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happened after the conversation, but no one came. About three in the morning, when he was sure that the whole world was sleeping soundly, he got up and sat on the driver’s side of the pickup and drove off, leaving a trail of dust behind him. He left the windows down and as he drove he inhaled the dampness of the cotton fields and the wet earth until it disappeared behind him. And when he was far enough away from the fields that his yells had once blessed, he pulled the pickup over and allowed the surge of emotion to overwhelm him. He couldn’t speak and that impeded his crying. The yells by the side of the roadhad anyone passed by or heard them from a nearby farmwere much more muffled than they had been in the open fields. And when he was spent, he wiped his face with his workshirt sleeve, drove back onto the road, and went further west. All the while he wondered why he felt so much like he was leaving home one more time. For years they spoke of him, each tale adding and asking just how broken-hearted he must have been to move away just as he was becoming part of the groupeven though few ever spoke to him. Everyone who lived at the farm that summer regretted that no one had bothered to return to let him know that they knew the truth. Everyone knew that harm had been done to El Romantico, and that he would never be the same again. And everyone knew that the yells that they had heardthe loud, wild yawps of a man happy to have water flow over his hands and all over his body would never be heard again in that campor any other. Mr. Jimenez never looked at his daughter or her children the same after that and eventually moved his family elsewhere. Even the farmer was affected. He aged, many of the workers said. And he began to feel the burden of all the changes that took place among the families who had worked his West Texas farm the summer of 1968 the changes that took place across the country and the changes that took place within him. Somehow, the burden of it all became relevant and connected. For years after that, until the clock caught up with him, he would tell locals that it didn’t matter that El Romantico had taken the truck, that he never wanted to even see the truck again. According to him, it was the least he could do for having participated in destroying El Romantico’s freedom and happiness and for having quieted his happy yelling across the open fields. He started drinking. Sometimes he would go by the workers late at night, stand around the 55-gallon drum fires they would sometimes build, sipping out of a small whiskey bottle. It was those times in particular that he would lament the changes that had come aboutthe loss of happiness and innocenceand would share what he felt about the loss of El Romantico. Then the farmer would add one more lament before the workers walked him back to his house: that his farm would never be the same without him. Ruperto Garcia practices law in San Antonio. He is working on a book of short stories. DECEMBER 16, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31