Tuesday, July 24, 2007


The men left at dawn, heading east with the rising sun, then turning north around mid-morning and starting down a series of switchbacks. Aguilero brooded over Pepsi, Will worried about Diana, Coyote chafed at being separated from Macy, and Boeing thought their errand pointless. "What do they care what we did to their mavericks? They're probably glad we executed the bastards."

"And we're going to make it clear that it shouldn't have been our job to do it," Harley said.

They stopped for lunch at a dilapidated picnic spot on a ledge overlooking the valley, then continued on, reaching the valley floor by evening, where they made camp at an old gas station.

Coyote sniffed one of the graffiti-covered pumps with delight. "Diesel! Isn't that a great smell? Makes you think of money, doesn't it?"

"It's also toxic," Harley reminded him. "Don't let the horses graze too close to here. Our campfire will be in that field, not anywhere you see concrete. Those fumes come from tanks underground that might still ignite."

While Coyote marveled over the hydraulic lifts in the service bay, Will tended the horses and the other men cleared a spot for a fire and brought in mesquite, creosote, and scraps of old signs to burn. With no women to impress, they didn't bother with a hot meal, feasting on pemmican and piñon nuts before setting a watch schedule and turning in.

In the morning, they headed out again, this time tracking across the dry scrubland of the valley floor. Around noon Aguilero picked up the trail of Bonham's party. "We're about half a day behind them," he said.

Harley consulted his map. "They're not moving as fast as I had thought. That's good." They shifted direction and continued on, this time at a faster pace, hoping to meet up with Bonham before he led his unit into the mesas. At dusk they set up camp inside the crumbling remains of an adobe church.

Will killed and roasted a rabbit, and Harley surprised everyone by passing a flask of whiskey around.

Just past midnight, Coyote shook Harley awake.

"What is it?"

"It's not urgent," he said. "But I think we should try to make the mesas before the sun comes up."

"Why? Is that when Bonham will get there?"

"No. But something good will happen if we get there by sunrise."

"And if we don't?"

"Nothing bad will happen," he said with a shrug. "But we’ll be missing an opportunity."

"Do you know what this opportunity is?"


Harley got to his feet and looked at the night sky, bright with stars and an almost-full moon. "Okay," he said. "Let's go see what it is you've picked up on this time."

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Alice Audrey said...

I like the way they've accepted his abilities.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

The frustrating thing, of course, is that Coyote's information is often vague or incomplete.

Alice Audrey said...

That is reflected in the scene, too. They clearly recognize his limitations as well as his abilities. It's very well done.