The heat shimmered in waves, rising up from the desert floor. From where Don Murdock sits in front of his dry goods store he can see along the road that leads from Dry Springs almost to the hills where it is lost in the dazzling light. And there is nothing to disturb his view of those far off hills but the occasional dust devil that dances in and out of the curtains of rippling heat.
The summer seems unusually long this year and especially hot. Don knows by the calendar that this summer is no longer than any other. He knows it is unusually hot by the thirst that constantly nags at the back of his throat.
There may be another reason the summer seems unusually long and hot. This is the first summer Don has spent in Dry Springs without Alma, his wife. Alma died a year ago September. Don is lonely and with September coming in a week he dreads the finality of knowing that he has been alone for an entire year.
Don Murdock doesn’t want to think about how long the rest of his life will seem without Alma so he takes the flask from his hip pocket, unscrews the cap and takes a long swig.
Beads of sweat form on Don’s forehead as the hot sting of the whiskey reaches deep into his dry throat. There was a time, some eleven months ago, when it would have been Alma’s lemonade Don would sip and the touch of honey she always added would be soothing to his throat but, for now, the whiskey served its purpose.
“Well,” Don says with a sigh, “Might sweep a bit and stay ahead of the desert.”
He stands and stretches his back, the whiskey causing a momentary dizziness. He likes the feeling because for that moment he doesn’t think about Alma. Don takes one more look out across the desert expanse and shuffles towards the door, his feet grinding the sandy grit into the boards of the walk.
Just before Don enters his store he realizes that something was different about the desert. He stops and turns to look out toward the hills once again. His eyes scan close in, then midway out to the hills and finally far off into the shimmering heat waves. Yes, there is something different. Something is out there. Something is moving in the shimmering blaze of the desert.