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OUTLAW/Si'/as Zobal WHAT HOOT RAWLEY talked about was the time before we were revisions of ourselves. The late afternoon was unblemished. Heat rose from the heaps of stone beneath us. Wtilows spotted the base of the gully. Hoot held a pair of six-guns; he was sixteen years old, cloaked in dust, run with sweat. Soon, Hoot said, we would smeU of blood. "Peckerwood," Montana White said. "Arsehump." The whine of bullets clove the air. Full-mouthed heifers straggled along a barbed fence. Over a bramble fire, I fried grouse eggs in a sktilet . My dog, Royal, lay in the milkweed as I, with a free hand, picked a tick off his neck. Hoot Rawley hadn't quit talking buti. He was on about what we once were and some such. He spoke of invisible spectrums, unholy numbers and ad infinitums. No one paid him any mind. With the rifle Montana took potshots at prairie dogs and practiced his cursing. He said something aboutjabberjaws and windbags and skinbladdersfull up with piss. Then, turning in Hoot's direction, Montana spat in an arc. He was whip-thin, almond-skinned. His gaze was steady as a rattler's, his hands undersized and womanish and viper-fast. "You seen that, Buzz?" Montana said. "I cut that dog in half." "WeU, yeah, I seen it," I said. I cocked my hat to the left. "Fuckback," Montana said. "Hossshit." Horseflies droned among the weeds. The aftertrail ofa jetplane sliced the sky. "Towards whom might your foul commentary be aimed?" Hoot asked. "Damned if I know. Who you reck'n?" Halved prairie dogs littered the field. Wheel ruts led toward town lights. My El Camino sat beneath a chestnut tree. As I fried eggs, I sang slow songs about love. "Shitfire," Montana said. "Bumhole." The cast of Montana's squinty eyes and his tone of voice suggested he might have been speaking of Hoot Rawley. Hoot, sitting on a slab of dark granite and still jawing, gave Montana the finger. These were the rolled hills we haunted in our youths, before we pointed our fathers' rifles and six-guns in wayward directions; before I, Buzz Woodhouse, turned myself into a crybaby; before the trail of the dead led backward toward our former selves. This was back before The Missouri Review ยท 129 the earth bucked and rolled and the chestnut trees laid themselves flat. Before my Aussie shepherd, Royal, ceased living in a way that no one ought ever to see. Before the rain came down as gasoline. Sweet hell, that was a whole other time then. The wind pitched leaves in curlicues. The trickle of running water echoed in the gully. Royal chewed on a rag of prairie dog. "Lookit 'ere, shitsacks," said Montana. "I nabbed sumthin' from Daddy." Montana White was mean as time and quick with a gun. He had a fondness for nursing animals with incurable diseases, amputating healthy pet limbs, mutilating rabbits. He generally shot to maim. Montana rifled through his leather satchel. He took out a bottle by the neck. "Whiskey," he said, "and dynamite." He laid two red sticks on a rock. "Holy moly," I said, "that'U turn the trick." People knew me as thickmiddled , pan-faced and lovesick. Pollen shone in the air. We passed the bottle and swiUed whiskey out of hollowed-out gourds. "Blunderbuss," I said, "ain't this stily. We bought these gourds at the grocery market." Hoot Rawley stood taU on an outcropping of granite. He wore a Buck knife strapped to his thigh, a handkerchief around his neck. Like a bullhorn, Hoot stood narrow at the foot and widened as he rose to the shoulder. His gait was loose but calculated, like a sum round to the whole number. He was deliberately squint-eyed. He wiped his dry palms on his thighs. He held his gourd of whiskey high. "I've come," Hoot said, "to speak of serious things." The sun glared behind him. "You and me," Hoot said, "we're out to force this world into atonement. What say we turn to banditry and commence to speak in verse?" There was a chorus of hows. We were men who wanted...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 129-138
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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