It was getting dark, becoming very cold, and the truck completely ate shit near the sixty five hundred foot level of the mountains. The old beat-up vehicle sat still on a rutted washed-out dirt road. There were no road signs although a few late season souls were camped some miles behind them.
The two been driving these roads looking for crystals. An easy to get to and fun day he’d said. The woman was in severe pain, bouncing and being tossed by the ruts and holes of the fire roads they’d been traveling Her boyfriend showed no concern, even when she begged him to turn back.
Things hadn’t been going well at home. Lots of arguments. Little talk. The couple had started out with the mutual love of the outdoors, listening to live music and fabulous, fetishistic sex; this had dissipated into two people sharing a house. Sharing isn’t the right word. Occupying a shared space. Neither of them happy, just existing,
He would come home from work, peek his head into the bedroom and say hello. No more kisses or hugs, not for a long time. She spent the majority of time in bed weeping. The combination of daily pain from a neck and cervical operation and an inability to stop memories of the life she had once enjoyed. The physical agony was never ending, as was the depression. A mobius strip of hell on earth, without a viable answer to escape.
He probably felt just as miserable. Perhaps not. He seemed content to be by himself every night in another room. She never knew because they never talked beyond the superficial.
‘What do you want for dinner?’
‘I don’t care.’
‘There’s not much in the fridge, but I can make you some eggs and bacon’
‘I don’t want any fucking eggs and bacon’
‘You shouldn’t have thrown away every cent on the fast food lunches, DVDs, dinners out with your friends, Frank and god knows what else.’
‘Well you shouldn’t spend all of your money on weed and cigarettes!”
“At least I put my money aside so the rent and electricity are paid on time. I’m sick of being broke to cover your half of the bills. Yeah you eventually pay up, but sure as hell never on time.”
So it went.
Frank is his truck. Short for Frankenstein. A piece of $500.00 steel crap but her lover could fix anything. Except himself, her or anything that contained DNA. Computers, a car, truck, bike rack, electrical panel, a house you name it. But personal relationships were beyond his purview. As time went on hers were forgotten as well.
The sun went down and the cold Nevada mountain nights set in. Reno is at almost 5000 feet in elevation and they were far higher than that on the back roads outside of Verdi. When leaving the freeway and starting up to the old crystal areas and mines they’d crossed into California. Not an hour from Donner Summit. This is where the truck died.
People back east and in Los Angeles are always stunned to hear stories of streets not being plowed, too much snow to get out of the driveway and pile-ups on the freeway during Reno’s winter.
Reno is an eight hour drive from Las Vegas. Please pass this along to any friends in Hollywood. The couple had seen an old episode of CSI in which Grisham was handling a case. A sign loomed against his headlights saying ‘Sparks.’
Sparks is the town abutting Reno. As I said, eight hours from Vegas and at least 9 counties past Clark. They had both laughed upon seeing that.
It was getting darker and colder. The man lit a fire in the dried out meadow next to the dirt road. It wasn’t hot enough to warm their feet, being started with dead vegetation. There was no wood or gasoline.
In retrospect it would have been a wonderful way to be found. Nothing like a roaring forest fire to bring the helicopters and fire marshal. Except for the whole lawsuit and life-long payments to the county for starting a goddamned forest fire and the reparations required. Although at that point the woman didn’t really give a damn.
There were no blankets, food (not an issue yet because they’d stopped for a cheap lunch on the way out of Reno), water, a tent and worst of all no pain medication. Not even an aspirin.
There WAS cell phone service out there. Pure freak of nature.
Bad part was that the day was Sunday. BBQ’s and cocktails for her friends. Shooting expeditions, football and cocktails for his. No one was home to answer a phone, or better yet, they were already too blasted to leave home. Not to mention find two stranded people with no idea of where they were. Yeah, definite lack of road signs.
The couple was finally found later that evening, by one of his friends. Turns out the battery had fallen over and leaked acid over some of the electrical wires. The guys fixed that. The truck was almost to paved road when the transmission went. Death number two.
At about midnight they were both home and in bed. He on his side of the big bed, she on her side. The day unfolded because he had been complaining for weeks that they never did anything that HE wanted to do.
Looking down upon them you would notice a goofy smile, lasting but a moment, on her face.