This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below are written just for practice. Practice makes perfect.
My name is Rex and my kid sister’s name is Jeanette. I wanna tell you a story about her. She’s quite the cowgirl. We were both born and raised on a ranch of high desert grassland. She was quick with a smile and strong. She started stringing fences with Buddy and me when she was only six years old. She was good at it too. She was a punk and a little sister, but for the most part, we always got along.
My best friend, growing up, was a boy name Decker De Blasis. We were the same age and went all the way through school together. Decker’s folks owned the Arroyo Seco Ranch. Arroyo Seco was one of the big spreads in Lincoln County; sitting at a bit over 120 sections.
Decker was tall and thin, with a good, albeit somewhat dry, sense of humour. He was wiry strong and wore his dark hair a little too long. The girls in school all loved Decker. I remember when Jeanette was about twelve or thirteen years old she told me that Decker looked really good in boot cut jeans. It didn’t take long for the two of them to become friends, and then even better friends. After High School Decker went up to UC Boulder for school. Jeanette moped around the house for weeks when he first left but they talked on the phone a lot and sent letters back and forth. Eventually, she came around again and returned to her old self.
It was early June after his first year in school that Jeanette got a phone call from Decker. Seems he was gonna come home for the summer. He was flying into Albuquerque and wanted her to drive up and collect him from the airport. She filled me in on this plan but made me promise not to tell Mom and Dad that she was going to drive up there by herself. The flight was arriving late so they would be driving the highway at night. The highway is US Route 380 that skirts the northern boundary of the missile range before climbing into the Sacramento’s, where the De Blasis family ranch lies.
“Jeanette, I don’t like the idea of you driving that road at night, there are a lot of Oryx,” I told her.
“That story is bullshit,” she said, “I’ve never seen them.”
“Well, I have. They’re about four feet at the shoulder. They can near about step over the fences, and they’re mean fuckers too. Dad and I saw one once about a mile west of the Malpais that had a dead coyote impaled on his horns. That coyote had been there for a while too because we could smell him before we saw him.”
“I don’t care,” Jeanette declared, “I’m picking up Decker. I’m gonna tell Mom that I’m spending the night with Rebecca. You better not tell her anything different.” She spun on her heel and went to walk away, having said her piece.
“Wait a minute,” I grumbled and I tossed her my keys, “take my truck, not your Monte Carlo. It’s taller.”
She caught the keys, “Thanks, Rex.”
The next afternoon she took off for Albuquerque to pick up Decker. I don’t know what happened up there and I don’t think I want to know. I know what happened a little before midnight that night though. Jeanette was driving my truck east and there was an Oryx running west. She musta had her head turned to talk with Decker because she never even slowed down. The Oryx tried to jump the truck and didn’t make it. He cleared the bumper and the hood coming, horns first, through the windshield. The airbags deployed too late because the incident didn’t follow airbag deployment algorithms. The damage was done before the truck began to decelerate and by then Decker had been impaled on the animal’s 34-inch horns. Jeanette lost her fight with the steering wheel before her airbag deployed but she still mighta fared better than Decker. She fared better than the beast as well. His neck had been broken at some point and he musta been dead before he hit Decker. Decker, who bled out while Jeanette was unconscious.
We’re not sure who found them and called 911 but paramedics ferried Jeanette back to Socorro Hospital where she spent over seven hours in surgery. Mom, Dad and I got there right before daybreak. When the doctor came out he told us that the prognosis was uncertain. Jeanette had sustained a tremendous amount of damage and injury to her head and spinal column. I came clean with my parents and told them why my sister had been driving my truck.
Jeanette died three days later. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself.
- let me go
- a cul de sac
- The way things sometimes are