Daytime summers in southern New Mexico are brutal. Hot. A filmy layer of gritty dust settled on the tiled floor but I laid down on it anyway, just to feel something cooler than the air. This way I could see the spider webs in the corners where the walls met the ceiling. Even they were coated with bits of dust.
I looked forward to the evening when I could sit outside, under the roofed patio and watch the rain move across the desert, throwing up billows of dust in its path, flashes of lightning streaking the pastel violet sky.
Once I sat on the patio in the rain and I saw a dog walk toward me on long skinny legs. His paws were oversized and his eyes shone amber, or was it the setting sun reflecting sparks of yellow light? The dog plodded across the yard and sat in front of me, his long red tongue drooping from between white teeth, and sat his skinny haunches not ten feet from me.
I’d been drinking a beer from a glass and the sight of this dog froze me, my elbow bent, my lips wet with the sour beer taste. I thought I heard him say something but he was a dog, or was he a coyote, and I was a person, and I didn’t understand it. He lowered his head, and licked his paw, and I could see a spot of bright red blood between his toes.
I set my glass on the table and got up from my lounge, and a step at a time approached him. He let me come near and as I bent down, my hand outstretched, palm down to stroke him under his chin, he settled with a plop on his side and showed me his belly. Oh poor boy you have a thorn. I smoothed his paw in mine and picked with my nails until the sharp cactus spike fell onto the ground. The rain closed in on us, pellets of heavy water everywhere, and I watched him walk away until I could only see the white tip of his tail, disappearing into the dark.