Tuesday, November 16, 2004

. . .

I haven't posted for a week because, well, I've had a bad week. I don't feel like getting into the details other than to say it has nothing to do with M. She and I are still fine, which truly speaks more to her character than to mine.

So in lieu of the typical self-obsessed bullshit I usually post, I thought I'd dig into the vault for a passage I wrote back in the summer of 2001, when I was writing a page of fiction a night. I picked this one mostly for Tim's and MaryAnn's benefit, but anyone familiar with Phoenix may recognize the stretch on Indian School Road.


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Ray stepped into the heat and walked to his car.

Phoenix is a city without a soul. As with any American town its story is about growth, prosperity, and the price of each. In this case rapid growth dictated poor planning and the result is a sprawl of townships, villages, and intersections seeping so far north that villas dot the foothills of the Mazatzal Mountains. Eventually, Ray imagined, Phoenix and Flagstaff would be connected, 70 miles of gas stations and strip malls. Driving south from Flagstaff to Phoenix you plummet on Interstate 17 for several thousand feet, out of the pines and into the cacti. When Ray first made the drive he got the distinct impression he had landed not in the American southwest or even in North America at all, but on Mars.

His car-door handle was hot. His seat belt strap was hot; the metal clasp was untouchable. The metal button on the brake release felt like a sharp jab. His steering wheel was hot.

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Driving from Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix requires staying on a choice of a few roads for several miles. Ray preferred Indian School Road because somewhere near the border dividing the two cities, the road made a slight curve around what appeared to be a private, fenced estate. Phoenix’s richer neighborhoods are a patchwork of high stucco fences, which hide all but the clay stucco rooftops of the Phoenix elite. Even so, the estate itself wasn’t what appealed to Ray; he didn’t think a celebrity lived there and even if one did he wouldn’t care.

What Ray liked was the smell. A large wispy tree overhung the north side of the street where the road curved slightly. Driving through this neighborhood at night, you could instantly feel the temperature drop as you passed beneath the tree. It was still only a 10 degree difference or so, and really the smell was more interesting. It was an herb, or a spice, something Ray had tasted before but couldn’t name.

Smelling it did not make him hungry just as the difference in temperature did not make him cool. It was simply a little spot in Phoenix where hell was broken.

1 Comments:

Blogger Chad said...

Man, when shit goes bad, just find your happy place. Think about the warm breezes and blue water of Cat Cay. By the way, interesting story.

2:00 PM  

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