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Friday, October 11, 2013

The Missing Wooley Bugger

By Daniel Nielsen

My Wooley Bugger was missing. It was Sunday afternoon, the first day of a week-long vacation, and I planned to drive from my home base in Durango up to Lime Creek for a couple of hours of fishing. But I loved that old Wooley Bugger, and it bothered me that it wasn't where it belonged, snug in my little aluminum fly box.

I'd caught at least four dozen trout with the precious fly during the last year. Even if I didn't tie it on the line that day, I wanted to bring it along. You know, kind of like a good luck charm. It seemed like a necessary component of my vacation, during which I planned to fish several streams, drink some beer, do a little backcountry hiking and maybe climb Engineer Peak. Anyway, fishing was number one on the agenda, and going fishing without my battered old Wooley Bugger was unthinkable.

The Wooley Bugger is a fly created by wrapping the long body of a fishing hook in thick, rough thread until it looks like a fluffy tube with a smattering of long hairs sticking out all over and a big luxuriant tail sticking out past the bend of the hook. When it's dry, a Wooley Bugger looks sort of like a tiny discolored carrot, complete with greens. You can buy or tie them in different colors; brown or black are popular, at least here in my corner of southern Colorado. My good luck example is dark gray with a spiral of copper wire around the body. Once in the water, the Wooley Bugger's hair and thread all cling together and the fly transforms into the shape of a hairy minnow. Or maybe the fish think it looks like a caterpillar that fell in the drink, or a tasty piece of filet mignon or something. Whatever it looks like underwater, fish want to eat it, and that's what counts. I could just go buy another one at the fly shop, but like I said, I was kind of attached to this particular one. It and I had a history together.

I thought back. Where had I last seen the thing? Then I remembered my friend Jay borrowed it a couple of weeks before when we were fishing on the Piedras River over near Dolores. I'd already caught a couple of nice brookies with the Wooley Bugger that morning, then had switched to a Royal Coachman for kicks. Jay had so far only hooked a single small brookie, too small to keep, on a No. 14 Adams dry fly. He borrowed my treasured Wooley Bugger, tied it on his tippet, and promptly hooked and landed a nice 10-inch brookie and then a 14-inch rainbow. Combined with what I had in the creel, that was plenty for lunch, so we headed home. Then his old VW van had a flat tire on the way back to town, we hitched a ride with those two nurses in the pickup truck, ended up going out to lunch with them, then dinner, then, well, we ended up leaving the fish in their refrigerator. And I lost track of my lucky fly. I just hope the nurses didn't let those tasty fish go to waste. I'd hate to think they died in vain.

Anyway, I was pretty sure that the last time I'd seen my Wooley Bugger, it had been hanging from the end of Jay's 7-foot, No. 5 fly rod.

I dialed Jay's number. No answer. But Jay usually doesn't answer his phone unless he's expecting a call. And he hates answering machines. So I hopped in my car and drove the two miles to his house. I spotted his old Volkswagen van parked in the street in front of the house, so I figured he was home and pulled over the curb. The front door of his apartment was open. I knocked on the screen door.

"Hey, Jay, you in there?" I yelled over the jazz flowing out of a boom box inside. Jay loved listening to jazz. He was also reasonably good with his battered old trumpet, though I rarely heard him play.

"In the kitchen! Come on in," he said.

He was in the middle of preparing vichyssoise, which is some kind of weird cold French soup whose main ingredient is strained potatoes. Personally, I prefer a nice hot chicken noodle.

The kitchen was a full-scale mess. He was preparing a meal for half a dozen friends. He hadn't invited me, but considering that cold strained potato soup was on the menu, I wasn't too put out. I turned down the jazz a few decibels, then asked him if he still had my Wooley Bugger.

"Yeah, man, I caught two fish with it this morning," he said.

"I want it back. I'm heading up to Lime Creek, and you know it's my good luck charm," I said.

"It's probably in my fishing vest hanging by the door."

I wandered over and rifled through the vest as Jay started complaining that he had seven people — including a couple of hot chicks — due for an early dinner in less than two hours, and he was low on butter and needed more wine. I didn't find the fly in the vest. His rod was leaning in the corner, but it had a No. 12 gnat tied on the tippet, not my Wooley Bugger. I made a quick inspection of his decrepit straw cowboy hat, in which a large number of flies were impaled, but no luck there, either. I stepped back to the kitchen to voice my concern over the missing fly. But Jay was still blathering on about his wine shortage.

