“She’s not taking your calls or email.”
“No shit. You guys took my phone.” I scratched at imagined flea bites. “Then I need to speak to her.”
“Sorry, no direct communication of any kind, whatsoever. ”
“What? How can I explain or defend myself?”
“Defend? ‘Guilty as a scorpion’, she called you.”
The far side beckoned, a lover’s glimpse, but between the river’s banks fierce rapids churned. Slick rock promised a deadly fall, while the sucking water, forever folding onto itself, rumbled tympanic threats. To cross here was suicide. Yet, retreat offered a worse fate, the admission of failure, his dreams of conquest ruined.
A woolly-bear caterpillar crawled in syncopated locomotion across her arm. Its tiny feet brushing pale blond hairs to ticklish attention. With a poke she directed it to the side. It responded in sea urchin fashion, a spiny ball tumbling to the ground.
Food of the Gods
Chaco pinched the joint from El Hefe’s nimble fingers. He set the point to hover near his lips, disappearing beneath a draping mustache and inhaled a stream of reefer smoke into his barrel thick chest.
“Yo, Chaco. Save some for us, cabrone.” Miguel the interpreter, sleek with words and gracious, empty complements shouldered the bigger man.
Chaco disengaged, handing the diminished nub to his friend. Through compressed gasps he said, “The weed es gratis, cabrone. Look around, ees everywhere.”
[No story-willfulness here; just silly fun.]
The floodwaters receded months ago leaving carcasses drying beneath an unrelenting sun; a burning eye that baked cracks in the mud-pan flats, deep crevices where even the tadpoles became stuck, rigid in their slow desiccation. While they could, magpies gorged themselves. Within a week the birds moved on, their black and white feathers kiting east with the wind. The rain had come in a torrent. The land, unprepared to receive it—parched to cake flour dust, sloughed off the water like it hated the touch.
“We won’t see rain again ’till fall.” Cory Townsend kicked at the hexagonal mud tiles. “That is, if we’re lucky. Sure, we can pump wells for a while, but crops won’t get big enough to harvest by the time they run dry. And they will run dry.”
Lacy’s grip on the polished brass pole held her like a bronco rider beyond her mandatory eight seconds. The calliope music didn’t help. Neither did the rotational momentum nor the pumping motion—up down, up down—like she needed her bucket filled during the Dust Bowl, and her well had run plum dry.
“Lacy dear, it’s a ride, honey. You won’t fall off. And if you do…” (What kind of psychotic rationalization is that?) “I’ll be here to catch you.”