So we’d been hiking more than an hour, and Juan’s got no water, I got no water, and I have no idea where we are. He keeps moving and I keep keeping up. I’m sweating and grateful the heat didn’t come today, but I’ve been living in Tuscan long enough to know this ain’t good, as they say.
“Juan, stop for a sec.”
I see him move his head the slightest bit back toward me. I know he heard me, but he keeps his steady pace.
“Juan, I need to stop.” I see his back flex like a horse throwing off a fly.
“Stop!” I scream.
Juan finally slows down, turns and keeps walking backward away from me. He doesn’t ask, he just looks. This guy can say more with those two black eyes than most can say with a mouth.
“We got no water and we’re in the middle of the desert.” I wait.
His hair blows in the breeze and he’s still slowly stepping backward away from me. Then he laughs, a big big laugh. “Oh, that’s what you’re worried about. We’re almost there. water. You think I don’t know water.” That last part seemed like a threat.
“No, no. I’m just saying I’m sweating and I’m gonna be sick if I don’t get water soon.” I do know the desert, just a little.
“Almost there. Oasis. Water. I got something to show you.”
I’m really pissed now. I’ve had probably forty words with this guy since I met him this morning and I haven’t been able to explain what I need. I got no idea what Bob the Chief told him about me. Maybe nothing, but enough to get me out here risking my life. And then it occurs to me. Maybe that’s what my father did. Someone said they’d give him a hiding place, a staging area for the transfer. And they were kidding and they were taking him to nowhere with no water. And they got all the knowledge, they can look at the sky and see water.
I scramble faster after Juan and I can’t catch up with him. I can’t make it close enough to talk or strangle the guy. All I want is a guide out here, not someone who is trying to kill me, leaving another set of family bones scattered out on the land. But that is the dare I took with myself. Stupid. Merrill told me to leave it alone and why hadn’t I? Why the fuck do I really care where his bones are? And they might not even be here. As I scramble along that raven appears over head again. This time it’s even bigger and throws a cooling shadow on me. Water, I need water.