“Anyway, there's something wrong with everybody and it's up to you to know what you can handle.”
“You stand there, braced. Cloud shadows race over the buff rock stacks as a projected film, casting a queasy, mottled ground rash. The air hisses and it is no local breeze but the great harsh sweep of wind from the turning of the earth. The wild country--indigo jags of mountain, grassy plain everlasting, tumbled stones like fallen cities, the flaring roll of sky--provokes a spiritual shudder. It is like a deep note that cannot be heard but is felt, it is like a claw in the gut...
...Other cultures have camped here a while and disappeared. Only earth and sky matter. Only the endlessly repeated flood of morning light. You begin to see that God does not owe us much beyond that.”
“A kind of joyous hysteria moved into the room, everything flying before the wind, vehicles outside getting dented to hell, the crowd sweaty and the smells of aftershave, manure, clothes dried on the line, your money’s worth of perfume, smoke, booze; the music subdued by the shout and babble through the bass hammer could be felt through the soles of the feet, shooting up the channels of legs to the body fork, center of everything. It is the kind of Saturday night that torches your life for a few hours, makes it seem like something is happening.”
“There's a feeling you get driving down to Casper at night from the north, and not only there, other places where you come through hours of darkness unrelieved by any lights except the crawling wink of some faraway ranch truck. You come down a grade and all at once the shining town lies below you, slung out like all western towns, and with the curved bulk of mountain behind it. The lights trail away to the east in a brief and stubby cluster of yellow that butts hard up against the dark. And if you've ever been to the lonely coast you've seen how the shore rock drops off into the black water and how the light on the point is final. Beyond are the old rollers coming on for millions of years. It is like that here at night but instead of the rollers it's the wind. But the water was here once. You think about the sea that covered this place hundreds of millions of years ago, the slow evaporation, mud turned to stone. There's nothing calm in those thoughts. It isn't finished, it can still tear apart. Nothing is finished. You take your chances.”
“Are you like an enchanted thing? A damn story where some girl lets a warty old toad sleep in her shoe and in the mornin the toad's a good-lookin dude makin omelettes?”
“Big and little they went on together to Molalla, to Tuska, to Roswell, Guthrie, Kaycee, to Baker and Bend. After a few weeks Pake said that if Diamond wanted a permanent traveling partner he was up for it. Diamond said yeah, although only a few states still allowed steer roping and Pake had to cover long, empty ground, his main territory in the livestock country of Oklahoma, Wyoming, Oregon and New Mexico. Their schedules did not fit into the same box without patient adjustment. But Pake knew a hundred dirt road shortcuts, steering them through scabland and slope country, in and out of the tiger shits, over the tawny plain still grooved with pilgrim wagon ruts, into early darkness and the first storm laying down black ice, hard orange-dawn, the world smoking, snaking dust devils on bare dirt, heat boiling out of the sun until the paint on the truck hood curled, ragged webs of dry rain that never hit the ground, through small-town traffic and stock on the road, band of horses in morning fog, two redheaded cowboys moving a house that filled the roadway and Pake busting around and into the ditch to get past, leaving junkyards and Mexican cafes behind, turning into midnight motel entrances with RING OFFICE BELL signs or steering onto the black prairie for a stunned hour of sleep.”
“You are a knowledgeable girl,” he said, “and a damn good-lookin one, though upholstered. Care for a beer?”
“Here’s Doc Osborne, first Democratic governor. A lynch mob hung Big Nose George Parrott back in the 1870s. Doc got the body, skinned it, tanned the hide, made himself a medical bag and a pair a shoes. Wore the shoes to his inauguration. They don’t make Democrats like that anymore.”
“The stale coffee is boiling up but he catches it before it goes over the side, pours it into a stained cup and blows on the black liquid, lets a panel of the dream slide forward. If he does not force his attention on it, it might stoke the day, rewarm that old, cold time on the mountain when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong.”
“Later, that dozy embrace solidified in his memory as the single moment of artless, charmed happiness in their separate and difficult lives.”
“justice is based on certainty, but certainty is not truth, atrocities become possible.”
“I tried to map the cultural trends leading up to it but as I did they grew, interconnecting and weaving backwards and sideways out to everything. Next to the megalithic institutionalized shredding of people's humanity, marked by tombstone malls and scabby hills, the Styrofoam gullets and flag-waving god-chatterers casting their votes for eternal paternity on the lap rapists - next to all of that, the intimacy between a terrorist and his target was almost a beautiful thing but I still couldn't solve that moment when they did it anyway so I grabbed more paper and widened my field of vision.”
“It was a joke, but centuries of distrust and fear lay behind it. Soon somebody would say something that was sharper and harder, but it would still be a joke. And then there would be a remark like a punch in the gut, but made as a joke. And then they would detain her if she tried to leave, and nobody would stop them because it was all only a joke...”
“Sure you do. Everyone wants to play. They’re just afraid of looking stupid. But you know what’s stupid? Not trying. So just…try.”
“I didn’t know how to communicate my suffering to anyone else. My anger was returning. I was screaming for help, but the language I was speaking no one seemed to understand. (183)”
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