From an upcoming new book by Tom Hays
Ben had been alone in a monastery for five years and back home in Oklahoma only a short while when he decided to move to Arizona. He liked the desert. He liked the mysticism of the people who had inhabited the place before, way before, who lived in caves and crude dwellings but had somehow figured out how to live on the harsh land and get along with the spirits and powers that inhabited the area along with them. Thousands of years of human history laid bare, open to discovery and study.
The good vibes, given off by the rocks, the soil and the spirits of the ancients, filled the desert air. Ben felt them calling him, and he and his soul mate settled in and started calling it home.
Home was a pueblo style, adobe house in a sparse desert suburban area. A large area had been cleared for a patio, surrounded by a low adobe wall, high enough to perhaps keep the javelinas out but the more agile coyotes could come and go at will. Ben had seen them walking atop six foot walls, so he knew any attempt to keep them out was futile.
Tonight was a dinner party with two other couples, good friends with an equal love for the desert, its plants and folklore. Never mind that the days had been running 109 to 112, it was summer and expected. Ben was in a good mood and looking forward to the get together. He had volunteered to make the homemade Mexican vanilla ice cream, grill the pork tenderloin and prepare his famous salsa to serve over the sliced meat. Life was good.
Ben had the music up loud, grooving on Steely Dan’s phenomenal bass licks. Even Albert the cat was tapping his paw in time with the beat, eyes closed and laying next to the stone fireplace. There was harmony playing nearby, the sounds of the ice cream maker churning away in the background, just outside the patio door, seemed to compliment the music, as if it too was coming from the sound system. The tenderloin had been seasoned with the rub and it was anticipating placement on the outdoor grill, and the vegetables were carefully chopped and marinating in the salsa bowl. Ben was looking forward to a fun evening with friends, unlike the five years of silent aloneness in the monastery. Company was coming, people to talk and laugh with, everything was perfect and Ben’s mood was building higher and higher.
Suddenly, a shot! Then another--and another in quick succession!
Ben quickly turned to face the noise only to see ………. !!!
Tune in next time.