About Salvation Rock: A Short Story
Salvation Rock: A Short Story
Caleb Crest swore under his breath when he saw the lights flashing in his rearview mirror. After pulling over, he rolled the window down and put his hands on the wheel.
He moved his head to the left to catch a view of the side mirror. The cop was approaching with a casual gait, like they were the only two people in the world and time was a foreign concept. Caleb moved back to the center of his seat and took in some of the dry high desert air, trying to relax.
“Afternoon son,” the officer said. “Pretty hot one out here.”
“Yes sir,” Caleb said, keeping his hands on the wheel. He noticed that the cop’s hand was casually around his pistol holster. “Sorry if I was speeding.”
“Not speeding. I was just wondering what you might be doing way out here. You the road less traveled type?”
It seemed a weird question, but maybe not. He was in the middle of nowhere. Tumbleweeds and granite mountains flanked the two-lane road on both sides far off in the distance. “No sir. I think I took a wrong turn. My phone GPS went dead a few miles back. Figured this would link up with another road eventually.”
The officer put a weathered hand out and fiddled his fingers. “License and insurance.”
Caleb had them ready to go. As he handed over his info he thought to ask what the problem was. Another look at the big gun on the cop’s hip made him think otherwise. They were the only two souls in a very isolated place. Better to let the one with the weapon ask the questions.
“Those GPS’s. You never know. Nothing beats a good old-fashioned map.”
“Hard to argue with your logic.”
“Caleb Crest. Age twenty-seven, from Texas.” As he read off the info the officer leaned against the door, placing two sunburnt forearms on the bottom of the window frame. Caleb noticed his name. Jukes. Sheriff Jukes. “So you’re a wandering type?”
“You’re not from here, for one. Two, you got a bunch of gear in the back. And folks headin’ someplace specific usually turn around after a minute or two and get back on the main road. Out here, anyhow.”
“Guess you got me, Sheriff.” He did. Caleb wasn’t going anywhere in particular. Just going.
“Basic police work. Elementary, as it were.”
Sure, Caleb thought. A regular Sherlock Holmes. Substitute the deerstalker for the cowboy hat, pipe for the spit tobacco, tea for the coff—
“Follow me up ahead, soldier,” Jukes said, handing back the papers. There’s a little town up the way, but you’ll miss the turn if you’re not looking.”
“Is that necessary?”
“Well,” he continued, grabbing his belt, somehow friendly and condescending at the same time. “How much gas you got?”
“Little less than half a tank.”
“Yeah see that ain’t gonna work. Go back, you run out. Go till the major road, you run out. Unless this old boy gets over thirty miles to the gallon?”
No way. Caleb’s 1987 SR5 4Runner was in near mint condition, but it wasn’t running that clean. He smiled at Jukes for a quick second and gave an obligatory smile. No big deal. Just going. “Lead on, Sheriff.”
Jukes was just as casual making his way back to the police cruiser. “Don’t get down in the mouth, soldier,” he said, voice fading in the warm wind. “It’s a special day in town. You’ll love the place.”