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UNCLE ROY'S PEARL HARBOR HOT DOGS / Walter McDonald Old Uncle Roy wore American flags for a topcoat, a hat made of owls' and eagles' feathers. Ringing a bell downtown all day, he roUed an oblong hot-dog stand, shaped like a bomb in World War II. He daubed white stars and stripes gaudy and rippUng. He bent the tin and fastened it with screws, Uve coals inside to warm the buns and wieners. Before the war, he pedaled aimlessly around, without a famUy, no dog, one eye wobbling along in traffic, the other laughing. He waved at everyone and most of us waved back, uncle of all in name only. After Pearl Harbor, we saw him on foot, dragging long sheets of tin down alleys. One day there he was, big bomb of hot dogs and Uncle Roy in flags, yeUing, "Dogs! Beat Hitler with a dog!" Who taught him what to charge we never learned, maybe angels he heard on Sundays—a dime for himself, a dime for war bonds. Wheels wobbled under the load as he shoved our favorite food downtown, ringing, ringing the bell. 232 · The Missouri Review MOUNDS AT ESTACADO / Walter McDonald Hawks alone could have loved it before pumps and irrigation, flat plains of cactus. Wolves caught rabbits stampeded by buffalos, miles between water holes. Grandfather rode a bouncing wagon here, his wife worn out by Amarillo, five children squalUng for meat, for water. He fed them rabbits and prairie dogs. My daddy said the meat was stringy, needing no salt. The last buffalo was penned at Jake Smith's trading post. Granddaddy pitched a tent which blew away, West Texas sandstorms worse than Iowa winters, ashes from heaven. He buried his wife that year and took a Quaker maiden from Estacado. She bore him four more boys and buried him herself in Estacado, the only Quaker left. AU others rolled their wagons to the gulf, even her parents. I've seen some cousins in Galveston, held in my hand their hands. They watched me as if I were the ghost, survivor of sandstorms they carry as folk tales, one great crazy aunt who stayed on the plains like Lot's wife. I've touched the stone she turned to on Granddaddy's plot in Estacado, a graveyard bordered by barbed wires, ghost town surrounded by pastures, cows and romping calves in aU directions, bumblebees roaming the mUes of cactus. The Missouri Review · 233 THE SIGNS OF PRAIRIE RATTLERS / Walter McDonald The days of rattlesnake chUi are back, hulls and jalapeños the way to make eye vessels bleed. This may be the year of the snake, fat rattlers on every trail. AU day in the saddle I see jackrabbits to wide horizons. Out here, the eyes don't beUeve in signs. We shove sticks down to make mad rattlers strike, crush their tails in chili and jalapeños and let their threats be empty. Not one more rattle can save them from the fire. I never beUeved the claims of snake handlers in carnivals and church. I've heard mad preachers claim this sand is the same as Bible deserts. They quoted Moses with serpents impaled on poles. Watch signs, they warned with spitting tongues— coyotes trying to mate with your dogs at noon, a mirage that shimmers at dawn, owls that dive and pluck snake eyes Uke grapes. They prophesied a thousand years of peace. At times, after the madness of Saigon, I've found rattlers mangled at dawn, ripped open but only the skull devoured, eyeless in Gaza. I've seen coyotes at noon lame in the hip and starving, risking the ranch in daylight. I've cut a window in my wall to save barn owls from cats. My rafters are an ark for owls. I have faith in most home remedies—hard work and red-eyed chiU and homespun love. Prophets in revival tents when I was five are dead or mumbling in retirement homes. 234 · The Missouri Review Walter McDonald I've seen them preaching to themselves in shawls in rocking chairs they haven't the power to move. I've seen their stares, starved for faith in...


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