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Kyle Jarrard

Waiting on the Moon

THE MOTEL in Matehuala still had everything Venus needed, even if she was the Million Dollar Lady now. Like always, she got bungalow seven, facing the pool, even though Stein wasnít same seŮor.

"Iím getting old," she told Estella, the manager. "Need some rest."

"No old, no old!" Estella screeched. "You beauty, you young!"

Of course, Venusís jackpot was not to be mentioned to anyone. She told Carl that as Estellaís boys took care of their bags. But he only trudged into the bungalow and fell onto the bed. "Youíre paranoid, Venus."

"And youíre Carl. But not for long. Thereíll be a new Carl soon."

Estellaís boys waited at the door. Venus dug in her purse and gave each a five-dollar bill. Waving them, they darted away in the sunshine.

Venus looked out at the blue swimming pool and the tired palms around it. The lawn was bright yellow. A red cement donkey stood to one side, an ear broken off. A white boy was trying to fly a kite. No wind.

Carl went to piss. "What do you mean Ďnewí?"

"Weíre going to have to talk," Venus called. "First about my money."

He pissed a long time, then came back. "And?"

"Look, if weíll agree that itís O.K. if you want some money but not all of it, then we can quit thinking about that and think about other things. When we get to a bank, Iíll set you up."

"Set me up?"

"That way weíre past it. And on to bigger things."

Carlís eyes widened and brightened. Yes, a little packet of her money would change everything, Venus was sure. Carl would become a new man.

Then his eyes narrowed. "So youíre buying me?"

"Would a hundred thousand dollars do you? Would that get you going with the flow here? Couldnít you be a gentleman with a lady for that?"

"You tired, Venus."

"Tired, hell! Fix me a drink!"

The icebox was crammed with samples.

Trucks wailed down the highway like ghosts of the dead.

*

WHEN EVENING came, Venus said, "Time for the surprise."

She led Carl out onto the tiny porch with its tin roof. The air was still hot and your lips felt like paper. A fat guy on the diving board was yelling.

"Hey, Marvin! Marvin! You watching, Marvin?"

Marvin didnít answer.

"This is your surprise?" Carl asked, stepping down onto the lawn and pointing his drink at the man. "We donít have to listen to this."

"Come sit. I want to show you my surprise."

"Marvin, if you donít look up here Iím not going to dive! Marvin!"

"Hey, you!" Carl yelled.

The guy stopped bouncing. "You talking to me?"

"Damn it, Carl," Venus said.

"Thatís right, Iím talking to you. Hold it down, will you?"

The guy started bouncing again. "Yeah, sure. No problem." Slowly, the ball speeded up. "Marvin! Marvin! Marvin, you watching?"

"Hey, didnít you hear me?" Carl yelled.

"What did you say?" the man shouted, waving his arms in a circle as the board lifted him higher and higher. "Marvin who is this guy? Huh, Marvin?"

Carl dropped it, got back on the porch. "Stupid assholes."

"Now thatís not our new Carl, is it?"

"Cut it out with the Ďnew Carlí stuff."

"Time for me to show him." Venus pointed off at the sunset, which had just ended, a towering orange show. "Isnít that something?"

"A sunset."

"Right. Now letís play a game, Carl. How far to those mountains?"

Carl glanced at them. "Why?"

"How many miles?"

"A hundred."

"That big and a hundred miles away? Are you kidding?"

"Who cares!"

"Guess right, Carl. Try to guess right."

"O.K." He looked again. "O.K., forty miles. So?"

"Zero. Zero miles away. Theyíre across the road."

"Whatíre you talking about?"

"Itís coal. Mountains of coal piled up waiting on the trains. Look."

You couldnít tell the difference.

"Shit," Carl said, but then he frowned. "You O.K.?"

"Perfectly! You know, I did the same thing the first night I spent here. Way back when. I swear the very first night here I sat there like you thinking, Now arenít those the loveliest damn mountains youíve ever seen? Only to wake up the next morning and find out it was a pile of ó "

"Coal."

"More than coal. An illusion." Venus took a deep breath. "I think itís spooky. Mexicoís spooky like that. You look at something and you think youíre seeing it and then itís not what you thought it was. Itís something else. And then thereís this high-pitched laughter you hear in the night. Itís spooky, too, but then you know itís just happy people. And then you think how happy the people down here are even when they donít have anything. Theyíre up all night. How did they get so happy?"