He'd bought four bottles of his favorite cheap table wine specifically for the dinner, he said, but had split one bottle the night before with Leslie, a woman from work. Leslie lived a couple of blocks away and had invited him over to watch a horror flick on the tube. She loved suspense films, but couldn't stand to be alone in the house while watching one. It wasn't the first time Jay had shared a bag of popcorn with her. I'd been to her house a couple of times myself in the role of movie companion. Leslie was a nice and intelligent lady, a good conversationalist, and very cute. I didn't mind at all when the really scary parts of a movie arrived and she reflexively grabbed an arm or huddled close against my shoulder. Don't get me wrong — it wasn't like she's a tease or anything like that. She just loves scary movies and likes to have someone to hold onto during the creepy parts. After the movie was over, Jay and I each knew we'd get a grateful smile and maybe a friendly hug, then the door. That was okay with me. Jay and I never spoke of such things, but we each knew the score with Leslie, and each reveled in the experience of a private movie showing with her. She just wanted someone to hold onto for a couple of hours of Hollywood fantasy, then she wanted her privacy. She didn't have a steady boyfriend to keep her company, which is why she enlisted me or Jay on film nights. I didn't know why she didn't have an actual boyfriend. Somewhere on the edge of my conciousness, I had been thinking of applying for the position.

Anyway, Jay had shared popcorn and one of his precious bottles of wine with her. That got me thinking. Maybe he was interested in the boyfriend role, too. That would mean I'd have competition with Leslie, if I decided to ask her out on an actual date. Maybe I'd better rent a horror film, buy a bottle of wine or a six-pack and invite her over to my place. Well ... maybe tomorrow. I was going fishing today.

Jay went on to say that he had consumed another bottle of wine himself that morning while preparing one of his famous exotic meals. I could see that for myself — his eyes were a bit more watery than usual, he had a crooked grin on this face, and he was trying to hum along with the stereo in between telling his tale of woe about the depleted stock of wine and preparing the vichyssoise. As I mentioned, Jay is famous for his exotic meals — exotic for a down-home small mountain town, anyway. Jay loved to cook, and he loved to have a group of friends enjoy his efforts.

One time, for example, he raided all the local stores to assemble a meal for five of us consisting of grilled duck, baked papaya with almond sauce, Waldorf salad and some kind of fruit dessert that's supposed to be served flaming. But by that stage in the meal, we had consumed all the brandy, so we had to eat the fruit sans flames. It was delicious anyway, as far as I can remember.

Today, though, Jay had gone fishing at dawn and taken enough trout to serve his invitees. And he'd used my Wooley Bugger to take a good portion of those fish. But instead of giving me thanks for the loan of my good-luck fly, I realized he was still asking me go fetch more wine and a couple pounds of butter while he continued his culinary preparations.

"But what about my Wooley Bugger?" I asked.

"It's around here someplace," said Jay. "But I really need more wine and some butter. I'm workin' on deadline, man, and I still need to make the dumplings. There's some cash in the flower pot. Be a pal, buy me some wine and have it back here pronto."

I gave in. The Wooley Bugger would have to wait. A friend in need is a friend not to be ignored. I walked over to the flowerpot, an ugly brown cylinder that squatted ponderously on the floor and was filled with what appeared to be a small dead shrub and some random twigs jammed in at various angles. I groped underneath the distressed plant and came up with a twenty and a handful of ones.

I glanced back toward the kitchen and saw Jay opening yet another bottle.

"When you get back, you can have some of this, too," he said, tipping a glass toward me so suddenly that some spilled onto the floor. Not even noticing the splash, he took a giant swallow, then held the empty glass high. "Get, say, four bottles of this, two pounds of butter, a large can of hot green chili peppers, a fresh pineapple and a big bag of peanut M&Ms. You can stay for dinner if you want — I invited Sandra from the office, and she's bringing along her female cousin, who's in town for a week from Atlanta."

He winked at me.

Sandra was a curvey redhead who manned the phones and front desk at our place of employment in downtown Durango. She'd been working there about eight months and Jay had been talking about her for at least that long. Jay has this thing about freckles, and Sandra's gorgeous face was covered with them. Every time Jay set eyes on her, a goofy smile would slide onto his face and he would stand straighter and his belly would miraculously flatten a little. Any day that Sandra was working the front desk, Jay would just happen to wander by several times to shoot the breeze and gaze wistfully at her freckles.

