Made of Antler
left Grassdale and crossed the southeast corner of Washington
into Idaho and an hour after sundown drove the wooded gorge of
the Cinnamon River past Finegold and the other small towns
set between the ravine and the mountains.
good road, but windy, without a divider, and logging trucks and
cars go too fast. At night their headlights get trapped and
magnified in the gorge, like train spotlights in a tunnel.
time I went around a turn I hugged the shoulder, thinking a car
would drift over the double line. On one side was the cliff wall
and on the other the river.
Tug was talking about an idea
for a movie, about a couple approaching middle age, Jay and
Roberta Dale, a handsome man and a beautiful woman who are expert
Hollywood make-up artists, the best in the business. They’re
embittered because their true love is acting—they’ve
failed to break into movies and now time is running out.
Roberta is the make-up person for Gloria Jordan, and Jay
does the face and hair for Tony Blanchard, Gloria’s
leading-man husband. The two play opposite each other, like
Katherine Hepburn and Spenser Tracy, in a string of hits.
night in a bar the unhappy couple see their reflections start to
change in the mirror—they decide to murder the stars and
take their places.
The would-be killers tail the actors
and learn all their secret weaknesses, then make themselves up as
the stars and perfectly imitate their voices and gestures, their
walk and the way they hold their cigarettes. Roberta confronts
Tony coming out of an exclusive Beverly Hills massage parlor, Jay
surprises Gloria as she leaves an appointment with a Swiss
The Dales have real talent and
inspiration, they’re better actors than their legendary
doubles who take them for granted, and together they’ve
worked out perfect scripts, scenarios that will play on guilt and
fear, then trust and forgiveness, to trap their unsuspecting
They easily seduce and begin torrid affairs with
their victims, who live in adjoining mansions, then all four meet
at a secluded luxury spa in Big Sur. Roberta and Jay plan to
shoot the stars, put the bodies in the modest cabin they’ve
rented and set it on fire, so the police will think it’s
the Dales who have died—they’ve made special dentures
to fool the coroner.
But the killers have underestimated
their own great acting abilities.
The matinee idol has
fallen deeply in love with Roberta, his glamorous wife is wild
about Jay. Gloria and Tony believe their marriage has been
miraculously rejuvenated, that their spoiled mates are suddenly
sincere and passionate and fascinating instead of selfish and
vain. When they realize they’ve fallen in love with their
masquerading employees, they aren’t angry but excited.
The actress wants to kill Tony and let Jay take his
place, the actor decides to murder Gloria and have Roberta play
Everyone is beautiful and looks alike, and the
Dales—who suddenly lose faith and betray one another out of
greed and ambition and fear that they’ll lose their one
chance at fame—get mixed up and shoot each other.
movie ends with the stars sitting alone on facing leather sofas,
holding their dying lovers in their arms.
a good idea,” I told Tug when he’d finished.
was vivid, I had seen the complex scenes unfolding and all the
sets, even the river boulders in the spa’s floor-to-ceiling
fireplace and waterfall.
“You ought to write it
Between oncoming cars, when the canyon was
dark, I’d looked over at the river running just beyond the
road’s shoulder. When we passed Finegold, the water lit up
with blue and red and green neons. Somehow Tug’s story was
the river and the river was the story and the pickup moved along
both toward the end.
I’d remembered Holly,
Jenny’s—my ex-wife’s—sister, and how her
double, Paul’s neighbor, Julie, lived on in Mussel Bay.
Each time I’d seen Julie my heart would pick up and
I’d start to say hello, before I remembered she wasn’t
Holly. Still, I’d think Jenny or Holly were trying to send
me a message.
Then this morning Jenny came to get the
lost dishes and said Holly had died of cancer, two years ago.
Two nights ago I’d had the dream of the white
statues in the green river.
