j. l. navarro

On A Lonely Road Near Baker

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It was said that the old Flankton boarding house, located between Baker, California, and Primm, Nevada, off I-15, was haunted.  People headed to or coming from Las Vegas passed by the off ramp leading to this secluded place without knowing, or caring, that it was there.  You could not see it as you drove by on the highway; it was located around a bend on a slender road that led to desert settlements no one knew were there unless you happened to be a local.  The place had originally been a cactus farm and the house had been converted into an inn years later when Mr. & Mrs. Dirk Flankton bought it in 1965.  At that time, a prominent sign had been positioned along I-15 to indicate that it was willing to extend its hospitality to the weary traveler for a modest fee.  As the decades came and went, this advertisement took its toll from the scorching sun, pelting rain, and cold desert nights.  Though the sign was still there, leaning on its side and almost touching the ground, it was now nothing more than a splintered, rickety sheet of faded letters and rotted wood.


When Frank Lasco and his wife found the Help Wanted ad in the Barstow paper they went there looking for employment and encountered a sturdy white structure that rose with a definite defiance from the desert sands. Its green slanted roof and large bay windows gave it an air of rustic majesty.  The three-story house overlooked the pastoral road that curved in front of it like an asphalt boa.


"It doesn't look like an inn," Angie said.  "It looks like a regular house."


Frank pulled the car into the driveway.  "It's not an inn, it's a boarding house." 


The only indication that it was open to the public was a white board hung from an inverted "L" post on short links that said: Rooms for Rent.  Immediately beneath this was another smaller board, hung by links to the board above it, which read: Vacancy.  These advertisements were positioned outside the wooden fence on the dirt shoulder of the narrow road next to the rounded tin mailboxes.


"How do people find it?" Frank said.  "It's in the middle of nowhere."


"I don't see any Help Wanted signs," his wife said.  "Maybe they already hired someone."


"We're here and the woman said to come in.  Let's find out."




This story is included in The Blood Cake Vendor and Other Stories.