655 Readings | 3 Ratings

Preservation

 I woke up freezing in the cab of my pick up truck. I could tell by the light loom of blue in the sky it was a sluggish dawn. I sat up and saw that I was in the desert, and certainly not near any road. The desert was flat and then no longer flat toward the horizon. I put my fingers in my mouth and pulled out a piece of tooth that had broken loose. I studied the texture of the tooth between my fingers and picked at its edges. I looked up and the light had shifted everything to yellow. I started the truck. It took three tries but it started. I drove carefully through, or over, the desert, over patches of crabgrass and mounds of rock-sand. I stuck my tongue in the hole where my tooth once was and drove easily through the desert until I came upon the Desert Wildlife Preserve. I put the tooth in a pill bottle after spilling the pills on the floor of the cab. I was drowsy and so purchased a ticket to the Preserve without making any eye contact. It was an outdoor Preserve and so I followed a long path through what seemed to be the same desert I had just come in out of. I passed a large family of Javelinas, in their eyes I saw a darkness that moved me to whimper and step backward and away from them. Further up the path I saw a small group gathering in the brush so I rushed to join them. I saw through the sleeves of the group, through their rubbing shoulders and shifting legs, a woman in a brown uniform, holding on her uplifted arm a beautiful bird of prey. All at once she lifted her arm and the bird thinned out across the horizon and perched on a distant saguaro where a long strand of red meat had been placed there for it. A cell phone rang in the crowd. The man in front of me answered without saying hello. He wore a bright red cardigan for some reason. “I’m also…I’m writing a book of jokes too.” He said after a moment. It was very quiet in the Preserve. “Letterman is a dick, but it’s not like anyone’s going to hold that against him.” He said. The wind picked up a little and tossed the crowds hair just a bit and all at once. His voice became whispery, mean and quick. I leaned forward. “Well Lorraine, how do you relax in the summer? Huh? What kinds of things do you do?” No one else seemed to notice. Or maybe they were just waiting there like me. Waiting for the bird to come back. Waiting for Lorraine to respond. “Tom Cruise.” He whispered angrily. “Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise.” People were staring. The man shouldered me on his way out of the crowd. “Brass tacks Lorraine,” I heard him say as he walked away, “I will eat the Jesus Christ out of anything you put in front of me and you know it.” I watched him weave his way around the long desert path until he was just a small speck of red in the sand.
Posted 05/04/09
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