Scorpions from Sedona

Posted: May 2, 1993 in Writing
Tags: , ,

I was sitting halfway up on the bank of Oak Creek, on a steep slope of crumbled orangish rocks. I threw these Arizona rocks in long arcs above the tops of the trees along the riverbed. They would drift lazily in the air until they decided to plummet through the foliage with the sound of rustling newspapers and plunk into the shady water, sometimes where I could see a little plume. I could hear the rocks fall deep, and I listened to the hiss of the water as it fell back on to itself. The ripples spread out in circles under the leafy branches.
I had disappeared on my parents; I was starting to get sick of them on this vacation. The guy behind the counter of the Oak Creek Liquor and Deli grinned at me when I put a five dollar bill on the counter next to a 40 oz Mickey’s. He took all my money and didn’t say a word.
I had to clear a little level place in the hillside for my bottle so it wouldn’t tip over, and I threw rocks into the river and drank my beer in the late afternoon sun. I thought about girls back home and how I couldn’t seem to talk to them very well. There was a girl in the liquor store who winked at me and she was really cute in faded cutoffs and a red flannel shirt, probably two or three years older than me and I could still feel the flush on the back of my neck that wasn’t all sunburn.
Picking up rocks and throwing them through the trees into the river helped a little with my sour mood and the prospect of four more days trooping around in Arizona without an escape from my parents. Each stone seemed to carry a little weight from my shoulders. My hands were caked with a thin layer of earth from the rocks and dust sticking to the water condensing from the beer bottle when I picked it up. The beer didn’t really taste that good, but it was cold, and it was alcohol, and all of my friends back home drank Mickey’s, so I did too.
As I picked up another rock, I glanced at it to see which way would be the best way to hold it in order to make it to the water, and there was a little brown and yellow scorpion poised on it. For one long moment I studied it, my face no more than a foot from it; it was exactly like the ones they had in the tourist souvenir selection in the motel lobby frozen in some sort of plastic to make a wonderful eye-catching paperweight. Mom had purchased one for me yesterday. And here, virtually in my hand, was the real thing.
I flung the rock away from me with a quick gesture and scrambled to my feet on the shifting slope, knocking over my carefully ensconced beer to clatter down the slope and into the river. Throwing rocks through the trees into the water no longer appealed to me with the same casualness. I turned and struggled up to the edge of the road that led down to the motel and put my hands in my pockets. The girl in the cutoffs gave me a ride back in her jeep after I had walked a third of the way there.

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