After a month of hard travel, Cedar comes to the plains they call Memory. They’re glacially flat, with nothing to break the monotony except some scrub brush and the voices.
“I’m not sure. I may have seen one of them.”
“How about the other one?”
“That’s what I mean. I don’t know about the other one.”
The voices drift over the earth, or gush forth like a fountain. They run hot and cold, angry and sad and every emotion.
“He got into a fight with a grown man today, and he… well, he cut him up some.”
“It wasn’t his fault, Miz Cullin, but, well, that’s the sort of thing that can happen more and more.”
She can’t follow them, not all the way. The stories they half-tell begin in the middle and dissolve before the end, voices melting into voices, death turning to love turning to laughter turning to loneliness.
“Now, I’m not saying that what Mrs. Chapman says is impossible, but I don’t want to go off half-cocked on a wild goose chase!”
“I didn’t think you’d like it; I don’t either. Chapman came here from Fresno by train, so Sayer would have to be some guy from there.”
“Well… well, say he didn’t kill him in Fresno, because he didn’t think he’d draw suspicion down here.”
She drinks narrative, swallows history. She soaks in a hundred half-glimpsed lives. She navigates by the sun, the stars, the strange dramas of the invisible and the unreal.
“No bartender as polite as you are would say ‘okay’ to a lady guest. That make sense?”
“Why do you wanna know who she is?”
“Does it make any difference?”