I would make the absolute worst long distance truck driver on the planet! You see, I don’t seem to last more than 2 hours before I need to get out of the car, if only for a minute. And it was this propensity to boredom that led to the story that follows.
After San Antonio, Texas I-10 is an never ending stretch of high desert landscape scattered with prickly pear cactus, colorful flowers, shrubs and low growing trees. Mesas rise up toward the endless blue sky, providing an array of tabletops for the gods. It really is beautiful country. On occasion, herds of cows graze on the dry grasses. A wind farm stretches across a row of mesas. Oil pumps bob slowly up and down. And I love it! Its exciting and breathtakingly beautiful.
But after oh, 300 or so miles I begin to crave a change of scenery, even if only for a moment. So when I spot a sign for an historical fort, I flip my blinker on and off I go.
My car winds along the deserted road as I search for another sign. Miles clicked by. Rocky gives up on the adventure and curls up in his seat, sound asleep.
Still, there is no sign of the fort. I spot a section on the side of the road large enough for me to pull into. With the car in park, I take out my phone to google the fort. Rocky doesn’t even lift his head.
My door flies open. Strong hands grasp my shoulder and rip me from my seat.
I kick and twist. I can’t break free.
Behind me I here a sound. A howling canine screech. I glimpse a flash of brown and black fur fly past me.
The iron grip releases and I leap away.
My attacker screams. His arms flail trying to free himself from the Yorkshire terrier attached to his neck. Rocky’s jaw is clamped shut, his body swings outward as the man spins. His hands close around Rocky. He rips the dog from his neck and flings him out into the road. The little body sails through the air and lands with a sickening thump.
Blood pumps from the gaping hole man’s neck and my hands reach to apply pressure. But the instinct to survive overtakes my training as a nurse and I step back.
I watch him fall. I watch his blood seep into the dry thirsty earth. My eyes never leave him as I go and scoop up Rocky. He barks and a piece of flesh falls from his mouth. I let out the long breath that I hadn’t realized I was holding as I cradle my pup and climb into my car.
The light fades from the man’s eyes. I press a 9 and a 1 on my phone and then stop.
The police will take hours.
I have a campsite waiting for me.
I turn the key and the engine comes alive. As I drive back down the lonely winding road, a shadow crosses my path. And then another. I look up. The vultures are circling.
That was true right up until the man.
But I’m on my third murder mystery by Nevada Barr set in National parks and maybe my inagination got away from me!
Here’s a few photos from my real day which included, barbecue for breakfast, cactus love from Texas on a nature walk at a rest area, a giant roadrunner and a perfect end to my day watching the sun set from my campground. I sure do love Texas!