“Do you even know where the fuck you’re going?” Alex, aka Russian Roulette, asked as I strained my eyes to see past the bubble of light in front of his car.
It was eleven o’clock at night and Russian Roulette, Lucy and I were flashing through the same windy desert blackness, which I had been on with Nikki only a few days before. I had not factored the darkness into my navigation plans and the overwhelming ambiguity of the starless desert night covered our vehicle like a coat of thick black paint. We had been driving for about forty-five minutes at this point and excitement was turning to distrust faster than we were approaching our destination.
“Yeah, seriously David what are we doing out here? You’re gonna get us all murdered,” Lucy murmured from the back seat. I turned around to tell her everything would probably be fine, but when I saw her nervously puffing her weed pen I knew there was nothing to be done. Her glassy eyes and droopy eyelids told me the paranoia held her spirit in a vicelike grip.
“Chill. That’s why I keep Alex around,” I said as I turned back to the front.
“Fuck that. What do you want me to do? Sign a fucking photography? I’m not getting caught up in any The Hills Have Eyes shit,” Roulette said reassuringly. “Have you seen that movie? If anything goes down I’m out. I’m not gonna be the one turned into some weird desert sex toy by some nuclear test sight freaks.”
“The Hills Have Eyes,” Lucy echoed under her breath while putting her hand against the cool window.
“As the best-looking person in the car you are the most likely to be turned into a sex slave. They would probably just cave our heads in with old horse bones so there would be less of a struggle.” I said. “You would be less lucky. They would want you alive. You would be taken immediately and locked up on some dreary desert shack. Then you’d spend the next couple of years living off of lizards and mice while they exposed you to radioactive waste slowly turning you into one of them.”
“I am the best-looking person in the car, aren’t I?” Roulette said with a victorious grin.
“Sure,” I said. “Turn off at this next exit and give me a cigarette.”
The car came to a stop in front of a big iron gate with a cattle thing underneath it. There were no signs that we were in the right place, but I told everyone to get out of the car anyways. They believed me. Besides the tiny flashlight I pulled out of my bag, the fiery orange glow of sin city polluting the overcast sky was the sole reminder that we were still on the planet. We gathered the rest of my photography equipment and closed the trunk.
“Let’s do this,” I said as we climbed over the fence and dove into the darkness.
There was something majestic about the expansive emptiness around us. I couldn’t tell if Lucy and Roulette were struck by awe or fear. The only sound was the rustling of desert brush and the gravel crunching underneath our feet. It was like diving off a boat into open water. The flashlight just disappeared into the night. There was nothing around us except for the ground. No discerning landmarks. No visual cues. I was silently trying to figure out if the dirt around my feet was the same dirt as the week before, but there were no bullet casings. I feared for the worst, but we had come too far to give up now.
Where the fuck are those two gravel hills? I thought. They were the only landmark that I could remember. Blind determination is better than any compass and before I knew it there were bullet casings scattered all over the ground.
“We found it. Give me the tripod,” I said. He handed it to me and immediately started taking his shirt off. He takes his shirt off every time we do a photoshoot, but hey, if I was twenty and had a six pack I would probably take my shirt off too. In fact, when I was twenty I did take my shirt off. All the time. These were dark days, which will be vaguely alluded to and never explained.
Lucy sat down on the floor and started to play with shotgun shells and rusty bullet casings while Roulette and I set up the camera. I wanted to do some light painting photography. This is where you set a long exposure in the dark and use a flashlight to “paint” the things that you want to see. It proved to be trickier than I had thought. We probably spent about an hour and a half with me running back and forth between the camera and Roulette. Finally, once we got the settings dialed in the photographs just started to flow. We had finally arrived.
When all was said and done it turned out to be another amazing adventure and we have the photographs to prove it. Roulette may be a lunatic and a bit of a narcissist, but he has a top-notch attitude and he is game for pretty much anything. Check out his Instagram when you get a chance. Lucy ended up settling down when she realized nobody was going to abduct us and she also had a great time.
PS: You gotta click the photo below to scroll through the gallery!