The old dude marched across the sagebrush-covered mesa, scuffing his boots in the dust and marveling (once again) that he was all alone under God’s big sky in the middle of nowhere that was somewhere in his heart or else he wouldn’t be there. Scuff, stride, pant. It was hotter than it should have been, he thought, by Earth time only 10:00 a.m., but the hot blade of the sun at seven thousand feet could cut through anything. He wasn’t hot so much as microwaved; no blood or blisters, but the marrow bubbled softly in his bones and had nowhere to run.
The sweat that soaked his hat ran down his face as he remembered. Everywhere he looked inside his thoughts were fine young dudes who neither knew nor cared about the titanic struggles of his youth, the wars and lusts and glorious adventures he’d had to keep inside his heart, but there was nothing he could do except keep moving. He understood the game but started late and knew he’d always feel this way, unless the past exploded or was eaten by a cloud.
Thirty miles away, a giant floating peacock of a New Mexico storm pissed a little rain. The old dude watched a foot-long skink scurry to the shade behind a sagebrush and wait for him to pass. All he wanted was a second chance, and all the lizard wanted was him gone.