The Dancing Doves

Submitted into Contest #119 in response to: Start your story with an unusual sound being heard.... view prompt


Sad American Drama

The dancing feet of the doves made an unusual and rather loud noise on the tin roof and any chance of sleep was out of the question. But it didn't really matter, because at seven-thirty the desert sun was already making its presence felt in the rapidly warming trailer and the idea of lying in bed was not a comfortable option. So the courting ritual of the white doves was tolerated.

The metal bed frame gave out a weary sigh of relief as he slowly emerged from his disturbed night's sleep. His boxer shorts, strewn across the small space next to his bed were slipped on to cover his modesty, it was a needless exercise as he lived alone in a small one bed trailer on the edge of the desert. As he staggered into the small area he called his lounge, he was greeted with an expanse of cyan and ochre for as far as the eye could see. The only colour change was from the towering emerald green cacti that stood like skyscrapers, giving a strange illusion of a cityscape to the powerful and enticing vista. The only movement would be from a rare, ghostly white cloud that would appear to be lost on its lonely migration from the South.

He scraped enough coffee together from the bottom of the badly dented tin to make one last cup. The sweat was just beginning to make life uncomfortable as beads of fluid began to gather around his body. The perpetual dancing feet were the only sounds that broke the cloaking silence of the desert, his coffee, slightly stale, was still very welcome as he stared thoughtlessly out of the thin pane of dirty glass.

By ten he had to leave, no matter what his mood the heat decided it was time to go. His badly dented living accommodation similar to the coffee tin had to remain empty for the next six hours.

Fully dressed in stale jeans and a grubby t-shirt he grabbed his binoculars and headed outside. The eighty degree heat that met him was a pleasant relief from the ninety degrees he had just left behind. Outside, he had a rickety wooden chair which he would position in any shade that the trailer could muster and this would be the place he spent most of his daylight hours, until the setting sun would send the temperature plummeting and the sand dunes would take on the appearance of ghostly icebergs in a sea of ashen moonlight.

The dancing feet of the doves could no longer endure the searing heat of the metal furnace and flew off to the nearest cooler venue to continue their relentless courtship. Sometimes he might spot a sage hen or a wild turkey with his binoculars as they scrambled for a morning feed, before they too had to give in to the unforgiving heat.

Once he'd decided where to spend the day, he just got up and left. No need to lock up, no need for security as he owned nothing of value. All he needed were his binoculars, his wallet and his pliers. His nearest neighbours were fifty yards away, one of the few endearing features of living in the desert was the space. There was plenty of space.

Passing by, he would nod his head as they sat outside their homes waiting patiently for the time when they could venture back indoors.

He passed broken down trucks, spare wheels with treadless tyres and forgotten urine stained mattresses that were now comfortable abodes for snakes and scorpions. The only noise would be a radio playing country music from an aging bakelite radio, somewhere in the far distance. The only smell would be a late breakfast of bacon and eggs being cooked outside under an awning. There is no other odour, the desert doesn't give off an odour it is scrubbed clean everyday by the hot wind carrying even hotter particles of penetrating sand.

It was a long walk to the edge of town, about an hour, but what else was there to do, the single laned dirt track was making the soles of his feet sweat profusely in his tatty white sneakers and the heat haze was giving his brain the impression he would soon be enjoying a lovely cooling ocean.

For forty minutes, not one vehicle passed by, not one slice of life interrupted his thoughts. The only sign of movement was the dust emanating from the back end of a disappearing truck on the main road heading into town. Slowly but surely the terrain was beginning to change as brown earth was beginning to fend off the encroaching ocean of sand. The green and lush vegetation was a delight to the senses and the tree canopies were a welcome relief to just sit under and rest a while. How two completely different worlds could live side by side was still a mystery to him, like all towns there were rich and poor neighbourhoods, he headed for the former.

When he arrived at his destination his clothes were laden with sweat and clung to his body like a groping shower curtain. Climbing the tree was not that difficult; he had done it a hundred times before. From his hidden vantage point he could watch all types of birds that lived amongst the canopies enjoying the cool shade. His favourites were the black throated sparrows and the woodpeckers or the rare pygmy owl.

He would then turn his attention to the large property opposite, his height enabled him to see over the surrounding brick wall, up the long drive and past the expensive cars to the magnificent house on the hill. There was a wonderful swimming pool and the sun was glinting off the cool blue water. A pool boy was slowly netting any leaves that had wandered into the watery trap and was trying very hard to ignore the beautiful thirty-five year old woman stretched out on a lounger, slowly rubbing sun lotion onto her already tanned body. This was a dream scenario, he had seen the videos where the young, good looking boy was seduced by the lonely housewife. Sadly for him, he was not particularly young or good looking and those erotic scenes were exclusively for the movies.

The wife jumped up as her new husband approached and fell into his arms in a passionate embrace, the jealous onlooker couldn’t ignore the husband's hands as they slipped under her bikini bottoms. Her partner caught him looking and smiled, realising just how lucky he was to be the owner of those roving fingers.

The scene was also captured by a pair of shaking binoculars, the sweat fell into the eyes of the distraught beholder resulting in a painful reminder of a life lost.

An hour later, the electric gates opened and a large Mercedes drove out onto the dusty road and headed into the hills, from behind a tree he stepped onto the tarmac to see the newly wedded couple disappear in a cloud of blissful dust. His eyes looked down at his feet. He quickly looked back up the road to see the cloud starting to evaporate into the haze. His eyes darted back down to the tarmac and he stood unmoved for at least ten-seconds, pliers in hand. The slick trail of brake fluid was already starting to reduce on the baking hot surface.

His walk back home was interrupted by a stop at the nearest food mart. He hung over the opened door to the ice cream freezer and let the cool air invigorate him like a cold shower. The shopkeeper eyed him nervously and wisely decided to keep quiet, closing the door, he wandered past the food section, ignoring the shouts of hunger from his empty stomach and headed to the liquor aisle. He picked up the cheapest bourbon he could find. Not a word was spoken as he slid across his last crumpled ten dollars and without waiting for the few cents change, walked away.

The journey back seemed to pass quickly, his mind was not even in his tired body it was elsewhere, somewhere dark and foreboding. He collapsed into his tired wooden chair, took a swig from the bottle and watched the white doves balancing on the telegraph wire whilst singing adoringly into each other's eyes.

A few hours later he woke in a cold sweat, the sun was fast retreating and the cold blooded desert dwellers were starting to make themselves heard. He staggered back inside the trailer and searched his cupboards for a clean cup. There wasn’t any. He made do and carried on swigging from the half empty bottle. An hour later he was again woken from his drunken slumber by the phone ringing on the sideboard.

The trembling voice of a distraught sixteen year old daughter called out. 

‘Pa, it's me, pick up. I have some bad news about ma.’

Without answering he wrenched the thin wire from the socket and lurched into his bedroom. Twenty minutes later a single gun shot rang out, separating the dancing doves from the roof of the rapidly cooling tin trailer.

November 08, 2021 10:48

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