Cutting Stone

Eleanor Poindexter:

But when she waked in the half light, her nightgown tangled in Laurel's feet, the air was close and cloying, and the death of summer hung in the black leaves. Out on the veranda she leaned against the pillar where, when she couldn't sleep, it had been her habit to watch the progress of the dark. She thought: Over time a landscape takes its shape, and then over time it takes its shape in you. I'm the shape of this place. And even as she thought this, while dawn crossed down the ivied trunks of the old iron oaks, shaking light on the matted grass, she had known that she would be, where today she was, on the dusty plush of the Cotton Belt club car ten miles out of Commerce, Texas. Because Laurel was ill. Because Laurel was going to Arizona for his health. Because that is the meaning of "in sickness and in health." Because a woman must follow her husband.

Lloyd Wheeler:

In there, all was light and polish, more ballroom than shop. A crystal chandelier hung over a mezzanine, and the balustrade was draped along with a blue satin banner that said Ask the Man Who Owns One. From the mezzanine a staircase curved down to the floor waxed to mirror like the bayou; it could have been still water. Ranged in a semicircle on this floor were five black limousines shiny as Willoughby's boots; and in the middle of them, in front of him close enough that he could reach out and touch its horn, was a silver-gray shape sleek as a sloop from brass grille to snow-white-sidewalled spare, with solid domed chrome hubcaps, windshield winking, button-backed horsehair-stuffed leather upholstery, folding top collapsed under matching cover, the doors outlined and underlined with loops of black rolled metal like a flourish underneath a signature. He took a deep breath of fresh leather and axle grease. He reached out his hand and touched her brazen horn. He lost the power of speech
  "I'm the manager. May I he'p you?" this one also asked.
  "No, that's all right," said Lloyd, coveting the curve of the burled walnut dashboard while he rubbed the leather underneath his thigh. He sighed. He reached for the rubber ball of the horn and gave it a firm squeeze. The horn blared, and the two men stepped back a step.
  "Now see heah," said the manager, and Lloyd, savoring it, turned him a bumptious grin.
  "Yes, sir?"
  "I'm afraid I'll have to ask you..." said the man.
  "Oh, that's okay," said Lloyd. "I don't need a demonstration."
  " come out of theah."
  "Is cash all right?"

Sam Hum:

One morning Sam made his coffee in a camp a hundred steep feet off the plain. He had climbed there for no better reason than that his eyes were sick of scrub and welcomed a knobbled mesa. He raised the cup to his mouth and felt a vibration of the earth that was not quite sound, looked west, and saw a blurring of the horizon that was not quite a cloud of dust. Then he heard a rifle crack, far and solitary, like the crack of a baseball connecting with a bat, and after that a thin spattering of continuous rifle shot. He was bleachered too far from the game to see it. The sound came no nearer and acquired no heft. It crackled for half an hour while the sun rose on a gorgeous sky. His fire warmed his beans. A brown chameleon climbed a sage branch and turned slowly green.

© Janet Burroway. All Rights Reserved.