- WILL DUANE #1 Will’s a happy camper here. Why not? He’s got $50 billion and the largest corporation ever to exist.
- WILL DUANE #2 Here’s our second contender. Handsome, white haired, but is he Will?
- WILL DUANE # 3 Looks like it’s “Happy Times Are Here Again” for Will
I just loaded the articles showing guys that I think could be Will Duane, the hero of my novel Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem. He’s sort of the hero. A bit crusty and hard to please, but heroic in his heart.
I loaded all these pictures and realized you may know nothing about Will. “Let me … acquaint you!”
Here’s the first chapter Mogollon. Here’s Will in his own words as the book opens:
Will Duane stared out of the motor home’s tinted window, scowling. The Ashley, his luxurious RV and the hallmark of the Numenon caravan, jolted across the desert in fine form. Will wasn’t doing quite as well.
He turned away from his view, not wanting to face the light. That damned New Mexico sunlight had done something to him. That and all the space. The desert had too much space; it made him feel weird.
He felt as if the core of himself, the hard center that was him, had cracked. He blamed it on the damn light. All day, they’d passed through that bright emptiness. Who he was began to melt away. His control, his purpose, all of him was being undermined.
The terrain did the same thing. All day long dirt, rocks, and cacti surrounded them. Plus those stupid round trees that dotted the landscape like lice. They weren’t even eight feet high. Will hated New Mexico more than he thought possible. They can’t even grow a proper tree.
Will rubbed his chin, feeling a screamer coming on. He would not give in to it. He would stay in control.
“Mark, how much longer?” he shouted.
“It’s right up ahead, Mr. Duane. Over that rise. See the cars.” The driver pointed at a ridge a short distance away. For the last few miles, phalanxes of junker cars from the 1970s had dogged them. Those were their fellow retreat attendees. It was 1997. What kind of people drove cars that old?
Will could see laden vehicles disappearing over the crest. Other cars returned, obviously having dumped their loads. They turned left and entered an enormous parking lot just outside the Mogollon Bowl. Light reflected off the vehicles and hit him like bullets. The parking lot was a junk yard of wrecks with alligatored vinyl tops and mottled paint. He clenched his jaw.
Will sat in his command seat, directly behind the driver, with his back against the cabin’s rear wall.
Looking to his left, Will observed the anxious faces of Betty and Gil. They sat on the banquette that ran along the Ashley’s wall, twisting to see through the big picture window behind them. The opposite wall was covered floor to ceiling with cabinets stuffed with electronic gear, the super computer being the most important. The super computer was the most advanced in existence. Numenon’s technology had been ahead of the pack since the late 1950s when Will founded the corporation.
Will furrowed his brow. Why were Betty, Gil, their driver, and he the only ones in the cabin? When they started, the cabin was almost full. Now there were just four people. Where were the others? He felt so fuzzy; he couldn’t remember what happened five minutes ago.
Sunlight reflected off the chrome of one of the vehicles outside. It struck Will’s eye and he rocked back in his seat. His eyes rolled back and quivered.
Red rock walls rose high above them. He was running, breathing convulsively, sobbing. Thrashing on the ground, fighting. Something crushed him into the rock.
Will blinked, coming back to himself. Something had happened in the desert. He could recall it dimly, like someone else’s dream. Their drive wasn’t just across the desert floor. There had been a canyon, and red cliffs.
He put his hand on his chest. The day before, his doctor told him the tight sensations he felt were nothing. His heart was good. He was okay.
Will rubbed his chin again and tried to remember.
Something came out of the buzzing, disintegrating void inside of him. The old shaman had appeared in the desert in front of them in a golf cart. Will had walked out to him and the light surrounded them. Light had come off the old man, even more than from the sun it seemed. Will had broken down for some reason; he had fallen at the holy man’s feet, sobbing.
Why, why? His disintegration had accelerated since then.
“We’re here,” Mark called. The Ashley pulled over the bank. Will jumped up and grabbed the back of the driver’s chair.
“What is it, Will?” Betty asked. She and Gil moved forward, straining for a look at the sacred place where they would spend the next week.
“Oh, my God,” she said.
The others were speechless.
* * *
Betty peered through the windshield. The Mogollon Bowl spread out before them; as far as she could see, a writhing mass of people were interspersed with camping equipment. Well, some of it was camping equipment. Shabby tents and tarps on poles. Shade canopies on aluminum legs. People unloaded cars and headed back to the parking lot outside the Bowl. Other cars inched around, searching for a place to camp. The Bowl crawled with movement.
