Six Nights in Deming
is a dark and twisted character study of a simple trip gone terribly wrong. The tale begins with four travelers, a woman, a man and two dogs on I-10 in New Mexico. Sitting on the side of the road, in the desert heat, next to a broken vehicle, the travelers are thrust into the corrupt scene of small town law, twenty miles from the Mexican Border.
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Writing on the Wall
It was everywhere. The writing on the walls was scratched, chipped, penciled, penned, crayoned and sliced. Blood stained tattoos and declarations of love graffiti called out to the onlooker with chaotic pleas. A veritable mural of cracks in painted proof that this place, wanted or not, had a history.
Even the “ABC gum,” in an array of blues, grays, pinks and hardened-yellow serving as vent plugs, told a story. Not one that any soul would want to read. Not a fairytale. Not a bedtime lullaby with a Shawshank Redemption ending. Not even a Green Mile of hope. No one to suck the sins out of the bad, the pain out of the suffering. The only fiction here was either in the damned or be damned accounting of justice. Just a mediocre tale of bad luck and poor choices, like a game of hopscotch outlined in chalk on city pavement, invisible but for the watchful eye.
Amanda was forced to reflect. Now, when her heart had stopped the incessant racing. Now, when the numb realization was settling in that this was not a sick joke, a dream, a rabbit hole. Now, that she was truly and utterly on her own. Alone.
She knew. There was no White Knight - though some might have wished to be - there was no one there to help her figure it out. Not in here. On the outside they may have been hard at work, diligently jumping loop hole through loophole. But not in here. In here, she was it.
The answers seemed to be in code. A silent morse of remorse. No one would help those who could not help themselves. Amanda was now one of these lost soldiers. Stuck in a war of blind attacks and silent onlookers. She had not been prepared to battle. The poet in her saw the prose as a sign to collect herself and face the challenge at hand. She would not sit here collecting dust with the wounded words of past prisoners weighing on her.
She searched for clues in the surroundings. The blue phone on the wall. There must be some way for people to call. Wouldn’t Leland at least call her? Or if he was too guilt- ridden, would he at least get the info to Daniel or Matthew?
She realized in this moment there was one piece of writing that was clearly missing. Not one sign of her friend and his helping hand. She stared at the blankness of her own outstretched digit tracing the words with no meaning, grasping at straw promises, as the wall of deceit crumbled around her.
You Can’t Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover
Leland watched as Judge Judy laid down the law to a true trailer-trash unwed mother who had apparently dumped a pile of her baby’s dirty diapers on the front deck of a neighbor; all the while leaving the baby unattended at home while the two neighbors held a public cat-fight, screaming and clawing at each other. This act was in retribution over a pack of snagged cigarettes, lifted from the property line of adjoining driveways, and years of missing lighters. He was embarrassingly, admittedly engulfed in the melodrama.
It never occurred to him in that moment that the real drama was unfolding in a prison 5 miles away from his Comfy Inn room. He was too caught up in the rerun. After all, it was night time. He was a firm believer that nothing could be accomplished after 6PM on a weekday, and after 4PM on weekends. Every one needed to relax. Shit would be there in the morning.
And then his mind cheated on him, philosophy and all. He felt a pang as the Judge told the young mother, in no uncertain terms, that she had no case. And furthermore elaborated, the instigator should stop smoking and drinking and spend her energy raising her child to do the right thing. Ever equal, the Judge then turned her attention to the neighbor and added she was quite sure the same went for that family, and it was time to dispose of the pile of lighters most likely strewn about their trailer before they actually were accused of petty theft, as ridiculous as that might sound. She wrapped up her judgement with the declaration that family and neighbors are responsible for the well being of the children in their neighborhoods and should care for one another - not steal from them - not abandon them - not not dump on them. The gavel slammed. Leland pictured Amanda for the first time. He changed the channel.
The Circle Game
Officer Cruz Lu pulled away from the Deming jail with the semblance of a smile on her face. It was slight and a bit tormented but it was there. She knew, deep down, the pride was undeserved. But she felt a sense of relief. A relief that might even allow her to sleep tonight.
She knew Lena’s panties would be tied in knots when she arrived home. Ever since she’d made State Force things had been off for them. And to make matters worse the promise she’d made about the boy. The time she did not have now to commit to them.
The thought of the scene that would greet her made her clench her jaw. Ricky sitting at the kitchen table, staring blankly at the math text book in front of him. Lena on the couch, TV softly on, ignoring that their son needed her to walk him through each problem. And each of them brutally aware of the thick tension swallowing the quiet box they called “home.”
The house was actually nice for this area. Or it could be. Now that Cruz was a State Trooper they were well up in the dual income household bracket. Lena was still a local officer, and that was a good job. A solid job.
Except Lena had changed.