Dylan ran sprints up an unpaved road.
The lean, serious runner wore tattered black shorts and was naked to the waist. He ran in a pair of patched, vintage British plimsoles.
He jogged back down to the base of the hill, checked his watch and ran another 200 yard interval up the hill. At the top he bent at the waist and caught his breath. Dylan had learned to love the heat and pastel beauty of the high desert. He’d discovered many subtle aspects of heat. There’s a point, like now, when it’s over 90: the air you force into your lungs opens you up. It cleanses you; purifies. Then there’s the heat in the food. This Philadelphia boy who earned money for his first bicycle shoveling snow from driveways fell in love with sopes and stuffed passillas and calabasitas and never wanted to see another cheese-steak in his life. A viscous well-earned-sweat dripped and oozed from all pores as he surveyed the town.
Over a mile distant, the town of Torrey, New Mexico glistened in the shimmering heat. Torrey boasted a paved, two-lane Main Street. Its brick post office, plastered with recruiting posters—Army, Navy, Marine—glowed in the heat. The cinderblock Greyhound station looked like a hunched old lady in a dirty pink smock; expecting bad news. Sacred Heart Hospital seemed pristine only because of the general disrepair of the town. The Dew Drop Inn, Torrey’s only bar, sat prominent by virtue of its recently painted red-white-and-blue façade. A hardware and a grocery store huddled near the bank. Neat but tired looking houses—all with Victory Gardens—baked in the sun.
Dylan checked his watch. His lunch hour was over. He turned and jogged down to the sun-blistered pueblo of Torrey.
That evening, red-white-and-blue hung everywhere: Flags, Bunting, Streamers. A band consisting of teenagers and retirees, wrestled with The Star Spangled Banner. A hand lettered banner stretched across Torrey’s Main Street read:
WELCOME HOME BOBBY!
MARINE CORPS ACE!!!
Dylan stood off to the side of the festivities. Mayor Will Snelling, a wizened, red-faced, universally loved skeleton of a man who lived for the township of Torrey, mounted the stage and motioned for quiet. The band came to a sour conclusion. “We all remember—”
He cleared his throat; there was no microphone, but Will didn’t need one, he projected like a carnival pitchman: “—we all remember when Bobby Rucker pitched back-to-back shutouts in a doubleheader against Lamy—”
The crowd shouted, whistled and clapped. Dylan smiled. The small town mindset was still new and fresh to him: Discussing everyone’s activities, Dylan still considered attentive and neighborly; it had yet to become gossipy and invasive. A chant of Bob-Bee, Bob-Bee, Bob-Bee filtered through the crowd. Dylan smiled. He had worked the second half of his shift at Sacred Heart Hospital and eaten twice since his run. Now he dressed in what the town of Torrey considered Ivy League; but an Ivy Leaguer would have considered Bush League.
Dylan didn’t care. Comfortable in a white shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbow—no tie or belt—and huaraches he’d bought on his last trip to the open-air market in Albuquerque; he simply didn’t care. He wore his dirty-blonde hair Recruiting Poster Short; the hair seemed incongruous with his skinny, almost ascetic frame. People were used to seeing crewcuts on broad-shouldered Marines, thick Infantrymen, and sturdy Naval personnel. He shaded his green eyes and examined the crowd, most of whom, smiling, waved small American flags. Dylan’s casual gaze turned to scrutiny when it settled on a man in his forties, obviously, by the way he smoked and dressed, a European. The man returned Dylan’s stare with impunity. Dylan was one of the few young men among the women, children, and retirees.
Elena appeared out of the crowd and grabbed Dylan’s right elbow, “Where were you last night?”
“The hospital,” said Dylan. “Til almost midnight.”
“I had to spend the night with my other boyfriend.“ She squeezed his arm and smiled. “Seriously, I have something to tell you.”
“I’ll see you tonight. Stop by the Dew Drop.”
“Make sure you’re there; we have to talk.”
“Okay,” smiled Dylan. “We’ll talk tonight.”
Elena started to reply, but she was interrupted by a roar as Bobby Rucker, Torrey’s Hometown Hero, mounted the stage and shook hands with Mayor Snelling. The band staggered into The Marine Corps Hymn. Bobby, despite the heat, wore his leather USMC flight jacket over his starched tan uniform. He turned his back to the crowd to display his squadron logo: a coiled rattlesnake about to strike with THE RATTLERS VFM—323 beneath the serpent in white block print. Elena stood on tiptoes and kissed Dylan on the cheek before disappearing into the crowd.