I had to admit Sandra was smart, cheerful, attractive and fun to be around. I began to wonder if her cousin might share her bright demeanor. Maybe my fishing trip could wait until tomorrow.

"I'll go fetch your groceries, Jay," I said. "And I'll think about the dinner invitation."

I headed out in search of wine for a friend. But on the way out, I stopped at Jay's van and gave it a quick inspection to see if he had maybe left my lucky fly in there. No such luck.

I drove home and quickly changed into more presentable jeans and a clean golf shirt. That passed for formal wear in Durango, at least for me. Then I stepped on the gas and headed to the liquor store.

Copyright Daniel Nielsen

Friday, April 12, 2013

Best Water in the World

SHORT STORY: Best Water in the World

by Daniel Nielsen

Going about my business downtown one afternoon, I glanced up again to the collection of buildings halfway up Winnemucca Mountain, the clot of tiny rectangles stashed among the distance-faded delicate folds of a sagebrush blanket covering the side of the mountain.

Obviously the remains of mine workings, the buildings had caught my eye soon after I moved to town. In the months since, a curiosity had grown inside me, a feeling that something interesting might be up there. I seemed to notice things that others rarely found noteworthy. Maybe that’s why I ended up working for a newspaper, where it was my job to find interesting stories. My own story is pretty boring. Maybe that’s why I gravitated to journalism -- so I could tell stories that were more interesting than my own.

Sometimes when I looked up at the old mine site, I could barely make out the shape of a truck or car. At five miles distant from downtown, details weren’t visible. Only mysterious hints of what might be. I imagined that the group of misshapen buildings, which altogether appeared no bigger than a fingernail at that distance, would be fairly large close up. I wondered what mineral the mine had been built for, when it opened, how many men it had employed, when it closed. I asked around at the office. No one knew, and no one cared.

A visit to the library revealed that Humboldt County was the second-largest gold producing county in the nation. Gold first was discovered there way back in 1863. I also discovered Humboldt County was the oldest county in Nevada, having been established by the Utah Territorial Legislature, five years before the state of Nevada was created. When Nevada was established in 1861, Humboldt became one of the state’s original nine counties. There was a lot of history there.

One Saturday morning with nothing better to do, I drove across the river, turned off the pavement, followed a dusty gravel road a couple of miles along the base of the mountain, then turned up a likely looking two-track that slithered between the four-foot-tall sagebrush like a dry brown snake wandering up a slope of sun-baked grass.

A few miles up the bumpy track, I rounded into a draw and the mine buildings suddenly came into sight a mile ahead. They were massive, much larger than I had imagined. I drove on. There was no fence, but there was a battered no-trespassing sign. Fifty yards farther ahead, I could see a 20-year-old Ford pickup beside a tiny hut with a wisp of smoke curling out of a tin chimney pipe. About a hundred yards past that was a metal wall that stood maybe five stories tall at the front, hunkered down close to the steep mountainside, its striated sheet steel siding punctuated by a series of small windows. Pieces of rusting machinery littered the gravelly ground around the raw edifice.

I pulled ahead, parked a few feet from the pickup truck, turned off the ignition and waited. I wondered how seriously the person in the hut took the “no trespassing” sign. Would he come out with a shotgun or a smile?

A minute passed. I was sure the sounds of my engine grinding up the slope would have been heard.

The door swung open toward me, followed by a grizzled face covered in two days of white stubble. A grimy baseball cap with a Detroit Tigers logo shaded eyes that featured a permanent squint against the high desert sun. Below that was a smile.

“What can I do fer ya?”

“I work for the newspaper and was just curious about the mine,” I said. “I asked around down there, and no one seems to know much about it.”

He looked past me down the slope at town. I turned to follow his gaze and was surprised by the new perspective our high vantage point offered. My experience in town so far had been at ground level. Winnemucca was a typical small town with a grid of streets, a brick downtown surrounded by neighborhoods with only the occasional tree. Spreading from the central district, tentacles of tawdry commercial development following the highway at each end of town on the east and west, where I-80 connected the enclave with the rest of the world. The town seemed raw despite its venerable age, tending toward sprawl, and desperate to make a buck. 

