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Epilogue Kearney, Nebraska Saturday, October 25, 1969 I came home to Auntie Iris’s house from working at a nice little café by the college. The work was familiar; I liked my fellow waitresses, even the little weasel of a cook who whined all the time about everything but was a softie at heart. I picked up the mail from the dining room table and thumbed through, looking for a letter from Mom that wasn’t there but instead found a letter addressed to me in a neat rounded hand. I slit it open with a finger. Dear Sissy, I hope you are well and that you find whatever you are looking for. The Buffalo Ames case is closed. I know. Thanks for all your help, even if you didn’t meant to help. The FBI has a fund for such things. If you ever want to try a different school, the University of Oklahoma is pretty good. My wife and I have a spare bedroom. She’s always been good about rescuing strays, and she already knows you aren’t civilized. Good luck. Tom Holm Enclosed was a stiff blue government check with those little squares randomly punched in it. The amount was two thousand dollars. I ­started to tear it up, but instead I put it in the back of my dresser drawer. Two weeks later, I put it in my checking account. It paid for most of my first year’s tuition and books. Tuition and books were not as expensive back in 1970 . . . Years later I love music. I love the way that it takes me to a different place, a better place where I can be anyone I want to be, where there are roads leading 178 Epilogue to other places just over the hill or around the bend, but that is my special , my refuge. I had sense enough to realize that if I did that for a living, that would diminish it, make it everyday and usual, and I would lose the wonder and the anticipation of greater things. I got a degree in sociology and became a counselor because people always talked to me, and I decided that if I had to listen to everyone’s problems and help them figure out their lives, I might as well get paid for doing it. They tell me bad things that sometimes make me uncomfortable 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, and the things that evil people have done to them. They never realize that when they have told me, then someone does know the terrible things they did or thought or how little they felt and helpless when a terrible thing was done to them. Sometimes—it used to be usually—they’re drunk when they tell me, but most times the people who confess their foibles are sitting in my blue-carpeted office, stone cold sober. I used to believe it’s a curse I have, to be the listener, but it’s a blessing, too, a gift that I see my own daughter has inherited. Her friends come to her to mediate their arguments, even over something as simple as to how to fairly divide one candy bar between them. I overheard a conversation where one of her friends told another whose grandmother had just died that she should go talk to my daughter. She never gives advice, but they all seem to leave feeling better about whatever was bothering them. They see her as something other than what she is. She hates it. She is a human wailing wall, a wall where people poke confessions into the crevices. Sometimes it helps. On the rare weekend, I still play my guitar and sing, but no longer with the Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band, and when I sing “House of the Rising Sun,” I think, Take that, Clayton! ...


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