Coyote - part one

Heat was building up in the unmoving air. Dust coated sweat  covered my exposed skin. My jeans and t-shirt were soaked. It wasn’t cooling me down. Even my hands were sweating.

I took a deep breath and grabbed my hat and camera. I lifted the door handle, leaned against the door frame with my left shoulder and grabbed my ice axe from between the seats with my right hand. The door opened and I let the momentum carry me outside to the soft red wash. There was no breeze, only heat. I was in sand right up to the tops of my shoes.

Both rear wheels were trapped in the red stuff clear to the rims. Even the differential was down in the sand. The right front wheel was set against rock just high enough to halt the movement of my old truck. Only the left front was clear. It would take some work with a shovel and some rocks or boards to get the GMC moving again. 12 feet back and I’d be on the uneven hardpan. Not badly stuck. Just stuck. I reached inside and grabbed my water bottle, took a gulp, screwed the top back on and tossed the bottle onto the damp driver’s seat as I turned and headed up the hill toward the building.

As I approached I could see that the crumbling structure was built into the side of a hill. Probably for the extra insulation. My guess was that this baked landscape was hotter than today for much of the summer and just as cold as Moscow in winter. What a challenging place to make a living. The roof was mostly caved in. The adobe was falling away revealing the red bricks and rough wood framing. Solidly built. Darkened and fractured by exposure. At least 100 years old. Maybe much older. Newer additions and repairs. But it wasn’t a house or a barn. It was a store. It had wide multi-paned windows on each side of the center door.

Scattered around the front were boards. Possibly from a once inviting porch or wooden sidewalk. I poked at a couple of them with my axe and flipped them over to see what might be underneath. Nothing.

“Whatcha lookin for?” the voice behind me inquired.

“Jeese!” I nearly jumped out of my skin. The last thing I expected to hear was a voice. I turned quickly and found myself staring directly into the 

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