Bobby faced the crowd and yelled over the noise, “Every time we traveled to Santa Fe or Albuquerque for a basketball or baseball game the only thing I could think of was how bad I wanted to shake the dust from this town offa my boots. But I gotta say, after dodging Jap planes for two years that the town and people of Torrey are sweetest sight I’ve ever seen.”
The band played—sort of—Yankee Doodle Dandy. The mayor, Bobby, and the crowd waved flags and sung along.
Bobby’s welcome home banner had become a beer-soaked-bar-mat. It had been draped across the Dew Drop Inn’s bar for several hours. Luckily it had been soaked with beer, because several cigarettes had been dropped on it as well. Alex Rucker—proprietor—sang The Rose of Tralee with loud, inebriated, off-key confidence.
Dylan tended bar.
Bobby, his dad George, and Mayor Snelling sprawled around the best table in the house. It was also the only table in the house. The Dew Drop Inn had a huge horseshoe shaped bar that could seat forty.
If there were stools.
Tonight, a scrum of Bobby’s well-wishers and revelers bellied-up and knocked-them-back.
Bobby’s dad managed to stand and miraculously made it across the room to Dylan. “Three more.”
“You know it.” He rummaged in his overall pockets for money.
Alex halted his singing and said, “Bullshit. Bullshit. On me Dylan. All night, ‘til they can’t see right. Ah, the Red Rose of Tralee…”
“You’re the boss,” said Dylan. With a bartender’s practiced economy of motion he poured the shots and drew three short draft beers.
Bobby and Mayor Will had joined George at the bar. Bobby gulped his shot back. He said to Dylan, “Fly like a Marine. Fight like a Marine. Drink like a Marine. Name’s Bobby.”
“Dylan.” They shook hands and Dylan poured him another shot in a long, precise, steady stream. “Semper fi.”
“Good shootin’. Where’d you learn to tend bar?” Bobby, amazingly, barely slurred his speech: Drinkin’ like a Marine.
“My father owned a bar. Been workin’ at one since that high.”
“Lemme buy you one?”
“Thanks. I don’t drink.” Dylan bussed a few glasses.
“JezuzChristAlmightee. These crazy days and someone doesn’t drink? Why?”
“My father owned a bar.” The two young men smiled at each other.
“You’re okay. Lemme buy you a drink.”
Dylan smiled again. His father used to say: There’s only two things I can’t stand. A drunk person when I’m sober and a sober person when I’m drunk. “I don’t drink, Bobby.”
“Right. JezuzChristAlmightee. But it’s okay, I drink enough for both of us. You’re okee-dokee.”
Alex had stopped singing. The European that Dylan had seen earlier entered, and shyly, almost daintily stood at the far end of the bar’s horseshoe. Dylan walked down, took his order and poured him a scotch. The man, in an accent Dylan didn’t recognize, asked if he could run a tab for the remainder of this fair evening. That’s the phrase he used: Remainder of this fair evening. Dylan nodded while sipping at his lukewarm orange Nehi, and returned to washing glasses.
“So where’d you serve?” said Bobby.
“It’s not important,” said Dylan.
“I asked you where the hell you served. JezuzChristAlmightee, you deaf? Europe? North Africa?”
“I’m an orderly at Sacred Heart Hospital. I work here nights.”
“Wiping chins and asses? That’s how you help us win this war?” Bobby inhaled his beer, leaving the shot Dylan had just poured. “You’re a chickenshit.”
“He’s a Conscientious Objector. Drink up, Bobby,” said the mayor.
Bobby abandoned his whiskey on the bar and, staring at Dylan, left through the open door. His father shrugged at Dylan left next. Then everyone exited except Alex, the mayor and the European newcomer: Bobby Rucker’s opinion—tonight—was Torrey’s opinion.
The mayor said, “Bobby gets a little hot-headed. No offense, son?”
“None taken, Sir.”
“Good boy.” He pointed at the shot. “You mind?”
“It’s paid for.”
He sip-slurped it down and said, “Hey Alex, we all are heading over to Lamy before they roll up the sidewalks. Care to tag along?”
“You mind locking up again, Dylan?” asked Alex.
They staggered to the door and left, leaving only Dylan and the European. The solitary patron drank as Dylan washed-and-dried.
