I unstuck my balls from my thigh, the two melded by a paste of sweat and powder that glued skin to skin. I jacked off, sipped coffee, swallowed analgesics, then drew the mental strength to stand. My muscles ached the ache of an affirming physical challenge. There was no pain.
The coffee swished through my system. Buzzed my brain but bit at my guts. Turned insides to a rumbling volcano of forewarning smoke. I grabbed wipes and stepped to trees. There I pissed steam then used a stick to scrape up a cathole. I peeled off all except socks then shot a wad of hot slop. It sprayed the target like applesauce beset by a bomb.
As I crouched to clean I dripped sweat from my head. Dribbled piss from my penis. I also sensed something off on my left ankle. I peeled down a wool sock to near the heel. It revealed ten ticks in a cluster, each glued to skin. They didn’t scatter. Just sat there suckling.
My mind clicked back to the time I hiked this area years before. How I found a dried bison pie on a butte overlooking badlands. I kicked it open. Despite the sunburnt surface its guts kept wet. Gorged white grubs crawled through the excrement. This bison manure both home and buffet. I didn’t care to let my body act as the same.
I looked to the thicket of ticks once more. I too was here to suck life from the land. But I’d pass through without permanence. Fill up and go. Not feast ’til I popped from nature’s plate. An act of balance, or so I told myself. One by one I scraped ticks from skin. Crushed their heads. Flicked brown shells to shit.