That Wicked Town, circa 1940

“Don’t you stop in Eagle Nest,” Nelda said sharply. “You just keep right on going through that wicked town, Clifford Earl James.”

“Gotta stop and buy fuel,” Clifford said. “I didn’t fill the tank all the time we were in Red River.”

She frowned darkly.

“What’s wrong with Eagle’s Nest, Mama?”

“Never you mind, Henry,” his father said.

“Gambling and liquor and bad women,” Nelda said. “Sin and more sin. Temptation and evil.”

“Now Nelda,” Clifford said.

“It’s the truth!”

“They’re just people,” he said mildly. “Trying to survive.” He slowed the car at the edge of town and pulled into the first filling station they came to.

“What’s that?” Henry asked. He pointed to the building across the street.

“A saloon,” Nelda said, giving it a hard look. “An awful, evil, dangerous place.”

Henry examined it carefully. Two men came out. They looked pretty normal to him.

from Moreno Valley Sketches II