Any Other NameBook - 2014
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Joseph Conrad said that if you wanted to know the age of the earth , look upon the sea in a storm ; if you want to know the age of the Powder River country , just be on the wrong side of a coal train . A guy who worked for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe once told me that the trains in northern Wyoming are about a hundred and forty cars and a mile and a half long , but it sure seems longer than that when you’re waiting on one .
The major cities of the Wyoming portion of the basin are Gillette and Sheridan ; in Montana , Miles City . The rest of the twenty - four thousand square miles is what they call sparsely populated and I call Durant and home .
The ass end of the train went by , another disappointment in that it was not a caboose but rather a set of locomotives helping to push from the rear , and I got that familiar feeling I always did whenever a train passed ; that I should be on it , but it was going the wrong way .
“ He as good as they say ? ” I waited and listened . “ When I hired him I told him two things : no man has any sense till age thirty - five and damn few afterwards . .
“ Never go after a man to arrest him unless you are certain you are legally right , but then arrest him or die . ”
“ I want to warn you that if you put Walter on this you’re going to find out what it’s all about , one way or the other . ” Another pause , and I could imagine the face that was peering down at her , a visage to which I was accustomed . “ You’re sure you want that ? Because he’s like a gun ; once you point him and pull the trigger , it’s too late to change your mind . ”
“ About a third of all motel owners in the U.S . are called Patel — it’s a surname that indicates that they’re members of a Gujarati Hindu subcaste . ” I looked up at his confused face and figured I might as well educate him on the subject . “ The Indian caste structure has four principal divisions and a myriad of subcastes , of which Patel is one ; Vaishyas , or traders , were at one time employed to calculate the tithes that were owed to medieval kings by farmers in Gujarat , an Indian province on the Arabian Sea . ” Sandy shook his head and looked at Lucian . “ Was he like this when you hired him ? ” He nodded . “ Better than a bookmobile . ”
With more than thirty thousand suicides a year , the act is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States . The rates for those above sixty - five years of age are much higher than the average , and Holman was sixty - seven . Fifty - six percent of male suicides are a result of firearms , whereas with females the predominant choice of departure is an overdose .
Aces and eights is a poker hand generally referred to as the dead man’s hand . This particular combination of cards arrived at such notoriety by being the one held by Wild Bill Hickok in Saloon 10 at the time of his demise in Deadwood , South Dakota — a little bit east of where we now sat .
We came around one of those big , sweeping turns and the thing just decided it wanted to go to Nebraska . . . She didn’t have on her belt and flew out on the first roll . ”
His ears went up at the word ham ; they say dogs have a vocabulary of about twenty words , and I was pretty sure seventeen of Dog’s were ham .
I stood there for a long time , giving her what my daughter used to call the nickel - plated stare .
“ Reports of missing persons have increased sixfold in the last twenty - five years , from roughly 150,000 in 1980 to 900,000 this year . . . More than 2,000 a day . ” Lorea tossed the change on the table but glanced at me . “ Nobody gives a shit , lady . ” She walked away from the booth , her voice a shadow . “ Nobody . ”
“ Did Mom have any problems along these lines when she had me ? ” As always , I dropped back and punted with humor , even though the panes of my heart were cracking like ice in a warm glass . “ No , she dropped you in the field and kept hoeing sugar beets . ”
“ The first time I came to pick her up you tossed me a shotgun shell . ” “ I did ? ” “ Yeah , you said they went a lot faster after eleven o’clock . ”
“ You could tell she was smart , that she was going places , and this was just a stopover at the edge of the world where she could make some money and then move on — you know what I mean ? ”
There was an enormous individual in the doorway , almost as big as me , heavily muscled — the kind of muscles you get in a weight room , or a cell block .
She probably wasn’t as old as she seemed , but the alcohol , tobacco , and hard living had rolled up her odometer .
“ Have you ever been married before ? ” “ A short period of time back , but I don’t think either one of us took it very seriously — like my great grandfather used to say , nobody misses a slice off an already - cut cake . ”
“ Don’t you think scars make better stories than tattoos ? ” I fingered that little piece of my ear that was missing and draped an arm over the back of my seat . “ If that’s the case , then I’ve got a whole library on me . ”
“ He’s gone . ” “ Gone as in to the hereafter and buried by you and Henry in a shallow grave for a coyote buffet and then carried away in tiny , antlike bites , or simply gone ? ”
We stood at the door zipping , buttoning , fastening ; it’s what people in Wyoming do before they go outside in late December .
Where the hell is Johnston Atoll ? ” I sipped my coffee , enjoying her full attention . “ Seven hundred and fifty nautical miles west of Hawaii on a coral reef platform ; it’s one of the United States ’ minor outlying islands — about 1.3 square miles . ” “ A postage stamp in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a single palm tree like you see in those cartoons in the New Yorker ? ” “ Something like that . ” “ What , were you shipwrecked or something ? ” “ No . ” She glanced around , enjoying the illusion of covert activity . “ What’s there ? ” I leaned back in my seat and studied her . “ An air base , a naval refueling depot , and a weapons testing area , but not anymore . ” “ What kinds of weapons ? ” “ Nuclear , among others . ” She leaned in . “ No shit ? ” “ A dozen thermonuclear weapons were exploded there before the ban in ’ 63 , but they also had a twenty - five - acre landfill full of Agent Orange , PCBs , PAHs , dioxins , and sarin
“ Sometimes I get to where I feel like I’m the only one getting it in the shorts in this life , you know ? ”
“ Spasms . They gave me muscle relaxers and a brace . They said to take the medication before it starts really hurting . ” “ Then you should have started taking it around 1967 . ”
AWSFB . ” She glanced at Henry . “ That would be Aryan White Supremacy Founding Brotherhood , or as my fed buddies over in Gangs and Bikers like to call them , Assholes With Shit For Brains . ”
Lead , South Dakota , is pronounced as is the verb , not as the malleable heavy metal . Once home to one of the most productive gold mines in the Western Hemisphere , Lead now leads the area in twisting , straight - up - and - down , kiss - your - own - butt roads , currently covered with a foot or so of snow .
It can take three to four minutes for the average train , which weighs more than three thousand tons , to pass through a crossing . It takes a full mile or more for a train to stop ; that’s sixteen football fields ; that’s even after it’s struck something .
Asociación Punto Muerto ? ” “ Yep ? ” “ Well , the information I got is sketchy , but it translates pretty much word for word and stands for the Dead Center Association ; it’s kind of an unofficial union for assassins and was started in South American prisons as a way for drug consortiums to get their contracts fulfilled , even if the hit man assigned to the job was killed or imprisoned . Once they assign a hitter for a job , there’s a pecking order of associates that are responsible for fulfilling the hit if that individual should fail . ”
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