The display of cuisine and dining on social media means little to me, its not intended for me, its not my idea of aspirational– but that doesn’t mean it’s meaningless.

“Have a cocktail, relax by the pool”– And as you sink back into the lounge chair, hallucinate bands of swarthy foreigners rappelling into yr backyard from primitive gliders to scalp and practice white slavery. Continue to stir yr cocktail with a handgun, or participate in my illusion and try and figure out if it’s ancient or utterly modern.

The constable told of a hulking grey skinned demon, with a large brow and a prominent bulge both concelaed and obscenely displayed in a crotch pouch that protruded like a helmet crest. What he wants, no one can tell. They say he was a man that went out in that desert and saw things that changed him, then he come back and start growing the lotus in the old compound atop Split Skull Canyon.

Changed, how? asked Xotl, already tamping his single shot’s breech and holding his fingers from fidgeting with his knife handle. His Xuchotlan temper would mount to a deadly serene calm at the point of battle, not during this waiting and scouting, reconning and planning. He could think much better fighting men on horseback.

The old man sank back in the chair, near touching the wall. His eyes suddenly grew large and pale in their dark sockets. He leaned forward with an effort– They put somethin in him, in that hospital, so that he grows unlike other men. Taller, stronger, but with each year he looks less and less human. I only saw him from the upper balcony, when they’d bring in new prisoners. But what he was standing in a dark cloak always, and never in the open sun apart from his wrappings.

She watched his slender yet muscled back retreat up into the broken fastness of the canyon, his shock of long dark hair waving like a brutal pennant in the blue tinged air. The ridge held for another 100 yards and then dipped into the ravine, where a distant trickle of scarce spring water fed the waving fronds of blooming aloe and yucca far below them. They’d crossed the salt wash with their weapons held above the swirling devils born of long departed dust reddened waters, and she reclined on the bench-like rock at the foot of the ravine Xotil had disappeared into.

She’d admired the rippling play of his muscles as he’d ascended carrying their pack loaded with wines from the city in copper stopped flasks and the dried meat they’d bartered a war camel for after rounding on the herd of Pinker patrols in the outlying dry marshes. But she’d admired even more how he would size up the task ahead, and simply do what was needed without fiddling deliberation or a lengthy counsel.

She caught the glint of an uncoiled serpent like thing falling at great speed from the rocks above. She’d lighted to her leather booted feet and the flash of twin rapiers bounded from her large hands as she stared from side to side to spy where the snake had stolen. The laughter from above almost startled her more than the falling rope, and she found herself looking up into his grin– he stood holding a fast line about the size of four stories up the ridge. A fine draw lass, but the snakes we must fear are ahead of us and less ready to make their arrival known he chuckled with grim mirth.

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