26th June

At the Edge of the Desert

We sat looking out over the desert. The sun was going down, and we believed that if we watched closely we would see amazing things. We would see the bands of rock change colour, the landscape shift and move like a striped animal across our vision. Someone who gave us a ride that day must have told us to go there, and there we were, at the edge of the desert, waiting to see these things.

I have a photograph somewhere. I’m not in the picture because I took it, but Frank is. You wouldn’t recognise Frank, though, because all you see is the back of a man in a dirty T-shirt and a sunhat, and out beyond him the desert. You can see its stripes, the bands of rock, and you know the man is looking at them. That was Frank. He was with me and I was with him. The photograph proves it. Proves something, anyway.

We’d probably smoked some weed. I’d be prepared to bet on it, because we smoked a lot that year, and the people who gave us rides were often smokers too. I don’t know if that was some magnetic or telepathic thing or just the era, the fact that we were hitching rides and they were the kind of people who stopped for us, but some days we rolled across that country from dawn till dusk as high as eagles. So when we sat at the edge of the desert it’s not surprising we expected to see amazing things.

I don’t know where that photograph is. Somewhere in the attic, probably, along with all the other pictures from back then. I haven’t seen it in thirty years, but I can still see it, if you know what I mean. It shows a beautiful landscape, and the back of a man looking out on it. I haven’t seen Frank in thirty years either. He might not even remember that evening we sat watch- ing for a long time and then slept, but I do.

I don’t smoke dope any more. This is what happens. You change. You grow. But sometimes you have a memory, and sometimes it’s a good one.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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