Thursday, September 16, 2010

Anasazi Strip - Chapter 7 - Part 1

B.T. Saunders awoke with a start on the ragged couch of his Hurricane, Utah home. He had fallen asleep reading his mail after the long drive back from the lake. He turned his head to look out the lone living-room window and his neck muscles screamed in pain. It occurred to him that he ought to buy a bigger couch, but then he laughed at the idea. He probably didn't spend more than five days a month at his home, so why worry about a stupid couch? He could see the faint yellow glow of sunrise beginning to light up the eastern sky. He rubbed his eyes and forehead; he felt like shit.

There were prehistoric Indian artifacts everywhere: ornately designed baskets, agave leaf sandals, wedding vases, arrowheads in dozens of sizes and shapes, stone bead necklaces, sea shells from Mexico, and several stick-twig figurines. None of these items were in protective cases; they lined every inch of shelf space in the room. The pieces were dust covered and had been haphazardly lumped together on top of one another and then forgotten. The good stuff – the stuff that really mattered– was down in the kiva, where The Ritual took place. There was a small collection of B.T's most treasured possessions down in the basement room where he gave the spirits of the dead back to the gods. Everything down there was super-special. He even stored his drug stash down in the kiva. Power begat power.

The Judge would have been shocked to see B.T.'s amazing collection, a collection which far outshone the Judge's own. But then, the Judge had never seen his accomplice's house, so he had no way of knowing that his partners were skimming off the top before he got a chance to do the same.

B.T. felt there was very little difference between selling illegal pots and selling illegal narcotics. B.T. had been doing the latter ever since he returned from Vietnam with a cultivated craving for good stimulants. He dealt drugs so that he could have them around and not have to pay for the privilege. And in the drug trade there were certain customs that were simply a natural part of doing business. Rule #1 was that everybody took a cut off the top before passing the product on down the line. When it came to dealing Indian loot, B.T. merely applied the time-honored tradition of the drug world and snagged a few of the items he liked best. He also let his digging buddy, Otis, cut a small slice, so he would have no incentive to say anything about the practice. Not that B.T. really cared how the Judge might feel about this particular habit– or his drug habit, for that matter. B.T. assumed the Judge was doing the same thing before delivering the goods to the faggot art dealer in Denver. That was just the way things were done.

He appreciated the artifacts' value on the open market and he knew that most of the relics were of special significance, but at this point in his life he had more important things to deal with – like serious narcotics and saving souls. His Anasazi collection was like money in the bank, accruing interest every day, and when he decided to unload it, he knew it would be worth a bundle.

There was lots of work ahead. Maybe another murder. The police reports he had listened to on his drive across the Arizona Strip the previous night said there were no witnesses, but B.T. knew that the piggies never told the truth. He rose stiffly from the couch and headed for the bathroom. What he needed now was a hot shower and one of his patented speedball fixes.

Twenty minutes later, B.T. emerged from his bedroom dressed in clean clothes. He had tied his long, wet, red hair in a pony tail, and combed his beard. His cheeks were flushed and there was a devilish smile upon his face. He was high as a kite. His eyes darted around the room as if looking for trouble and settled on the fax machine. B.T. retrieved the instructions from the Judge and went into the kitchen. He put the kettle on to boil and sat down at the table to see who would be up next on the hit parade.

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