The smell of the first rain on hot sage in the desert. Coming down the long sweep of the mountain to that sleepy 4-way stop at the bottom, roads stretching endlessly flat in three directions. Empty roads. On the radio Patsy Cline was going Crazy and I had the windows rolled down, drinking in the scents and feeling thunder echo around me. Jackrabbits in the distance, flashing impossibly long ears in and out between the manzanita. Patsy gave way to Johnny Cash. Johnny to Elvis. Elvis to Willie.
The rain came harder now. Falling in fat drops, crying dust tears down the windshield. In the slate-colored sky lightning frescoed brilliantly and was gone. In its absence the sky flattened and smoothed itself into a sheet of gray velvet. One solid sheet, no clouds, no definition.
Left, right, or straight? Signposts hinted at options but gave no answers. And the absence of cars gave me time.
I could see trees and the beginning of a town to the left. Ahead, nothing but a long stretch of pavement. To the right, more flat -- but a road ribboned out in a more interesting fashion, hints of curves hidden and discovered by the landscape.
Willie faded away and Hank began to berate Your Cheatin' Heart. I smiled and turned right.