Craters of the Moon

by Jim Farrar (unfinished 2005)


A cloudless night somewhere in Craters of the Moon National Monument. Full moon. Lots of stars. Scabs of snow and ice dot the ground and rocks.

Silhouettes of volcanic cones and outcroppings of basalt rise in stark contrast to the surrounding desert, which looks harsh and cold and endless--a no-man's land.

The only sign of humanity is a gravel road. The sound of tires crushing rock is heard as headlights appear on the road.

A '56 FORD F-100 pickup emerges from the glow of the headlights. The truck is red--or maybe orange. It's kind of hard to tell in the diminished light.

The truck comes to a complete stop. But the engine keeps running. And the headlights remain on. From behind the truck we see its doors open simultaneously. Big band music from the truck's radio is barely audible above the idling engine.

The passenger, a heavyset man, gets out first. Looks around at the bizarre scenery. Shakes his head.

This ain't the place.

He stretches. Scratches and pulls at all the things that get scratched and pulled after a long car ride. The driver slides out of the cab and stands by the side of the truck. The heavyset man walks to the middle of the road. Stops in the beams of the headlights, unzips his pants, and starts taking a leak.



Son of a bitch it's cold!

The driver watches him for a second or two, and then reaches into the cab and pulls out a shotgun. He walks to the front of the pickup, putting on a cowboy hat as he moves briefly into the headlights and over to the passenger side of the truck.

Hurry up. We're parked right in the middle of the road. In case you didn't notice.

(still pissing)

The driver looks up and down the road. Apparently satisfied that they're alone, he raises the gun, and starts aiming it at various targets. Kaboom!! A rock formation. Kaboom!! A shooting star.

(his back to the driver)
What the hell you doing back there?

Without warning, the report of a gun rings out from somewhere in the distance. It echoes over the desert, making its source hard to pinpoint.

The heavyset man is shot in the back.

Startled, the driver accidentally pulls the trigger on the shotgun. The force of the blast knocks him back and onto the hood of the truck. The gun empties safely into some sagebrush by the side of the road.

Gunned down in mid-piss, the heavyset man falls forward and lands face down on the gravel.

But he's still alive. Rising on his hands and knees, he starts crawling toward the pickup.

The driver scrambles to his feet. Literally caught in the headlights, he looks frantically up and down the road and around the desert. Sees no one.
Another gunshot. But this one misses. We don't see where it hits, we just hear it.

The driver runs toward the heavyset man, who has almost made it back to the pickup.

But another shot strikes the road in from of him. Instead, he hightails it for the truck.

Stumbling into the cab, he puts the truck in gear and honks the horn.
Amazingly, the heavyset man stands up and moves to the side of the road, where he waits hopefully like a hitchhiker.

But it's every man for himself. The pickup whizzes by the heavyset man, leaving him behind, standing there and staring at the red taillights as they disappear into the desert.

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