67

Its silhouette an American west icon, rusty voice a lament of days gone by, stately in decrepitude, handsome in dysfunction, tall as a spur on stilts prodding skies above to breathe, the windmill perched on Ranch O’Rourke’s periphery gauges time in revolutions, faster / slower depending upon the vigor of an unobstructed breeze—blowing, this autumn afternoon, at a 'contemplative' velocity, setting into motion the squeak-creak-squeak-creak cadence of dilapidated vanes, wearily inadequate in their steadfast occupation of pumping spits and gurgles from a depth of sixteen feet through seemingly bone-dry soil, the water grudgingly extracted as wondrous as any miracle. Dad, in need of a good long rumination, has ridden his horse Lancelot to the antiquated structure. Weight on left flank stirrup, he swings from the saddle, dismounts, and lets the gelding graze. Leaning against a trough, he stretches his legs like a rheumatoid decathlete, sad to feel youth crippled—knees now apt to seize; sad to fail in his duty as a husband—joints alone grow stiff; sad to admit his professional ineptness—skills once sharp have dulled.

 

So long as she doesn’t think there’s anybody else. "You’re tired," she said, "it’s alright." Maybe; maybe not. Tired I am for sure, but how to explain disinterest—without Flo feeling to blame? ’T isn’t her. There’s no one on this earth I cherish more than Flo. Nothing to do with her looks or her body either; both to me are fine. I’m the problem. ’Tis I who can’t perform; I lack the initiative. Woman deserves better, certainly younger, not some dissolute old fart. A drunkard. A murderer, to boot. “Bounty hunter” they used to call it, when horses weren’t for show, when you looked a man in the eye before you shot him dead, according to the Wild West's code. A myth, I suppose. There never were 'ethical' ways to execute a human being; only ways more or less profitable. Which is how I measure them. Which is how I bought this ranch and everything we own. Though Flo would give it up, I have no doubt, if I made the 'details' known. None more chilling to the soul than how I dispatched that boy in Boston. A public service, possibly, but another black mark for me. Used to think the soul was shaped like that of a shoe, lily-white at the start, each sin inflicting a scuff mark. Curious what a lad comes up with. Confession blurred those scuffs some, made them fainter but never quite washed them clean—mortal sins especially. Murder scuffs with a branding iron, burns the misdeed in. Killers end up like Cain, marked at Heaven's Gate. Making it all the easier to separate the herd, good from bad, letting in the former, driving away the latter to that Prince of Hooves below. Death, I do not welcome, if it fails to put an end...

Listen to me, feeling sorry for myself because I can't get it up. Comes and goes, this impotence, along with fickle appetite and intermittent night-sweats. Dress rehearsals, probably, for the day when everything goes numb.

In the meantime, in between time, work needs doing. Best get at it. Say goodbye to Flo. Swear to come back soon. Promise not to drink. Tell her that my love, poor thing that it is, is hers and hers alone.

SRYME@JEANNECLAUDE.ET.NET

#7

THE HERO OF OUR STORY, ONCE UPON A TIME, WAS MAKING ARTIFICIAL WOMBS—OR WAS TRYING TO (STUYVESANT NO DOUBT FAILED ACCORDING TO MY INTERVIEWEE AT LIVERMORE LAB). SINCE THAT TIME, AS I REPORTED WITH THE PHOTOS (SEE REPORT #6), HE HAS VIRTUALLY DISAPPEARED—ATTENDANCE AT HIS MOTHER’S FUNERAL THE SINGLE EXCEPTION. I AM BACK IN SAN FRANCISCO ABOUT TO BREAK MY WORD TO JULIANA BLUMENTHAL, HAVING DECIDED THAT HER SON, DESPITE ASSERTIONS TO THE CONTRARY, MAY PROVIDE A CLUE TO HIS PHANTOM FATHER'S WHEREABOUTS. HIS MOTHER CLAIMS THAT SAMUEL HAS NO KNOWLEDGE WHATSOEVER OF HIS MISSING PARENT AND IS LIKEWISE IN THE DARK ABOUT HIS "KIDNAPPED" TWIN. TWINS, HOWEVER, EVEN WHEN RAISED APART, BEAR STRIKING SIMILARITIES BEYOND TRAITS STRICTLY PHYSICAL, AND SOMETIMES ARE IN TUNE, ACCORDING TO RESEARCHERS, NO MATTER HOW DISTANT. WHETHER OR NOT THIS IS TRUE—AND RESULTS IN A BREAKTHROUGH—REMAINS TO BE DEMONSTRATED.

D. O'ROURKE.

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