Last week’s blog was about a trip I took to the Rio Puerco Valley a few weeks back, discovering for myself that one didn’t have to drive hundreds of miles to find hoodoos and broken bluffs. That trip inspired the following short story. Unfortunately, it grew to the point where I need to break it in half. So we’ll get he opening of the story this week and the conclusion next week. I hope you enjoy the tale.
|The Rio Puerco with Cabezon Peak|
in the background
Photo Courtesy of geoinfo.nmt.edu
RIO PUERCO APHRODITE
She was just there. Suddenly. Unaccountably. Standing motionless twenty yards away like a Greek Aphrodite risen from the sea foam. Or this case from the Rio Puerco, which translates into Pig River, giving the illusion an ironic twist. Even clad in short shorts, halter, and canvas walking shoes—inappropriate for the environment—the erotic image still lingered.
I had been perfectly content to be alone in this rugged section of the Rio Puerco Valley. So far as I knew, I was the only soul in this volcanic wasteland served by the ephemeral Rio Puerco, even though not more than twenty miles to the east lay Rio Rancho and Albuquerque. I say ephemeral because that’s what they call a river without streamflow for a good part of the year. At the moment, it was semi-full of water flowing peacefully past my campsite on its journey south to join the Rio Grande somewhere below Belen.
The population of my little Eden doubled when the blonde-tressed, alabaster statue came alive and stumbled toward me with a delicate hand shading her blue eyes. “Thank God! Can you help me?” she asked in a throaty alto.
I rose from where I had been cleaning my solar cook stove to face her. “If I can, ma’am. What’s the problem?”
“I’m stranded. I need a ride back to Albuquerque.”
“Well, sure. I’ll be happy to help you.” I frowned. “How’d you get here? I mean, where’s your vehicle. If it conked out, maybe I can get it running. I’m a decent home garage mechanic.” I clamped my mouth shut to keep from babbling on.
“About a mile north, but don’t bother. The engine froze, and there’s oil all over the ground.”
“Must have high-grounded and tore out the oil pan.”
“I guess.” She glanced at my Jeep Wrangler in the near distance. “But your car works all right, doesn’t it?”
I saw the puzzlement in her eyes and explained why the vehicle was parked so far from where I’d made camp. “The Rio Puerco has a reputation for sudden flooding, and I don’t want my lifeline to civilization to be caught in one.”
“I’m happy to help, but it’s a little late to tackle the road back to town.”
She turned to glance west where the low-hanging sun was painting a brilliant landscape for the folks of New Mexico. “We should be able to make it.”
I shrugged and reasoned with her. “The best road back to town is north, the way you came in. And you tore out the bottom of your car in broad daylight.”
“Can’t go that way. It’s blocked. My dead Nissan is sitting right in the middle of the road in a nasty wash.”
“Well, there you go. I’m not about to tackle the south road this time of day. We’d lose the light before we even get to the bad spots in the road. You’ll just have to stay the night, and we’ll start out early in the morning.”
An irritated look flashed across her features for a moment. “I guess you’re right. Does your cell phone have any bars? Mine’s useless.”
“So’s mine. Don’t worry. I’m not a savage. You’ll be safe with me. My name’s Mack, by the way. Mack Macklerod.”
She smiled and became beautiful. “Linsey. Is Mack your Christian name or a takeoff on your family name?”
“It’s Russell, but everyone calls me Mack.”
“Well, Mack. Do you have any food left?”
The evening was enchanting… at least for me. And she seemed to loosen up and begin to enjoy herself once she accepted the idea she was here for the night. Her low voice was enchanting, soft on the ear. Her laughter floated away on the night breeze. The sight of her moving by the light of the campfire reminded me I was a man.
She asked lots of questions and soon knew I was a civil engineer roughing it on vacation, divorced with no kids, and pretty well satisfied with my life as it was. But I learned very little about Linsey. In a way, that was appropriate for a Greek goddess who had risen from the waters of the river. I did learn there was no one in her life at the moment, yet the way she said it left me wondering if that was really true. Or perhaps it was a relationship that had ended abruptly in the recent past.
The days might be hot in the Rio Puerco Valley, but the nights are quite chilly. As soon as old Sol signed off on his light show, the temperature dropped significantly. I offered to get a spare jacket out of the Jeep, but she said she needed a walk. I tossed her my keys and watched the glow of the flashlight I’d loaned her bounce its uncertain way to where the jeep was parked.
A short time later, she returned with my jacket thrown across her shoulders and hanging halfway down her long, slender legs. She tossed my keys on my pack and sat down beside me.
“Thanks. You’re a life saver.”
Linsey had apparently had a difficult day because her lids began drooping soon thereafter. When I offered her my sleeping bag, she gratefully accepted, but protested when I said I’d wrap up in a blanket beside the fire. We’d both fit in the sack, she insisted. And when she stood to strip off the shorts and halter before climbing into the bag in brief panties and skimpy bra, I lost the urge to protest.
I’d claimed I wasn’t a savage, but I turned into one as soon as she turned to me in the tight confines of the sleeping bag and planted a wet kiss on my mouth. I’ve had my share of sex but no one had ever given me a ride like Linsey. And she barely let me get my wind back before she came for a second helping. I went to sleep with her murmuring “Thank you” in my ear.
Sometime later, I came half-awake as she started squirming around.
“Sorry,” she said. “Call of nature. And it can’t be denied.
The campfire was dead, but she was silhouetted against a starlit sky as she performed a delicate dance pulling on her shorts and tank top.
“Brrr!” she said. “Can I borrow your boots and parka?”
“Sure. You don’t have to be bashful. I won’t peek. I’m going back to sleep.”
“Thanks, cowboy, but I like my privacy. I’ll go over by the Jeep.”
Where is this going? Are we seeing the beginning of a love story? Or is this a brief meeting, giving two people fleeting insights into themselves. We’ll find out next week.
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