Albuquerque, NM – 4/6
The last few miles were nothing but a formality. I hit pavement and caught a bus across town to a hotel near the airport.
“Car license plate?” the clerk asked.
“None,” I said.
“No car?” the clerk said.
“No,” I said. “How do I get the airport shuttle in the morning?”
I stripped down in the room, leaving my ragged, dirt-crusted clothes where they fell then turning to the mirror. Purple bruises ran along each hip, scabbed deep by the hip belt. Raw, red skin ran up each shoulder. Dirt caked my legs, arms, face.
Thirty pounds had burned away in the desert. I stared at muscles and bones, thin on top with trunks for legs. My beard stretched off my chin, ragged and full. Broken and cracked skin covered my lips. But my eyes glowed, fierce, ferocious, and alive.
With a hint of sadness at the edge.
The shower was the first in five-hundred miles. I turned it as hot as it would go and washed the dirt away. Scrubbing, washing, scrubbing, watching dirt swirl down the drain, watching the trail disappear in layers.
I stared at it until the water ran clear, until the trail was gone, until there was nothing left and I missed the dirt.
“Don’t worry,” I thought. “There’s more dirt somewhere out there.”