Monday, March 21, 2005

Hole in the Wall

Against the blinding granite cliff, the black hole of the cave entrance yawned to the rising morning like the mouth of a dead man. Philo recoiled involuntarily from the idea of going in, but he knew he had no choice. He had reached the end of the climbable slope. Above him rose the wall of granite. As it ascended it leaned toward the east, creating an overhang he was not equipped to deal with. Perhaps his friend Mac, the human gibbon, could have climbed it, but Philo was not cut of that cloth. No one else was, only Mac. Philo was strong and lithe but he had his limits. Exhaustion was setting in as well after a night of being pursued through the Mojave and up the Owens Valley. He'd intended to get to Lone Pine to Mac's place, but his truck had thrown a rod, and there had been nothing for it but to head for the hills.

To the east lay the southern spurs of the White Mountains, dark grey against the rising sun. 1500 feet below he could clearly see the ribbon of US 395. Pulled over on the western shoulder was the old Chevy Apache pickup he had driven down from Oakland, and just behind it the two surplus jeeps that Morris' henchmen had driven on his trail. About a mile west of the road, at the bottom of the slope, the six gunmen were fanning out and looking for his trail. They hadn't spotted him yet, but it wouldn't be long. Philo thanked his lucky stars the girl had waved goodbye about 20 miles down the road. Lucy Morris was worth a little trouble, and he knew he'd never regret dancing with her at the roadhouse in Amboy. That dance, slow and hot, had led to another, longer, sweeter dance in his motel room later on. Somehow, probably from one of her twisted cousins who'd no doubt been drinking at the bar, Morris had found out that his daughter had wandered off into the night with a tall stranger; his sainted, pure daughter, who'd probably shagged half the young studs from Baker to California City. Philo wondered if this kind of thing always happened when she decided to have a little fun. Were all her paramours now laid up cold on some remote cliff in the high Mojave?

Philo shivered in the morning chill and touched the revolver he'd strapped on before abandoning his broken down truck. He traversed the face to the cave entrance and set a foot inside the lip. Just then a fusilade of rifle shots cracked below him, and bullets smacked sharply into the stone around the cave mouth. A shard of granite sliced a gash across his face before he could dive into the darkness.


Blogger Don said...

Great title. Great opening. Don't stop. If someone starts in with the well-meaning writing critique, shoot them.

7:31 PM  

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