Monday, October 8, 2012

Nate of Las Vegas Part II

I was still there when he came back and handed me the book, “Magic” by William Goldman. 

United World College/Montezuma Castle
“Do you know it?”

“Nope,” I said.

I turned the hard cover book over in between my hands and read a few words, unable to get a clear idea of the story before Nate began to navigate.  He sat back in his seat and pointed out over the dashboard.

“Okay so I think there is a dirt road on the side of town that takes us to the castle, I’ll lead you there.”

I drove, he talked…and talked, and in between words, he pointed to things.

“Jake is training me to be a boxer, been living in my tent there in front of that mountain.  In exchange, for his teaching I get odd jobs in town to make a little money.  But sometimes I don’t make money..or I spend it all…I’d really like to be saving for that cabin.. but Jake…well right now he makes sure my basic needs are taken care of.”

We drove deeper up the dusty moutain pass.

“You know, ever since my car broke down here in Las Vegas I’d always wanted to go to this castle, I’m glad I met you.”

“Thanks… I mean… I couldn’t pass it up.”

I was serious and joking.  I couldn’t pass it up. It was as if it was happening all by itself, besides my driving I wasn’t sure what I was doing.  I let my mind wander, I thought,

How odd that people seem to end up and stay wherever their car breaks down in the southwest.

Nate wasn’t my first encounter on this trip.  I’d also met a young couple in a broken RV who decided to convert it to a semi-permanent camp home.  And I remembered the several families I found living in campers in an Oklahoma.

I thought about this urge to migrate, to be somewhere other than planted.  Images raced through my mind, panning for gold, rushing to California, attempting to make it all the way west and not quite getting there.  I thought about this spark of desire to be free, so much that the only answer is to get in the car and drive.  You follow nothing but the impetus to go and see, and wherever the car stopped, that’s where you were.  And that’s that.  I wondered if that was what was happening to me.  I wondered if I was going to end up marooned in a 500 person town somewhere in the desert.  At least, there’d be others.

The dirt road made way to a narrow paved drive.  We approached the drive and passed through an open gate.  I looked around, suddenly there was green.  We had come from a dusty mountain pass to a landscaped lawn. 

After the gate was a sign,

“Warning, no unauthorized visitors.”   

And then a small placard, 

“Welcome to the World School.”

“Well, let’s go in…park here.”

He pointed to a spot just beyond the warning sign. 

“Do you think we should park somewhere less noticeable?”  I said.

And then added, “did you see the sign?”

“That sign is not for us, it is for other people.”

Nate unbuckled his belt and twisted around to look in the back seat.  He picked up a shirt from the floor and pulled it over his head.   The shirt smelled like body odor and had a smudged charcoal stain on the front.   It’d been worn for several road days in a row.   He sat back down and thought for a second and looked at himself in the side view mirror.

“This won’t do, we’ll need to be more official….we need glasses.”

I leaned over and opened the glove box.  He pulled out a pair of fake reading glasses and gigantic gold glam rock sunglasses.  He put on the sunglasses, and threw the reading glasses to me. 

“Wear these… now, we are ready…come on.”

I stared at Nate.  He looked like a drunk tourist in a woman’s t-shirt.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Come on…let’s goo oo.” He said, looking funny at me.

He added a couple of “o’s” to the end of his sentence and laughed.  He had so much ease in his gesture I was drawn into following him.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Ten steps away from the car, a security jeep pulls up.  The man looks at us up and down once and says simply,


He was a stout, unwaivering middle aged man, with a name tag,


I wanted to leave, immediately, but I hesitated.  I saw Nate’s upper lip curl into a private smile.  He looked to me and nodded.  It was a movement that kept me quiet and curious, one that said, we’re gonna play.

In an instant, Nate, drew the corners of his mouth down and softened his brow.  His face was fluid and fast.  I took this to mean follow, and like suit I fell disappointed.  I imagined myself as someone who felt confused and hurt.

 “Oh…please…I’ve heard so much about this place and we have traveled so far…”

Roger shook his head, slow and solemnly. 

Nate persisted,

“At least you might reveal more about the new construction on this building…you must understand…we’ve traveled…so far.”

Roger stopped shaking his head, and stared at Nate.  Nate gazed back with pleading, please eyes.

“I’m gonna to ask you two to leave immediately.”

I was ready to go.  I felt my body turning.  My head was back in the car.  Nate was not quite ready to go.

 Allison Distler

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