Sunday, 15 June 2008

15 June 2008

They can give Nebraska back to the Indians far as I’m concerned. I hate this damn place more than any place in the world. Montana’s my home now, Missoula. You come up there sometime and see God’s country.” Later in the afternoon I slept and got some rest when he got tired talking---he was an interesting talker. We stopped along the road for a rest and a bite to eat. The cowboy went off to have a spare tire patched and Eddie and I sat down in a kind of homemade diner. I heard a great laugh, the greatest laugh in the world, and here came this rawhide oldtimer Nebraska farmer with a bunch of other boys into the diner; you could hear his raspy cries clear across the plains, across the whole gray world of them that day. Everybody else laughed with him. He didn’t have a care in the world and had the hugest regard for everybody nevertheless. I said to myself, “Wham listen to that man laugh. That’s the west, here I am in the West.” He came booming into the diner calling Maw’s name from a distance, and she made the sweetest cherrypie in Nebraska and I had some with a mountainous scoop of ice cream on top. “Maw, rustle me up some grub afore I have to start eatin myself raw or some damn silly idee like that” and he threw himself on a stool and went “Hyaw hyaw hyaw hyaw! And thow some beans in it.” It was just the spirit of the west sitting right next to me. I wished I knew his whole raw life and what the hell he’d been doing all these years besides laughing and yelling like that. “Whooee,” I told my soul, and the cowboy came back and off we went to Grand Island. We got there in no time flat. He went to fetch his sleeping wife and off to whatever fate awaited him in the intervening years since, and Eddie and I resumed on the road. We got a ride from a couple of young fellows, wranglers, teenagers, countryboys in a put-together jaloppy and were left off somewhere up the line in a thin drizzle of rain. Then an old man who said nothing and God knows why he picked us up took us to (Preston) Nebraska. Here Eddie stood forlornly in the road in front of a staring bunch of short squat Omaha Indians who had nowhere to go and nothing to do. Across the road was the railroad track and the water tank saying “Preston.” “Damn me,” said Eddie with amazement, “I’ve

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