“War is respectable,” said the European, “only when you’re winning. The end of World War One—I was in the Austro-Hungarian army—wasn’t so jolly.”
Dylan shelved some glasses. “What’s a dapper Austro-Hungarian like you doing in Torrey?”
“This tiny town actually reminds me of the place I was born and raised.”
The man smiled. “Budapest. Might I please have another drink?”
Dylan poured another scotch.
“Thank you.” The man doodled on a bar napkin while Dylan finished up the dirty glasses. After, perhaps, ten minutes of smooth and cozy silence he placed his pencil on the bar: “That young man, who just exited, is a cretin.”
“He’s also a war hero,” said Dylan.
“Remember, my friend, Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
Delighted, the patron raised his glass. Dylan tinked it with his orange Nehi. “Indulge me, please, young man.”
“Shoot.” Dylan put his left leg up on the beer keg.
“You’ve had several years at University. Studied Liberal Arts, not the Sciences. Not graduated on account of this war.”
“I can smell the philosophy on you. No more interruptions.” A coyote yip-yip-yowled in the warm, still night and was answered in turn. Both front and rear doors were opened and the sounds and smells of the night, along with the heat, filtered in. “Your accent is eastern; but not brusque enough for New York. Not, how do you say twangy enough for Baltimore or the mid-Atlantic states. Not Boston, certainly.”
“Philadelphia,” said Dylan.
The Hungarian nodded: “You move with grace and confidence. You are athletic and introspective. And just a little too much sorrow leaks from your eyes.” He sipped at the scotch. “But the women love that.”
“And you, a Hungarian, in New Mexico doodling cryptic symbols on a bar napkin. You’re a scientist or mathematician.” Dylan smiled, “I can smell the equations on you. And just a little too much sadness leaks out from your eyes.”
They enjoyed the night sounds: the clock behind the bar ticked: a wind rattled the building: the coyotes’ crescendo rose, fell, and began again.
“My Rachel was taken to Treblinka. It was a work camp in Poland. Built especially for the Gypsies and Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto. I miss my wife very much.”
He nodded. “Thank you, but it is too late for sorrow and sympathy. It is time for action. But the irony of it is that I should have acted three years ago. Five years ago.” He slapped the bar. “No. I should have left Europe seven years ago. I could have worked and taught with Enrico Fermi; Hans Bethe; even with Einstein. Dear sweet Albert.”
Dylan had seen his father, while tending bar, make this type of decision all the time. The old guy is either drunk or full-of-hooey. Or his story is true; and he’s reaching out for arm to lean on.
Or shoulder to cry on.
It’s a simple bartender’s move. If Dylan returned to washing glasses—he’d actually seen his father rewash clean glasses to avoid talking to someone—the conversation was over. If he encouraged the man, in any way at all, the bartender’s obligation was to listen. He finished the Nehi, reached across the bar with hand extended: “Name’s Dylan.”
“Eduard Meitner.” The Hungarian bowed slightly as they shook. “It is my pleasure, Sir.”
“So,” said Dylan. “Where’d you and Albert Einstein become such friends?”
“Ah, straight to the meat. Bravo.” He lit a cigarette in that odd yet distinctive style of continental smokers. “He was my teacher at the University of Berlin. Imagine this skinny—yes I was skin-and-bones back then and a war hero. A heroic pilot from a vanquished army, but a hero who fought for his country and won Hungary’s highest honor: the Signus Laudum medal. I carry it with me to this day. It is like the toe bone of a dinosaur.”
“Please don’t mock me, my new friend.” Eduard winked: “I’m on the verge of an elegant, albeit moderately inebriated metaphor.”
“The toe bone of a dinosaur? Dazzle me.”
“From such a toe, a relic, a scrap, a fossil: the talented Paleontologist can ascertain the height and weight of the remainder of the brute. Whether he prowled on two hind feet or wallowed in the Cretaceous swamp. So my medal,
my Signum Laudum, is a fossil from which I can reconstruct a proud, happy, hopeful, and intelligent young man. Who overstayed his welcome in Europe.”
“Why didn’t you leave sooner for England or the States?”
Eduard offered a cigarette to Dylan, who waved it away. He lit another and spoke, “Because like Jews, Gypsies, and Neville Chamberlain I refused to take Adolf Hitler seriously. With his mincing mannerisms, and ridiculous mustache, and insane, inane chatter about ethnic purity I thought intelligent people would see through his maniacal insecurity and rid themselves of him.”
