Thursday, September 17, 2015


Last week, we visited THE BISTI BUSINESS and got a glimpse of Las Cruces. This week, let’s continue to look at New Mexico through BJ Vinson’s eyes and view the University of New Mexico as he sees it. In the following scene from Chapter 6 (Page 57) of THE ZOZOBRA INCIDENT, our PI protagonist is tracking down one of Emilio Prada’s johns. Compromising photographs taken by the gay hustler have been used to blackmail BJ’s client, a prominent attorney.

I phoned the office, but as Hazel had nothing pressing, I decided to tackle the next name on Prada’s list. According to the cross-reference directory in my trunk, one of them, Stephen Sturgis, was a professor at the University of New Mexico with a Far Northeast Heights home address. UNM was closer.
I entered the campus at Central Avenue and Stanford where John Tatschl’s bronze of the university’s Lobo mascot stood in eternal vigilance in front of Johnson Center. As a lifelong history buff, I knew UNM had opened in 1892 with a total of 25 students in a Victorian-style building isolated on the desert east of Albuquerque. Now it occupied approximately eight hundred acres totally engulfed by the city’s inexorable march to the heights.
The famed Santa Fe architect, John Gaw Meem, designed many of its original buildings in the Pueblo style. Today, the campus is an eclectic, enchanting potpourri of primitive and modern design styles: California Mission, Spanish Territorial, modernist, and postmodern. Exposed vigas, sloping exterior walls, and rammed-earth balustrades in warm tones stood adjacent to raw concrete and steel girders. Extruded aluminum facings and colored glass walls coexisted with a Kiva and the Estufa. Smith Plaza’s broad tiered levels and massive stone fountain drew the campus together as a cohesive unit of higher learning.
A lady in the administration office consulted a directory and sent me to the Communication & Journalism Building near the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Yale. Sturgis was a professor in the School of Journalism where Paul Barton was a student. Another coincidence?
That’s the bad part of this job; it feeds paranoia. We all have some, but it seems a generous dose is virtually a prerequisite for a PI license. Unable to contact the professor, I left my card with a message asking him to phone. Then I spent the remainder of the day attempting to run down more of Emilio’s johns.

The purpose of this exercise is to paint a picture of UNM as a visitor would see it for the first time, not to engage the reader in any breathless action sequences. I sometimes ignore the advice to “leave out the parts no one wants to read” to indulge in creating word pictures. Forgive me for the weakness.

I continue to believe that readers are great. So keep on reading, reading, reading.

I’m always pleased to hear from you but I think I’ve shot myself in the foot by sharing a direct email, because no one ever comments on the blog. Wouldn’t hurt to give it a like or a comment after you’re had a look-see.



New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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