. . .

Chapter 29 1/2

Somewhere across town a man tucked under a John Deere hat sat at his dining room table.




His automatic knuckles hauled the steak knife through the measly fare. It wasn’t made for wood, but it handled it just fine. The fork freighted it home. His jaw ground. A jaw as square as the blocks chiseled from the marble quarry. Another toothpick shattered under the pneumatic pressure below a moustache.

The man grunted.


A hand sifted the box of toothpicks. The last few rattled.

There were only a handful left but . . .

He rose from the table.

His eyes snagged on the window. He crossed the small farmhouse. Stood for a long time at the window. Swallowing all there was to see. And there was nothing to see but trees. A wild frontier of trees. A never-ending maze of Vermont’s finest. Trembling in their sleep.

Somewhere near & far the cows bawled to be milked.

But their cries didn’t land.

Same as a panhandler’s poignant two-line song.

Chapter 45 1/2

In a well-worn reading room precariously balanced above a gas station tall fingers pulled at the corners of magazine pages.





The page landed heavy as Mayflower Pilgrims. 

A two-page high-gloss spread of a New World.  This is why they came.  Yes.  They’d crossed an ocean for this much sky.  They’d followed the wind for this much land.  In England, they would always be salting someone else’s soil.  In Holland they’d be tripping over someone else’s tongue.

But here . . .

Tall fingers felt the picture.  Reached for the clouds.  Itched for the sky.  The man’s fingers a gentle breeze running through the bucolic pastures.  His breath taken by the pastoral vista.  And one man, all alone in his own country, smoking a fine cigarette.  Just him and his horse.  His hat and his cigarette.

            Mr. Fitzroy’s fingers floated –

            Cattleman Country

America had broken her promise.  Many times over.  But this new country . . . 

Sky would be big.  Land would be rugged.  Cigarettes would be country air, and most of all men would be men.

His fingers traced the lettering

Come to Cattle Country

A Country of flavor is calling from Cattleman . . .

Follow the flavor