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MICHAEL ALEXANDER noon when I passed by there,” she said, “there were long lines of soldiers with big dogs on chains. I think they were mostly Dobermans. It looked like they were taking turns going with the dogs in and out of the planes.” “Probably training,” the friend said. The sniff patrol training for what duty station what country divided against its own traditional crops: Colombia? Mexico? Big Bend? “It was right along in here somewhere,” my father was saying, “that the old commander used to take us all so that we could sing. He loved to get us all together once a week. We’d go out at night by the golf course and do a little harmonizing. I’ve been trying to remember which direction that golf course was.” His friend pointed to the right above the steering wheel, toward the hospital. “I think it’s just over there.” My father gazed off where he had pointed and nodded. “Yes, you’re right, it must have been just over there.” I looked out to the left and pointed towards this spot where I am sitting now and beyond, to the greens. We had actually driven along the edge of the course earlier on our way to the Officers’ Club, but the men must have been looking straight ahead at the street grids, or maybe they had become immersed together in a front-seat view of the sunset. Their wives, however, had apparently noticed the golf greens, because when I pointed out that way, both women nodded vigorously and began to make small sounds. “I think the golf greens are really just out that way,” I said. There was a short silence in the .car. Then my father nodded to the right again as if nothing had been said. “Yes,” he repeated, “that’s where we sang, right about there.” His friend fixed an eye in the direction of my father’s nod, and nodded too. Neither one so much as glanced to the left where I had pointed. We drove the rest of the way quietly, without any MICHAEL ALEXANDER more back seat noise. I know for a fact that my father will never venture away from our temporary quarters to either the golf green or the wild patch here. He won’t see the sun today light up the silvery filaments of this spanish dagger that is keeping me company or listen to the mockingbird trying to sound like a grackle. Instead he’ll sit in his chair in our temporary barracks room listening to the old songs being sung in his head until it’s time to go home. I told my friend Eleanor about this little trip later, when I got back to Austin, how I went out driving with the two old Navigators, and how they both pointed in the opposite direction of where the golf course really was, and how the women all agreed afterwards that we sure wouldn’t want to be on a plane with the two of them navigating, and Eleanor said, but don’t you see, it was the agreement itself that was so important to them. So in this way she revealed the secret in the events I had witnessed. It really doesn’t matter what the material or historical facts are, just so long as this ancient arrangement remains intact: division on one side of the equation, internal accord on the side of Good Soldiers. This is Texas today. A state full of Sunbelt boosters, strident anti-unionists, oil and gas companies, nuclear weapons and power plants, political hucksters, underpaid workers and toxic wastes, to mention a few. z au fiCe fi.. ‘ , v ii i.. r 1 gulf t l. *Ili . 4, , VI. x —.11, Q ‘ , ,..,K .1 _s ,,,A MY . S V 4,0 r ,.. r ,—-:-P1 BUT 4 l ” DO NOT DESPAIR! ,. pr., THE TEXAS . 1 server TO SUBSCRIBE* . Name Address City State Zip $32 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $32. 307 West 7th, Austin, TX 78701 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23 Iwict-An,