"How do you know theyíre happy?"

Carl went in for another drink. Venus thought, What good did it do anybody to think the worst thing when you could think the better thing? Didnít the good life come down to which one you chose?

"Where have you always wanted to live, Carl?" she called.

He didnít answer.

The two guys at the pool waddled off in their long towels, the fat one talking loud about Philly and some restaurant there, the skinny one, Marvin, not saying anything and watching the ground as if maybe there were snakes.

Then an American family plodded past. Their clothes were cheap, and they had one suitcase, which the father was carrying.

"Howíre you doing?" Venus asked them.

"Bushed!" the lady said. "Sixteen hours from Laredo. Never again!"

"We had three flats," the little girl announced. "Daddy fixed every one."

They went to bungalow six. The kids stood in the door a moment and looked at the pool. Then the mother pulled them inside and shut the door.

Venus decided to give them money, too. Set them up, get them out of their misery. Give them a chance to enjoy their lives again.

Then Carl was back with another drink. "Georgia."

"What?"

"Where I always wanted to live."

"Whatís in Georgia?"

"Trees."

"Donít you like Mexico?"

"Tired old place where nothingís ever going to happen."

"Nothing? Everything happens here, Carl. Life happens here. Thereís laughter in the night . . . And, up in the mountains, haciendas full of huge green plants in tall orange pots. Clay tiles and raindrops soaking into them in the night. The moon racing along just out of reach and a family moving along the road, arm-in-arm, laughing while the cook stands in his restaurant door under a yellow light and watches them go . . . There are black-haired girls in white dresses flowing into dark churches and kneeling before the Virgin and whispering about boys while the old ladies move about like witches and hiss at them to be quiet. There are sad tilted spires and facades leaning back into the soft earth, and the sparkle of Spanish royalty in the wet eyes of the indians. It makes me dream. And when Iím dreaming, Iím alive."

"You like stories, donít you, Venus."

They watched the light dying and the first stars coming out. Heíd come around, Venus was sure. It was already happening.

Then she thought a swim might help her relax, but as the idea came into her mind the fat man was heading back to the pool and talking to Marvin about Sheila and her children and how he wasnít going to put up with Sheilaís mouth much longer and to hell with kids whoíd never loved him anyway. Then he was back on the board. "Marvin! You watching, Marvin?"

Carl said, "This place is a joke," and went back into the room.

Venus rubbed her eyes, wished she wasnít getting tired.

"Marvin! Marvin! Marvin!"

Enough was enough. "You! On the board!" she cried.

The guy stopped bouncing. "You talking to me?"

"Dive, will you?"

The guy pointed at her. "Marvin? Did you hear what she said?"

"Yeah, I heard her. So do it, will you? Youíre embarrassing me."

The fat guy laughed, gave the board a big push and, arms straight out, rose high into the air. Venus put her hand over her eyes. There was a shout, then a boom. Venus looked. The splash made a silver mushroom cloud. Doors opened at every bungalow and people stared out.

"Holy Jesus!" the guy yelled. "Did you see that, Marvin? Marvin!"

Carl stuck his head out. "What the hell was that?"

"Atomic bomb. World ends."

*

VENUS LIKED to get the casino check out when Carl wasnít around, look at it, think some more about dividing it up. So far there was Carl, the family in bungalow six, Estella, Estellaís boys, the maid who cleaned their room, and the fat guy at the pool, to shut him up. How much for each, though? Would she hand it all out the same day? Make it a party?

Mama and Daddy had never once let on, but Venus had had a sister all along, a gorgeous creature who hadnít died in secret in her crib, whoíd lived beside her all these years, whose voice finally spoke to her now, when the breezes blew, and said, "Yes, give all the money away, Venus, and then go your own way. Carl is not the answer to anything, either." She sounded right.

*

VENUS WAS STANDING up to her neck in the pool. The water shined like a mirror and she squinted so hard her eyes hurt. Carl still didnít know how to swim and stayed sitting on the edge with his legs in.

"What do you want out of life, Stein?"

"To hold your check. Whereíre you hiding it?"

"You canít cash it anyway."

"You going to give me some like you said? Or were you kidding?"

He wore that hard, far-away look, but it was fake. He really did want to know. He was planning every minute.

"Be patient, Carl."

"Time Iíve got."

It sounded like a murderer waiting for the blood to run out of his victim to be sure she was dead before he wiped his hands and went for the stash.

