Back Desert Trail


 by Cloyd Campfire

July 2009


     The papa pretty much had me trained well enough to be a true friend to javelinas.  A few more sessions would have cinched the possibilities of my admittance into the family group of three.  Perhaps I could have begun running around with these so-called “wild pigs.”  But, alas, I stopped sleeping in the flower bed and retreated to a more regular sleeping arrangement at the VA domiciliary nearby.

     Sleeping on the streets of the friendly town of Prescott was not near as luxurious an experience as sleeping in a sleeping-bag and tent in the woods.  Now all I had was a Mexican blanket and a plastic banner advertizing Corona Beer.  The blanket went on top, the banner beneath me.  And I did catch a few winks every night.  I stayed warm inside my long-johns and clothes also, and often with my shoes on.

     I slept on town ground now because this supposedly involved less walking than sleeping in the little-bit distant national forest.  Also, I think, I was in town now instead of the woods because I was ~ returning.  But returning to what, I did not know.

     The flower bed in which I dreamed was full of happy-go-lucky roaches about the size of quarters.  It was their flower bed ~ but the little buggers left me alone ~ mostly.  The Big Dipper star formation lolly-gagged above.  Near dawn this starry delight would be a-rest on the top of a tree ~ like a faithful clock.  This spot o’ mine (I hesitate to call it a “camp”) was nestled in varied high-bred foilages planted by man, that kept me adequately camoflauged from discovery by the town populace and their police.  By and by, a few folks knew where I slept despite my constant sneeking around like a secret agent.  I had the funny feeling they, which might have even included a campus cop, were looking out for me and making sure I wasn’t disturbed.  That’s Prescott for you.

     This flower bed was located in a serene corner of a modest-sized park, intricately tucked under the arm, so to speak, of Yavapai Community College ~ and with sculptures.  My bed went unnoticed behind a neat little amphitheater built of loose brick.  Boulders, a sparsely-leafed tree, a yawning ditch were part of this corner.  The whole park was pretty much un-noticed by everybody.  Traffic and traffic lights, and other lights in the night, gave my corner a Disneyland-ride like atmosphere that wasn’t too unpleasant.  Taxicab drivers & their mechanics worked on a nearby side street ’til dawn.  This rest stop o’ mine was not the most ideal, but I liked it, and slept here most nights for a couple months.

     The first time I met the papa I mistook him for a dog ~ perhaps a large Scottish terrier on the loose and rabid in the night.  He come up over a rock and menacingly growled at me.  I was putting on my long-johns.  In the midst of this vulnerable acrobatic, I growled in panic back at the son of a nymph-monk and threatened him with a tennis shoe.  The javelina backed-off into the night-time shadows ~ just like a prop on a Disneyland ride.  A moment later, he and his family, whom I ofcourse thought were dogs also, passed on in the light-speckled ditch below.  Shrugging off this startling misadventure, I finished my chore and lay me self down for some winks in this Prescott wonderland.

     During the day I would gather whatever free food & coffee was where-ever available.  I made myself known on computers and read and dosed in the public and college libraries.  On some evenings I would dally around the courthouse, downtown, where free entertainment could be attended, or I would buy a bag o’ nuts with my federal food-stamp card and go watch a softball game, as I awaited the descending darkness.  One evening, a-hunt for new ground upon which to lay, I stumbled into the middle of a Yavapai Apache pow-wow, which proved to be a pleasant enlightment.

     And, of course, I knew the homeless folks and had some homeless friends.

     It wasn’t too many nights later when these damn dogs, or what I mistook to be dogs, returned.  They were more interested in a large bush a-blossom by which I slept than in me ~ and left.  Probably they were after those tasty roaches.  A skunk, or perhaps a squirrel, lived in a burrow under the plant also.  And I went back to sleep.      

     I would like to mention, here, that the park also held in its night-time embrace a slick little coyote, of whom I got a good look once.  From some distance away, atop a dune, he peered in my direction with his ears expanded like oriental fans.  I whistled.  He slunk away in the dim glow of the park lanterns.

     Finally the day came that I was admitted into the VA domiciliary.  The night before this happy step into a refurbished future ~ is when I made my big discovery.  They weren’t dogs.

     Deep into the last night in my favorite spot, I suddenly awoke, peered around ~ and there’s papa!  He’s sneeking up on me, two or three feet away.

     “What the hell do you want?” I muttered.

     He jumped back a step, then kept approaching.

     “Get the hell away from me,” I spluttered.  Exasperated, I picked up a handful of flower-bed mix, threw this combination of dirt and wood-chips at him.  I didn’t throw the stuff at him very hard.  I didn’t want to be too unfriendly to anybody in the middle of the night.  But I did not want this particular dog sneeking me a kiss, either, while I was trying to sleep.

     He got the hint.  He turned around, and very casually sauntered away.  As he turned around, I got my first sideways view of him.  The night-time lighting was just right for me to see this dog, as he turned around, transform into an honest-to-goodness wild javelina!

     My oh my.

     There was a rustling behind me.  In a sitting-up position now, I turned around.  Whoa, there was another one behind me.  And another behind me again.  I was surrounded!

     But there was nothing to worry about.  They were just passing by ~ papa, mama, and the little one.  I remember the little one climbed up over a rock and toppled down on the other side.  The three of them spent some time moseying around that corner of the park, sniffing at this and that.  Then, very casually, in no kind of hurry what-so-ever, they headed back to the ditch and, one by one, disappeared in the bushes.

     That was the last I saw of them.

Text Copyright Clyde Collins 2015



Back Desert Trail


Cool Clear Water II


     The new stranger on the scene unslung the canteen from his shoulder in an easy manner and held it out to her.  The canteen dangled at the end of the strap held in his hand ~ swung like a pendulum in front of Ruthie’s sun-charred face.  The great gift of life, water, enticingly splashed around inside.  Ruthie could hear it.

     So Ruthie grabbed the canteen ~ unscrewed the lid ~ gulped ~ handed it back empty.  “Thank you,” she said.  She kept smiling a smile that began twitching.  Water dribbled down her chin.

     The feller with the fairy-tale hair shook the canteen next to his ear ~ heard the brand new emptiness inside ~ sadly frowned.  He neglected to screw on the lid which was attached to the canteen by a chain ~ slipped the strap back over his shoulder.

     “What are you doing in that ditch?” he said.

     “Having the time of my life,” said she.

     Ruthie couldn’t stop smiling since she had downed that delicious draught of aluminun-tainted canteen water.  She was smiling as if her pants were on fire and she a ticklish smokestack.

     The feller held out his hand ~ helped Ruthie out of the ditch.  He was pretty strong ~ like he had unloaded a boxcar or two in his lifetime.


The Road Princess & Eternity