The Open Road

Entry by: maxie

6th October 2017
The Navajo Legacy

A Chevy pick-up, painted ashen by swirling sand dust drove across the Chihuahuan Desert on a dying mid-summer evening.

The driver, a middle-aged Navajo called Ben Ayze drove with his face almost over the wheel. Although he had driven this lonely road a thousand times he held the speedometer at a steady forty-five. Squinting against the light of the disappearing sun he turned on the radio but only heard the steady sound of static.

To his left, his elderly mother, her head slumped against the window, slept. Ben lifted the blanket that had slipped to the floor. He only took his eyes off the road for a second when he felt the impact. He gripped the steering and slammed his foot down.

His mother awoke with a start and stared wide-eyed at the dirty windshield. There was a smear of blood on the driver’s side. She spoke in her native tongue to Ben who replied in English.

“A coyote, maybe. I’ll go see.”

Stepping out into the dusk, Ben looked around. At the edge of the scrub he knelt and called out in Navajo. The old woman, the blanket still draped around her shoulders appeared at his shoulder.

He spoke softly. “It’s a man, “There was a slight hesitation. “I think. He’s still alive.”

Picking up the bloodied figure as if it was weightless he laid it gently in the rear of the pick-up. As his mother started back towards the motor, she bent down and picked up a small metallic box.

Thirty-five years later Ben Ayze sat alone, contemplating the past. The burden of years weighed heavy on sagging shoulders and his face was beat, lined with dry crevices and straggly shards of hoar frost colored hair. Only his eyes, pools of cobalt blue still sparked.

“Grandfather? You wanted to see me?” The voice belonged to Haloke, his grandson.

Ben turned and for a fleeting moment saw his younger self, a tall, gangly youth of seventeen, oozing nervousness.

“Come with me.” Said the old man. They walked into the next room where a small crowd was gathered. The room fell silent as Ben took centre stage.

“The spirits are silent. Jimmy Moonman has been consumed and the footprints of the Elders are scattered to the wind. Remember him well.” He walked over to a tall ornate dresser, opened up a drawer and brought out a small metal box. He nodded to his wife who answered with a silent muted smile.

They drove into the desert for about an hour, the road straight as an arrow. Only once did Hal try to make conversation but his words were met with silence and he knew his grandfather well enough not to try again. When the pick-up pulled up, Ben got out and walked towards a small canyon about a half a mile away. In silence the grandson followed at a respectful distance.

The old Indian was seated on a rock atop a small grey gorge which housed a small flat lake at its foot when Hal approached. There was no noise save that of a distant breeze on which a fragrance of magnolia rested, although no plants could be seen.


Hal scrambled up the scree of grey rock and wondered how the old man was not as breathless as he was. Ben stared at the horizon as if he expected something or someone.

“Jimmy Moonman is dead.” He said.

“Your friend…”

“You knew Jimmy.”

“He was always at your house, grandfather.”

“He was my best friend. What did you think of him.”

“He wasn’t Navajo, but he was a good man, different to anyone I’ve met. A great mechanic…”

“Different, yes. There are words that must be spoken.”

He stood up and whispered an old Navajo prayer into the breeze.

” Thirty-five years ago, along that road down there, I accidentally hit him with my pick-up. Your great grandmother and I took him back to the reservation. He was unconscious for three days. When he awoke, he was ok, just a little dazed. It was June, nineteen forty seven. Thirty-five miles away that night, something happened in Roswell.”

“The Roswell thing. Yeah, I know about that.”

“The man I hit that night was part of it all. Jimmy Moonman was not human, as we know it. Jimmy Moonman was from…” He glanced towards the sky.

“From Rhode Island…”

The old man chuckled. “No, he wasn’t.”

Over the next hour, Ben talked thirty-five years of history and of the man known as Jimmy Moonman. He spoke of how when Jimmy woke up, he informed them that he had come from another galaxy with a message for the world.

“He was injured, confused so at first, no-one believed him but then he showed what he could do.”

“What was that?”

“A horse broke its leg. We decided to shoot it but he came over. He placed his hands on its leg and fixed it. No break. Best damn horse we ever had. People from Government were nosing around after Roswell and the tribe Elders decided that we would not abandon him. We gave him the tribal name of Moonman. Jimmy became Navajo.”

“This is crazy…”

“Have you never wondered why no-one has a new car on the reservation? There are more forties and fifties motors here than Havana. Jimmy could fix anything. We sheltered him.”

“But this…message. What was it?”

The old man sighed and reached inside his jacket. He bought out the little metal box.

“Your great grandmother picked it up that evening. Jimmy said the message was inside but the box would not open until the time was right.” He handed the box to Hal.

“What? Why me?”

“He was specific. When you were born, he said the box belonged only to you.”

Hal took the box.

“Why me?”

“He said you would know. He said you would know when the time was right.”

President Hal Azoke is sixty-five years old today. The world is on the brink of war. The time is right. The box opened…