It was 114° with a sandstorm bearing down outside. I locked my broken-down Saab—the only vehicle in sight—and took a booth in the back of the Chevron, charging my phone from an outlet beneath the table. A teenage cashier paid me no mind.
Kitchen doors swung behind me. A colossal fella in a greasy apron stopped at my table, then sat down across from me. He gripped a chef’s cap.
“What're you doin’ in Fenner?”
I pointed outside. “Car troubles. I'm just passing through.”
“No, you ain’t,” he laughed. “That’s a Saab story.”
He leaned in.
“I got one for ya.” This cook told all about his cousin, Mitchell—who owned an exotic fish store in Goffs—and how he’d gotten in heavy with a gangster over his brother’s debts. “My man torched the kingpin’s house and took off with his woman. She drove a Saab, too. A red convertible.”
I imagined having to coax him to leave, but he stood and shook my hand. “Appreciate ya.”
After the sandstorm, I checked on my car. They’d taken the stereo, catalytic converter, and canvas bag with my camera and laptop.
The cashier told me the kitchen had been closed for years.