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Last Summer
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[Ongoing story. James is trying to solve his father’s murder and has enlisted the help of a native guy, Juan, who’s taking James out on the land. They’ve just seen someone following them.]

Juan grabs my wrist and we move like one toward the edge of the gully. He has us walking as close to the edge as we can, which is a challenge in my slippery shoes that have no business out here where things are serious all of a sudden.

I pull my wrist away. He doesn’t turn to look at me, instead he stops and I stop. We stand hearing only the wind. This isn’t what I’d been expecting. Who the fuck was that? Are we running from someone now? I just wanted to find out what happened to my father, not be brave out here in the wilderness. I thought it’d be simpler than this. Juan stands still, not even his hair blows in the breeze. He’s not breathing. I’m not gonna be able to take this too long. I’m not like him.

The stillness of the desert is heavy, like you can touch it. Put your fingers on it. It puts its fingers on me. I feel the weight on my head and shoulders. My hair doesn’t move either. I try not to breath, which only makes me panic and so I open my mouth the tiniest bit to let air in and out.

Time has a way of passing strangely with Juan. I lost a whole day with him the last time we met. I don’t know if we’ve been standing still for five minutes or a half hour. Finally he starts to slowly walk again along the edge of the arroyo and I’m sure we’re still trying to be invisible to who ever is lurking up on the cliff. I want to ask who that might be, that swatch of hair that I saw. I saw it first. If Juan’s so talented out here on the land, why was it me who saw them. I don’t like that. I’m depending on him for the knowledge. I got nothing out here having grown up in LA. Nothing there to build up this kind of knowledge. The land. We had no land, per se.

Juan starts walking faster and I know to keep up with him. We seem to be wandering around and not getting any closer to finding what happened to Dad. Not good. Now many “not goods” do I need before I give this up. Are he and the chief just messing with me? They’re bored and decided to take this white guy out and drive him crazy? Why would they do that to me?

A year ago I didn’t know about summer monsoons or that you need to always carry water or what my brother was up to living in Tucson. I didn’t know even this little bit I’ve learned about where our father might have disappeared. Last summer was better.


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