That’s all it had; no trees, no lawn, and no structures existed except two derelict buildings in the distance. The Indians’ hallowed sacred ground looked like the desert they’d crossed, but less interesting. It was rocks and dirt and chaos.
This was the legendary Mogollon Bowl where anyone could become psychic and all of your problems disappeared? Betty thought of all the work she’d done to prepare her brief on Grandfather, the famous shaman who led the retreat, and on those closest to him. On Indian history. On the Bowl itself. For this?
She looked at Will, knowing what his reaction would be. Will only stayed at five-star hotels. Living in the luxurious Ashley was his idea of camping. Her boss’s face grayed with horror. He turned to her, his mouth gaping.
Before Will could speak, Doug Saunders charged out of the bedroom. “Will, I will not stay in this dump! If we have to stay here for a week, I quit.”
Betty glanced at Gil Canao, who looked out the window in glum silence. She opened her mouth to echo Doug’s sentiment, when Will grabbed Doug and hugged him like a grieving father.
“I thought we’d lost you,” Will cried.
With that, the memory descended upon her—what had happened on the drive in. Will lying in that canyon, covered with blood, bones bent at impossible angles, squashed. Really, squashed flat. Doug lay next to him, foam coming out of his mouth, his body bent backward in a crescent arc. Blue and bloodless, both of them.
Her sobs took her by surprise. Her hands went to her face and she doubled over. Will, Gil, and Doug jumped toward her. Will caught her in his arms, and the other two men joined the hug. The minute they touched her, her backbone stiffened. She pulled herself erect, trapped in the circle of solicitous males.
Tears streaked her face. “Oh, I’m sorry. I can’t …” Will handed her his handkerchief. She snatched it gratefully.
“It’s okay, Betty,” they said at once.
But it wasn’t okay. They almost died, all of them. A flash flood would have killed them in that narrow ribbon canyon. Floods happened right now, in early spring. It had been a horrible, horrible trip. But Bud Creeman had saved them.
“We have to find Bud and thank him again.” She looked up at Will. “He was so good to us. Let’s find him, and then let’s leave. Okay, Will?”
Will’s brow lowered and his jaw tightened. “I’ll get you out of here tomorrow, I promise. I’m going to stay.” They stared at him. “I have to stay here—I have business to complete.”
Betty pulled out of her despair enough to stammer, “But, Will, you told us that the mine deal was dead.”
“It is, Betty. I promise you.” He glanced out the windshield. The Indians were beginning to cluster around the Ashley. “I have personal business with Grandfather.”
She had heard so many of Will’s empty promises that she didn’t know what to think. “I want to go home to John.” The tears came again. She wiped her face, conscious that she’d shed more tears in public in the previous five minutes than she had in twenty-eight years of being the head of Will’s secretarial staff. Private tears didn’t count.
“I’ll make arrangements for all of you to leave. You don’t have to deal with this …” Will’s arm swept the crowd outside.
Betty looked out the window. Indians wearing hats and jeans and shirts of every color surrounded the RV. Faces. Braids. Bodies, short and tall; fat and thin. Some were very dark, almost like African Americans. Others were as light as Gil Canao. Their eyes grabbed hers. Black to hazel, those eyes bored into the Ashley, trying to see past the tinted windows. Trying to see them. But they couldn’t, of course.
Not one face was friendly, not one mouth smiled. They stared, a half circle of intense eyes, brown skin, dark hair. The first ring was followed by another, and another. Some began to point at the Ashley and laugh. Two Indians dashed out and stood in front of the vehicle, posing. Others took their picture. They ran back to their friends, laughing uproariously. Another pair came forward for a souvenir photograph, and then another. The crowd roared.
They were laughing at them! The representatives of the largest corporation on the earth. Not representatives—the founder of the largest corporation in history and the richest man in the world, and his top staff.
Betty would have been more offended, but she knew why the Indians were so hostile. Grandfather was retiring from public life in a week, and this was his People’s last chance to spend time with their shaman. And here they were, Will Duane and his fancy Numenon crew, crashing it.
If they dislike us so, what must they think of Grandfather for inviting us?
More Natives gathered, forming a circle around all five vehicles in the caravan. Betty couldn’t see where the crowd ended.
Will looked out the window. “Drive over them, Mark.”
“I can’t, sir.”
“There’s someone at the door.”
There’s Will and the gang portrayed as they arrive at the Meeting, the retreat run by Grandfather, the famous Native American shaman.
The other articles in this series can be found through the links:
Website #1 Website # 2, the Interactive One!