“No such luck.”
“No such luck. During the invasion of Poland, we were visiting friends—Catholics—in Warsaw. Early on, travel was still possible. Rachel was blonde as summer wheat, with blue eyes; she learned to mumble a few prayers. It’s easy to pass as a Christian. For me, the hair is black and the eyes blue, but my Kielbasa had been prepared by a Rabbi—so. A danger if one is caught with one’s pants down.”
Dylan, without being asked, refilled Eduard’s Scotch and opened another Nehi. Eduard didn’t seem to notice.
“We both had relatives in Bialystok—between Warsaw and Grodno—and I honestly didn’t know what I was thinking: We’d collect our cousins and an auntie, some kittens, a coin collection and drive across the frontier waving farewell to the Nazis.”
Dylan chuckled, then, “Sorry.”
“Not at all, my friend. I suppose one should feel relieved or even uplifted that one is unable to comprehend the psyche of evil. But that assurance of my sanity and humanity cost me my Rachel.”
“She was a musician. A cellist. She’d performed in various string ensembles. I would journey into the ether of mathematics; she into the ether of music—but when we returned we had each other. Until we were captured and separated in Warsaw. I’d been told where she’d been shipped by my torturers. Part of the mental anguish, you see. Ah, those Germans, quite thorough, indeed. But there was one German. Kapitan Rilke; a bumbling hulk of a man who recognized my name...”
Dylan had also seen this many times. A conversation crumbling into a monologue. He cleaned the bar and folded Bobby’s beer-sopped banner, tossing in just enough ums and yeps to be polite.
“Rilke’s brother was a dear classmate of mine at University. Herr Kapitan allowed me, through the Polish underground, to escape. Even in war; especially in war, everything has a price. They smuggled me to Trieste. From there it was easy. Trieste to Venice, then a ship to Ireland.” He raised his glass. “To the United States.”
“Why New Mexico?”
“My new friend Dylan, I have seen too much. That is why I am in New Mexico: to help with a present for Adolf. And I’d deliver it personally if I could.”
With a youthful bounce he sprang away from the bar. “Goodnight. I must work in the morning. My young American boss, you would like him, is picking me up at
the Greyhound depot. He had personal business in Albuquerque today, so he dropped me here. Like all Europeans, I enjoy a good parade. Perhaps that was Herr Adolf’s secret. The wonderful parades?”
Eduard tossed a crumpled dollar bill on the bar. He fumbled with his hat. “Again, goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Eduard. It was a pleasure meeting you.”
Elena entered quietly. Eduard bowed; first to the young lady, then Dylan, and said before leaving: “Thank you for listening. I hope I didn’t sound too sad or foolish.”
Elena and Dylan linked arms as they walked up a mesa overlooking Torrey. A quarter moon lit their way barely. Another thing about New Mexico that delighted and amazed Dylan was the night sky. Because of Philly’s lights he’d never seen the Milky Way or any of the distant constellations and star fields. Here, they were so obvious, so palpable that you could almost reach out and touch them.
Elena had just had her third cocktail and acted giddy.
“I’m neither of those,” said Dylan.
“What were we talking about?”
“You called me smug and sanctimonious.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you. I was playing.”
“I don’t want to retreat from the world; I don’t necessarily want to improve it. I just don’t know.”
Elena placed her hand over Dylan’s mouth. “Too many words just get in the way.” She removed her hand and they kissed. Neither had been virgins when they met; but neither had ever made love before being with each other. Sex is sex; but the yearning yet languid act of love is something different entirely.
The couple made love beneath a white-lace mantilla of stars.
“Dylan?” They lay still in each other’s arms. “I need to tell you something.”
“I’m pregnant.” Perhaps it was better she’d told him in the dark; Elena didn’t know how he would react. She didn’t know how she wanted him to react. “I know you’ll be leaving when the war ends. I always knew it and I won’t hate you for it.”
“What?” She burrowed her head into his neck.
“Someone I love once told me something important.”
“Too many words just get in the way.”
Eduard entered briskly. He had been in every weekend for two months. He and Dylan sometimes chatted until dawn. Eduard leaned against the bar. “Scotch please.”
Dylan poured the drink. “Why in such a good mood?”
“To quote Mister Churchill, I am at the beginning of the end of a long, long journey.”
