by Joseph Grant
Walter laughed to himself as he thought of the stupid, white-trash trucker he had cut off a few miles back who thought he owned the road as he drove through the Mojave, a flash from workers were blasting ore in the shadowy mountains caught his attention, their bright orange burst of dynamite and C4 repulsing into columns of gray smoke that rose like Indian spirits into the cloudless desert sky. From years of being in construction management, Walter knew that the rocks being blasted were being taken over to Ludlow or Barstow for milling and grounding and as much as he drove this desolate area on his way to Havasu or Vegas, it didn’t change, only the years, the people and the makes of cars changed; out here time did not make as much an impact as it did in the cities and as a result, the Mojave was the last vestige of fools, dreamers, criminals and the western promise gone mad. It would be a hell of a thing to break down out here, thought Walter, but not like the old days where all one had to pray for was a wayward hauler or a highway patrol on his way home and the answer to that prayer would be for them to be neighborly enough to stop, but people weren’t like that anymore; Walter knew. Walter’s wife, Camille, slept blissfully beside him as he drove on, thoughts of their reaching Lake Havasu in record time where they summered preoccupied his road-weary mind. He smiled at the memory of taking out their pontoon boat last year, drinking spiced rum as he piloted the vessel and floating in the cool yellow-tinged river water once they docked and how free from his aching arthritis he felt drifting there and how when he submerged his balding pinkish pate, the boats zooming by on the surface sounded like electric saws beneath the water. His mind on other, more agreeable things, he did not see the chunk of truck tire splayed on the road or the jagged steel of the wrapped steel wire of the radial tire that would soon flatten two of his own cheap tires or in his anger see the psychotic trucker he had cut off miles back now coming towards him as he struggled arthritically with the lug nuts; nonetheless, there had been strange disappearances in the Mojave that summer, this one yet another unexplained rear-view mirror mirage.
Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, is the first featured author in our "Six Sixes" series.