was the edge of a precipice
Evening was closing in. Night was wonderful… silent. But eyes could not see in the dark. There was no need to drive when nothing was visible. The eyes needed to see.
Lids were heavy, susceptible to collapse. They were weak. He would not allow them to fall. He would hold them up, give them strength. He could not allow them to quit. They needed to remain open.
The right foot ached. How long had it been since the last gas stop? How long had that foot pressed upon the pedal jutting out from the floor of the vehicle? Too long, he figured. The ankle was more sore than usual. He must have been driving for a long time. On a typical day he did not mind. Today, he did. Why today?
A large transparent bag lay untouched on the brown and tan pattern of the passenger seat. “Bison Jerky,” read the label. As he looked over the right leg, doing what he could to absorb the pain for just a while longer, the eyes wandered to the bag. He hadn’t eaten in hours. Seemed like days, really. The mind had been active, distracting him. Too much thought. Thoughts of family not spoken to. Friends, long since forgotten. For their sake, he thought. Why worry over someone who didn’t want to be worried over? Logical? Yes, he thought.
The mind thought about eating “Bison Jerky.” He wanted to eat “Bison Jerky.” Maybe later.
The vehicle drove upon a sign: “Camino se Termina.” The neck turned, eyes locked on the sign. The mind turned, locked on a thought. He could. Why not? The hands held the dusty black steering wheel steady. The road remained stable. The mind was wondering… wandering. This is safe road. But, the road relented. It could not extend forever.
The road was safe.
Abruptly, and quite suddenly, what little stable road remained gave way to the coarse rub of rubber on dirt and leaves. The vehicle was becoming unstable. It was uncertain of what to do. This was not road. This was not safe. The ground pulled it to the left, the hands forced back in line. The ground pushed it to the right, the hands forced it back on course.
The coarse rub of rubber on dirt and leaves slowly stopped. The sore ankle turned, moving the foot below it to the adjacent pedal. The ankle creaked, and groaned, and aligned itself over the pedal. The foot pressed the pedal in. The vehicle obeyed and slowed until it stopped. The left hand reached to the door, pulling a black handle hidden in a depression in the plastic molding. The door opened.
He pulled his legs out. They complained, but he persisted. The filthy denim rubbing against the door in the same place it always did. The black spot on the door. One crunch of dirt beneath a worn and weary boot, then another crunch. He stepped out of the vehicle and the eyes looked at the unsafe land ahead.
There was nothing.
But he looked, and he did see. There was something.
There was the edge of a precipice. Beyond the edge of the precipice a valley of green, sliced in two by a twisting blue wound. The river could not be heard from such a distance, but he could see it. And HE could hear it. He reached into the jeep through the open window and stared at everything there is. He pulled something out, held it in his hand. He leaned against the tire of his jeep and allowed himself to slide down, the rubber pulling his worn black t-shirt up around his lower back. And he sat, legs sprawled out across the unsafe dirt.
A bag labeled “Beef Jerky” was in his left hand. The right hand reached into the bag, ripping off one parallel strip of the heavily textured meat. He brought the meat to his mouth. A single bite, a pressured twist of the neck. A piece of the strip of “Bison Jerky” remained in his mouth. His teeth chewed on the “Bison Jerky,” his mind digesting it. Smell of marinade, of smoke. Taste of salty dead bison. The piece of the strip of “Bison Jerky” broke down in defeat. The right hand lowered to his side, resting on the loose gravel.
His eye lids fell. It was dark, and he could see everything.