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The Vultures Didn't Eat
By Lee Garrett
Monday, March 24, 2008
Rated "G" by the Author.
Everything dies in the desert--sometimes more than once.
Time had stopped, withered by the desert. White sand—ridged by wind, baked by a raging sun—rolled to the far horizon with no mercy in her. I staggered like the drunk I wished I was, ready to kill for a beer, a root beer, a tepid glass of water, soymilk anything... My mouth was dry as the Sahara which was surely going to be the death of me if I was too far in to get out on foot.
To distract myself, I went back to my mental list of things I really, really hated: sandstorms, they were at the top—especially the one that had brought down my plane. Next was the heat. My skin hurt, burnt red. The day was still young; the temperature was only a hundred and ten in the shade. Too bad there wasn’t any shade. Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, I hated the decorator God used—couldn’t he have bothered to plant a few trees, maybe leave a river or two laying around.
Shadows passed over me. Vultures; I think they were getting impatient for lunch.
Tough. I’d burrow in the sand and let it keep me before I’d help them out. I added vultures to my list, right after divorce lawyers—a related species.
Left foot ... right foot ... that’s it. Keep going. Never say die.
I should have been drenched in sweat. Unfortunately, my body’s precious moisture was evaporating faster than my pores could pump it out. I’d carried a container for a while, thinking I’d gag down my urine to stay alive. Maybe just washing out my mouth as needed. The pot was gone, lost during a stretch when my mind whited-out. I wasn’t too happy when I came back from my happy place to find I hadn’t a pot to piss in.
I’d have laughed outloud—with a crazed edge of despair—except I was spitless, potless, hungry, and dead meat walking. All I did have was my father’s watch, worn on a chain, tucked safely in a pocket. My hand drew it out. The watch caught fire from the sun, blazing gold, as if I had the sun in my power, and not the other way around. I opened the watch, stopping to listen to Pachelbel’s Canon. I hummed along except no sound left my throat. I loved this song. Someone should put words to it. Hmmmm ... if only in a dream ... if only in a dream...
Gotta love those fourteenth century composers—they really go for Baroque. Okay, okay, maybe that one wasn't so funny—I wouldn’t quit my day job. Which reminded me—left foot ... right foot ... left foot ... too bad I couldn’t do a rain dance. There’s never a Native American around when you need one.
I swayed, staggered, and fell. That went on my list too. Getting up was hard. So easy to just give up and...
No! Get up. Do it now. Push to one knee, now the next. Rock back, hands on thighs for a little leverage. That a boy. The show must go on—with or without a bearded lady. Man, I could sure use a clown car—with air conditioning.
My watch bumped my leg as I continued. Forgot to put it up. Too much bother, really. Besides, I might want to hear that song again. The wind was picking up, stinging—heavy with grit.
I put it on my list under ... under the last thing I put there, even though grit was supposed to be a good thing. Didn’t John Wayne have True Grit? Only movie he ever won an Oscar for. My dad told me that once.
Damn wind was picking up again. A thrill of fear pierced my mental fog. Sandstorm? A good one could filet the sun-burnt skin off a man in nothing flat, a burial waiting to happen. The wind veered me to the side. I went with it, too tired to fight, not really feeling attached at any particular direction anyway. It wasn’t like I’d been using a compass, and I certainly didn’t have a guiding star.
A tall ship and a star to steer her by—oh, to be a sea-fairing man. Water is good. Water is our friend. Even salt water. Better than piss.
I felt one of those white-outs coming on.
Left ... right ... left ...
The air was cooler, calm, as if I’d blundered into the eye of a storm, or maybe a mirage. Yes, it could be a mirage; there was the pot I’d lost, ready to be pissed in. I must have walked in a circle. It was hard to move. The sand half covered me. The sun was lower. I’d lost a lot of time somewhere. I hoped that was a good thing.
The western edge of the sand was a shimmering hell. A dark smudge emerged out of the glare. A man. Walking my way. No staggering. Definitely staggering. He was as worse off as I was. He stopped to stare down at me. His eyes weren’t quite focused. I wondered if he saw me at all. He knelt, and began to scoop sand over me with slow deliberation.
Hey! Stop that. It’s not like I’m dead yet.
He paused, as if he’d heard my thoughts. He reached down to a pocket watch hanging against his leg. He opened it. Music, from some gentler world, hung like a veil between us.
I knew that song—the same metallic chimes played on my watch. What were the odds of that?
The song ended and he started scooping, using my pot this time. He muttered, “Vultures won’t get this one!”
Damn it! I’m not dead yet...
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|Reviewed by Mary Quire
|Very good write, Lee. I love the way you characterized this man, his inner thoughts--loves and hates. Funny thing, thoughts, they are all that we have when we're alone.|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Wonderful writing, Lee; very well penned! BRAVO!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D
|Reviewed by Robert Montesino
|This was really a fun read Lee...I love it when you do first person!|