The sun light slid behind the flat mesa west of town and the neon sign flickered "Tra_ils E_d Cou_ts" in the orange tubes that weren't broken by last springs hailstorm. The "No Vacancy" sign was all there but blinked in an erratic rhythm. The parking lot was full of trucks. Pickups, gang trucks, and company sedans with radio aerials sticking out everywhere. A "Truck Parking in Rear" sign pointed to the big dirt lot out back. Here you would find Halliburton cement trucks, frac rigs and sometimes a pulling unit with a doghouse trailing behind it.
This was the best place in town to stay. This was the only place in town to stay. In the old days they had a bunkhouse over the gas station. It went out of business when Charlie opened the Trails End Courts. He had once been a floor hand on a drilling rig, but the unfortunate slip of a chain holding a drill string crushed his right foot. He wasn't sure what he was going to do to feed himself and his wife Rowena. That's when a local rancher approached him about running a "tourist court" of sorts in Iraan. The rancher was a silent partner who wasn't very silent when it came to making demands on Charlie's time. All that a side, it had been a good life. He and his wife lived in an apartment in the back. They made a good team, Charlie worked the desk at night and took care of fixin' things, and Rowena did the housekeeping chores and kept the books.
"Charlie, when you gonna call that sign man from San Angelo to come out here and fix that sign?" Rowena said as she stood in the doorway that led from the front desk to their small apartment.
"Hell woman I don't know. All it does is attract bugs and mesquites. It's not like people can't find the place. Some nights I wish they couldn't.
"But Charlie we have to keep this place lookin' respectable. There's talk around town that you been renting these rooms by the hour to that tramp Angel and her friends. You haven't been have you Honey?"
"It's not my job to ask people what they do or how long they stay in one my rooms. As long as they pay the bill… Well, she did stay here with her "brother" a few weeks ago." Charlie confessed "You remember you even said something about it?"
"No I didn't, I wouldn't have forgotten that!"
"I know you remember. You even said, 'that it was the first time I ever went to clean a room and the bed had already been made."
"That was her room? If I had known that I would have boiled the sheets!" Rowena spouted "Well, I have to admit, it was a big improvement from cleaning up after all these oil field hands that usually stay here. The next time she and her "brother" show up looking for a place to sin. You tell them to go on up the road to the motel in McCamey. They'll let anybody stay there."
The McCamey Motel was the closest thing to competition Charlie and Rowena had and it was 35 miles away. That fact guaranteed a full house most nights. Others had tried to come into to town and compete but, Charlie's silent partner, a Pecos county commissioner, saw to it that there was no competition. He also saw to it that the big truck lot behind the Trails End Courts was well maintained by county road crews. Proving once again "silence is golden."
Mr. Mac and his tank crew were coming down the hill south of town into Iraan. It had been a long day. One thing about pouring cement is that once you start you have to finish and that's just what they did. The crew had ether been on the road or working since 5:30 a.m. and now it was almost 7:30 and completely dark.
"What are we going to do if the cements still green when get to the location in the morning." Buck ask.
"We've got lots to do. We've got hoops to bend, We've got floor boards to dowel together, walkway to cut and lots more" Mr. Mac answered. "By time we get through with all of that we should be able to start laying floor boards down. Remember we have to get ever thing ready so we can start stand up the staves early Wednesday morning.
Bud pulled the truck around to the back lot of the Trails End Courts. When the truck came to a stop the dust from the lot engulfed the truck. The men pile out to stretch their legs and smoke a cigarette. Mr. Mac headed toward the office to check in.
Mr. Mac opened the door to the office and a cowbell attached to the door on a sash cord announced his arrival.
"Mr. Mac," Rowena said, "We haven't seen you in awhile." "Charlie! Mr. Mac is here."
Charlie came through the curtain behind the desk, still chewing his supper. "Mr. Mac, good to see you. You and your crew going to be here long?
"I hope we're here just for the week. We've got kind of a rush job out on the Witcher B-29 lease for Gulf," Mr. Mac replied. Is that greasy spoon café, I think they call it 'Betty's', still open? Me and my crew are about to starve to death.
"Sure Betty still has the café back on 2nd street, but she calls it the 'El Toro Café now, Charlie replied, "She's got her a new 'meskin'cook and now they serve 'meskin' food.
"Ok, I guess that'll do. I'm not sure about their new menu though. Every thing I ever ate there from breakfast to supper all tasted like a hamburger to me," Mr. Mac said.
"Well, of course you can always go to the Tastee Freez if you don't mind eating in your truck. "
" I do mind, but it might be a nice change toward the end of the week."
Rowena came back to the front of the desk with room keys in her hand. "Mr. Mac your in luck, you only have to sleep two to a room, "Rowena said dangling two keys from her hand. "Here ya go, number 3 and 4, right around the corner, you know where they are."
Mr. Mac walked down the row of numbered doors. All you could here is the buzz and blinking of the neon sign and the sound drilling rigs out in the distance. The room, which he would share with Albert, was not much bigger than two truck beds side by side. It had a twin bed and a full bed. He would use his "Boss" status to claim the bigger of the two beds. It didn't really matter to Albert. He was a small wiry man whose specialty was what he enjoyed, finishing cement and what he didn't enjoy as much crawling in any where no other man or beast could get through. He was a strong man who could carry his weight, well maybe a little more than his weight because he didn't weigh much.
The room also had a night stand with a lamp with an Indian on the shade. A small table with a chair and amazingly a radio set on it. The radio was amazing because there were no radio stations any where near enough to tune in. Bud claimed that one night on his room radio he picked up a radio station across the Rio Grande from Del Rio. He had the whole crew in stitches as told about the man on radio selling "Goat Gland" implants to improve your manliness. Mr. Mac told Bud he must not be working hard enough if he stayed up and listened to that trashy radio station.
One time Mr. Mac asks Charlie why he had a radio in every room. He told him that it was Rowena's idea. She thought it gave the place a little class that it sorely needed.
The best part of the room this time year was the open hearth heater, but you better be sure and crack a window open for air.
Mr. Mac always carried a wind up alarm clock with and at 4:00 am it started clanging. The rest of the crew in other rooms near by always claimed they didn't need to bring a clock because Mr. Macs was loud enough to wake the whole place. The truth be told, Mr. Mac was usually already awake listening, looking at the glow of the hearth heater and planning the work for that day.