But from up there on the mountainside, it looked ... pretty. The Humboldt River, though brown with dissolved sediment, wore a cloak of green foliage from one end of town to the other. It was roughly paralleled by Interstate 80, a four-lane ribbon of economic life, cars speeding along west and east like blood cells pumping along an artery, bringing cash to town and taking away spent tourists. From up there, the sparse tree cover blended together into a comfortable blanket of green that softened the hard outlines of pavement, brick and commercialism.

“I love the view from up here,” the man said.

“It is beautiful,” I agreed.

I introduced myself and explained that I just hoped to learn a bit about the mine’s history, maybe write a story about it. He seemed open to the idea.

“The owners don’t want anybody in there. The insurance, you know. But I can talk about it.”

I pulled a notebook and pen out of my jacket pocket and asked him his name.

“Hank Fordyce. I’ve been caretaker here for 12 years.”

He told me the mine had ceased production 30 years before, had been sold three times since then to different consortiums, each of which had plans to reopen it. But the property itself hadn’t been touched since the day the miners were let go three decades ago.

“I get down into town once or twice a week for groceries,” he said. "But I like it up here."

“What do you do to pass the time?”

“Oh, I read. Go for walks.”

I took notes as we talked for a few minutes about his former life as a long-haul truck driver, always on the road, always away from home. About how his wife got sick of being alone so much and eventually divorced him. About the daughter, now 24, who wanted nothing to do with him. About how the divorce soured him with life on the road. About how he had fled from memories and ended up in this lonesome outpost shack on a lonesome mountainside near a lonesome desert town.

I looked at the tar paper shack from which he had emerged. I guessed it to be 12 feet by 16 feet.

“This is where you live?”

“Yup. Would you like a tour?”

“Sure,” I replied.

He opened the door and gestured me in. The main feature was a homemade woodstove constructed from a 55 gallon steel barrel, laid on its side and fitted with a hinged iron door on one end and a tin stove pipe leading up to a 90-degree bend and then through the wall. A flat steel rectangle had been welded to the curved top of the barrel, and on it sat a greasy cast iron frying pan, a cheap aluminum percolator and an ancient aluminum saucepan deeply encrusted with the burned overflow of hundreds of meals. A neat stack of split wood stood next to the stove. Above the woodpile were two open shelves stocked with three cans of pork and beans, two cans of peaches, a box of saltines, a one-pound coffee can, one tin pie plate cradling one spoon, one fork and one steak knife, a blue enameled tin coffee cup, and a mousetrap baited with a single baked bean. A cheap twist-handle can opener hung from the shelf by a length of bailing wire.

Behind the woodstove was a narrow cot, parallel to the stove, presumably to maximize the use of heat while sleeping. Two neatly folded olive drab wool blankets sat in the middle of the cot, a flattened old pillow near one end. Nearby, an open shelf held, neatly folded, a pair of blue jeans and two plaid shirts and; loosely rolled up, two pairs of boxer shorts and two pairs of socks.

Against the right wall was a rickety old folding card table and one battered and scratched metal folding chair. Above the table there was a bare wood shelf screwed to the wall. It held five threadbare old paperback books, a stack of four decades-old National Geographics and a single Boston Globe newspaper that was a deeply faded, nearly the same yellow as the Geographics. 

Just the place for a worn-out man to come to try and forget a haunted past. I was sure that he spent his days and night in this spare space doing nothing but thinking about that past, reliving the joys and pains of personal history. He had said he spent his many hours reading and taking walks. Walks, maybe, but the books were covered by a half inch of dust.

The floor was unfinished plywood, dark gray from years of wear. Nearly black paths traced the traffic patterns from door to table to stove to bed. There was a small window, insulated with two layers of tightly stretched plastic, above the bed, with an opaque view of a sagebrush slope leading up the mountain. A larger window allowed anyone seated at the table to gaze left at the gigantic behemoth mine building towering about the length of a football field distant. Sitting in the decrepit folding chair, you could look straight ahead through the third and largest window in the hut and see an expansive view of the town below, the valley in which it was centered, and a panorama of mountains to the south, perhaps 10 miles away.

The view was to die for.

“Hank,” I said, “the view is wonderful.”

“It’s one of the two reasons I’ve stayed here so long.”

“What’s the other reason?”

“The water.”

