The narrow, 3 a.m. blacktop road was as deserted as the inside of an empty box, vacant as far as the eye could see ahead, clear in the mirror behind. He went scooting along west with the top down, warm air scented by mesquite blowing through his hair, music wafting from the speaker in the dash. Dead in the middle of a seven-hour drive through the high desert he’d decided to make at night under the glorious full moon. He’d dropped the ragtop after the first hour and felt ecstasy, gliding along through a night that glowed ethereal in the moonlight, seemingly as removed from the travails of Planet Earth as the surface of Mars.
Great, until the tire blew. Even then, he had a full size spare and a jack and should have been fine. What he lacked for whatever reason was the lug wrench necessary to take the blown tire off and put the good one on. The car sat lifeless now on the side of the road, left rear tire dangling as if something behind him had reached out with its claw and just managed to snag a piece of him. His cell phone had a 75 percent charge, and no signal. No lights in the distance suggested a town or even a farm; flat and barren landscape towards mountains miles and miles to the north, desolate desert of nothing but sage brush all the way the edge of the world (or possibly just the horizon) to the south. Somewhere far off a coyote howled. He was stuck until somebody drove up the blacktop, somebody that was willing to stop and help, probably not until the sun came up and scorched away the dreamscape.
Snagged between what was and what would be.
A tiny point appeared in the desert to the north. He thought he just hadn’t noticed it at first, except it grew ever so slightly larger, larger, moving closer, closer, and he thought it might be a human being. He took a step or two out into the desert knowing he shouldn’t – snakes and whatnot – stood there watching for a moment; yeah, that’s a man, walking towards me; what was anyone doing out there at this hour? He retreated back to his wounded vehicle and watched, and at about 100 feet the approaching man called out, “Need a little help?”
He nodded. “Sure,” he called back. The approaching man wore a faded red shirt, blue jeans, and had crossed the desert to him in sandals, and not substantial looking sandals at that. He had copper colored skin and long grey hair that the wind tossed about and he carried a homemade looking backpack of some sort.
He came nearer and said, “I thought so.” He went around the car, straight to the wounded tire as though he knew exactly what was wrong, pulled a lug wrench from his pack, dropped to his knees, and went to work. “Where are you from?” he asked as the first lug nut came off.
“Well,” he said, “A city back there where I lived until a few days ago.”
“Uh-huh,” Copper Man nodded. “Where are you going?”
He said, “Somewhere that way. Don’t truly know for sure yet.
Copper Man smiled, set the tire aside for storage in the trunk. “Roll me the good one, would you?” The man did so, and Copper Man lifted it onto the wheel. “Not many people pass through at this time.”
“Yeah. I thought it might be nice, driving through the desert at night. It is too, with the full moon.”
Copper Man worked the lug nuts. “You’re right about that, there is magic in the desert. The spirits come out on nights like this. Do you feel them?”
“Actually, yeah, I think I do.”
Copper Man finished, put the lug wrench back in his pack, began jacking the car back down. He nodded at the blown tire. ”Mą’ii.”
“Mą’ii. ‘Coyote’ to you. Very annoying. Wants to hold you back,” Copper Man said. “If you had a woman with you, he’d be screwing her right now. Trick you into letting him. That’s what he does.”
He was confused but looked back up the road behind him despite himself. “There was a girl …” he trailed off.
Copper Man said, “Someone else is making love with her now.” A statement, not a question. “And still tried to hold you there. Used the magic of this night to find you.” He stood, tossing the pack over his shoulder. “Now you can move on.”
He tried to pull money out of his wallet as Copper man walked back into the desert. “Wait! Let me …”
“I can’t use it,” Copper Man said and began walking back towards … nothing, Hundreds and hundreds of square miles of nothing.
“Who are you? What’s your name?”
“You’d never be able to pronounce it,” Copper Man called back over his shoulder, then pointed to the full moon falling closer towards the mountains. “Get out of here before Coyote finds you again.”
He seemed to fade back into the desert faster than he had appeared.
The man watched him disappear. He felt an eerie sense of malevolence stalking him. The ethereal moonlight seemed more ghostly, less like a dreamscape than a prelude to a nightmare. He threw the blown tire into the trunk, jumped back behind the wheel, floored the accelerator, and blew out of there like the wind.
* * *
BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations and rarely have anything to do with each other. Duality and such …
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.