The heat pressed upon them. Nobody else was crazy enough to be out there. It was Mexicoís other mystery time, besides the blue nights. When you can say anything you want, anything that comes to mind, and then not say anything for a while and stare through the invisible flames past the last bungalow into the nothing. Buzzards circled. Out on the highway, old women and old men waved down a tourist bus to sell iguanas.

Venus said, "One time Blalock and I were north of here when we saw this guy by the road selling pretty clay pots. So we stopped. I picked out a couple of pots and Blalock paid him and then the guy stepped into a stick-and-newspaper shack heíd made to keep out of the sun and led out a skinny boy, maybe six years old. Nothing was said and the boy looked at our nice shoes. Trucks and buses and cars were flying down the highway and it was very hot. We looked at the boy and then Blalock picked up our pots and started toward the car. But the father said, ĎTwo hundred pesos. He starves with me.í Blalock pushed the pots into the car, told me to get in. I cried all the way to Puerto Azul."

Carl looked into the pool.

"I can still see that boyís eyes."

"Weíre going to fry out here."

Venus swam to the other end of the pool, hung on the edge and slowly kicked her legs. The silver water rippled thickly. She had a jillion bucks and it seemed right to be planning to give it away until there was none left. In fact, it seemed like the rightest thing sheíd ever contemplated.

"So what would you have done?" she called to Stein.

"With the boy? Taken him, I guess."

Definitely a liar. Venus got her hair wet. The silver water felt like lead. She put her head under the water and stayed there a long time with her eyes opened and listened to her sisterís voice. What are you thinking of, Venus? Yourself, Venus? Thatís so like you, Venus, to crawl back inside the image of yourself, waiting on someone to make you do what you know you need to do. Itís the money thatís seized you by the neck, girl! Get rid of it, quickly!

Venus came back up. Carlíd fled. His black tracks on the white cement deck led off into the fried grass. It was time to get out of the sun. To shut up sister for a while and let herself think for herself. Give it all away? Really?

*

THEYíD REST afternoons in the cool. Venus would play Solitaire on the coffee table, let the air-conditioner blow her hair. If he was good and asleep, sheíd get out the casino check again and look at it. At the numbers, at her name. Once in a while she would shiver at the thought that maybe it wasnít worth the paper it was printed on, that when she went to cash it, it would all turn out to have been a TV stunt. When Venus thought like that she even looked to see if there wasnít a hidden camera filming her. But, no, this was all too real. Zigzag cracks between cinder blocks, black felt painting of a bloody bull and matadors, battered lampshades, and a heavy man from Wisconsin lying on his side of the sunken bed, snoring. She could see Carl Blalock in the place of Carl Stein and see herself sitting there at the same hour in the same season ten years before wondering if she would be sitting there someday with the cards in front her like this. Venus got up and put the folded check back under the liner in her nice white pumps.

He said, "Donít you ever rest? Damn."

He hadnít opened his eyes. Drool lay on his red cheek.

Venus slipped on a blouse to cover her brown suit with the faded yellow flowers and went out. There was a gift shop next to the restaurant. Maybe it would have something she liked. Her sandals smacked her heels as she followed the path among the lime-painted rocks and yuccas. Where it came close to the road, she watched the buses and trailer rigs. Dust clouds drifted into the scrub on the other side and disappeared into the blue coal.

*

"EXCUSE ME, but arenít you the Million Dollar Lady?"

Venus set the black onyx queen back on the chess table.

"Iíd like to apologize for my brotherís irritating behavior in the pool," the man said. "Iím afraid heíll never change. That is no excuse, however."

"Donít mention it."

"That is very kind of you. I will tell him that you have accepted his apology. It wonít happen again, I assure you."

Assure? Venus turned around. His bright red hair sat on his head like a helmet. He had a thin, white face. The eyes were streaked different colors.

"The selection in here is abominable, wouldnít you say?"

"I was looking for a new swimming suit," Venus said.

"And you found they donít sell any. I did as well. William and I, my brother and I, weíre here on rather short notice. And you?"

"Short notice?"

"Well, it happens that William is a stock broker and you canít always go on vacation when you want to. We live in Chicago. Do you know it?"

"Excuse me, but I have to go. Nice talking to you."

A pastel blue appeared in his face. Venus had the feeling he was going to block the way and looked at the bead curtain for the shopkeeper.

