Four Hundred Miles
Darlin' Neal

There was always a coffee cup right there in the cab of the truck. The highway arced on through the endless sky, up toward the mountains. He knew a shortcut. He got out to open the gate, then he drove through and got out again to close it with respect for whoever might govern this piece of ranch land. He kept the radio off, waiting for dawn and all those colors, that feeling of waking up with the earth, and the animals outside. Crows speckled out everywhere, on the fence posts and over the grass. No one traveled the road alongside him except a prong-horned antelope who flew through the open distance and out of sight. Behind him, toward home, his babies were sleeping. His wife didn't need to worry about the landlord. The coffee cup warmed his hands. The long road took him away over the mountain, to work for a week and then he'd do it all over again. Unless he looked closer and saw the flick of the tail, or golden blinking eyes, the mountain lions high on rocks tricked his eyes into seeing nothing.


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