I grew up here, a dusty one stop sign town by the edge of the high plains desert.
It rains about four inches a year here. In a wet year. The Corsair Range is hazy in the distance, the peaks moving in the rising heat as if a shadow dance troupe loosening up in preparation for the next performance. The streets are potholed and broken, should have been rolled up years ago. The one gas station at the west end of town is closed now, the big trucks that always stopped to refuel before the long desert run go rolling past as if the place had never existed. The only hotel is empty but for the one guest who has been there for as long as anyone cares to remember.
They used to say, with pride, that for a while the hotel was the biggest building in three states. Must have been during the last silver boom I guess. It happened before I was born. The phones don’t work very often. The restaurant is open but hardly anyone goes there any more. The red-haired waitress says that business is way off and the food is still lousy.
The first person I met when I pulled into town yesterday was Darryl. He started in, just like I had never left, like it was still high school. “I’ve got to keep it in front of me, or maybe keep it behind. Doesn’t matter I suppose. It feels like the sky is falling, like the last train has already left town.” And he kept right on walking.
It sounded like the ravings of a lost soul to me but in fact I knew what he meant. We used to be good friends before I hit the road all those years ago.
The sun is rising behind me, streaking the rain clouds with orange and purple in the western sky. The air carries a hint of the jacaranda blooming across town. A young girl, maybe fifteen, is delivering the local paper from a three-speed bike, pedal, pedal, whoosh and thump all the way down the empty street and out of sight.
I think I‘ll stay awhile. I’ll see if the Lost Creek still has a trout in it, see if the library will re-open. Maybe I’ll get the paper delivered, make some dark roast when I wake up and watch the sunrise before I start my writing for the day.
All Images © Michael Lebowitz – All Rights Reserved
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