The hot sun hung in the sky like a menacing threat. It was directly overhead, burning everything that landed inside its path.
It sounds like a hostile environment, but in this part of the world, adaptability is the name of the game. So, adapt, we do, me and the other cactus that live here. Yup, we’re saguaros. Kings of the Desert. The other succulents are jealous, even if they don’t show it.
I won’t introduce you to everyone. Besides, you’d be surprised at how many of ’em go by “Cactus Jack.” It was funny the first couple of times – Cactus Jack #1, Cactus Jack #2 – but soon nearly everyone wanted to go by that name. Gimme a break, fellas. We all can’t go by Cactus Jack!
We spend most of our time posing for photographs and waving at the tourists – everybody loves that desert scenery!
After a hard day in the hot sun, the evening and nighttime are a nice break.
You see, that’s where the desert really comes alive and earns its reputation as the hottest nightlife in town. Food, drinks, and music – we have it all.
Let me introduce to some of my close friends.
Prickly Pete cooks up some mean grub. Quesadillas, tacos, burritos – oh, and the guac – shut the front door! Don’t let those “authentic” restaurants in town sell you the overpriced stuff that they try to pass off as fresh. Imposters. Pete is the real deal and knows what he’s doing. Desert cuisine at its pinnacle!
Zeke is a margarita machine! Not literally, of course – although that would be nice – but he is our resident mixologist. You haven’t adequately imbibed until you’ve had one, or two, of his infamous Cactus Margaritas. They’re strong, semi-sweet, and tasty explosions of desert flavors. Try one today and be sure to tip your bartender!
Dusty found an acoustic guitar left behind by some vagabonds, I mean tourists. He isn’t the best guitar picker, in fact, he could use some lessons, but he’s getting better. At least he gave up singing. Amen for that. He does a decent version of “Desert Skies Forever,” and he knows some Zeppelin and AC/DC. He provides the entertainment, especially if he’s had one too many Cactus Margaritas! Oh, there he goes again – somebody get that lampshade off his head!
And me? Well, somebody has to keep these rapscallions in line. That’s practically a full-time job. I don’t have time for anything else.
The four of us and the numerous Cactus Jacks live out here in the desert. It could be worse. We could live in the city. Ugh!
As the nightly festivities dwindle down, we sit around the campfire telling jokes and playing poker. The blanket of stars and the moonlight is a beautiful sight. You think it looks pretty on Instagram…you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The fun comes to an end, though. We begrudgingly clean up and put the desert back together for the next day. We gotta work tomorrow and can’t call in sick.
So, the next time you’re in the desert, hang around after the sun goes down. That’s when the party starts for the cactus that live there. And I’ll give you a hint. If you see a cactus that looks a little too perfect, it’s fake. There’s a hidden door in the back of it. Where do you think we hide our party supplies in the desert?
A short story by Jason S. Sullivan, 08-10-19.