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Red Desert Rains

When the rains started, the desert erupted with drops slamming into hard dirt and pavement like an artillery barrage from the battle of the Somme. The ground was impenetrable and gave no quarter to the torrent, as rivulets streaked down the dunes in straight lines carving trenches in the sand. A gritty dust was thrown into the air in those first moments of downpour and he choked on it like mustard gas.

His dingy and worn full brimmed hat did nothing to keep the drops from running down the back of his ears and down the nape of his neck, soaking his dull cotton shirt and khaki trousers. Other than his fit of coughing, he hadn’t moved and as the air cleared under the continued assault, the underside of the coyote tinted soles of his canvas and rubber boots embodied the only dry inches of land for miles.

Subtly the land changed color, as the thin covering of dust washed from its stones and pebbles revealing a mix of ruddy rounded sandstones and lumpy pocked basalt. He remembered about how surprised he was the first time he’s seen rain outside of his native desert, in the northern cities where it misted down like the fog is some noir novella. In harsh contrast, the Sonoran wilderness never did anything half-way. It could kill you with heatstroke on a clear day, and could just as easily drown you under a flood in its monsoon months.

The body in front of him hadn’t drowned or died from exposure. The wounds in her chest and head were not the marks of scavenging animals and betrayed a more violent ending.