In the dusty back room with the accordion door, an old man sits in a dry seat surrounded by slowly expanding twists of sage smoke and small electric lights. He stares carefully at some furniture toward the far end of the room and lets a small window fan lift and toss his string hair in the night heat. On a night like tonight, his rusted pop-up trailer - the same that he dragged out to this strip of canyon land some years ago with a borrowed truck - seems deceivingly large in the dark.
On a scratched table in the corner, a small, blocky radio whispers static and peers out at the world through its bright red power light. The old man checks a clock by the door and blinks lazily. Four o'clock. Not good enough.
Outside, a wolf howls and some insects skitter through the crazy sand for the cover.
Grouped and soaked, clumped and wet, cold and deep and eerily eternal, the three slouch over their frames with a careful and unflinching rigidity. When moving, the damp collections of clipped feathers make the sound of black grass covered in thick water. On a night like tonight, when the moon is gone from the heavens and the stars in the sky seem like a serpentine fog of cosmic light, their eyes buzz outward from their sockets with a kind of low intensity that can be heard well enough before being seen.
They all blink in unison while grumbling quite low. This was a good night.
Inches above the tar, his breath slowed to a bubbling sputter that flecked the smoothing surface of the oily dark in front of him with small bits of saliva and grit. He had come to this land days ago with only fair trade in mind. He had his goods and his gold in his cat, and he had the tight light of the sun on his shoulders. He had no real sense for what his own arrival had brought with it, for he had arrived and brought with him the raked, cold mess that spreads.
As he sank, the moon smoothed its way along the deep black of the air.
It was only the beginning.
For Edward, the warmer days were proof positive that even the coldest, dirtiest sand could become a wonderfully cupping purchase of heavenly drift. Given that the conditions could end up perfect, any lonely shaft of loose parking sand could become like soft honey, like a velvet pool of earthglow, fit to sit and right to lay around in.
He had found this place early, when the sun wasn't as large in the sky. He found it early with no one around and stayed for a while. He stayed for a bit and then continued.
Eventually, at 2 o'clock, with no intention of moving, with no real plan to adapt to change, with no exceptional way of explaining his motives or lack thereof, he fell asleep in the sun peacefully.
Lunch would be interesting, in the morning.