Book Tour Texas Pt. 2

luis

It's hard to believe I'm doing Italian translation work
on Hummingbird's daughter via iPhone with Rome
from a speeding car in Texas.

Low clouds only 7 stories
above the plain.

90 to Hondo:
There is a novel in every hovel.

Appropriate or what:
ZZ Top in Hondo.
FM!

Pro-Ag warehouse,
roof peeled off & curling
aluminum wave.

Seco Creek, Live Oak Creek, pretty pretty Texas:
every little town graced with gardens
of highway sunflowers. Squirrel Creek.
400 hundred miles of love & freedom.

Corn
blackbirds
East Elm Creek.

#

One corn field
five
Border Patrol trucks.

Sign:
DO THE WEB-WORM WHOMP.

Border patrol check point
surrounded by
white goats.

Weirdness: radio's turned off
yet chattering with electric blips and stutters--
morse code from the UFOs.

Call Art Bell! At 11:11, the radio
sends another CIA message.

Valverde.

I'm worried:
Adult Store porn shop--
the sign is a giant pair
of scissors.

Onto N 277.

#

Del Rio sun-beat & hard:
superbikers
blat.

BORDER PATROL
FIREARMS TRAINING
near
LAKE AMISTAD.
And
DRIVE FRIENDLY.
But
DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS.

Landscape
makes the water
look like acid
baths.

Inspction station catches us.
We are suddenly suspects.
Dogs swarm the car, sniffing.
Cindy all tongue-tied
in the face of interrogation.
USBP guys rising out of the desert scrub
on ATVs, RoboCop helmets on their heads.

The whole time the dog sniffs our trunk,
smilin' Agent Perez
is sniffing our psyches.

We are freed and escape
down Seminole Canyon.

Pecos River gorge.
Giant smear of sun baked blood,
six vultures.
Every few miles, another vulture
just chillin'.

Osman Canyon: USBP everywhere. White trucks
on the hills like tiny glaciers.

"I put Glee on the ipod for Chayo,"
Cindy lies. I click to
The Sex Pistols.
BP agents beside the road,
cutting the drag--those tires
on a dirt road, just like Devil's Highway.
I feel cocky.

Prairie Creek.

Abandoned silver trailer
looking like a sardine cane
packed with ghosts in oil.

Dryden, Texas.
Perfectly named.

#

Vulture party
bowing formally
to a freshly killed deer.

Big Bend ahead--watching for pterodactyls.

We pass a semi & a deer
jackrabbits in front of us both--
followed by a buzzard, clearly calculating
the angles.

Now a bird
dives for the windshield.

Outbreak of Animal Suicides:
Thousands Flee.

OOPS.

Cindy just bew past a Texas State Trooper going
over 80.
And

he pulls a u-turn.

#

Trooper Turman had the scary trooper sunglasses.
The scary trooper campaign hat.
The scary big ol' gun in a squeaky holster.
He walked up to us looking ten feet tall.
I found myself inexplicably schmoozing him: "Sorry, man.
I'm on book tour--trying to get to Marfa for a radio interview!"

BOOK TOUR, he said. WHAT KIND OF BOOK.

"Novel. I write all kinds of books." Cindy's looking at me
like I've taken drugs. I'm leaning over her to talk out the window.
"I wrote a book about the Border Patrol."

Trooper Turman bends at the waist and peers in at me.

WERE YOU EVER A BORDER PATROL AGENT, he asks.

"Ha! No way! I had to train with them, though! Those boys
gave me a hard time!" I'm squealing like a gerbil right now.

HUH.

He takes Cindy's license and walks back to his car.

"You're talking about books with the trooper," she accuses.
I'm all proud of myself. Then I notice
a huge dragonfly hovering outside my window,
watching us. I suddenly know
God is on our side.

I'M GOING TO LET YOU OFF WITH A WARNING
THIS TIME
BUT WATCH IT
Trooper Turman reluctantly announces.
LET ME GO WRITE IT UP.
He gets back in his car.
"He loves us," I say.
I realize I have a copy of Into the Beautiful North
in the trunk and decide we must give it to him.
"Are you bribing him?" my bride wants to know.
"No! He already let us off. I'm thanking him."

Trooper Turman sits in his scary car and watches us
with bemusement on his face as we frantically dig into the trunk
and go through our bags. Is he wondering if we have a shotgun?
I find the book!
Yay!

I march back to his car and tap on the window.
I comes down slowly and he stares up at me.

YES?

"Here's my new book," I say. "I'd like you to have it."
He stares. He almost smiles.
SIR, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THAT.
"You didn't have to be so kind, either," I reply.
I borrow his pen so I can sign it.

He takes it and looks at it.
THANK YOU.
"You're welcome."
He turns it over and looks at my picture.
Then he shouts:

YOU'RE HISPANIC?!?

#

We sped off into the water-puddle mirages
on the two-lane blacktop.

Comments

Anonymous (not verified)

great story. really enjoyed it. Tell me do you put your poor wife through these sorts of situations often? I only met Cindy the one time, but please say hello for me. Just thought i would check out your blog to see what you've been up to. I lost your email. i keep trying to send this message, but i don't think it is going through. So, if you get more than one message, that is why. Take care, Regan

el poquito (not verified)

"YOU'RE HISPANIC?!?" hahahah! Keeping 'em on their toes! Wastelanders with cops. Cool.

Grace (not verified)

I love it, "you're Hispanic?" Hilarious and sad.

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Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat:  If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.

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