Saturday, May 12, 2007

plot thickens

How much farther he could go on bald tires in this blizzard, Moses didn't know, but the slow and easy approach seemed to be working so far, so he kept the '93 Corolla in the center of the lane and glided along; no sudden moves, no quick acceleration, no hard brakes,
He was furious with himself. He couldn't have foreseen this storm. The weather forecasters sure didn't. They predicted a light dusting. But this kind of weather was the one thing he didn't, and should have, taken into account. It didn't do this in El Paso. It didn't even do this in Las Cruces. Even as close as Alamogordo, the snow had only iced the desert, frosting the mesquite and ocotillo and stretching over the sandy ground with a meager two inches. The farther up the mountain he came, the more nervous he got. The snow flew thicker and heavier. The roads went from wet to slushy to snow-packed, and since he'd left the highway, he'd not seen one set of tracks. That was another thing that bothered him. Leaving the deep fresh tracks behind him, he felt as if he were throwing out meat for some predator to follow. It was bad enough coming up here in the daytime. He hadn't been on this road in the daylight in months. It was more than a little confusing. He was used to following the dim outline of the pale gravel road in the moonlight, no headlights. In broad daylight, with all this blasted snow, he wasn't completely confident of his bearings. He wasn't sure how he'd made it this far, but he knew if he stopped, it was over. He could maneuver the rust-ravaged beater over the worst kind of desert terrain, but this snow. . .
His hands were starting to meld to the wheel, and his eyes ached, planting a headache solidly on top of his tensed neck and clenched teeth. He'd even turned the radio off, something he could never remember doing. If he could've stopped long enough to admit it to himself, he was scared spitless. But Moses wasn't the type to admit anything to anyone, least of all himself.
He couldn't afford to. One admission would knock over the first domino, and he'd been setting them up, one right after the other, for years. They curved and twisted and even looped back on themselves for all he knew. If one fell, they'd collapse so far back he could see his childhood, something he didn't care to see. Keep moving, don't stay in one spot too long. That was the reason he was mad. He knew as soon as he'd put those grave markers up, they should've split. For that matter, he shouldn't have even put the stupid things there. He just did it for Carson.
He couldn't have cared less where those two worthless people were rotting, but Carson missed his mother, and begged for a place where he could go and talk to her.
He shouldn't have buried them around here, shouldn't have put the markers up, shouldn't have left Carson up here so long, shouldn't have waited until this mother of all blizzards to come up here and get Carson, and shouldn't have taken that last turn, he had a bad feeling.
But he was afraid to slow down, much less stop, in more ways than one.
He had convinced himself, a long forgotten time ago, that he knew what he was doing. He was an impressive sight, with all that devil-may-care confidence. He cut an impressive figure anyway. He was tall for a Hispanic, something he could thank his German mother's side of the family for, if nothing else. His eyes were a clear blue, and his lashes were thick. His hair had the lustrous black sheen of his father's, but with more curl. His skin was the smooth, flawless color of dusk. And a dedicated work-out schedule had added smooth pads of muscle to his chest and back, filling him out like a hard-edged soccer player. His demeanor was quick and sure. The slight swagger, to anyone who cared to look hard enough, had just enough of a self-conscious check to it to reveal a bottomless insecurity. But it was pretty near perfect, and it didn't matter, anyway. Whatever was unnatural he'd done for so long it blended in. Even his voice, with the ragged edge to it, had an affected quality to it. His English, especially, had a flowing, almost musical cadence. He used profanity like rhythm, punctuating his carefully chosen phrases with a syncopated beat. He sprinkled a little Spanish cursing in his English as well, and gave it a nice overall American Salsa flavor.
He'd created himself. And he'd done it so well, that no one, least of all him, would ever know who he was to start with. It was somewhere back on that first domino.