"Well, you see, Iím a reporter for a large metropolitan daily and ó "

"Look, I have to go."

"Then youíre not the Million Dollar Lady? Have I erred?"

"Donít know what the hell youíre talking about."

"Is he keeping you from talking?"

"Who?"

"That hillbilly youíre with?"

"No, heís not. I mean, thereís nothing to say. I have to go now."

"In this heat? Donít you feel like melting? William insisted, you know. He said, ĎMarvin, letís get out of the country for a few days and rest.í I said, ĎWhere do you want to go?í He said, ĎWay down in the middle of the desert, you know, like last time.í So here we are. Running away again."

"From what?"

"I mean, on vacation again. He told us your deal, you know."

"Excuse me?"

"So whatíre you going to do with the money?"

"Look, I donít know what youíre talking about, mister."

"Marvin. Marvin Gatemouth."

The bead curtain rattled, but no one emerged.

"Are you so afraid of something you canít tell me?"

"No."

"Then will you go for a walk with me tonight? I walk in the desert."

Venus picked up a white marble pawn.

"Itís not the same at night as it is during the day."

Venus laughed. "Youíre weird."

"Youíre beautiful."

"Excuse me?"

"Iím sorry. I go too fast. Let my words out before I know it."

"You do talk funny."

"But will you go for a walk with me later on?"

"Why should I go for a walk with you in the desert?"

"Why not do it because you want to, Mrs. Blalock?"

"Venus Miller is the name. My maiden name is Miller."

He pulled out his billfold. "My card."

Marvin Gatemouth, it said, reporter, Chicago Daily Mail.

"Meet me by the office at 11? Can you do that?"

"I can do anything I want," Venus said.

Marvin laughed. "Hey, if youíve got a million bucks, you can do whatever the heck you please when you please. Am I right?"

"Marvin?"

"Yes?"

"Why do you say heck when you mean hell?"

"Oh. We couldnít even say darn in our house."

*

SISTER KEPT INSISTING, nagging, and if sister had her way, then Venus would go back to that spot in the road and find that starving boy again. It wouldnít be the same boy, of course, but thereíd be one there, surely. And his father would offer him to her, and again she wouldnít take him no matter how much she wanted to. No matter how much she wished she could be his mother and stroke his hair every night as he fell asleep in his bed. No, sheíd only hand the father the money, all of it, and not even stop to look into his eyes or into the boyís eyes. Carl Stein would be tied up in the back of the station wagon and propped up so he wouldnít miss a thing and heíd be trying to scream through his very tight gag. And she would turn and walk back to the car and smile in at Stein and then get in and drive away as fast as she wanted. The world set right. Everything done like your sister wanted. Venus would be smiling inside. Until she got way up into the mountains, found a drop-off and got Stein to the edge of it and pushed him over, him and his old suitcase full of dirty clothes and that girlís silly mirror. That, too, was setting the world right again. Getting its balance back. Then sheíd drive way, laughing with sister, and disappear among the highest peaks.

*

CARL HAD THE CHECK out when she came back in, but handed it right to her like a boy caught playing with something that wasnít his.

"I was only looking at it," he said.

"Look, they have tequila in the shop. Run get some. I forgot my money."

"I wasnít going to do anything with it. All right?"

She said all right back and out he went. Whistling like everything had been solved. Then Venus decided, no, she definitely wasnít going to give her money to anybody. What had she been thinking? What had sister been thinking? It made no sense all, no more than suicide did, no more than anything that would make it so you couldnít turn around and take it back.

No, she wouldnít help set up Carl, or save any starving people or anything like that. Sheíd hold on to her money tighter than a baby holds candy. What else was going to save her? That good, churchy feeling of doing right? Who was she kidding? It took money to be safe. Piles of it.

There was no use trying to find a better hiding place for the check, either. As long as Carl was around, it was vulnerable. So she put it back in the same shoe. Then she rechecked the cash in her purse. The bundle from the casino, which sheíd spent some out of, and the bag from the old heist, all there.

She put on a cotton dress, fixed her hair. It was full of dust and made fog around her as she brushed it. "Not a dime for anybody," she told sister.

"What?" he said, coming back with the tequila.

"Nothing."

Carl set things up on the table by the air-conditioner.

"Could use some music," said Venus.

"Sitting on this money and we donít even have a transistor."

He poured the golden stuff.

"Hereís to it," he said. "Letís get crazy!"

