It’s been a bit since I’ve done a Wordless (July 22nd, for those who have a fetish for numbers and record-keeping), so I thought it best to throw another one out there before I lose some type of street cred. (As if I don’t damage my reputation with every single post, but let’s not dwell.)
The writing prompt this week is stunningly simple:
Where does this rustic road run?
Naturally, because I have a questionable inability to get to the point and hit “submit”, I’m going to proffer up a few background details that may or may not interest / inspire / annoy you in some way.
This photo was taken during our recent romp in the Santa Fe / Pecos area of New Mexico. In fact, I am standing in the midst of the Sante Fe National Forest. For those of you who aren’t familiar with “national forests” in the USA, they are (at least traditionally) government-owned lands set aside for the citizenry to enjoy when they need a time-out from their mundane places of employment. If you’ve never been to one, you better hurry and plan a visit because the Trump Administration is destroying national forests and parklands faster than you can say “how the hell did that asshole get elected?”
We are in a campground, perched somewhere above 10,000 feet. (There was some bickering about the exact elevation, as several members of our party were receiving varying numbers on their smartphones. Yes, there’s an app for that, one that I don’t have, and my thoughts on the matter were ruled meaningless.) Ergo, we are breathing some very thin air, a far cry from the thickly racist air that I breathe in the relative flatlands of north Texas.
Despite the thinness, a considerable contingent of our party embarked on a miles-long nature hike.
I did not go with them. I don’t hike anywhere unless there’s a prize, and it better be a good one.
Instead, I chose to stay with the smaller contingent at our “camp”, which was really nothing more than a randomly-selected picnic table, around which we placed several ice chests filled with sandwiches and snacky things and adult beverages. We pretended that we were “protecting” the camp, though it was unclear what we might be protecting the camp from. (Savage beasts who don’t require a lot of oxygen before they attack? Not sure. I didn’t see anything threatening, although a squirrel did dash by at one point.) Basically, we just wanted to drink, and everything after that was mere spin control and evasiveness.
Please note this in your life journal: If one consumes adult beverages at a very high altitude wherein picnic tables must be protected from imaginary and violent incursions, the impact of the alcohol is a bit more than one expects. Before I had sucked down my first selection, one of those hard seltzers, lime in nature, if I recall, I was in love with everybody on the entire planet and I felt a growing need to express my affection in song. Sadly, before I could hop onto the picnic table and deliver an aria that would move you to tears, there was an intrusion.
A park ranger rolled up in one of those little carts you typically see motoring around a golf course where rich white people trade stock tips and racist jokes.
Emboldened by my one drink and the thin air, despite being the least social member of our tribe, I careened my way toward the cart to see what was what with Cart Man. Turns out that the initial raison d’etre for his arrival was to collect a fee for our usage of the beast-endangered picnic table. But it soon became clear, as I gently wobbled in the thinness, that he was mostly bored off his ass and wanted to talk to somebody, anybody, with a pulse.
I had a pulse, weak though it might be what with the elevation, so I met the minimum requirements. He launched and he talked and he shared, about this and that and the fact that he was originally from Coppell (just northwest of where I dwell in Dallas) and how things are different from his wee bairn days and… well, quite a bit of intel. And the more he talked the more I listened, happily so, because one of the fundamental things wrong with this country right now is that so many people feel like no one is listening to what they have to say, however right or wrong they might be with their words.
Closed doors lead nowhere.
Cart Man eventually ran dry on his words (thin air!), but he still had a few lingering syllables. “Do you know where this road goes?”
We both turned to study the possibilities of said road.
I didn’t know.
Categories: Flash Fiction