despite the lines and roughening effect of years in the sun, the features were still astonishingly soft and somehow even innocent. The lips were like those of a young girlvery tender and fulland the eyes were clear and well-defined, without any wrinkles or pouches. I was in the midst of an urge to take a cloth and wash the tan and dirt and wrinkles awayto see what she really looked like underneathwhen suddenly she moved on. She reached inside her coat, scratched fiercely along her collarbone and underneath her arm, then began walking out of the plaza in her bobbing, long-gaited stridelooking down to the cracks in the sidewalk and giving Old Eleanor hell. SMALL, SENSITIVE, SUBDUED MEN They gather clans about them and cultivate the arts. They hang cognac bottles in wicker slings on their front room walls, along with the charcoal drawing of a Mexican peasant woman and the Renoir handed down in the family and the casual objets d’art collected in lieu of children across the years. They have frequent small gatherings of those whom they have found delightful those other cultivated Leonardos who attended a private or eastern college and who now, too, devote their remaining energies to periodic scoldings of their manicured chihuahuas that are always jumping uninvited into visitors’ laps. During weekdays they sell rugs at Sears Roebuck. On Sundays they peer out into the huge-jawed silent world and take their dogs for brief airings around the block, or drop in for afternoon drinks at friends’ across the expressway. They have not achieved a publicly rewarding eminence but are reasonably secure in their alliances. They have made certain that for the duration of the lifestruggle they can remain entrenched in a cultivated, sensible, asbestos-lined world. MOUNTAIN TOP Only an hour before the smiling-eyed riding instructor had shifted his buttocks on the patio chairskillfully, as though they were instruments he had mastered and generously using his friendly smile, with its many obedient wrinkles, he had assured the mother that the camp horses were good ones and gentle and that Luanne would be perfectly safe. And the mother on her cool summerhouse patio had jangled the white bracelets on her slim brown arms and poured more ice in her glass and sat smiling: she was obviously pleased. She had watched through the patio screen as the two of them rode across the lowwater bridge back into Camp Palo Alto and on up the mountain trail: he, suntanned and authentically western-looking, with an orange plastic lanyard hung around his neck and his muscular legs sausage-tight in his jeans; and her girl, slim and blonde, with caliche dust from 8 The Texas Observer the road already beginning to powder her expensive riding boots. And now they were riding along the mountain ridge above camp. Below them, in the white cabins, it was still rest hour. The camp area, from above, was mainly a thick covering of oak and cedar trees, but they could catch a glimpse of flag and a few white patches of the tennis court and gravel drives. They stilled their horses at the rim and the riding instructor pointed out across the bare grounds of the baseball fields to the long line of cypress trees that meant the river. Sighting along his outstretched arm, the girl searched out her summer home among the many similar squares of rambling green lawns. As he gradually lowered his arm Vie saw the riding stables north of camp and the horses looking small and toy-like there. “We’ll try to get back down before rest period’s over,” he said. He looked at his watch. “But we still have time to go see the rifle range.” He took off his big-brimmed Stetson and dragged his sweating forearm across the red hat-line on his brow, then replaced the Stetson firmly at exactly its old slant. He grinned his broad, friendly grin and slapped Luanne’s knee and said to his horse, “Let’s go, Jiggs!” They turned away from the ridge and headed straight across the top of the mountain. To reach the rifle range they would have to turn right and go down into a long shaded hollow. But they didn’t make it to the rifle range. A little way down the trail the riding instructor reined up, dismounted, and tied both horses loosely to the branch of a cedar tree. He helped his girl get down and kissed her a long time as they stood there beside the horsesand then he took her to the ground. Without words being passed, the brown riding instructor asked and the mother’s blonde daughter said yes and the two of them were down in the leaves and hot needle grass, in a whole mountain top of quiet, in a whole afternoon of pulsing July fever. \(As the minutes passed grasshoppers flew out of the grass, sailed along in a fierce brittle snapping, then dropped back into the grass again, as though felled suddenly by the great heat \(Long thin leaves of mesquite trees hung in a plumb-straight greenness, like socks on a line or many bats sleeping: hanging as if trying to remain cool through sheer inactivity \(Lizards waited on the tops of big flint moundssuspicious, watchful, their necks frozen to one side: looking as if they had stopped in all the stillness and heat to catch a faint hollow voice from deep inside the earth, perhaps one of God’s left over from eons past \(Purple wine cups wobbled along the trail as little breezes touched them, and out in the clearings small yellow daisies shook almost all the time, making a yellow shimmer in the bright afternoon air \(Unseen insects on the mountain top kept up their steady drone; occasionally a dove would call in its lonely detached way out of some distant hollow \(And it was not long before the horses, straining forward a little after grass, pulled their reins free from the branch of the cedar tree and began eating their Sometime during the afternoon one of the camp cooks gave four quick strokes on the dining hall gong, signaling the end of rest hour. On the mountain top a cricket heard the sounds coming faintly across the ridge, and he quickly gave one single short answer from his home under a rock. Grazing along through the alternate patches of shade and brightness among the Spanish oak trees, the two riderlesshorses raised their heads once as if they might have heard the sounds too, but went on chewing. Farther back on the mountain top, stretched side by side in the leaves and shade, the riding instructor and his girl heard the sounds of the gong. They listened a moment, then somehow found them as good a reason as any to smile at one another again and touch each other’s hands and kiss. POINT OF VIEW Just inside Dee’s Bar in Austin a man sits alone at his table by the front wall. Ashes have fallen from his cigarette into the creases of his khaki shirt; his beer bottle is empty. Above him, in an advertisement for Schlitz, two Norman Rockwell fishermen are sitting in a boat. One of them holds a large bass and both men are smiling. Behind the man, at the bar, vague forms move under the blue neon lights and raise occasional laughter. The man stares at the doorway, watching the brief, scissored legs that flash by. After a while he rises. “Bullshit,” he says, to no one. He sits back down in a moment and stares again into the doorway. SALLY-FROM-THE-COUNTRY She was whipping along through the open stacks of the San Marcos college library one warm September night, hot on the trail of Blasco Vincent Ibanez, when she rounded a corner in the Spanish literature section and ran full tilt into Tony Marmoset and his man-smell. This was the short, almost simian Tony of lush sideburns and swarthy features who instead of being born was evidently molded from some thick, quick-drying brown clay and his features then carved with hard strokes of a nail. This was the Tony , who, as one awe-struck sophomore girl put it, had chiseled dimples. Tony’s habit was to get in an hour’s worth of tennis before dark and then drop into the library without bothering to change from his athletic to his public smell. As he browsed in the close airless passageway of the stacks his body odor hung out from him a good yard or more. The smell, by anyone’s standards, was a masterpiece of maleness. When Sally bounced around the H-I corner of the Spanish literature shelf Tony
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