Venus looked at him, thinking that it didnít take much to make him believe he was in paradise. Then she downed her tequila.

"Do me again."

"Met the weirdest guy just now. Reporter. Asked me about you."

"Yeah?"

"He said Iíd already told him about your million bucks and so why didnít I go ahead and tell him about you. I told him Iíd never seen him before in my life. And I hadnít. But I said you were a famous dancer."

"Well, I can dance. Sister taught me. Sheís very good."

"Didnít know you had a sister."

"Lives up north."

Carl grinned. "Speaking of dancing, I used to have this buddy who lived next door and had this gorgeous wife. Iíll never forget one night we were sitting in their living room drinking and carrying on and he said to her, ĎHoney, why donít you strip for us now.í ĎYou mean like a strip show?í ĎYeah, like a real strip show. That way we donít have to drive to the club tonight. What do you say? Weíre friends here. Iíll get a record going you like and you strip like itís real.í Nothingíll happen."

"Did she?"

"Best Iíve seen. What was her name? Melanie or Melody. Anyway."

They had another round. Folks yelled in the other bungalows.

"You want me to strip?"

"I was just talking."

"No, you werenít. I feel like it. Then we can make love and see where that takes us. It may not take us anywhere."

"I donít know . . . "

"Sure you do, Carl. Say, ĎStrip for me, Venus,í and I will."

Carl looked her up and down. "All right. Strip for me, Venus."

Venus stood up and slowly began to take things off. Carl didnít say a word. And she never took her eyes off him. Gold flames rose through the body and wavered in the blue light. She could hear sweet music.

*

IT WAS AWFUL. The booze gave every motion a sickening heaviness as if gravity had been juiced up. He cut the light off, she put it back on, he cut it off again, and then there was no turning back. He was loud and rough, and it lasted only minutes. Then he fell away. It wasnít supposed to be that way for Million Dollar Ladies, Venus thought. She stared at Carlís white buttocks and saw herself out there in the scrub and sand, far away, walking with Marvin. Her brother, the one who hadnít died in secret at birth, nice clothes, well-mannered. And they would find sister, too, out there. Under the moon. And the three of them would sit and talk and be a family again, warm and whole.

Carl rolled toward her. "Do you want to do that again?" But before she could say no, he flopped back where heíd been. "You wore me out."

The travel clock said eleven. Time to go.

*

HE WAS WAITING on the steps of the restaurant, smoking a thin, brown cigarette. Looking vacant, like he didnít have a thought in his head. Wearing the same red plaid shorts, aqua-blue golf shirt, orange sandals.

"Youíve done this before, right?" Venus asked.

"Nothing to it."

"Letís go, then."

They went across the parking lot to the road and stopped. Truck lights sliced the night. The dust dried your mouth in an instant. People moved along the roadside, but didnít look at them. It was a long time before they could cross safely. But when they did, he took her hand and they ran hard.

From the other side, the lights of the motel seemed like decorations on a lost ship. He tugged on her arm, led her toward the coal. She could feel the check under her heel in her Million Dollar Shoes.

"Do you know the way?"

"Not my first time, I said."

"You always take a pretty girl with you?"

"No. You sound funny."

"Funny?"

"I assure you, there is no reason to be afraid of anything. Weíre just following a path here I know that leads to the strip mine and then on out into the desert. I think the mooníll be up by the time we get there."

The path had lots of forks. It wasnít long before you couldnít see or hear the road. They seemed to be winding down onto lower land.

"The way I see it," he said, "if you donít go and see the things you are curious about, then youíre not alive. Youíre loitering at the edge of life. Like when youíre in the car driving through the mountains and looking out at them and thinking how youíd like to stop and climb right up to the top of one?"

"Yes."

"That longing to get out and walk all the way."

"Would you rather be alone?"

"Much better to share. Donít you think so?"

"I guess."

"Talk too much, donít I?"

"Thatís O.K."

"No, itís not, Venus. Itís a sign Iím not in touch with myself yet."

The dry trail kept going down. No plants, only empty, smooth ground with a hollow feel. As if they were on the roof of something deep.

"You said we were going out into the desert."

"We are. When we come out on the other side of the mine itíll be the desert again. Something wrong?"

The voice was harder. She said no, kept following.

"Weíll come to a boulder of coal soon. Not too far. Sitting by itself."

Venus tried to see stars. There was one patch of them overhead, dull, colorless. She would swear their footsteps echoed.

