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• Chapter One Sissy Nobody ever sees me the way I see myself, but only the way that each person thinks I am. I met a guy from another town where a former classmate of mine had gotten a job. He’d asked her if she knew me, and what she thought of me. You know what the woman said? She said I was the smartest girl in high school and the wildest. Neither is true. People pro­ ject their own weaknesses—or strengths—onto me because everyone talks to me about everything. They tell me bad things that I don’t want to know, the meannesses they’ve done, the evil thoughts they’ve had, the times when they’ve lain awake at night afraid that someone will find out, things they wouldn’t even confess to their priest. They never realize that once they have told me, then someone knows the terrible things they did or thought. Usually, they are drunk when they tell me, but sometimes not. They give away power to me, power to harm or to help. It’s a curse I have, to be the listener, a curse that runs in our fam­ ily. My mother has dozens of friends even though she is something of a­ recluse who rarely leaves the house except for once a year when she and my father travel to Nebraska for a few weeks to visit relatives. My dad does the grocery shopping and runs the errands that need doing while my mother stays home, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the yard, writing the checks to pay the bills. Even though there is something odd about my mother, some unformed, unnamed anxiety about being out in public here in Jackson, my dad loves her anyway. But she doesn’t have to leave the house to hear about people’s problems. They come to her with their troubles. She never gives advice, but they all leave apparently feeling better about whatever it was bothering them. I suspect that I’ve inherited this dubious gift. I tried to get out of it. I tried telling people I didn’t want to hear whatever it was they felt so desperate to tell me. Like my mother, I am a human wailing wall. It would be better if they just stuck written confessions and prayers on me. Then I could burn them without ever knowing who did what to whom and why. 4 Chapter One Now this gift or this curse has gotten me into troubles of my own, because there is an important man who thinks I know something that I don’t. Someone, or several someones, have told him that everyone tells me their troubles, even more than they tell my mother, but no one so far has confessed to me that they killed Buffalo Ames at the Scenic Fourth of July Rodeo when I was singing there in the Longhorn Bar with the Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band. ...


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MARC Record
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