Lioness of the Desert

Prose, including snippets (mini-memoirs).
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goldenmyst
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Lioness of the Desert

Post by goldenmyst » June 3rd, 2019, 1:32 pm

Lioness of the Desert

Over breakfast, I break some news for Marsha. “Hey let’s try this on for size. Marsha, I want to take you out into the deep desert. Maybe we’ll see some sandworms like in the Dune books.”

She says, “You’re so crazy, but truly we could come home and find our balcony egged or draped in toilet paper. The signs ain’t good darling.”

“Oh come on. The kids here are good eggs. They won’t do such things,” I reply with a wave of my hand.

“Well OK, but I warned you.” She gets up, takes our dishes, puts them in the sink, and washes them.

The next morning our time comes to depart for the New Mexican outback. Marsha straps herself in the seat belt. I drive us in our convertible with the top pulled down and the wind rushing over my ears. We drive north along the dusty road. We then turn west to Abique. We pass over a dam, spotting out clear blue water in the large lake below. After passing the dam, we encounter the side of a barren red pyramid-shaped mountain, a thousand feet tall. The red color of the mountain is so rich and vivid that it seems to glow in the afternoon desert light.

After we pass through fantastical red rock canyons and knife-edged mountains, we pass into the Bisti badlands whose gray rounded hills and strange contorted black rocks resemble a moonscape. I have never seen such magnificent desolation in all my life. After that, we get to the Nageezi Trading Post. It looks like something out of the old west, but we aren’t here to sightsee and we pass on.

After Nageezi, we head south on a washboard dirt road. The car shakes so badly that it feels like it will fall apart at any moment. We travel deeper and deeper into the brown empty rolling desert land, not encountering any other vehicle but our own. A vast panorama stretches out ahead of us and I begin to notice the walls of a canyon on the distant horizon.

We pass Navajo Hogans and herds of sheep roaming the wilderness. We enter Chaco Canyon. The yellow canyon walls look like they are about two to three hundred feet tall and are spread apart by a few miles. A huge jagged mesa stands behind us to the left towering over the sandy plain of the yellow desert. We follow the narrow asphalt park road through the canyon past Pueblo Bonito whose huge walls stand in silent witness to the ancient ones.

We park where the road curves back into a circle. We get out our backpacks with blankets, food, and other supplies to help us survive the merciless wilderness. I carry one pack and she another as we walk silently across the parched land into the wilderness. We follow an ancient Anasazi trail for hours until the sun is low on the horizon. The trek is tiresome and the whole thing is done in silence, comfortable silence.

Finally, we come to a ruin whose brick stone walls stand on a rise in the desert. We walk through a gap in the wall and into the Kiva. It is a hole dug out of the earth and lined with stone bricks which stick up above the floor of the ruin. We spread our blankets on the dusty floor. We are covered in shadows from the ruin walls as the sun starts to sink below the horizon. I hear coyotes howl mournfully in the distance. Soon we are immersed in pitch-black darkness. The stars shine like millions of candles in the velvet black bowl of the night sky. Marsha asks me, “Are you afraid?”

I say, “No more than normal.” We undress and wrap the wool blankets around us to keep warm with each other’s bodies in the cold desert night. She reaches over, puts her finger to my lips, and says, “You know with your high cholesterol and atrocious diet, you are a prime candidate for a heart attack. I could give you a coronary.”

“What better way to join the choir invisible?”

She replies, “That’s not funny.”

“Don’t worry. My heart is as strong as an ox.” She beams her lipstick smile upon me.

She answers, “Well your physician said you can take a licking and keep on ticking. So who am I to dispute a board-certified doctor?”

I reply, “Something tells me your interests lie beyond medical science.”

She says, “The missionary pose teaches the gospel of guys to keep gals on their back. It is the ultimate undercover job by men on women.”

I say, “For a minute I thought you were going to pull whips and chains out of your hat.”

“I’m no feistier than a kitty cat. I may nip at you sometimes, but that just makes me sexier.”

Suddenly I hear footsteps and a scraping sound. I stand up, look over the edge of the Kiva, and see two glowing eyes look back at me. I shine my flashlight and see a majestic mountain lion, muscles rippling in the desert night, perched on the wall of the ruin. I can tell her sex because of the absence of the black spot, between her hind legs, which signifies she is a female.

She opens her mouth and reveals huge sharp ivory incisors in the beam of my flashlight. Marsha stands there and they look at each other for a moment, and I see real fear from Marsha’s face. I can see the hunger in her eyes and it reflects somehow the hunger I see in Marsha’s eyes. They stare at each other. Both Marsha’s and the lioness’ eyes glaze. My heart beats wildly and I freeze.

I can see she is stalking. Marsha takes my colt 45 out of the pack and aims it between her eyes. For a moment Marsha freezes. The Perseids blaze their trails overhead. My heart beats wildly. Then Marsha pulls the trigger. Afterward, she blows the smoke from the gun’s barrel with her target having been the night sky. The lioness leaps off the wall and I hear her running into the desert growling.

Marsha stands up, turns around, and faces me. We are both naked and she walks toward me. She lays me down on the blanket. I ask, “Are you going to seduce me with black magic?”

I am her Pegasus whom she rides under the zodiac wheel. She pumps her hips until the heat and flame know the fallen angels of my nameless purgatory.

She looks up at the sky. Her vibrato puts a crack in the glass ceiling big enough for her to climb a ladder through onto the podium upon which she conducts the orchestra.

