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They recall the endless rumors, such as the one about the outlaws hijacking a UPS truck and terrorizing the Four Corners region in little brown suits.
Her husband Mark has an old shotgun, but Ellen Meloy, who describes herself as a “token, squishy, white doughball of liberalism who still believed that if you hated government, maybe you should do something really radical to change things, like vote,” does not have a gun. “Pay attention to the weather, to what breaks your heart, to what lifts your heart. The wind lifted up the top three inches of Arizona and dropped it on our heads. No one in Bluff could remember so much wind blowing day and night, day after day.
People grew testy and distracted, but we knew our land well. After killing a policeman in nearby Colorado, three anti-government extremists surfaced east of Bluff, where one of them shot and wounded a local deputy.
We knew the stillness would return, even as we longed for it. Within hours, the somnolent little town turned into an armed camp with roadblocks, helicopters, SWAT teams, canine tracking units, and hundreds of edgy men in uniform darting madly about with small arsenals on their persons. From some obscure heap of dust balls, Mark unearthed his old shotgun, put it next to our bed. The label on the ammunition box showed a pleasantly plump pheasant.
Early in the manhunt, my husband Mark and I were allowed through a roadblock late at night. Where Bluff should have been, there was a blank space, an inky darkness. As a thudding fleet of choppers passed over us, Mark told me that if I had to use the gun, I should aim for the crotch. ” I asked, certain that the outlaws were all at once somewhere, anywhere, everywhere. The Bluff school, used as a command post, swarmed with troops.
I looked through the glass doors at the way too many books, my stupid little piles of river rocks, the fetishes from Mexico, the Navajo mud toys.
The armed search precipitated a wholesale destruction of the lyrical.When it was discovered that we had not evacuated, that our isolated property had not been checked, and that I was alone while Mark worked, I was given two sets of advice.A sheriff’s deputy said, “Get yourself some guns.” The FBI said, “We’ll give you an escort.” I took the escort. ” I mumbled as five FBI guys led me down my driveway. ” Obviously, I was the only person in North America without them.I look at my neighbors’ faces and see a bone-deep fatigue. It comes up every afternoon, pushing heat and dust, rattling the dry cottonwood leaves and thrashing my hair about my face. This time, no one is sure that it will come again so easily. Annie Proulx is 80 years old and still not sure where she belongs.A lawn is an endless cycle of doomed ecology.” “Tourists in the Wild” lampoons New Yorkers lost in the terrifying Great West with a reference to bears, which we all know are spaced about twenty feet apart from the left side of the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean. Some of the essays are less than benign, as “California” with its acid takeoff on the provocative bumper sticker “I’d rather be hunting and gathering” pasted on a luxe-mobile, or “Cracking Up” with its call to “small acts of defiance . In November of 1996 Ellen Meloy was utterly sick of election jabber, of the inescapable faces on television and the incessant brainless repetitive rhetoric.“What,” she says, “has become of the honorable and decent public servant?“But ultimately, I did not belong there.” After 20 years in Wyoming—several spent building a dream home she later sold—Proulx had a similar epiphany about that state.As she did about Vermont, and Texas, and New Mexico, and any number of places where she has lived.One token, squishy, white doughball of liberalism who still believed that if you hated government, maybe you should do something really radical to change things, like vote.I wondered if arms against arms created an endless spin into violence. I wondered why the FBI guys wore bulletproof vests and I did not.