The following is an excerpt from “To the Right of the Foothills,” a prose piece written by Stephanie Bachman.
The man, or sometimes woman, will thank me endlessly, and I’ll sit on the porch while they reverse their car and take a right. I’ll wait. Usually fifteen minutes is best. Most folks take their time on the roads, as one quick turn and they’ll skid off and tumble down the steep, sagebrush and pine hillside.
Then, I’ll stick a cigarette between my teeth and hop into my pale mustard-colored 78′ Chevy and turn right.
Their car is usually parked at the top of the hill, with them standing a few feet from it, hands acting as a visor against the bright sun as they search for said town. The smell of sagebrush and bluebell and warm, buttery air is strong up here. The wind turbines, which one person once said looked mystical, surreal, and alien up on these natural hills, will be in view, and their aw-shocking fans will usually be grazing the bluest skies.
They’ll see my car, relief spanning their features, as they realize I’ve come to correct them on their directions.
Then I’ll pull my Winchester out from my passenger seat, my finger on the trigger. If I’ve been lucky up to date, then this is the first time their faces will drain of color, or their chests will stop mid-breath. But by then, and if I remain lucky—and I’m always lucky—then they’re mine.
The sun is a hot, blazing fleck in the empty sky when they first arrive. I sit on the porch, eating stewed carrots and beef cake, admiring the rust and pumpkin and scarlet-colored trees and purple-blue wildflowers sift from the cool breeze. Through the windows of their Chevy Tahoe, I see bright orange vests and denim coats draped across the back of the seats. I see two of them in the front, a man with a short beard and a woman—no, a teen girl—with an orange baseball cap drawing back her long hair. I see no orange and black flag on their window mirror.
They slow at the sight of my house. The girl says something, and the man drives slowly until he eventually stops. The girl firmly holds two long, beautiful rifles against the seat.
I tap my fork against my dish, thinking.
Want more? This piece was published in Black Rock & Sage Issue 15 (2016). Purchase a copy today!