I gaze up at the soft smooth roundness of her moonlit cheeks which look like those of the Buddha, sitting under the Bodhi tree, just after achieving enlightenment which I’d seen in a Nepalese painting.

Upon awakening my heart is heavy with the news I must tell her. “Honey, I got hired as a cross country truck driver. The pay is one hundred thousand a year. This will mean we can pay off our mortgage in five years. But I’ll be gone all but five days out of the month. Just think of how great it will feel to own our home free and clear. No more notes but the best part are no danger of foreclosure even if I become unemployed.”

“What in the hell are you saying? I saved you from the lioness, Screwed you, and you screw me with this news?”

“Sweetie, I’ll call you every night from the motel. I’ll bring my laptop so we can do the video thing.”

“The lioness was a piece of cake compared to what you’re laying on me. The next thing you’ll say is that you’re having an affair on me.”

“Of course I’d never cheat on you. But if you need to use a toy I’d understand,” I offer.

“What if I grew to like the toy better than yours? I might not have any left over for you. You are treading in dangerous territory, my man. Never leave a woman to her own devices for too long. Do you care so little about us as to let me get off through stimulation other than your own? That could wreak havoc on our relationship. I might even be tempted by porn. Just imagine coming home to find me locked in the powder room with my voice trebling then cracking like an opera singer nearing the limit of her range for high notes and only to dip from soprano to contralto until I pant.”

I reply, “You are putting the fear of God in me.”

The first blush of dawn arrives. On either side of Marsha, dust devils swirl like wraiths as though welcoming us into a Hades of the heart. Marsha dons her apparel for the hike back to the ranger station. She is garbed in floral prints like a bridesmaid. Marsha intones, “How dare I dress for a wedding with vultures already circling the corpse of our domesticity?”

With the desperation of a madwoman who won’t let go of her delusion that she can talk me out of it, she calls out, “Meet me under the magnolia tree where we fell in love. It is time for breakfast. Let’s go home. Paul, soon you’ll be hiking in the heat of the day. You’re fair skinned. We can’t risk you getting heat stroke.”

Suddenly she sits in a butterfly pose and rips her skirt, exposing her knickers for all the decent world to see.

I exclaim, “Marsha, I’ll request a truck with a sleeping cab. You can join me for some rides. You’ll get to see the country that way.”

“The only geography I want to see is your butt in the bed at home.”

She rends her panties to tatters letting her black fleece brazenly poke out. Then she tears her blouse to rags with her bra her only concession to modesty.

“Marsha that is the only dress you have at the campsite. You’ll have to hike back to the car half naked.”

Then she retrieves the scissors from our first aid kit and cuts off her long hair which I so loved. Her locks carpet the ground like molted feathers from a once beautiful blackbird. “Let my beauty die with our union.” Like someone in the early phase of chemo, she covers the ragged clumps of her hair with my bandana.

“Why did you rip your panties?”

“They were too threadbare and more useful as rags.”

“Your fleece while charming should only be available for a private showing with me your only patron. But why tear apart your dress?”

“I needed a new wardrobe. So I ripped the old one apart as an excuse to get another.”

We hike back to the car under the newborn sun. I breathe to the rhythm of her steps. Each breath is a silent prayer to hear her say, “When you are gone, I will wait for you in the bed we made together.”

But instead, she says, “You know going long distances in a rig is hard on your back.”

I reply, “It may be easier on my wallet. But it sure ain’t worth losing you.”

She says, “You cry uncle better than most roosters can crow.”

Upon our arrival at the car, I say, “This place is

a harsh mistress and you danced with her under the pale blue moon.”

“Did you bring me out here so I’d have nothing to do but make out?”

“I thought you needed to get off the consumer bandwagon for a while to a place with no stores.”

Marsha slips out of her tattered frock and the cool morning air rushes over her naked skin. She unpacks her second dress and slips it on. “It is best we keep my beast caged,” she says.

I reply, “Zoos are where wildcats are tamed. I’d rather let your lynx roam free.”

“You’ll be the one to explain the scratches on your back to our friends at the pool.”
Last edited by goldenmyst on June 8th, 2019, 7:39 am, edited 5 times in total.

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sasha
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Re: Lioness of the Desert

Post by sasha » June 5th, 2019, 3:50 pm

For years, there have been rumors of catamounts living in the hills around here (southwestern New Hampshire), and for as many years the Forestry Service has denied them. I've never seen or heard any signs... but others claim to have. Can so many people - including experienced outdoorsmen - all be wrong?
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I'm not an outlier. I just haven't found my distribution yet.

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goldenmyst
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Re: Lioness of the Desert

Post by goldenmyst » June 5th, 2019, 4:09 pm

Indeed I heard rumors of a black panther roaming the bayous of my hometown in Natchez, Mississippi when I was a child. Just because the forestry service won't confirm these sightings doesn't mean they didn't happen. Forest rangers can't observe all of what goes on in your southwestern New Hampshire woods. Hence, those outdoorsmen may very well have spotted the elusive creatures.

John

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sasha
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Re: Lioness of the Desert

Post by sasha » June 5th, 2019, 4:17 pm

I'll be the first to admit that the scream of a fisher could well be mistaken for that of a catamount (it's a godawful sound, not one you want yanking you by the hair out of sleep) - and bear tracks MIGHT be mistaken for a cat's if they're not fresh and have degraded... but too many experienced hunters have offered compelling evidence. The Forest Service also once denied that there were any wolves in the region. They're now a widely accepted fact. I've heard 'em howling, seen one (or maybe two), and I suspect one of them ate my cat.
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I'm not an outlier. I just haven't found my distribution yet.

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