“I thought it up last
week,” Tug said. “I was stoned.”
just finished a story in a book Paul had loaned him—Twice-Told
Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
“The Great Stone
Face is a big granite rock, a natural Mt. Rushmore in New
Hampshire. Whoever’s face matches the rock is a hero or
savior or something. Famous politicians and rich people,
generals—one guy is named ‘Gathergold,’ one is
‘General Blood-and-Thunder’—they show up and
everyone gets excited that finally it’s the Great Stone
“But the spoiled people’s faces never
match the rock and this kid, he keeps getting bummed-out, but he
doesn’t lose faith.
“At the end, you find out
the boy who’s waited all his life—he’s an old
man now—he’s the one. He’s humble, a good
“Over the years his face changed to the
face of the rock.”
Tug paused and watched his own
reflection in the darkened side window.
liked it. I told Dixie but she didn’t like the end.”
“The Hawthorne story?”
movie. She wanted Gloria and Tony to kill each other, then
Roberta and Jay to take over their identities. The Dales haven’t
committed a crime and now their dream comes true. The studio
needs the stars, the fans won’t know the difference, except
their acting is better, now they’ll probably win Oscars.
“She said that would be a happy ending.”
didn’t see a clear connection between “The Great
Stone Face” and “The Hungry Mirror.”
they were both about obscurity and fame, lowliness and wealth,
one was the legend of the hidden king no one knows or recognizes,
the other about finding or losing your true face in the look of
another. Maybe it was like the book I'd read again, The Hero with
a Thousand Faces.
“I guess it depends on whether
you want your movie to be a comedy or tragedy,” I said.
Tug said Dixie wanted to play Roberta.
idea for changing the ending reminded me of Roper lying on his
stomach in the back of the squad car outside the Gill Net, Tug
tending to the topless dancer's bloody nose and then taking Dixie
home as her abusive boyfriend headed for the station and a cell.
Was that comedy or tragedy?
On the Blue Fin,
Roper had wanted to kill the yellow fish, then threatened me with
the gaff when I grabbed his wrist.
I steered a little to
the right as we went into a turn.
A car came straight on
with its blinding headlights, passing a semi on the curve.
went off onto the shoulder toward the rock wall as the black car
floated three or four inches along our side. Along the front
fender I saw two long gouges, the top one green and the lower
white and reaching halfway across the door. Everything turned
into that fake slow motion where the seconds divide into years.
Very clearly I could see the eager bony face of the
black-haired teenage driver, the thin mustache on his short
I could have reached out and touched his
sideburned cheek or the pale blue sleeve of his t-shirt. I could
have grabbed his ear.
With a long scream of tires he
crawled by, whipping back in line in front of the semi. The
diesel hit its air brakes and started to zigzag, and I held the
jumping pickup against the wall of rock.
The lumber truck
howled by like a train, nearly grazing our fender and the door
and fishtailing so white two-by-fours began rolling off, sailing
past the window as I ducked and leaned toward Tug.
mirror I saw the car’s taillights flash once and disappear
around a turn as the big truck’s brakes blinked and lumber
scattered from either side, tumbling end over end down the road
and into the river as oncoming cars began to swerve.
mirror went dark as we rounded the curve.
shit!” Tug said.
My hands began to shake, my knees
felt weak, and my breathing came fast.
My side mirror lit
up and I saw a car was behind us. I drove on.
fucker had his foot to the fucking metal,” Tug said. “You
“He must’ve been drunk.”
But his slow fleeting image hadn’t looked drunk.
His face appeared energized, aggressive and alert.
tried to breathe deep, slowing down, driving deliberately through
the next turn.
I heard a siren and saw flashing red
lights coming toward us and I signaled and pulled to the rock
wall as crimson light swept the cab and the highway patrol car
“He’s after him,” Tug said.
“I hope he gets him before he kills somebody.”
“It’s going to be spooky. I’m glad I’m
I imagined a pile-up in the narrow
canyon, cars leaving the road and leaping toward the river as
their headlights shot across the pines.
turn we saw more flashing lights at a crossroads up ahead.
the left was a town smaller than Finegold—I forget its
name, though later I heard it on the radio at the Elgin Hotel—and
on the right sheriffs’ cars and an ambulance parked in
front of an A & W hamburger stand.
The front window
of the stand was gone and some attendants leaned over somebody on
“He robbed it,” Tug said. “He
“I saw him,” I said.
“For a second.”
“They’ll get him.
I don't want to go back.”
“No. Let’s go
“I’m going to have a joint. I got
“Go ahead. I want to get away
from the river.”
“Keep up the good work,
Billy boy. My life’s in your hands.”
feel a little shaky.”
“How about some music?”
Tug flipped on a Dead tape.
It was “Broke-Down
Palace,” about how on hands and knees you had to row, row,
row. I liked it but not now.
“How about something
He went through the cassettes, then slipped
A young Otis Redding sang “Dock of the
Bay,” telling how he was so far from home. All day from San
Francisco he sat watching the tide come in and go out, as we
drove on along the Cinnamon River.
About four miles from
where the gorge opens out and the road leaves the river, we came
to a country crossroads and a white clapboard grocery store.
“Why don’t you pull in.” Tug lifted his
hand. “I’ll get some stuff to eat.”
parked in front, next to a white Chevy pickup with Idaho plates.
On a bench on the store’s porch an Indian kid about sixteen
sat next to an old woman with gray hair in braids. She wore a
faded sweatshirt, a long black skirt, and a dark bead necklace
with a white pendant.
Tug opened his door. “Come
on, help me pick the kind of sandwiches you want.”
going to buy ’em?”
going to make ’em.” He grinned. “Tug’s
the cook now.”
At the ranch, we'd had to eat my
dad's venison chili.
I watched Tug go up the steps and
into the store, then got out. I felt stiff and tired and worn out
from the near wreck.
I climbed the wood steps and the
Indian boy got up off the bench and stepped toward me.
“Hey,” I said.
from Oregon, Captain?” When the boy talked I saw he had
teeth missing in front.
a good place.”
The boy shook his head. His shiny black hair fell across half his
face. He cocked his head, flinging the hair clear of his eyes.
“They don’t like Indians here. No jobs, no
money. I’m broke.”
“How much you need?”
“Three bucks. My aunt likes Thunderbird.”
looked over at the silent woman who stared straight ahead, her
dark eyes unblinking in her impassive face. I took out my wallet.
I felt generous. Tug and I could easily be dead.
Buy her something decent. Get something to eat.”
boy looked at the ten-dollar bill, then reached for it.
“Thanks.” He slipped a hand into his pants
pocket. “Here, Cap. It’ll bring you good luck.”
In the porch light he handed me a small figure made out
I looked at it. It was a sleeping papoose in a
boat-shaped basket. There was a hole to run a string through for
a necklace. It was carefully carved.
okay.” I tried to hand it back.
The boy lifted a
“Go ahead, it’s good.” His large
black eyes looked into mine.
“All right. Thanks.”
“It’s the Sleeping Child.”
The boy stared at me. “You know
I studied the carving, turning it over in my
“I’ve heard of it.”
medicine,” the boy said. “It’ll bring you good
He turned back to his aunt, who still hadn’t
moved, and I entered the grocery.
It was an old general
store with a creaky, slatted-wood floor and a high ceiling of
molded tin squares.
I nodded at a woman in a red muu muu
behind the counter. She had dyed black hair. At her back were
shelves of cheap wine and a single row of different whiskeys in
half-pints. She was watching Tug in the fish-eye mirror on the
I went along an aisle of canned goods,
fishhooks, and salmon eggs and lures, to where Tug stood at a
cold case of cheeses and sandwich meats. He had a little wire
basket hooked over his arm.
“Where you been?”
“I was talking to the kid out front.”
see the jackalope?” Tug nodded above the refrigerator doors
at a stuffed jackrabbit wearing antlers. “We oughta nail a
few fins on it and send it to Paul. There's his monster.”
He reached down. “So, you want ham or baloney?”
Tug picked up a square
“Get some bread and I’ll
get us a tomato and some condiments. You know, sage leaves with
I walked back toward the front, took a
loaf of Roman Meal off a wood shelf and potato chips from a rack,
and waited for Tug by the counter.
The old Indian woman
stood across from the clerk in the muu muu. She pointed at a
bottle of Sunnybrook, then down at a candy bar.
stood with her hands on her hips. “You got money?”
The Indian woman nodded.
The old woman opened her hand, showing
the ten-dollar bill.
“Set it down,” said the
I thought she sounded disappointed. She turned,
reaching for the half-pint of whiskey, then took the candy bar
from the rack. She bagged them and took the ten dollars off the
counter. The Indian woman waited for change.
closed the cash drawer, then looked up, irritated.
change. Sandwich, yesterday. And a Coke. You still owe me—”
The boy’s grandmother held out her hand.
clerk shook her head. “No money. No more.”
her change?” I said.
The clerk looked at me,
scowling. “What’s it matter?”
“Two-fifty,” the clerk said.
I took out my wallet.
“Here,” I said.
I touched the Indian woman’s wrist with three one-dollar
She acknowledged me with sharp black eyes in her
deeply wrinkled brown face but didn’t speak.
white antler carving like her nephew had given me hung from the
end of her black necklace.
She took the money from my
hand, then picked up her bag and went out. Her hair was almost
white. She wasn’t five feet tall.
drink it here,” the clerk called after her. “You hear
Tug came up with a six-pack of Miller’s
and the groceries and set them on the counter.
I put the
loaf of bread and the chips on the pile, next to a blue plastic
sack of ice.
“Is that all?”
looked at the words on Tug’s t-shirt, then his hair and the
“You want anything else?” Tug asked
“No,” I said. “Let’s go.”
The clerk rang up the beer and bread and meat.
handed Tug half the money and he paid and she bagged the
groceries. She slipped the bread in on top of the cold drinks and
blue ice and nodded toward the door.
“I ask people
not to do that.”
“Give money to Indians. They don’t
need any encouragement.”
“I can imagine,”
Tug said. He looked at the shelves of liquor. “You have
many fine wines.”
They drink it, I just sell it.”
She shoved the bag across the counter.
Tug said. “I’ll tell that to Custer.”
glared at Tug.
As I got into the truck, I saw the boy
wave from under a locust tree where he sat on the ground with his
aunt. He reached toward her and lifted the white pendant of her
necklace and I waved back.
“We need to watch it.”
I turned to Tug, nodding toward the storefront. “This is
“I’m used to it. You
got to snap right back. I learned that being the only long-hair
in Sweet Home.”
“That sounds like fun.”
I started the truck.
“It was. Between fights I got
a lot of dates. Had to leave, though.”
“Those loggers take a drink and
start to get amorous. What do they say? ‘This is the Wild
Wild West, where men are men and the sheep are terrified.’”
“That makes a pretty picture.”
backed out, then turned to pull onto the road. I saw the clerk
watching us at the window.
going?” I asked after we’d gone half a mile.
Wicked Witch said there’s a campground just up the road.”
I was tired and eager to eat something and get some
sleep. After the fugitive kid and the lumber truck I didn’t
want to drive anymore tonight.
The air felt cool at the
window. Sugar pines edged the road and above them the stars shone
bright against the black sky that grew lighter to the west.
Beyond the pines somewhere the moon was heading down. I could
smell the bread in the sack.
A quick cottontail crossed
the road through the headlights and disappeared in a snapshot of
red eye, bent ears and arched back, white puff tail.
only now, a year later, that I’m beginning to understand
how everything fit together—each animal and tree, moon and
star there for me to read if I’d been awake and alert.
Tug leaned forward, peering through the windshield.
“It’s in here, somewhere. There.”
pointed and a brown forestry sign stood up in the lights.
Turtle Lake State Park
I slowed and turned down the dirt road through
“I’m worn out,” Tug
I pulled around a
sloping shelf of granite and saw the small round lake with white
moonlight on it.
The campground lay below us in a stand
of trees. It looked deserted, only a single fire at either end of
the line of darkened campsites.
one here. You think it’s too late in the year?”
don't know,” Tug said. “It’s just the way I
Tug lit a kerosene lantern and made thick
good sandwiches with lots of ham and tomato. It was quiet, except
for a loon on the lake that called crazily again when you thought
it was gone.
We sat at the picnic table eating supper and
drinking cold beer, the lantern throwing a circle of fuzzy yellow
light. We couldn’t hear the other campers. Except for their
low fires through the trees, you wouldn’t have known anyone
else lived on the planet.
“I like this,” Tug
“It’s a good spot.”
want another sandwich?”
“The beer’s cold. You want another one?”
“Naw, I’m fine,” I said.
want to make love to the naked girl in the lake?”
Tug lit a joint and I took a hit, then
passed it back. It seemed like Tug had been smoking all day from
the same joint that never ran out, like a soup stone.
traveled many miles,” Tug said.
“States of consciousness,”
Tug said. “We crossed the line.”
right. This morning I’d seen Jenny again, for the last time
and the first time in six years, and realized how much I still
loved her. I’d learned that kind smart Holly had been dead
for two years, that her fiancé had sat by her bed.
seen Jenny’s two boys, Clint and Chad. Jenny and I might
have named our kids something else. And her husband, from a
distance. I knew what make and color of car she owned. Today her
boys had seen the lions at the Portland Zoo.
than a year I’d seen my parents, my fading father and in
the bar in Grassdale my alcoholic but youthful mother who called
me Tuesday’s Child. And her current lover. Brad Wallace.
And the dogs, trusting Willy and wary Chance. And
We’d nearly got killed an
A soft breeze rustled the highest pine boughs
and I wondered if anybody had been hurt in the canyon, if the
police had caught the thin-mustached boy I’d seen briefly
at the window of the black car that missed us by half a foot. I
wondered if he were still alive. I thought of the fresh lumber
tumbling like matchsticks into the dark river.
remembered the A & W and the ambulance attendants leaning
over somebody. It was sad big news and by moving on we’d
never know what happened though we’d nearly been in the
middle of it.
The lantern shone on the plank tabletop.
The moon made a circle of ivory light on the black water.
opened another beer that hissed and went quiet. In the yellow
light I examined the carving the Indian boy had given me. I
looked closely at the Sleeping Child’s small peaceful
“What you looking at?”
kid at the store gave it to me. Said it was good luck.”
handed the figure to Tug. “It’s cut out of some kind
Tug examined it. “It’s a
“He said it was the Sleeping Child.”
I looked out at
“Like the lake Paul was talking about.
The basket’s like a boat.”
oughta use it for a lure.”
Tug handed the carving
back, then pretended to cast and reel it in.
this show about Loch Ness. There’s a tunnel and the monster
goes back and forth, between these two lakes.”
thought they proved that was a fake.”
called again with its eerie mad cackle stranger than a peacock’s
`“Nessie? No way.” Tug grinned. “The
verdict’s in, man. Spock said so.”
thought that picture was a fake. Some doctor did it.”
“So? Who cares about the quack? There’s
plenty of people, straight-ass people who’ve seen it. Those
Scottish types that wear kilts and say ‘Bonnie morn’
and drink primo Scotch for lunch.”
that’s why they see it.”
“They got a
radar signal but there’s 20 miles of murky water 900 feet
Somewhere close an owl hooted twice.
think it’s some kind of finned dinosaur. A
something-saurus. You never know.” Tug drank his beer.
put the carving in my pants pocket, then got up and stretched.
“I think I’ll turn in.”
want some more weed? It’ll give you good dreams.”
“Naw, I need some regular sleep.”
tell you my other movie. Superman and Batman switch uniforms for
a day and the Man of Steel falls for Cat Woman, Batman likes Lois
Lane. They don’t know Lois and the Cat have changed places.
They all meet at Big Sur. It’s called ‘Trading
“One a day, like a vitamin.
You’ll give me nightmares.”
“Tug’s the cook.”
got a plastic ground cloth from the back of the truck and spread
it out a little way from the table.
We didn’t have
a tent but I wasn’t worried about bears. I couldn’t
remember if there were grizzlies in Idaho. I unrolled my bag and
stripped down to my underwear, folded my shirt and pants to use
as a pillow, then got in.
I lay there, looking out across
the fading moonlit water until the lantern went out and I heard
Tug roll out his bag.
“You still awake?” Tug
“Yeah,” I said.
a clear sky. You can see the stars.”
burned straight overhead. The night Tug had gone home with Dixie
I’d told Paul my mother’s story about Merope, the
missing sister, who’d fallen in love with a mortal. It was
Sisyphus, who pushed the rock. I’d read her father was
“Atlas,” which means “he who dares or suffers.”
He was Titan of the Moon, before he was beaten by Zeus and had to
hold up the Earth. What would Merope’s doctor say?
not sure,” I said. “It’s one of those that
reflects light from the sun. Like the moon. It’s not on
fire, like a star.”
Tug said. “You know, there’d be no life on Earth, you
and me wouldn’t be here this second, if it weren’t
“What’re you talking
“I saw a show about it the other
night. Jupiter’s the biggest planet in the solar system.
It’s like a big vacuum cleaner. It catches all the stray
rocks and asteroids that enter the system and get pulled toward
the sun. Otherwise they’d all crash into the Earth.”
“I didn’t know that.” It was like the
moon making the Earth tilt on its axis, back and forth in rhythm,
so the seasons were regular and plants would grow.
thought how it was a moral truth that our existence depended on
something preceding us, something cold and foreign and millions
of miles away, a bright speck in the sky among a trillion stars.
Jupiter was like a proof for God, or at least a brake on how much
you could gripe about your immediate predicament.
see those stars, straight up?” I said. “Like a tiny
“The Seven Sisters.”
right. That light left thousands of years ago. They may not be
“I know,” Tug said.
“They’re not there now. They’ve already moved.”
The sky was a memory of the sky. We thought about that
“We’ll be in Kootenay
tomorrow,” Tug said. “You’ll get to meet my
sister Joyce. And Ray. You’ll like Joyce and her boy.
They’re cool. Plus I laid it on, how you’re a prince
“We start working day after
“Just think, those saws and all
the junk are there right now, stuff we’ll be using, sitting
there in the dark, cooled down. Think of it. The cold oil in the
“The bark on the logs in the
“All the axes sleeping in the back of
“Some girl you’re
going to meet.”
“Or almost meet.”
“She’ll turn a corner,” I said, “just
before you see her.”
“Paul’s sitting in
his chair, looking at the fish.”
in jail. Dixie’s dancing at the Gill Net.”
down. I’m getting dizzy.”
“I guess it’s
time to sign off. See you in the morning.”
“Where do you think
Roberta and Jay Dale are right now?”
I laughed. “I
hope they’re far away from here.”
too,” Tug said. “Good night.”
looking up at the sky a little longer, thinking about Tug’s
strange movie about the doubles, then again about Holly and Julie
who looked the same, one alive and one gone, about the worlds of
things we didn’t know and probably never would, maybe no
one would ever understand at all, until the sky was deep dark
water and the stars were reflected in it and I was asleep.
Again I was in Sleeping Child Lake.
yellow tropical fish swam at my elbow as I pulled down away from
the Blue Fin toward the circle of light. Again, Roper had knocked
me off the boat with the gaff.
Again, just in time, just
before I was out of air, the yellow fish veered away and I
slipped through the clear porthole into the beautiful valley and
could breathe as I waded the green river.
Then I saw the
white statues in the water by the bank, Swanson, the paymaster
from Thomas Fisheries in Mussel Bay who’d given me the pink
slip and Roper and the boy with the thin mustache who’d
driven the black car by the Cinnamon River.
The woman in
the muu muu.
I looked down but my arm was still flesh.