I waited for an explanation. Hank just stood there, eyes locked on mine, smiling. I waited. He remained mute and patient, waiting for me to ask the inevitable question. Northern Nevada is not a wet place. Sure, there was the Humboldt River down in town, but it was not the kind of water you love. It was an opaque ribbon of mud-colored liquid, slothfully pushing itself westward between the brown mountains, pushing itself away from here, offering little to those who remained here. Other than that, most of northern Nevada is parched.

“What water?” I asked.

“The best water in the world,” he said.

His eyes, bright with expectation, waited for my next question. I glanced around the sparse interior of the shack and saw no indication that water existed on the planet.


“Do you have a cup or something?” he asked. "Let's get a drink."

He retrieved the blue coffee cup from the shelf near the woodstove. We stepped back outside. The only suitable receptacle I could find in my truck was a waxed cardboard cup left over from a stop at the local McDonald’s a couple of days earlier. I held it up so he could see it.

“That’ll do,” Hank said.

He led me past his truck and on down a narrow footpath among the sagebrush to a spot about fifty feet from his shack. He stopped, turned, and smiled mysteriously at me, then pointed at a thin gray iron pipe that emerged vertically from the ground, took a ninety degree turn two feet up, then ended a foot later, the end stoppered by a cork. A rubber mallet dangled from the pipe, hanging by a length of baling wire, just like the can opener inside.

“This is the best water in the world. It's one of the two reasons I’ve stayed here for so long.”

He gestured for me to hold my cup near the pipe. He used the mallet to gently tap the cork first left, then right, to loosen it. Then he grabbed the cork between thumb and forefinger and twisted, hard at first, then with increasing gentleness as it loosened.

“Don’t lose any. This is precious stuff.”

I moved the disposable cup to capture the artesian water. He delicately eased the cork out of the pipe and water filled my cup. I moved it out of the way as Hank, spilling no more than a drop or two, gracefully moved his cup into the stream, then quickly replaced the cork and tapped it firm with the mallet.

Hank, again looking me in the eye as if he were sharing one of the great truths of the universe, took a sip from his blue cup. His eyes closed in what appeared to be ecstacy.

I tipped my unworthy container to my lips. The water smelled like boiled eggs. It tasted like tin foil had been dissolved in it, with a slight overtone of vanilla -- surely a remnant of two-day-old milkshake.

Hank watched me, smiling.

I took a second sip.

“Wow,” I said. “That is something else.”

“Like I said, the best water in the world.”

People get used to things they have, and grow to either love them or hate them. Hank had grown to love the peculiar taste of this groundwater. We stood, both sipping from our cups, both looking down at the town below, both breathing the clear desert air filled with the gentle odor of dry sage. He was perfectly at home, seemingly perfectly content, despite the fact he lived in a filthy shack with virtually no possessions and no visible human connections.

"A perfect view and the best water in the world," Hank said quietly to himself.

Copyright Daniel Nielsen

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Durango Tango: Screenplay, scene 1, first draft

 After months of slowly working my way into my novel, I suddenly got the urge to try setting out the story in screenplay format. I don't know much about screenplays, having read just a few of them. I thought it might be educational to write in the style. And I found that the words flowed into the keyboard quite quickly. Of course, I've already written this scene and many more in novel format, so I knew how it was going. But writing the story in screenplay format got me thinking in a film mindset and helped me get a better visual handle on the scenery and the action.

This is the first draft, no editing, rough prose. This scene is heavy on description and very light on dialogue, but it's intended to be an action sequence that introduces the setting and the main character. On film, this scene would run only four to six minutes.

The first chapter, first scene of "Durango Tango" in rough draft:


WIDE: We are just above treeline looking down on rugged Rocky
         Mountain peaks. We're alongside a two-track Jeep trail, with
          a sweeping view of a small valley below, a few hundred feet
          below. It is beautifully quiet, with just a hint of breeze.

POV:  We look through the ground glass of a large format camera,
         attached to a tripod, then aim it toward the valley and
          fiddle with some adjustments.

EXTREME WIDE SHOT: We see John Twist, his aging car sitting
         a few feet away, more mountains all around.

          John Twist is a twenty-something guy wearing worn jeans,
          hiking boots and a wool shirt.

          Twist finishes adjusting the camera as the evening dims and
          stars appear in the black sky. He walks to the car, and we
          notice he has a slight limp. He takes a swig from a thermos
          of coffee and pulls on a jacket and gloves. Inside the car,
          we see a camera bag or two filled with lenses, another
          camera body, enough gear to show us he is a serious
          photographer. There's a fly-fishing pole on the back ledge.

