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125 Katherine Haake All This Land 1 Janet didn't feel drunk. At least she didn't think she did. She knew she hadn't felt that drunk when she said yes to the Indian and went out to paint the town, starting, she believed, in her second or third bar and ending here between the two of them, Indian and Lee, in Lee's red pickup truck but with the Indian driving, headed north on county roads to this place he said he knew though Janet thought she knew all the places there were to know around. "Beer," the Indian said, like an announcement. Lee handed him one across Janet's chest, popped another for himself and stretched his legs across the muddy floormats, sighing deeply. After awhile he said, "Helluva truck." The Indian thought a minute before saying, "Yu-up." Janet rolled her own beer over her chest, bared by the wide cut-out scoop of her t-shirt, and tried to remember the chain of events that had brought her to this exact moment and place in her life, for she believed strongly in chains of events. Just last weekend she had told her sister on the telephone, "You figure out how something happens, you're free of it at last." Her sister, largely pregnant and already with one son in the terrible twos, said freedom was a matter of circumstance, not intellect. "Besides, it's overrated, freedom is," she said. Janet longed to put her arms around her sister's belly and feel the baby kick. Give me a good one in the sternum, she thought. What she said was, "It's a matter of control. Sure you have your destiny, but I believe you also have control." "Don't expect miracles." Then her sister hung up. The Indian accelerated through a clearing and there was a rush of late summer air. Janet wiggled her toes against the windshield. All her life she had been blessed with miracles, starting with her childhood visions and ending with the hair-care salesman in the copper-colored van who had picked her up that evening and delivered her, by way of several bars, to her first real Indian since Johnny. The salesman's van was full of mannequin heads and the pink plastic bubble hoods of salon driers. Janet put one over her head as the salesman explained about shampoo. Over beer later, he gave her some samples and, fingering her own limp locks, recommended a soft wave permanent. As soon as Janet got her chance, she slipped out the back door. 126 the minnesota review Now, in the red four-wheel-drive long-bed pickup with camper shell and gun rack that all seemed far away: the warm dusk, the darkening sky, the violet fringe of mountains capped to the east by the first pale crest of the moon. Janet had stood there for a while, watching the stars, for a sign she could report long-distance to her sister. Just below the moon, she imagined, her small cabin was pitch black already, cold, and emptier than she had once thought possible—no whiskey in the cupboards and Johnny long gone. Maybe if there had been whiskey, or even a couple of left over beers, Janet would just have hitched home, but there in the alley, fingering her limp hair, she accepted it as fate that for a sign there was the back door of another bar. Thus she had already made her choice before she even saw the Indian with the other Indian Johnny used to know, and then Lee showed up later in the card room of yet another bar where Janet sidled up to him and whispered, "Still down on your luck?' Lee, who studied history at the university, riffled a short stack of chips and said, "Hey stranger." The Indian brought a beer and Janet said, "There's no point staying mad. Johnny isn't coming back, I know that.' So Lee cashed in his chips and came along. Now he crushed his beer can and tossed it out the window as the Indian turned off sharply onto a rutted gravel road. Janet locked...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 125-136
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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