Annie Rhiannon

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

What Happened in Arizona

Before I left the desert I took the worst side of my personality — the side with my temper, each of my insecurities, and my propensity for over-sharing and for being swallowed whole by emotion — and I locked her in the trunk of the car and drove her over the State border into Arizona, where a tall man in a stetson named Emmett Marking shot her in the head and left her for dead.

I'd arranged to meet Emmett in a diner in Nevada, in a small town called Boulder City near the border. I like the way Americans name all their towns 'cities', even when all they have in them is a junk shop and a hardware store. This means I must be from a city of 300 people in rural north Wales, I thought, nervously sitting up at the counter with a strawberry milkshake and trying not to stand out.

When Emmett arrived he walked right up to me and said "Where's the client?" just like that, like he really didn't care who heard him.

"In the trunk of my car," I said, handing him the case of money which he opened right there and then, counting out the dollars like he didn't care who saw him.

We drove in silence, across the Hoover Dam and into Arizona, and when we pulled over I popped open the trunk and Emmett seemed caught off guard all of a sudden. He was shocked, I think, to see that the 'client' — lying knocked out — looked exactly like me. Same hair, same clothing, same face, same frame… same thin white skin made for small Northern islands and the constant threat of rain.

"This is her?" he asked, dumbfounded, and both his posture and the pitch of his voice changed, making him seem a little frightened. I was relieved that he was showing a pathetic human side because, as I'd written his character in the silence of the car, I'd briefly considered having to fall in love with him. Be careful, ladies, of being a woman who is attracted to confidence. One day you may end up falling for an imaginary hit man.

Emmett composed himself, threw the body over his shoulder, and walked off with her behind the boulders. I waited at the car. I was curious, of course, but really — who wants to see something that looks exactly like you get shot in the head, even if it is only the very worst parts of your personality?

The car was too hot to sit in, so I stood in the sun and kicked the sand around for a while. The road was empty and stretched from one horizon to the other and I wondered what was taking so long. I spotted a lizard sitting on a rock and I lay down on the ground and got close to it, really close, right up to its face with my camera. I was just about to reach out my hand and catch it when a gunshot sounded out behind me. The lizard darted off and I knew it was all over. I got up, dusted off my shirt and jeans, and felt better.

On the drive back to Nevada, Emmett twisted and fidgeted in the passenger seat and started to irritate me.

"So, she was your twin sister or something?" he said, eventually.

I was quiet for a moment, just staring straight out at the road in front of me, then I said: "Yes, something like that," and I turned up the radio so he wouldn't keep on talking to me.