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by Nicholas von Robison

Originally published in American Lutherie #37, 1994


I reduced speed hoping the noise would go away, but no such luck. I had been traveling up US 395 from Los Angeles, and for the last half-hour I had not seen another vehicle, village, or even a gas station. Just dust, sage, and a few billboards. Then, RANDSBURG — 35 MPH. I dutifully slowed and glimpsing a hand-painted GARAGE sign, pulled over and shut her down in front of the big double doors. I squatted behind the left rear wheel and saw that the rubber bushing on the shock absorber had deteriorated and come off, so that the shock was metal-to-metal on the stud. Sensing a presence beside me, I turned, and was about six inches away from a pock-marked face with three days of salt-and-pepper stubble. He grinned — no teeth and purple gums. I caught a whiff of unwashed socks and potato skins. Another nanosecond and the potato smell registered as vodka.

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