Abaddon’s Locusts, Don Travis’s fifth novel in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, deals with human sex trafficking. In the excerpt that follows, Jazz Penrod, a young mixed blood Navajo, takes his first trip outside the compound where he’s been held. His captors apparently feel he’s sufficiently addicted to crack cocaine to keep him compliant. Are they right?
Jazz thought his heart would burst from joy as they drove down a street called Coors Boulevard NW. For the first mile, he was so engrossed in watching people and cars and scenes of everyday life that he forgot to plot his escape. Should he bolt from the car when it stopped for a traffic light or simply wait until they reached the store. Maybe there would be a cop around. Or a security guard. What would he say? Help, I’m being held prisoner! How would that go over. He wasn’t shackled, and there was just one skinny Chinaman to guard him.
No, better to just give Kim the slip and make more careful plans. His legs started to itch. He resisted the urge to scratch until he could stand it no longer. Then he felt the familiar onset of nausea in his belly, accompanied by mild cramping. His mouth went dry; the hair on his arms stood up. Christ! Just get the groceries loaded and get back home.
There was a cop just inside Albertson’s Supermarket as they entered, and he seemed to take some interest in them, but Jazz kept on Lin’s heels as the man went about his shopping. When they paid at the cashier, he hoped to get a glimpse of a credit card and learn the rest of Kim’s name. But his companion paid with cash.
The cop wasn’t at the exit when they let the store laden down by party supplies, but Jazz saw him standing nearby talking into a mike through the window of his patrol car. The cop’s back was to them. He turned without spotting them just as they passed.
Jazz was sweating, and the cramps were taking hold by the time they left the nearby liquor store and headed for home. It was only when Kim parked in a three-car garage that Jazz thought to look at the make of the car. A Mercedes four door. Green. He caught a snatch at the license plate before Kim opened the trunk. 825-something or the other.
The shakes really hit Jazz by the time their purchases were put away, about all he could manage was to collapse in a poolside chair until Kim brought him his pipe. A slight gasp of pleasure escaped his lips when he saw it was the bong fortified with a little marijuana.
His nerves settled but hadn’t yet started to soar when Wings appeared and took a seat on an adjoining lounge. “I heard you took a little trip today.”
Jazz tried to be brusque, but a smile escaped him. “Felt good.”
“If you continue to behave yourself, we can have some more trips. Maybe overnight trips to some nice places. I’ve been thinking of a jaunt to Mexico. How would you like that?”
An alarm bell tried to go off, but the drug silenced it. “Be okay, I guess. Don’t speak any Spanish.”
Wings laughed. “You don’t have to. Just wave dollar bills at them, and they all magically speak English. And if mamacita can’t, then the granddaughter can. Good pipe?”
“As you probably surmised from the supplies you and Kim bought, I’m having a party tonight. Usual bunch. Nothing special, but I want you to be nice to my guests.”
What to say that won’t bore you to death? I’m an Okie… is that sufficiently exciting? Nope, well, I graduated college in Texas with a double major in government and history… although history’s my thing. Tromped all over Germany with a US Infantry unit. I’ve always loved reading, and as a kid started writing essays that turned into stories. Guess what? I ended up writing books. I hope that didn’t overstimulate you. My characters are much more interesting than I am. As is my adopted state of New Mexico. I try to feature it in each one of my books. In my spare time, I attend SouthWest Writers’ meetings and teach a free writing class each Monday at Albuquerque’s North Domingo Back Multigenerational Center.