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Foot in front of foot.

Head hanging down.

Hair in eyes.

Breathing coming in ragged little snatches of air.

He trudged ever farther down towards the horizon, hoping against all hope that over the next rise there would be a town, or gas station, or anything.  All he had seen were the power lines, stretching endlessly from one pole to the next until they were out of sight.

He had no idea how long he’d been forcing himself to go on in this blazing desert but he knew what he was still running from.  How could they expect him to pay all at once?  Where had they thought he’d get that much?  People needed to find their humanity easier, and understand why normal working stiffs like him had come to them in the first place.

And now here he was, out here in this desert, struggling against the elements, his canteen almost empty, his food almost all gone.  He knew in the back of his mind that he’d never be happy again, never be settled with his family again.  They’d never stop looking for him until they either killed him or saw his dead body, or if a miracle happened and he paid.

Of course, all of that were just dreams unless he could find a way out of this sand and heat.  He knew that if he kept following those damn power lines, he’d eventually come to….something, anything with help or somebody.  They didn’t just put these things up and then have nobody around ever; they had to lead to something, some kind of building or structure.

As his body was moving slower and giving in to the weather, he tried to figure out why he’d come to this, what had driven him to be out here.

They had been living above their means, new cars, additions on the house, a damn pool.  New clothes for the kids every season, jewelry for the wife, and his toys.  The four wheeler, the motorcycle, the boat, the cabin far away.  The gambling trips with his buddies, his guns, her ‘drinking’ habit. 

The bills mounted up, and the banks came calling, and threatened to change his lifestyle drastically by taking all their toys and perks.  He’d needed some breathing room, so he’d gone to a guy he’d heard about from a friend of a friend.  The interest sounded too good to be true, and it was, he never read the fine print about the compound clause, never saw the ‘fellows’ watching his house and following him. 

He didn’t realize how close the sides of the vice were on his life until it was far too late.  He couldn’t pay the banks, he couldn’t pay the guy, and they all wanted money, so he’d sold his bike and boat, gone to Vegas to try and make some quick cash and ended up broke and afraid to go home. 

Then the day came, he turned a corner and there were some fellows with the guy, and they wanted to talk to him.  He’d run rather than let them kill him, and of course, they’d chased.

He lost them somehow, or maybe they just didn’t want to come into the desert, but that was where he’d ended up, and now he was out here in the melting heat.  He’d already be dead if he hadn’t stolen the canteen and rucksack of snacks from that campsite just outside of town. 

His life had passed him by, and he could see his future, it was all sand and heat.





Foot in front of foot.

Less air moving into the lungs.

He was wishing for anything to break the monotony, even the guy with a bullet would be preferable to this.

His eyes focused on what he thought was a hill, and he decided that if there was nothing on the other side of it, he’d just lie down and let the desert have him, he was tired of walking and fighting to stay alive for nothing but pain.

Cresting the rise, he saw what had to be a mirage, a road, with a diner next to it.  And cars.  And people.

He started to cry in relief, and raised his hands to the sky, thanking whatever had helped him to find aid.  He lowered his head to gather his strength to head down the hill and get a cold drink, and that was when the voice spoke in his ear,

“Hello Ralph.  Hope you enjoyed your stroll, because now you belong to me again.”

Then the world exploded into stars and he fell into the blackness that had long ago consumed him, and the ‘fellows’ picked him up and put him in the trunk of their car.

“OK, boys, let’s get this garbage back into town and show his wife what happens when the bills aren’t paid.”


From → Shorts

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