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Riding Shotgun  
With Adventure  

by Ron Langston  

Ron Langston

Chapter 44 - A Rosy by Any Other Name

Big John left me at the door of the sweat lodge. "I ain't going in there, Boss-man," was all I could get out of him -- a man I'd seen kill a bull armadillo with a single blow from a rolled-up Sunday Albuquerque Journal. But this was another, darker, smellier kind of fear, and 6 feet 8 inches of bronco-busting Navajo wanted none of it. "I'll be in the truck when you get out."

I knew -- rather, I hoped -- I'd live to regret the zesty chorizo fry- bread tacos Big John and I had packed away like a tourist hoarding jackelope postcards, but I didn't expect the smell that bitch-slapped me when I drew back the flap and tried to peer into the blackstrap-molasses gloom of the interior. Not much can cause me to toss my lunch, but you'd be a much better man than me if you could hold your Tacate in the face of that nameless doom.

A minute later, I spit into the dust, pale and empty, and steeled myself as Big John laughed from the old Chevy -- a laugh that was part nerves, part machismo. Once more, dear friends, into the breach. The smell was rich like a living thing, and complex and head-spinning like integral calculus. After a moment, my eyes stopped watering, and in a moment more I could make out a form at the center. It drew into focus. Rose Anne "Rosy" Chavez. I should have known.

"Looking for these, muchacho?" she croaked, swaying gently side to side, eyes glazed, as she held out her hand. Could it be that simple? Yes, there they were - the keys to Joey Ayala's Camero, the keys to the mystery that had me sweating away the summer in the godforsaken Land Under a Spell. I staggered forward. The last thing I remembered was Rosy falling sideways like a Midwesterner one Margarita over his limit. The gooey blackness moved inside my head, and all was silence.

I came to weeping like a baby in Big John's arms. "What happened?" I managed to choke out, "Where are the keys?" "Later, Boss-man," was all Big John would say, as he pressed the Cuervo to my lips.

Next week: Chapter 52 - How'd That Bear Get In There?

(Transcribed by Ishmael Alighieri)

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