Tags: life and death, love, spirituality
Neela awoke with a start. She tried to gasp, but found she couldn’t. Neela rose up slightly and bumped her head. Looking around frantically for something familiar, she saw Hunter’s form next to her.
“Hunter! Hunter, wake up!” Her voice sounded odd and raspy. She found her throat with her hand, and felt something odd. A cut of some sort, maybe? It didn’t hurt, though. She shook Hunter again.
“Wake up. Where are we?”
Hunter opened his eyes as realization crept in. Wherever he was, he couldn’t recall exactly how they got there. He tried to sit up and bumped his head. “Ow! Da fuck?”
Hunter grunted at that. They both looked and felt around, and saw that a dim line of light was coming in behind them. Gradually as their eyes adjusted, they saw that it was barely illuminating the dumpster they were in.
“Let’s get out of here.”
“Oh, for real.”
Hunter lifted the lid as Neela started to climb out. He pushed it all the way open and helped her, and she fell to the ground as Hunter started to climb out. “Careful,” he said.
On the ground, they were able to better survey their circumstances. It was night time in a parking lot behind a building. “Are you okay?” Neela asked.
“I guess so.” They looked each other over. “Doesn’t look like there’s any permanent damage.”
“But how did we–”
At the same time, they shouted, “Mexico!”
They were on a second honeymoon to a resort in Mexico. On the third day, they took a sightseeing tour. “Oh, shit!” Hunter said as he frantically searched his pockets. “Wallet’s gone. Where’s your purse?”
Neela looked down, saw that it wasn’t over her shoulder. “Gone, obviously.”
“Wanna look in the dumpster for it?”
“There’s probably a reason we woke up in a dumpster. My purse and your wallet are probably those reasons.”
“No.” Neela looked around. “Now what?”
Hunter shrugged. “We walk.”
“Where?” Their surroundings gave no indication of where they were. A lone building, an empty parking lot. A road coming from the left and going to the right, both directions cloaked in darkness.
“Dealer’s choice, hon. Pick a direction.”
“Eenie, meenie…” Her voice trailed off as she started walking, and Hunter followed.
There were no streetlights on the road, but the moon was bright. Surprisingly, so were the stars. They trudged on in mostly silence.
“Nice night for a walk.”
Occasionally they would talk, or chat about random things. Sometimes they held hands. They did not notice that they were not tired.
Day broke, and they continued to walk with no sign of man nor beast nor car. By mid-morning, they saw a child riding a bike in the dusty road. This was a hopeful sign.
“Do you speak English? Can you tell us where we are?”
The little boy stopped. “No. But Gramma can help you.” He pointed to the little shack.
The two looked at each other, and proceeded in that direction.
Before they got to the porch, a voice from inside said, “Stay off the porch, please.” The two stopped and looked around. Neela was a bit miffed.
The old woman came out and looked at them. “My, aren’t you two a horrible sight. Been walking all night, have ya?”
They both nodded slowly.
“Mugged, were ya? Jumped and robbed? Is that how you came to be here?”
Neela cocked an eyebrow at Hunter, and Hunter said, “Wait a minute-how do you know all this?” He was thinking that in this desolate area, everyone knew everyone, and maybe robbing vacationers was a family business.
It was the old woman’s turn to cock an eyebrow. “Oh, Christ, I bet you don’t know. Hold on. Don’t come on the porch.” She had been holding a small rag doll, which Neela just now noticed when the old woman set it on the rocking chair, facing it toward them.
The old woman went inside her shack and quickly returned holding a hand mirror. “You look normal to each other, but not to yourselves. It’s vexing.
In the mirror, Neela could see that her throat was slashed, and Hunter had a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. “What the fuck?”
“You kids are dead. Understand? This is El Camino de los Muertos, the road of the dead.”
“Take your time. You got nothing but, now.”
Neela looked at Hunter, a pleading in her eyes. But she still the undamaged version of Hunter. And what he saw of her was physical perfection.
Their minds raced with questions, but everything seemed so obvious–what was the point in asking?
He said, “Babe, I got nothing.”
Neela sighed. “Eh, me too.” She turned to the old woman. “Now what do we do now? Continue on this road, or what?”
“Well, yes, you continue on this road, and eventuall–wait, don’t you want to know about where your bodies are, is there a heaven or hell, or some other existential crap?”
Hunter said,”Not really.”
“Meaning of life, or anything?”
Hunter answered, “Forty-two.” Neela nudged him.
She said, “No. The only question we might have had seems to have been answered.” The two looked at each other. “It seems like we’ll be able to be together, hang out together. Is that right?”
The old woman shrugged. “Sure. No rules against it.”
“That’s all we need to know.”
Hunter said, “I have a question. How come you want us to stay off the porch? Is it some mystical energy portal or something?”
“No, I just swept it. You’re all dusty.”
“Oh. So, stay on this road, then?”
“Yeah, that’s it. It’ll take you–eh, you’ll find out.”
Neela squared her shoulders. “Ready, hon?”
“Whither thou goest, my love.”.”