It’s been a while since we took a look at THE ZOZOBRA INCIDENT, so I thought we’d visit the novel again for this post. I had fun writing the book – and I’m convinced that’s the way it should always be for an author. It isn’t, of course. I’ve written books that were difficult and stressful in the birthing process. But not ZOZOBRA or THE BISTI BUSINESS, for that matter.
I chose the following passage (the opening of Chapter 7, Page 68) because we meet a new character at this point, and I like the way BJ looks at her. I also like the mental musings over a mural in his country club’s foyer that depicts Albuquerque’s founding in 1706 and the loss of the extra “A” in the city’s spelling. In my own head, I hear BJ toying with the word “foyer,” and believe him to be sophisticated enough to pronounce it “foi(a),” and plebeian enough to say “foi(yer).”
At any rate, he’s just received a warning to drop the case he’s pursuing that includes a death threat, and it’s pissed him off. Let’s take a look.
Still steaming over some thug believing he could intimidate me, Thursday morning, I handed over the blackmailer’s envelopes and notes, along with Del’s fingerprint card to Gloria McInnes, who looked down her thin-bridged nose at me like an English blueblood. She wasn’t. She was born and raised in the little community of Algodones north of Albuquerque and was as common as shoe leather. I often wondered at the ribald jokes she must have endured after fifteen years of working in a place called K-Y Lab. The joint was named after its founders, Sol King and Jacob Young, not the water-soluble gel that prompted erotic reactions in countless giggling teenagers and horny young adults. I asked her to print me, as well, because I had handled the envelope before tumbling to what it was. I wanted her to test the documents for whatever forensic evidence they might contain.
“Hmm,” she ran a casual eye over the crude death threat. “Somebody’s getting personal.”
“Yeah, and that was his mistake. I’m going to get the bastard.”
“And I’ll bet you do. Okay, BJ, I’ll run a prelim for you, but I’ll need 48 hours. Of course, if I pick up DNA I’ll need some extra time, but I’ll give you what I can Monday afternoon.”
“I need it a little quicker.”
“Saturday’s the best I can do.”
“Didn’t know you were open on Saturday.”
“Just for you, sweetheart. Give me until about 6 o’clock that afternoon, okay?”
With that promise, I set off for 3301 Juan Tabo Blvd. NE, which was, indeed, a Ship-n-Mail store in a strip mall of the kind architects call decorated sheds. There I ran into a stone wall. The thin-chested teenaged clerk refused, under penalty of law, he claimed, to reveal any information about the box holder. There was nothing to do but plan on spending Saturday hunkered down in the parking lot to wait for someone to pick up Del’s envelope.
Stymied for the moment, I headed for the country club. On the way, I used the hands-free phone to call Charlie and ask him to check out Belinda Gerard. He had nothing to report on the Royal Crest yet, but said he was working on it.
The summer day was chilled by the monsoon system that usually arrived in July or August to deliver a fair portion of our nine and a half inches of annual rainfall. As the thunder and lightning cooperated by hovering to the west over Mt. Taylor, one of the Navajos’ four sacred mountains, I braved the elements and swam for a while, hoping Paul would show up to relieve the youth occupying the lifeguard’s chair. He didn’t.
On my way out, I paused to view the mural in the club’s foyer. Done in the primitive style of Diego Rivera, it portrayed the founding of the Villa de Alburquerque in 1706 with the arrival of twelve families from the military compound of Bernalillo a few miles up the Rio Grande. It took us over 150 years to lose the second “R” in the city’s name. The dark earth tones of the mural failed to work their usual magic. My spirit remained troubled.
That changed when Paul answered my phone call to his dorm later that evening and agreed to come over. He showed up at my place around nine, and gave my morale a much-needed boost.
As always, thanks for reading.
New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.