As y’all know, Mondays on this site are for new fiction – a short story, a flash fiction or a prose poem from the worlds of Soledad City and Sorrows Hill. For the past two weeks I’ve been posting installments of “Run With the Moon,” a little story about Adam Voss and Velocity Girard. Here’s how it ends.
If his legs would let him, Adam’d probably be dancing right now. Instead, he nods and hobbles back inside to put the coffee on. Odd thing about mornings with Velocity. Most days, he wakes up to the endless mutter of the voices in his head, talking and talking till he falls asleep at night. But whenever she stops by here, they shut right up.
By the time he brings out two steaming mugs, she’s just about dressed, T-shirt and jeans and a pair of battered caballero boots from Mexico. She’s twisted her hair into a messy bun and used one of his shop rags to wipe her face.
Adam hands her a mug. The sky’s turning to pearly pink and the moon’s faded to a ghost of itself over the ridge and he knows this moment’s going to slip away fast. Velocity wraps both hands around the cup and runs her tongue around the rim before she takes a sip.
“Aah, that’s good.” She sprawls in the lawn chair, legs outstretched. “That’s one thing you don’t get – out there.” She glances at the desert stretching behind the trailer: low creosote and mesquite scrub, and a few big cottonwood trees following the angle of the dry wash off north.
“I imagine not.” Adam follows her gaze. Across the wash, the coyotes yip and howl. A shadow crosses Velocity’s face. She’s missing them already. What must it be like, to shed your clothes and your human shape and go running under the moon, eyes blazing and senses on fire with the night?
A moth flitters past Adam’s nose, coming to rest on the screen door. Soft grey wings spread wide, it regards him with blank black insect eyes. For a moment, Adam’s inside its busy little mind, looking out in a dizzying multifaceted way at himself. He shakes his head.
Velocity watches over the rim of the mug. “ You were inside that bug brain, weren’t you.”
Adam blinks. “Damn, that hasn’t happened for a while. Not since that palo verde beetle blew in during a rainstorm. Nearly made me puke. I hate those little shits. Can’t seem to stop ‘em though.”
“You’re Adam Voss, the witchman. Everybody knows that. Seems like you could find a use for ‘em somehow.” Velocity glances at the glow rising over the ridge, and Adam’s heart sinks. “ I got to get back to town,” she says, just as he knows she would. “Charlie Juan’s not comin in this morning. I’ve got no cook; goin to have to do breakfast all by myself.”
She shoots him a sideways smile. “You could come and help.”
Ride with her all the way back to Soledad City? Help her open up the Hummingbird Cafe for its breakfast run? Adam entertains a wild thought of the two of them standing side by side in the kitchen, baking muffins and turning omelets in the pan. Oh hell yeah.
But the sounds of morning traffic and the endless concrete and glass of downtown and the constant stream of people moving, jostling, jabbering on their cell phones … he can feel the panic rising just to think of it.
Velocity sees the change in his face and the smile fades. “Damn. I am so sorry. I was just – I didn’t mean to -”
“No, I know.” Adam takes a swallow of coffee, pushing it past the lump in his throat. “I would – if I could.”
She sets the mug down on the deck. “I know you would.”
Rising, she leans in, swiftly drops a kiss on Adam’s cheek. He smells mesquite and blood and the dry musty scent of desert creatures. “You stay well, you hear me?” And then she’s off, quickstepping across the stretch of bare desert between his trailer and Holland’s back lot.
There’s a dusty Chevy truck parked behind the cafe. He watches as she gets in and drives away, following her till the truck turns onto the interstate at the top of the on-ramp.
It’s starting to warm up. The voices in his head begin their morning chatter. Feeling empty inside, he gathers up the mugs and starts toward the door. But there’s a sudden sense of eyes on his back and he turns slowly around.
Half hidden in a thicket of creosote a couple of yards away, a coyote stands watching him. Sun gleams silver on its shaggy mane and its eyes are level and golden meeting Adam’s own. A prickle sneaks across the back of his neck, but he stays put for the big male’s once-over.
“Don’t worry, Uncle Silver,” he says. “I’m lookin out for her too.”
What do you think? Where should this story go next? Do we need Velocity’s origin story? Comment below or on Twitter!