Advice comes in measured doses.
The landscape is generally unkind.
You embrace it and walk along the edge.
There are so many questions.
You think you know answers.
Anger rises within the heart.
And yet no one knows what they will find.
Taking changes on the razor's edge.
Then it all dissolves.
The edge of dust.
Harry was a motorcycle superstar. In the cafes of Rancho Nuevo he was regarded with caution bordering on respect. He ate alone. He drank alone. Rarely he would welcome guests. It was not that he did not like people. He just was never sure what to say to them. He preferred to be different. He preferred to stand alone. Too much of his history involved the tears that inevitably followed loss of life.
Maria knew the difference. She liked the way the muscles on Harry's tattooed arm moved when he lifted a mug of beer to his mouth. When he hoisted a shot of golden tequila to his lips with his left arm, her heart went aflutter.
Like Harry's ex-wife Karen before her, Maria had something about her that drew Harry out of his solo flights of fancy. It might have been the way she dressed, angry and defiant. Security in any office building would politely escort her towards the exit if she attempted to deliver a package in her normal garb. That wasn't much of a concern to Maria. There weren't any office buildings to speak of in Rancho Nuevo.
The man they once called Demonios had taken Maria into the stables long ago. It was the last night Demonios had been seen in Rancho Nuevo. The common perception was that he had wounded Maria's soul with dark violations of her person and that Maria had waited for him to drop his guard before delivering him to the unending night. Because of the legends that surrounded Maria and Demonios, few men dared to approach her for anything more than knowledge of the correct time. Harry grinned at the stories and wondered if he might sample some of Maria's dark side. It was what drew him to her and made her irresistable. There could be use for her in the grand scheme of things. With her help, Harry could finally settle an old score.
Departure. They left together two hours after first saying hello. The people of Rancho Nuevo never saw them again. No one else dared leave town, or even journey to the border to witness the edge of that which protected them. They knew the dangers of the curse. To leave left them at the mercy of deception.
Flames engulfed the dirt road leading out of town after Harry's superstar motorcycle nightmare departed with Maria clinging to his waist. The flames could be seen from the cafes of Rancho Nuevo. Quiet would return in the form of blank stares and stray tears. They could hear the laughter of Demonios as he watched his enemy in flight.
Tobias was a very old man. Were it not for the curse of Rancho Nuevo he would have long ago passed on. Now he slowly washed and dried the glass from which Harry had satsified his thirst. He had been a bartender for most of eternity. Now eternity threatened to end. They were digging a trench around his cafe. Tobias drew a deep breath and prayed that his daughter and the motorcycle superstar would be up to the task ahead. The flames protected them from death. Knowing that, Tobias prayed for rain.
The Rancho Nuevo Series: