Desert Kings

by Mike McCormick

Tanned arms swing from the windows of a bone-white vehicle. The truck rattles west, where the sun is bleeding all down the horizon.

Inside the cab, clear bottles of water roll around the floor like crazy marbles. Four almost-men ride together in silence. Black athletic jerseys stretch over their golden torsos. The driver wears war-paint under his eyes.

Outside the truck, hissing diamondbacks slink away from coils of their own dead skin. Unnatural plants arch their bodies up to the orange-scorched sky, which has not seen rain in weeks.

Some miles pass. The youngest-looking player shouts up from the truck?s backseats.

?Hey, anyone see that fox back there??

His teammates ignore the question. The road shoots by.

?That brown fox. He had a snake hangin? from his mouth.?

The driver, the one with the war paint, nods his head at this.

The others watch the horizon. In the distance, a new halo of blue light snaps on.

The field awaits them. The driver stamps down on the accelerator.

In a bathroom next to the football field, young girls paint their lips blood-red in a cracked and dusty mirror. They take desert flowers, all kinds of lovely faded purples and blues, and clip them into each other?s hair.