It was going to happen even though they drank enough before turning the ignition on and drove off in the dark lightless streets to get there. It had been weeks since Tony and George sat together on the cliff side of the gorge and smoked. A lizard ran in front of the rock they were sitting on. The Little Colorado River rushed over the hidden cliff off of Route 61 comforting them from the cows screaming during roundup. This sky in black bean color threw them into dreams. The light from the stars reminded Tony of the rhinestones on the tiny skirt his sister wore on Christmas. Then the memory of how she swirled and held the silky pink fabric in between her fingers to flare it out. The night sky and Julianne’s happiness, true to a nine-year olds moment, had slipped into the orange and white sunset line across the mountains hours ago until it was gone. Just like his baby sister.
The waterfall dazzled him with tiny dog-like nail sounds. Splashing up onto their faces then resting onto the tops of their heads. The water was like air for the temple of their being: A clear wash from the ideas and dust that assembled in layers from the weeks past.
Tony’s mother told him that death is for a moment then you disappear. “The inside of you, that other part that sees the world the way you do goes somewhere else,” he remembers her telling him. It always came into his head when he drank; didn’t matter if it was beer or sangria – the little girl with crooked teeth and little white legs would come around him and own his ideas about dying.
Life doesn’t change that quickly in Concho. Occasionally the land around the double wide will have been eaten away from a monsoon and pushed the land downhill giving the rocks room to shove out from under their hiding places. But when it does change, if something does happen, by the time the news reaches the second person and third person the story is different. Usually told with more blood and gore than what really happened. People know that they have to read the local paper to find the truth. Maybe it’s the light from the old stars that makes Conchoites dream more than others, but if any one thing is the same among this town of 2,000 it is that they exaggerate the truth to the level of myths and super heroes.
The water fall that was forged by a stream was obscured by having no name. If you were from out of town only a local could tell you where to go and then she would have to know about it. Some had never heard of the Falls. It was called the Falls…off the road by the post office then your first left and follow the road-keep going until you guess where to stop. Get out of your car or bike and look over the edge. If it looks like a place to stop then do it. The Falls have no rules and no destination in geography. Only to keep the rushing water going from the Little Colorado River and then watch it turn left in Concho toward Holbrook. The water rushing toward the slope of the rocks sounds like a slow train. It flows evenly when the sun takes a picture of it for your mind. Twigs fly by occasionally with a leaf; large rocks in between the two sides of the land in the stream provide stepping stones for the hikers. Wanderers look out for coyote prints or fur that was grabbed by thorns. They also listened for the occasional rattlesnake. There had been a few attacks but only years ago.
Miller Lite and a few Heineken’s for each. The bottles banged – glass hitting sounds from the bag quieted the owls. Coyotes walked by in a distance but they weren’t afraid. The pack would scavenge for water in the dry land of the White Mountains. The plains and residential area on the incline of 6,300 feet above sea level, made the rain water roam downward so the animals would congregate by the streams; baby coyotes whimpering as they learned lessons from their leaders.
Concho is cactus flowers in the summer and wild black eyed Susan sun flowers that blind your eyes from the yellow petals in August. It is an old cowboy who can recite the history of Geronimo and explain his death as he was mislead from New Mexico to Arizona on a promise of money for a good deal; only to die along the way. Concho is the veteran from WWll and Viet Nam who shuffles his used items in parking lots out of his old Chevrolet and it is a toothless indigenous who thinks “it don’t matter if he got teeth or not.”
(to be continued)