The desert is a lively thing, its dead, flaky skin nothing more than a mask hiding the biostructure beneath. Ants dig vaults like Moria. Snakes, like elven snipers, lay silent just beneath the brown and sullen grass. Tarantulas range for prey, waring with the wasps and scorpions until they’ve had their fill and return to their solitary cell, back to the cool respite of darkness. The mice live in fear of all these. They stay calm and carry on and die for the good of the many or the one. But that’s life in the desert.
A desert town is a deadly place. The healthy pink glow of bustling commerce and oil trade is nothing more than body paint on a corpse. What you can’t see is only what you don’t want to see: your neighbor’s wife torn to pieces by a pack of dogs, the man down the street shot to death by his brother in a crystal haze — they were arguing over the remote control– your own brother snuffed by a drunk’s chrome grill on a monsoon night, the grocery store clerk you see every week chased down and beaten to death by a by a cop. You shrug and carry on because you’ll die eventually for a reason, or for none at all. You’ll join the parade of desiccated souls and whisper to the ants in their golden Moria, “that’s just life in the desert.”