“A metaphorical journey my young friend; yet with quite tangible results. In a few days I will know if years of incredible labor, mine and many of my close friends, will have been worthwhile.”
“I’m certain my ineptitude as a pilot hastened the end of World War One. Perhaps, this time, in this war, my contribution will be even more positive.”
“But you were awarded that…Dinosaur Toe.”
Eduard lit a cigarette and smiled, “Dylan, I am pleasantly drunk so I must admit to you that I never shot down a single enemy plane.”
“How’s that work? Nineteen victories without shooting down a plane?”
“I flew a Fokker D-seven. A remarkably nimble plane. In a dogfight I’d turn in increasingly tighter circles.” Eduard demonstrated with both hands as he explained: “If a Spad or Nieuport or Sopwith got behind me I’d break the opposite direction and my friends would pounce on any plane that I’d led into the center of our formation. It was actually quite perilous to shoot down an enemy plane: you had to be quite close and those old planes were extremely flammable. Often the Hungarian pilot shooting down the enemy would burst into flames or be blinded by the smoke and crash.” He sipped. “When you are losing a war, especially, there is a premium on heroes. My squadron leader decided to manufacture a hero, me, with confirmed kills by pilots who didn’t make it back. Hence: nineteen victories and my Dinosaur Toe.”
“How old were you in World War One?”
“I will tell only if you promise there will be no regrets, guilt or comparisons.”
“I became a pilot when I was seventeen. I marched in procession in front of the Emperor’s Palace; the women loved my uniform. But we soon learned about modern, mechanized warfare.” He shook his head and finished his drink. “Now congratulate me on a job well done.”
“Congratulations.” Dylan sipped his cold coffee. “May I tell you something?”
“I want to be in the Olympics. And here I sit; in my prime, with two consecutive Olympic games cancelled. But I know there are guys my age who’ve died and lost limbs in this war.”
Eduard drank, “What have you lost by not going to this war?”
Dylan tossed out his coffee and turned off some lights. “I honestly don’t know.”
Eduard said, “I used to think Life was Budapest. When that was taken from me I thought Life was Hungary. That removed, I thought Life was Europe. It’s none of those and all of those. It is, as you Americans say, where you hang your hat. Dylan, the Olympics aren’t the only place to run.”
“I’ve learned that. I love to run the hills and the desert. But I believed in the Olympics.”
“What of Philosophy? The world of ideas?”
“They are useless, pointless, against the world of tanks and airplanes.”
“You are too young to believe that. I refuse to accept that someone your age can believe that. Even an old man like me has hope. A little—”
“What are you people building behind all that barbed wire?”
“The canyon that backs up to Pajarito Plateau; there’s a little city behind barbed wire. I’ve seen it when I was running.”
“Suffice it to say we’ll all know soon enough.” Eduard pumped Dylan’s hand. “You are a good man. A man I can talk to. Yes, a good man.”
Dylan celebrated VJ Day—as did everyone—with an amalgam of joy, sorrow, and relief. But the real end of World War Two, for him, came before VJ Day. It was the day after the second bomb fell on Nagasaki. Eduard entered the Dew Drop Inn at closing; uncharacteristically anxious and disheveled. He sat at the table, drinking scotch after scotch; uncommunicative despite Dylan’s efforts. Hands shaking, finally, Eduard said, “Which infinity would be larger? Infinity times two or an infinity consisting of all possible numbers?”
“You okay?” They were alone in the bar.
“No. I haven’t been sleeping well. Nerves. Nerves.” He motioned at his empty glass, which Dylan ignored. “Which infinity would be larger?” shouted Eduard.
“Infinity times two?”
“Wrong. If you multiply infinity times two, you eliminate all the odd numbers. An infinite string of numbers that includes the odd numbers would be larger.” Eduard slapped the table twice, “I want another drink.”
Dylan walked around, with the bottle, poured and sat at the table.
“A simple, elegant calculation. That is, frankly, what attracted me to mathematics. The elegance.”
Dylan nodded. Eduard gulped Scotch, then unprompted, said: “I was in a cellar in Warsaw; hiding while waiting to escape. There was a grate in the corner, you could see the street if you stood on a box. One day, two trucks pulled up. From one truck SS troops started piling out with food, and tables; linen and wine. A caterer’s dream: pork, goose, pheasant. Produce and pastries. The street urchins swarmed for crumbs as the SS booted them away.”
“Can I get you some coffee?”
