand-cam with one hand, checked Google Maps for route recon with the other hand, and rooted through travel debris with his… third hand. I was in good hands.

There was far too much riffraff outside behind this lodge doing absolutely nothing. There in the back, and between the back wall and a trash dumpster was “The Statue.” A young fellow, clad in what I typically used to dry my truck at the car wash; with dirty face and tussled hair, his glassy eyes made me think he was, in his mind’s eye, envisioning a sleepy donkey laying on a grassy hill, swatting lazily with its tail at swarming flies.

The statue took steps toward us, then realizing that we were not his ‘score,’ he backed into his wedge of wall and dumpster. “Junkie!” said I “thing of evil—junkie!” I said “if man or devil!”

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The Statue, seen on a chance contact tweaking hard on crank along side Central Avenue

“You realized, Buck, that the perfect crime scenario abounds us… we stop, some butt stroke approaches our vehicle, I silently hold my hand out, into which the butt stroke places a sum of money… and we drive the F off! What’s he going to do, call the police—-homes, is this a great country, or what!?”

“Oh, I’m well aware of that, Geo.”

(A bout of silence) I drifted back to a day in Key West FL. I was in a liquor store trying to select a bottle of wine for our evening meal. I stood staring at the rows of bottles, like a hog staring at the watch rack at the Belk, scratching my chin. “Wacha lookin’ for?” a local, residence-challenged brother offered. He proceeded to point out the whites for fish, the Cab Savs for meat, the Pinot Noires, burgundy, tout les Chenin Blanc. “Man, how do you know so much about wine?” I ask. “Well” says he “because I’m a wino.”

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‘Click’ went the light switch.

“Why do you know such much about crime, criminals, the underground… all of it Buck?”
“Well Geo, it’s because… I’m a criminal; or that is, I basically have a criminal mind, always have. Drop me blind-folded in any city, and I will lead you to the crime. IDK, I just think like a criminal. Likewise, drop crime blindfolded in Albuquerque and it will find Buck. And he’s single, ladies!

This was outstanding… yessiree. I was back in the inner circle with Buck at the wheel, and all I had to do was observe and record. We backed into a superior overwatch position of the drug dealing room with the fastest spinning revolving door in at least a quadrant of the city, corner room 21. There was a white Honda Accord, earlier model, that was associated with the couple who occupied the room on the ground floor.

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The couple who deal there routinely prostituted their under-age daughter, Emily, for drug money. She lives on the streets to avoid her unbearable parents. I found her and approached her about assisting the cause as a street informant. She is no longer underage. Typically we had one scheduled meeting per week, or I could make a chance contact with her almost daily, but not today. She’s a sad sad mess, Ms. Emily is. Sadder still, she never produced any worthy information, so I dropped her.

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Ms Emily, having just made a scheduled meet, heads toward the truck stop armed with some cash

Enter Eisenberg:
Eisenberg first introduced himself to The Reaper and I from our surveillance position on a parcel adjacent to the Motel 1. We looked on as I explained the various players and characters that scurried to our front. Eisenberg was a crank pushing man, or at least he fancied himself the like. His real name was Chuck, but he liked to be called Eisenberg, after the character Walter White in the TV series Breaking Bad. He even shaved his head and trimmed his whiskers to look like Mr. White. His glasses are natural.

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Chuck, AKA Eisenberg after Walter White in Breaking Bad, pushes Meth (Crank) after his idol character

Transients who bed down at these two motels are very territorial when ‘outsiders’ are in their circle. They are quick to notice, and are not shy to approach and call you out. This happened to Buck and I three times. That my friends is why I have a dagger, a telescoping BBC (brother be cool) baton, a stun gun, the nastiest pepper spray on the planet, a Glock 17, and for more solemn occasions… a Spike’s Tactical ST-15. Disrespect was actually something Buck and I would not be tolerating that day.

On the first close encounter of a third world we were approached by a black and white duo. Gilbert and Sullivan I dubbed them, as we were not bestowed with the honor of their surnames. Hog and Jib Dizzy Wizzle (to the effect), as it played out, were their street names. I took the name Ice-G; Buck was still The Reaper.

We were asked our business by Jib Dizzy. The lame answer I gave for the sake of The Reaper’s entertainment was that we were ‘waiting for friends.’ The correct answer, the answer I am far more inclined to give a like intrusion on my privacy is: PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSST… the sound of a blast of the nastiest pepper spray on the planet. Brothers be hittin’ some ground after a jet of that sting.

“Yo man, this is my home; this is where I lay my head. stated Jib-Dizzy.”

“… where he lay his head…” echoed Jib-Dizzy’s skinny white trash barely conscious sidekick, Hog.

“Why you gotta be disrespecting us, yo?” Wizzle went whining.

“…why you disrespect… Hog shored Jib’s statement. So it went, and so we left the Motel 1, for we had just received a distress message from a perennial favorite of mine, without further Adieu I bring you back Ms Long Tall Sally from the Broncs.

Geo sends

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Symbolically left behind perhaps to suggest we walk a mile in them.