He was farther ahead now and talked louder. "So, millions and millions of years ago, you see, this was a great forest. As the forest died, all the rotted layers got laid down and mashed harder and harder through time until ó "

"Coal. I went to school."

"Of course you did. It fascinates me, this stuff. William and I came down in here one time after we did some mushrooms."

"You mean drug mushrooms?"

"William got the stuff. Tastes horrible. Here it is."

The black boulder stood tall as two men and was pointed like a spearhead. It shined like it was wet. And it leaned, like it might fall.

"Get closer."

"Not too close."

"Itís O.K., Venus. Itís only a big rock."

But she stayed back, so he did, too.

"Why donít we sit down here for a while," he said. "Look at the rock. Moonís going to come up. I want to see what it looks like when the moon hits it. That big old yellow moon. William and I did once. You get these colors."

"How far down are we?"

"Not to worry."

You felt a rumbling and heard hollow booms below. Like ocean waves rising into caves and breaking against walls.

"Hear that?" Venus said.

He lit a cigarette, laid back on the ground. "Wind or something."

"Coming from in the ground."

"Nah, itís the wind. You get weird currents down here. It goes flying in strange directions. Want me to do you the echo of a lifetime?"

"No."

"O.K. I wonít. Itís all right. You O.K.?"

"You keep asking me that."

"So?"

"So stop."

He didnít answer. He didnít seem like her brother now. And sister wasnít around like sheíd thought sheíd be.

"I think we ought to get back."

"We have to wait for the moon."

"I think Iíll go on back now," said Venus, getting up.

"The moonís coming, damn it."

You couldnít see a thing. Even the patch of stars had gone out. She began to walk away from him and the frightening boulder. But no sooner had she taken a few steps, than she turned and called back to him. "Marvin?"

"Yeah?"

"Arenít you coming?"

"Waiting on the moon, I told you. Now come sit down again. Donít be wandering around. Thereíre holes out here, you know."

Venus squatted, put her hand to the dusty earth. It felt warm and soft, and she spread her fingers upon it, as upon a womb.

"Where are you, Venus?"

"Right here."

"No, youíve wandered off, Venus. Come back."

Venus stared toward the boulder but couldnít make him out anymore. A cloud of dust had been kicked up, though there was no wind. Up above, you could see a car light, or maybe . . . She turned and walked toward the blinking orange and yellow lights of the motel, far away.

"Where are you?" he called.

"Is that the moon?"

"Donít take another step, Venus! There are holes out here, Iím telling you. Do you hear me?"

"I hear you, Marvin."

"Keep talking. Iíll follow your voice. Just keep talking."

But she didnít. And kept walking. Faster now.

"Where are you? Venus?"

Then she could see him, quite distant, or not, you couldnít be sure, on a ridge above the rolling dust, his back to her, walking the other way. It was simply a matter of calling out and he would see her in the moonlight.

"Venus! The boulder has shifted and caught my leg! Venus, come and help me. I canít move. You canít leave me here, Venus!"

She could still see him walking on the ridge, going the other way, looking for her. Damn liar. Heíd taken her out there to club her and steal her money.

"Venus!"

The voice echoed so badly she thought she would cry. But then she knew she wouldnít. The liar couldnít touch her now. The liar was going over the ridge and down, the wrong way, out into the heart of the desert.

Then, as quickly as it had come, the moon was gone.

"Venus, where are you? Do you see any lights? Itís so damn dark!"

Oh, yes, she thought, I can see them. And she could. Right there, straight ahead, blinking in silence, marking the way she would go. Miles away or just over the next hump of sand, but there, right there.

"Venus? Where are you now? Venus, my leg is caught under the rock! Arenít you going to help me, Venus?"

No, Iím not going to help you, she said to herself. The liar can go die like an animal in the desert. They wonít even find your bones by the time nature gets done with you, Marvin. They wonít care, either. No one will care. Iím walking away, Marvin. Toward lights. Toward the little town, and life.

"Venus? You bitch, where are you? Venus!"

It was still far away. But it was all right. She would take her time. After all, wasnít she finally in a place sheíd always dreamed of? Where there were no more hard choices to make, only the warm wind and then, a little farther on, your sister and her long hair, out there where the soft sand stretches away to the end of the earth? No, she could take all the time she needed, walking with her sister, one slow step after another, a million holes to plunge into, but fearing none of them. Walking through the rest of the night.

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