          He limps back to the camera, looks through the viewfinder
          again, then trips the shutter and sets a stopwatch to 20
          minutes. He is photographing star trails with a long time

          Among the beautiful field of stars, we notice the blinking
          marker light of a small airplane flying low. Twist notices
          it too.

                    Arrgh! That's gonna ruin my shot.
                    (to himself)

          Twist looks at the stopwatch even though he knows it only
          just started. The plane gets closer. Twist watches the plane
          lose altitude and begin to turn. Our attention turns to the
          bottom of the valley, where we notice a pair of headlights
          illuminating a straight stretch of Jeep trail. A moment
          later, someone down there lights a flare and tosses it on
          the trail. We watch as a few more flares are lit and
          dropped, marking an impromptu landing strip.

          The plane turns, switches on its landing lights, lines up
          with the flares, makes a short rough landing, takes a bad
          bump just before it reaches the headlights, CRASHES into the
          vehicle and flips upside down.

          Twist is stunned for a moment.

          Then he steps to his car, rummages in the backseat and comes
          up with a small backpack and a large flashlight. He stuffs a
          small first-aid kit and a water bottle into the pack and
          puts it on. He takes off down the slope as fast as the
          lighting and footing will allow.


          Twist emerges, out of breath, onto the Jeep trail and jogs
          toward the crash scene. He passes several burning flares in
          the two-track and arrives at


          The high-wing small plane is upside down in the Jeep trail,
          its landing lights illuminating what is left of an open Jeep
          sitting 10 feet from the edge of the track. Apparently, the
          wing of the plane hit the Jeep, which spun and flipped the
          plane. The Jeep is smashed, its windshield bent back flat
          atop the seats.

                    Can anyone hear me? (shouting)

          Twist approaches the plane and sees liquid dripping from the
          engine compartment. Peering inside, he sees that the pilot
          is still strapped in, hanging from the seat belts. The door
          is hanging loose, so Twist points his flashlight at the
          pilot. His face is covered in blood. The pilot slowly opens
          his eyes in response to the light. But the eyes remain open.
          He's dead. In the cargo area behind the pilot, we see a
          number of bales of marijuana. On the ceiling below the pilot
          lies a large handgun.

          Twist steps toward the Jeep and trips, falling to his hands
          and knees, face-to-face with a severed head. He leaps to his

                    (Twist is a man of few words)

          He sees the corpse that belongs to the head sitting in the
          Jeep. Apparently, the wing or the windshield frame
          decapitated him.

          Twist looks from the Jeep to the plane. Obviously a drug
          delivery. He notices a duffle bag in the back of the Jeep.
          He steps out of the area lit by the plane's landing lights,
          into darkness, and carefully surveys every inch of the
          valley rim. Satisfied no one else is nearby, he retrieves
          the duffle bag and carries it to a spot behind the plane, in
          the edge of the dark. He unzips the duffle and is not
          surprised that it is filled with bundles of cash. He moves a
          bit farther into the darkness, then jams as many of the
          bundles as possible into his small backpack. Then he sticks
          a few into his jacket pockets.

          The duffel is still a quarter full. Kneeling near the plane,
          he sees liquid still dripping from the engine. He notices
          the leaking fuel has puddled and a rivulet of gasoline is
          now making its way down one of the Jeep trail tracks. The
          liquid is halfway to the first burning flare.

          He tosses two or three packets of cash into the dark beyond
          the Jeep, then places the duffle back where he found it.

          Twist takes a lingering look around the crash scene. He rubs
          out a couple of clear footprints he had made where he fell.
          Then he walks back down the Jeep trail. When he reaches the
          first flare, he carefully kicks it from one track depression
          into the other, directly in the path of the approaching
          trickle of gas. Then he sets off at a trot.


          He returns to where he started, totally out of breath from
          exertion. He turns to look into the valley.

          We see flame suddenly reach out from the first flare, race
          up the Jeep trail and reach the plane. A moment later,
          there's an EXPLOSION.

          Twist reaches up to his camera, still on the tripod, and
          closes the shutter. Methodically, he removes the camera from
          the tripod, stows it in the car, folds up the tripod and
          puts it and his backpack into the trunk. He shines the
          flashlight all around, kicks out a few clear footprints to
          obscure them. Then he calmly and slowly drives down the
          rocky trail.