The desert only means heat to the greenhorn, he realized. Isn't there a desert in Canada, he thought? A month ago Steve Rose would have said it meant heat and jalepenos and peyote, but the bite of the desert, the real life-and-death of it was the cold. He curled his fists around the fringed edge of his wool blanket, which looked oddly like a rug. Too bad adobe houses don't have baseboards, he thought, instinctively reaching for the bottom of the wall where the heat should have been. By day this would feel like an oven, but for now he could chill meat in it. Heck, he was the meat chilling in it. A Coyote refrigerator, thats what this place was. He might have been content enough with the cold to sleep, dreaming of snowmen and ice cream, but for the snoring. Pedro Whatever-whatever was curled into his poncho, sawing logs through his thin black mustache in the corner opposite him. If the snoring ever stopped Steve would reach out and subtly grip the strap of his camera, just in case. Don't ever get comfy around a stranger. Almost since he picked up his new friend this morning, who's name Steve had reduced to Pedro Whatever-whatever, Steve gave up on trying to talk with him. Either he didn't speak English or was too afraid to try. He'd probably jumped the border. Steve rehearsed the lift in his mind. He would wait until the blackest part of night had begun to pale, and then he would lift the poncho off of him and quickly frisk his pockets, take whatever small change he could find, and be over the horizon by morning. When Pedro woke up, he wouldn't even know which of the 360 degrees to start walking in. He'd probably be picked up by the police for stealing water and then sent back home to Mexico. Its what you get, Steve reasoned. Don't get comfy around a stranger, and don't get caught. He clenched his teeth to stop the shivering. Maybe it would be best to just try take a nap, a short one. Maybe he could wait until tomorrow night before he had to hit and run. Maybe he should wait for bigger prey. He felt like a buzzard, swooping down to peel off whatever thin strips of meat he could take. What if he went to make the lift, and all the guy had in his pockets was an airline bottle of liquor and a picture of his starving kids? Wouldn't that just feel terrible. He pressed his knees a little tighter to his chest. Well, in that case, he thought, I'll just take the liquor.
Alias Steve Rose
March 7, 2012