James Tate, p.5


     Jill and I had been driving for hours
on these little back country roads and we hadn’t
seen another car or a store of any kind in all
that time. We were trying to get to a village
called Lost River and were running out of gas.
There was a man there that owns a pterodactyl
wing and we heard that he might want to sell it.
He was tired of it, we were told. Finally, I see
an old pick-up truck coming up behind us and I
pull over and get out of the car and wave. The
man starts to pass by, but changes his mind
and stops. I ask him if he knows how to get to Lost
River and he says he’s never heard of it, but
can give us directions to the closest town called
Last Grocery Store. I thank him and we eventually
find Last Grocery Store, which consists of three
trailers and a little bitsy grocery store. The
owner is old and nearly blind, but he’s glad to
meet us and we’re glad to meet him. I ask him
if he knows how to get to Lost River from here.
He ponders for awhile, and then says, “I don’t
see how you could get there, unless you’re walking.
There’s no road in them parts. Why would
anybody be wanting to go to Lost River, there’s
nothing there.” “There’s a man there that’s got
a pterodactyl wing he might be willing to sell,”
I say. “Hell, I’ll sell you mine. I can’t see
it anymore, so I might as well sell it,” he says.
Jill and I look at eachother, incredulous. “Well,
we’d sure like to see it,” I say. “No problem,”
he says, “I keep it right here in back of the store.”
He brings it out and it’s beautiful, delicate
and it’s real, I’m certain of it. The foot even
has its claws on it. We’re speechless and rather
terrified of holding it, though he hands it to us
trustingly. My whole body feels like it’s vibrating,
like I’m a harp of time. I’m sort of embarassed,
but finally I ask him how much he wants for it.
“Oh, just take it. It always brought me luck, but
I’ve had all the luck I need,” he says. Jill gives
him a kiss on the cheek and I shake his hand and
thank him. Tomorrow: Lost River.