Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Some of "...Owen Taylor"

I flew to LAX and rented a small car. I still could’ve driven -- it’s only 1200 miles -- but I wanted to be back by Sunday and besides, the car I’d bought for around town was crap. That’s why Tone borrowed his dad’s Chrysler for the out of town trips; it was brand new. I could’ve leased a car, but I really hadn’t expected to stay so long.

Tone wasn’t easy about me going, but I still couldn’t get him to tell me what was up. He just kept saying he was fine, which was bullshit; I could tell by how careful he was being in his words. But I figured since his next probation appointment wasn’t for another week – though if all went well, he might not even need to go – and since Fernandez was handling negotiations with the AG, I could be gone for five days. I knew Fernandez’d come to me, first, once he had a deal he was happy with, and that wouldn’t happen till Monday, at the earliest. So Tone had no reason to be so...hell, so quiet about the whole damn thing. But that’s just like him. Sends out his signals and it’s up to you to figure out what the hell they mean. The little shit.

But I had to find out about Uncle Owen. He’d backed me up so many times, I owed him at least a fly-by. So I headed out on the cattle car line and arrived just before ten, in the middle of one of their rare cold snaps.

It’s a hundred miles from LAX to Palm Springs, which took a good three hours thanks to LA’s non-stop stop-and-go traffic and people who don’t know what it means to watch the road or care about the other people on the freeway. By the time I reached Uncle Owen’s condo, I’d avoided getting sideswiped twice, nearly been rear-ended once, and I’d definitely been cut off forty-seven times. Meaning, I was ready to start ripping heads off.

It was the same place I’d been to when I was out here, the last time – Playa Royale. The Queen’s Beach. Too perfect. It’s a complex of twelve tan, stucco townhouses lining the top of a rocky hill. You had to work your way up a winding private road to get to a security gate that opened into a cul-de-sac, and there stood three two-story townhouses to the left side; five three-story ones to the right, with another four three-story structures crowded around the circle at the end of the drive. Covered parking was behind the shorter buildings while the taller ones had built-in garages. From Palm Valley Boulevard, it looked a Moorish castle. And you want to talk about having the high ground? They all had fantastic views of Palm Springs and the wind farms, not to mention a desert that went on forever.

This wan not my idea of a comfortable place to live; I’m a trees and streams kind of guy. But...I didn’t live here; my uncle did, and he’d always made sure it was damn well-kept, not just in trash pickup but in repairs, so that’s what I expected to find. Instead, two of the units had “For Sale” signs in front and another one looked deserted. It had broken windows and the stucco was cracked.

Turns out the numbers he put on his note were the code for the security gate – his birthdate. The gate swung open and I slowly drove in. Uncle Owen lived in a two-story place, so I pulled around back to find his sheltered parking space empty. In fact, no one was around. No cars. No nothing. It was almost like a ghost town.

I checked the back door; it was locked. I tried the key he’d sent me, but no-go. And it wasn’t to his front door, either. Shit, then why’d he send it to me?

No one answered the doorbell. I peeked in through a mail slot and saw a massive pile of envelopes and fliers, but the blinds were closed and it was too dark to see anything except there was still furniture inside. The complex was watched over by a security company, but no number accompanied its signs. I finally called Matt.

“What’s that management company you mentioned?” I asked.

“Palmetto Properties,” he said, then gave me the address.

I Googled it on my phone. It was just up Palm Canyon, so I headed over.

No comments: