Wednesday, 29 October 2008

28 October 2009

I do?” They were both asleep. I turned and crawled back through town. There wasn’t a soul in sight and not a single light. Suddenly a horseman in a raincoat appeared in my headlamps. It was the sheriff. He had a ten-gallon hat drooping in the torrent. “Which way to Austin?” He told me politely and I started off. Outside town I suddenly saw two headlamps flaring directly at me in the lashing rain. Woops, I thought I was on the wrong side of the road; I eased right and found myself rolling in the mud; I rolled back to the road. Still the headlamps came straight for me. At the last minute I realized the other driver was on the wrong side of the road and didn’t know it. I swerved at thirty into the mud; it was flat, no ditch, thank God. The offending car backed up in the downpour. Four sullen field workers snuck from their chores to brawl in drinking shacks, all white shirts and dirty brown arms, sat looking at me dumbly in the night. The driver was as drunk as the lot. He said “Which way t’Houston.” I pointed my thumb back. I was thunderstruck in the middle of the thought that they had done this on person just to ask directions, as a panhandler advances on you straight up the sidewalk to bar your way. They gazed ruefully at the floor of their car where empty bottles rolled and clanked away. I started the car; it was stuck in the mud a foot deep. I sighed in the Texas rainy wilderness. “Neal” I said “wake up.” “What?” “We’re stuck in the mud.” “What happened?” I told him. He swore up and down. We put on old shoes and sweaters and barged out of the car into the driving rain. I put my back on the rear fender and lifted and heaved; Neal stuck chains under the swishing wheels. In a minute we were bespotted with mud. We woke up Louanne to these horrors and made her gun the car while we pushed. The tormented Hudson heaved and heaved. We were in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly it jolted out and went skidding across the road. There weren’t any cars for miles. Louanne pulled it up just in time and we ran in. That was that---and the work had taken thirty minutes and we were soaked and miserable. I fell asleep all caked with mud; and in the morning when I woke up the mud was solidified and outside there was snow. We were near Fredericksburg Texas in the high plains. It

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