Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2003 17:09:26 -0700 From: Robert B <robert_b9968 (at) hotmail.com> Subject: One Right Turn 1 Comments? Complaints? Caveats? Mail me at robert_b9968 (at) hotmail.com ---------------- Prologue: | ---------------- Whether they wore the traditional suit and tie with their reflective sunglasses or simply nondescript plainclothes, as these two were, I could by now instinctively pick out most FBI agents even in a large crowd. Unfortunately, these particular agents had surprised me from behind. "Jack Davenport?" One man asks in a low tone of feigned civility. Carefully controlling my nerves, I casually hold my ground and return the agent's calculating scrutiny with a curious but confused gaze. "Hmm? No, my name is Roger Farfield. Can I help you with something, sir?" A remarkably emotionless smirk is the response my simple ploy. The exchange was merely a gesture; a customary effort that all of us expected and knew to be pointless yet necessary. "If you could please come with us, Mr. Davenport, we just need to ask you a few questions. Please don't bother trying to run, this time. Police are just one call away." Giving up the game, I sigh deeply and respond in a soft monotone, "Forget it. We know what will happen if we go with you. Our word can't fight his. We're going to find that evidence, and prove once and for all that we're innocent." ----------------- Chapter I | ----------------- To best explain what is happening right now, I bring you some time backwards into the past. I am once again Jack Davenport, walking aimlessly down Mill Avenue on yet another lonely Friday night. I watch the couples stroll by, oblivious to all but each other, or I observe the groups of friends who laugh carelessly outside various restaurants and bars. Then I shrug my jacket closer to me, turning from the sight. It's the early days of an Arizona summer, now, but a freak storm had plummeted the temperature into the low 70s. It is only a few days since I graduated high school, an event that I celebrated with no-one but a small gathering of my immediate family. Unlike many people, I decided to wait a year before continuing on to Arizona State University, in hopes of gaining some more tuition money and work experience. I am still living with my family, at this point, but every day I search desperately for a reasonably good apartment. My job at the Coffee Plantation pays enough to cover the expense of an apartment, with the assistance of a roommate. At least, it used to pay well enough. I turn deeper into the past, and repeat the words of my former manager. "You know that our slow season begins in just two weeks, Jack. The summer heat is already here, and as soon as ASU gets out we're going to lose our number one source of customers. I'm sorry, Jack, I've done everything I could but we just can't keep you over the summer months - it's corporate policy, iron-clad: seniority comes first. "I'd like to make you a deal, though. If you want to return at the end of August, I'll hire you on as a full-time manager and pay you half again what you're earning now. You have a great potential, kid, and I'm sure that with only a little bit more experience you could run this whole place with no problem. I can give you $300 as an incentive - a third now, just for saying you'll come back, and the rest if you do return." So now I continue walking along Mill Avenue, a hundred dollars richer but unemployed for the next three months. I wonder again where I'm walking to, unable to form any real destination in my mind. Taking a left here, a right there, going through whichever light happens to be green, looking around constantly for whatever it was I was searching for. The same feeling came to me often. It told me there was something out there in the world, something I was missing, and I spent hours at a time wandering around hoping to find it. I never even knew what it was, I only knew that it was out there, waiting for me. I'm passing by the Coffee Plantation now, looking inside, feeling my wallet. I don't have much, but I decide to buy some hot coffee anyway. Jeff is behind the counter, taking orders. We smile at each other, happy because it is the first time we've met since I was dismissed. Of all the people I know in life, Jeff is the closest to a friend, but that doesn't say much at all. He's the only one besides my parents who knows that I'm gay, a fact that he accepted and even joked with me about - I would point out hot girls to him, and he pointed out hot guys to me. An irony of life: anyone who had to choose a gay man between the two of us would probably pick the completely straight Jeff before me. I considered myself to be fashion-conscious, but he was downright chic, and maybe a little bit of a pretty-boy to boot. "Jack! What's up?" "Not much. Just one of those nights, ya know?" Jeff nodded understandingly. "How's business tonight?" "Eh, better because of the storm, but the summer drag is definitely on. We're still getting a pretty steady flow of customers, but the rushes are almost gone. Not that I'm complaining, of course." We talk for a few more minutes, about the weather and his current girlfriend and such, before more customers come in and I have to place my order. I pay, Jeff gives me a small cappuccino, and we say goodbye. My mood, which had lifted some with the conversation, quickly falls like all the drops of rain that begin coming down again. I decide to give up for the night, and begin the long, wet hike back to my car. I had parked several blocks away. In downtown Tempe (the heart of Phoenix, Arizona) finding an empty parking spot was no easy feat, especially on a weekend night. By the time I find my silver Civic Hybrid, water has soaked through every piece of clothing I have on. I sip my thankfully sealed coffee and decide that the car's seats are water-proof enough, so I climb in and blast the heater on full. Driving typically requires more of a plan than walking, so I try to work out where to go next. I resolve to go north. No, I come up with a better idea. I'll take the freeway north. Brilliant. So I get on the freeway, then simply drive on. I eventually cross the Salt River - an empty channel, despite the name - and come into an area which has always fascinated me. This freeway lies on top of a Reservation border line with one of the various Native American tribes. To the left of me lies civilization, fenced off by a tall stone wall. Then, to the right, farmland and desert wilderness stretch off into the horizon with the sole exceptions of a billboard ad for tribal-brand cigarettes and the Casino Arizona which lies just off the freeway. I decide against taking the McKellips exit....nor McDowell Road....Thomas is tempting, but no...I take the Indian School exit. Then a strong urge takes me by surprise. Suddenly embracing it, I merge to turn right. The untamed lands of a forgotten culture are in front of me. I drive deeper and deeper into them, acting only on my whims and the emotional certainty that what I'm searching for must exist somewhere in this world. I leave my home behind with nothing but a promise to be back in three months. And so, it all began with that one right turn.