Mad Crab Mojave: Chapter 30

In which Jones begins to look forward to dinner

When they arrived at the forge, everything was quiet. The braziers were not lit. Jones admired the axes and machetes under construction, but Hassan seemed distracted. He kept staring out at the horizon, in the direction of the trains. Jones took pity on him and suggested that he continue his tour on his own, later, after a nap.

“You know, that would work,” Hassan said. “I apologize. There’s a lot going on today. I’ve got to help unload those supplies. I’ll walk you back.”

Hassan took him around the back of the Red Roof Inn. The area was piled high with cardboard boxes. Hassan walked up to one, opened it, and looked inside. He laughed and shook his head, gesturing for Jones to look. It was filled with canned beets. Jones blinked, and thought about the freight truck raid he’d witnessed in Searchlight. Another mystery solved, but unfortunately, not his mystery. He decided not to say anything. If he was honest with himself, he admired Hassan even more.

A woman in overalls walked up to them and handed Hassan a piece of paper. “I finished inventory,” she said. “Are we going to set aside the cut?” She nodded at Jones. “Hi. I’m Kiara.” Jones raised a hand in reply.

Hassan paused, looking sideways at Jones. “Marta doesn’t want to,” he said. He thought for a moment. “This is more than we need. Send them half. I don’t want to start trouble over a surplus.” Kiara raised her eyebrows. “Slippery slope?” she suggested.

“Gesture of goodwill,” replied Hassan, pressing his lips together. “Turf wars are for street gangs. We’re more evolved than that.” Kiara shrugged, and pulled a piece of chalk out of her pocket. She started walking among the boxes, marking a few of them with the letter “M.”

“Are there more settlements like yours?” Jones asked. Hassan shook his head. 

“Not exactly. I don’t know if you saw them on your way in. The checkpoints. There’s an organization. They call themselves Mad Crab. They started in Tucson but they’re moving up this way. Ever since they announced Next Economy, Mad Crab started spreading out fast. It shouldn’t be a problem for us.” He sighed. “Some of the leaders here are pretty twitchy about it.”

“They get a cut of your supplies?” Jones asked. Hassan shook his head again, his throat muscles tense.

“Look,” he said. “I have to unload this. You were going to take a nap, right? I’ll see you at dinner.”