He ignored Dylan. “From the other truck were unloaded Hasidic Yeshiva students and a moving picture camera. The students were staged behind the banquet tables as the camera was balanced on a tripod. Then they were urged to eat. As if indeed they needed the encouragement. One of them was handed a violin, which he played. I smiled. At least someone not wearing a German uniform will sleep tonight with a full stomach. The camera panned repeatedly from left-to-right: the students smiled and waved and gobbled. After the camera had been packed away a flap on the second truck opened and a machine gun—like the camera—panned, repeatedly, from left-to-right. The propaganda film finished—Jewish students living the high life while Europe starves—the actors were paid.”
“I watched this depravity from the cellar. I was powerless. I couldn’t help; crying out would have insured my death and revealed the location of the underground operation. So I watched in silence.”
“I came to America.” Eduard drank; Scotch dribbled down his chin. “I came to America and utilized my talents to help produce a weapon to stop these Nazi animals. I worked hard, my friend. With pride and passion. Conviction. I’ve twice now seen the result of my work.”
They sat in silence.
“But if I could line up all the bastards who killed those Ghetto students, even I couldn’t bring myself to use this new weapon. Not even on them.” He finished his drink. “Not even on them.”
Dylan poured Eduard another scotch
“I need you to swear on whatever you still consider sacred that you believe I did not know what we were doing.”
The bartender nodded.
“I thank you.” Eduard rummaged in his baggy trousers and produced a black and white cross on a purple ribbon. “My Signum Laudum of which I am justly proud, I present to you: for your service during this war. I received it for defending my Homeland; you for something different; equally important.” Eduard placed his hat carefully upon his head; hunched and broken, he shuffled to the door. “Goodbye, my good friend. Goodbye.”
Dylan picked up the Signum Laudum and waited what seemed a long time before he heard the sound of a revolver. He set the medal down and waited another minute before he stood and made his way into the sultry and stultifying New Mexico night. He discovered Eduard’s huddled, lifeless body in the middle of Main Street. He bent down, removed the almost comically small revolver from his friend’s hand and threw it as far as he could.
Dylan and Elena sat together on the hospital’s worn waiting room couch. They were alone in the room. From a black&white television Harry Reasoner reported: “Fighting intensified in the Mekong Delta today. Losses on both sides were said to be moderate. Despite protests, President Johnson vowed to continue the bombing campaign over North Vietnam. B-52s from Guam have arrived in Saigon—”
Dylan rose and clicked the set off.
He shook his head; vaguely. A stranger wouldn’t have known if he disapproved of the Vietnam War or the television. He returned to the couch, bent, and kissed Elena. She smiled: “She’ll be okay.”
A young doctor with horned-rimmed glasses entered. He scratched at his neck. A wide, poorly knotted paisley tie flopped as he approached the couple. “She’s had a baby boy. Your daughter’s fine.”
“When can we see her?” said Dylan.
“Now. She’s doing wonderfully.”
“A boy,” said Elena. “I’ll call Bill. What time is it in Germany?”
“Doesn’t matter,” said Dylan. “You’re calling to tell him he’s a father.” He kissed her. “And you’re the sexiest gramma I’ve ever seen.”
Elena hoisted her macramé purse to her left shoulder and left the waiting room. Dylan and the doctor silently walked to the maternity ward of Albuquerque General. Four of the ten beds were occupied. Dylan leaned over the nearest bed and kissed first his daughter; then his grandson. “Your Mom’s calling Bill.”
“I wish he was here, Pops.”
“The Army’s funny like that, Maria.”
“I remember when I was little—”
“You still are. My little green-eyed girl.”
“And we used to walk in the hills. All those stories you told me: Here’s where I first kissed your mom…We had a picnic over there…The first time I ever rode a horse was down that ravine.”
Dylan smiled. “I remember.”
“You told me all about Philadelphia and why you came to New Mexico. About all the old farts in the hospital you took care of. The bar where you worked.”
The baby stirred. They sat quiet. The child’s eyes opened—unfocused and bloodshot—then shut. He smiled and drooled. Maria and Dylan shared possession of the child with intertwined hands. “How,” said Dylan, “can you remember all that?”
“Those stories, Pops, those stories are burned into my mind. It’s like I knew my mom-and-pops when they were young.”
“Maria, you couldn’t have been ten when I told you—”
“Here’s how well I remember.” Maria handed Dylan his grandson. “His name is Eduard.”