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Should Have Been
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[Ongoing story of two brothers: James, the one trying to solve their father’s murder, is here with his guide on native land. Juan, the guide, has promised to help James track down his father’s bones.]

Juan was supposed to guide me on the land, not leave me hanging on for my life. I slide further down the side of the mountain, 50 more feet. In the darkness I can’t see if I’m gonna find a flat spot or whether I’m gonna side completely off. I should be terrified, but now I got no feelings in my hands and barely anything going on in my feet. My hands grip the rocks and I’m probably bleeding by now, but that’s not the most important thing. Living is more important. I slide and wait. I listen. So damn quiet out here. quieter than no sound.

Whoever was passing mustn’t have heard me, otherwise they’d have stopped. If they were regulars up here, they could find me. Probably got every hole and hiding spot memorized. Hide from the rez cops. Hide from the other runners. Hide from the guides.

And I’m out here looking for any evidence that my dad died here. Juan never said yes or no, just brought me here. Fucking Juan. He knew I’d lose my way. And he never said a word about knowing anything about bones or a grave or some of the runners getting rid of somebody. Intruders. I am now an intruder. Maybe the way my father was one.

Or maybe he was a runner.

I slide some more and gravel slides away and down and rains below me on hard ground. Echo, the raining gravel echoes. I see a flash across the narrow valley, like the flash of a camera. They probably got those night goggles. Seeing me dangling from a place that has no exit. I am really fucked now.

No choice but to snake very slowly on my belly, feeling forward and to the side toward the edge. Thank you gravel for the warning of my demise. I wiggle forward like a worm with death sentence. I try to hear myself. I have no idea if I’m making noise or not. I can’t hear myself breath. I can’t hear myself move.

I put my forehead on my arms folded in front of me. Exhaustion makes you crazy. Makes you think you could just sleep for a while instead of dragging forward. Maybe I should be dragging myself backward. Got no clear way out here. I put my head down and it feels like the perfect thing to do right now. Put my head down. It’s too heavy to drag any forward.

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