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"That's neat,'' said Ginger. "Like in The Outer Limits. I wish we could get that here."
"You ought to be getting into hydraulic engineering," said Paul. "Water's going to be really big business
not too long from now."
"I don't think I want to stick around Wyoming."
Carroll had been silently staring out over the valley. She turned back toward Steve and her eyes were
pools of darkness. "You're really going to leave?"
"Yeah."
"And never come back?"
"Why should I?" said Steve. "I've had all the fresh air and wide open spaces I can use for a lifetime. You
know something? I've never even seen the ocean." And yet he had felt the ocean. He blinked. "I'm getting
out."
"Me too," said Ginger. "I'm going to stay with my aunt and uncle in L. A. I think I can probably get into
the University of Southern California journalism school."
"Got the money?" said Paul.
"I'll get a scholarship."
"Aren't you leaving?" Steve said to Carroll.
"Maybe,'' she said. "Sometimes I think so, and then I'm not so sure."
"You'll come back even if you do leave,'' said Paul. "All of you'll come back.''
"Says who?" Steve and Ginger said it almost simultaneously.
"The land gets into you," said Carroll. "Paul's dad says so."
"That's what he says." They all heard anger in Paul's voice. He opened another round of cans. Ginger
tossed her empty away and it clattered down the rocks, a noise jarringly out of place.
"Don't," said Carroll. "We'll take the empties down in the sack."
"What's wrong?" said Ginger. "I mean, I& " Her voice trailed off and everyone was silent for a minute,
two minutes, three.
"What about you, Paul?" said Carroll. "Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?"
"We talked about-" His voice sounded suddenly tightly controlled. "Damn it, I don't know now. If I come
back, it'll be with an atomic bomb-"
"What?" said Ginger.
Paul smiled. At least Steve could see white teeth gleaming in the night. "As for what I want to do-'' He
leaned forward and whispered in Carroll's ear.
She said, "Jesus, Paul! We've got witnesses."
"What?" Ginger said again.
"Don't even ask you don't want to know." She made it one continuous sentence. Her teeth also were
visible in the near-darkness. "Try that and I've got a mind to goodnight you the hard way."
"What're you talking about?" said Ginger.
Paul laughed. "Her grandmother."
"Charlie Goodnight was a big rancher around the end of the century,'' Carroll said. "He trailed a lot of
cattle up from Texas. Trouble was, a lot of his expensive bulls weren't making out so well. Their
testicles-"
"Balls," said Paul.
"-kept dragging on the ground," she continued. "The bulls got torn up and infected. So Charlie Goodnight
started getting his bulls ready for the overland trip with some amateur surgery. He'd cut into the scrotum
and shove the balls up into the bull. Then he'd stitch up the sack and there'd be no problem with
high-centering. That's called goodnighting."
"See," said Paul. "There are ways to beat the land."
Carroll said, "You do what you've got to. That's a quote from my father. Good pioneer stock."
"But not to me." Paul pulled her close and kissed her.
"Maybe we ought to explore the mountain a little," said Ginger to Steve. "You want to come with me?''
She stared at Steve who was gawking at the sky as the moonlight suddenly vanished like a light switching
off.
"Oh my God."
"What's wrong?" she said to the shrouded figure.
"I don't know-I mean, nothing, I guess." The moon appeared again. "Was that a cloud?"
"I don't see a cloud," said Paul, gesturing at the broad belt of stars. "The night's clear."
"Maybe you saw a UFO," said Carroll, her voice light.
"You okay?" Ginger touched his face. "Jesus, you're shivering." She held him tightly.
Steve's words were almost too low to hear. "It swam across the moon."
"What did?"
"I'm cold too," said Carroll. "Let's go back down." Nobody argued. Ginger remembered to put the metal
cans into a paper sack and tied it to her belt with a hair-ribbon. Steve didn't say anything more for a
while, but the others all could hear his teeth chatter. When they were halfway down, the moon finally set
beyond the valley rim. Farther on, Paul stepped on a loose patch of shale, slipped, cursed, began to slide
beyond the lip of the sheer rock face. Carroll grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
"Thanks, Irene." His voice shook slightly, belying the tone of the words.
"Funny," she said.
"I don't get it," said Ginger.
Paul whistled a few bars of the song.
"Good night," said Carroll. "You do what you've got to." [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]