Mad Crab Mojave: Chapter 9

In which Jones glimpses the bigger picture

Jones made his way down a dusty footpath etched into the cracked dirt next to the highway. It wound its way between listless agave towards the rocky face of an outcropping of boulders. As Jones shuffled through loose pebbles the path turned. Jones was in a crevasse that a moment before he’d thought was only a shadow. He reached out and traced a finger along the dark desert varnish coating the boulders. The path disappeared into a narrow rock enclave floored with clean white sand. A ray of sun forced its way around the crags and splattered itself against the rock face in front of him. Jones gasped. Before him were hundreds of drawings etched into the desert varnish.

Arrows, circles, and stick figure birds chased each other across the face of the rock. The figures sprawled in every direction. In places they overlapped, or faded away. Jones realized that these carvings must be very, very old. A dual sense of wellbeing and alienation rose inside of him, threatening to burst. He was in a protected place where the other world did not matter.

Jones waited, breathing in cycles, until the awe began to ebb. His neck began to prickle. Jones no longer felt alone. Realizing that he was the intruder, Jones turned to go, but pulled up short. There, sprayed on a boulder across from the ancient glyphs, a new symbol rested on the rock. The graffiti looked fresh, almost dripping. The vandals had marked their spot with the stenciled outline of an armadillo. Disturbed, Jones dug his cell phone out of his pocket, and snapped a blurry photo of the vandal’s mark. Shaking his head with disbelief, he made his way out of the ancient temple and hurried back to Marvin.