I saw the white Sleeping Child carving shine at the
center of my palm and my right foot touched the grassy bank, then
my left and I didn't turn to stone.
I moved quickly,
running now through the sweet grass toward the brown teepees
painted with red suns and blue moons at the bend of the river.
A black-haired boy stood in clean deerskin before a pole
rack of drying pemmican.
I couldn’t see his turned
face but blue and green beads gleamed on his tunic. Then the
slender figure moved.
It was a young woman. She was
smiling and wore a leather band at her forehead and a tall
white-tipped feather in her hair.
I thought, There’s
a word that means “the peace that passeth understanding”—
As I ran faster I was disappointed I couldn’t
remember the word no matter how hard I tried, it was like being
underwater and unable to take a breath, then suddenly as I
gripped the antler Sleeping Child I realized I knew the word
after all and could say it if I wanted.
I was going to
shout it so the woman would know I was a friend even though I was
white, but stopped short as I heard a rifle shot behind me, for a
moment sure Roper’s statue had come to life and fired,
aiming at my back with the gaff that was a rifle, the bullet on
its way, spinning—
I sat up in my sleeping bag.
Tug was up on his elbow.
The passenger window of the truck exploded and
I ducked my head as the second report tore through the trees and
echoed back across the lake.
“Get over here!”
I cried out.
Tug and I scrambled toward a big rock. It
was three feet high and flat, the rangers had buried it on end as
a barrier for cars.
“I knew I shoulda brought a
piece—” Tug tried to catch his breath.
The words of the male voice came
from the trees up the hill.
Tug and I crouched behind the
rock in the dark.
“Get the message, fuckers?”
It was another voice.
A shot cracked and roared
and we ducked lower.
“You don’t screw with
It was the first voice, closer.
shot hit the unlit lantern on the table and it burst into flames.
The tabletop was on fire.
“You want to make a run?”
“Wait—” I grabbed Tug’s arm. I
thought I heard a motor starting.
you be gone, assholes!”
looked up over the edge of the rock and a pair of headlights
flashed on through the pines, the truck driving fast back up the
dirt road. Tug saw it too.
“Shit, this is crazy—”
Tug stood up slowly.
“Let’s get out of here.”
We threw dirt on the burning table and lantern, then
pulled on our clothes and dropped the gear in the back of the
A crescent of spider-webbed glass was left in the
window. Tug pulled at it but it was too short and wouldn’t
“You’ll cut yourself.”
tried to roll the broken window down into the door, but it was
With a piece of cardboard Tug swept the glass off
“Look.” Tug pointed to a hole in
the seat cover. “They were up above. Otherwise it would’ve
got the other window too.”
We got in and the light
went off. I started the truck, gunned the engine, and we started
back up the dusty road.
The other campers hadn’t
called out or approached.
“What if they’re
waiting for us?” I let up on the gas.
they won’t shoot out on the paved road.”
don’t think so?” I wasn’t sure.
long gone, the fucking cowards. Anyway, they said tomorrow.”
“It’s like the goddamned KKK,” I said.
“Like ‘Easy Rider.’ I thought we were
Something pinched my thigh. I hit the
stuck my hand into my pocket, then felt the carving.
pulled out the Sleeping Child and held it up. The sharp prow of
the basket had bit into me.
“My good-luck piece.”
“Shit. Throw that thing out the window.”
“Naw.” I looked at it in the green dashlight.
“We didn’t get shot, did we?”
guess not. That’s your redneck repellent.”
a ghost shirt.”
“Man, don’t start
talking about ghosts,” Tug said. “That was close.”
“I’ll wear it around my neck.”
man, you’re safe with me.”
“I can see
“You want to go back and smack the old
“I don’t think so.”
know, compadre,” Tug said, looking straight ahead as we
started again, “just this once I think you’re right.
The next place we stop, you tell off the clerk.”
I held the Sleeping Child in my palm.
toward the Indian village and the girl who wore the feather, I’d
learned a word I was almost able to speak.