Welcome to the Desert!


The open road. Miles and miles without seeing another car, or signs of life. Once one of America’s greatest roads, for some reason it became less used, and despite its beauty and history, very few people ventured to drive it. Everybody seemed to go for the new highways, with many lanes, which left Arturo the unique pleasure of cruising with the window down, music on, through the desert. He hated the cruise control and all the gimmicks on the new cars, he enjoyed actually driving, putting his foot on the throttle and hear the roar coming from the big engine.

Truth be told, Arturo had an immense fear of f!ying, which in his forty-five years of life could not overcome, no matter what and how hard he tried. So every time he needed to attend a meeting, he had to drive. Usually these meetings were set on Mondays, which left him tons of time to travel at his own pace. Sure, he basically wasted a couple of days because of it, but he enjoyed being behind the wheel. Driving provided him the time he needed to think, without any distractions. He would remember college, sports, the people in the stands cheering every time he sprinted. Those days, those memories were still so vivid, his sports career – all were so close he could feel the rush, smell the grass as if he was back there, in the field. Fridays were normally busier, but as he passed the suburbs and left the main roads to follow the Route 66, or the Mother Road as they called it, he soon found himself pretty much alone. His plan was to drive all day and reach Los Angeles, no matter how late, so he could enjoy the weekend over there. From Albuquerque he had to drive almost 800 miles, but it was a treat. A few stops for coffee and refuel and it should be a breeze. The scenery was something out of this world, and he left at a decent hour, so he could actually see something, enjoy the ride. From time to time tourists and nostalgics would take this road, too, but they were so few and far between, he kind of felt all of them belonged to the same big family.

The landscape changed gradually, subtly, and as the sun was blasting Arturo had his sunglasses on. People always picture neon lights, fancy diners and muscle cars and bikes when they think of Route 66, but that’s more to the past. The day Arturo drove along it, the Mother Road was more like a ghost road, with ghost towns along it. Nothing seemed to be alive. And to make things worse, a dark cloud mass gathered at the horizon.

To be continued