October 28th, 2001


El alfabeto

Despina's first day in her non-classroom is not among the things she counts as a success. Maybe I was a little harsh, insisting that they only enter through the "door", when there is no door, just a chalk line marking where it would be eventually. But a school is not a school if it has no place to be. I have to admit, I expected more than a chalk line.

Apatheticand uncommunicativeare generous descriptions of her students. No matter how old they are, none even professes to know the alphabet, much less be able to write it or read it. Rather than shame the slowest among them, all claim ignorance. She finally decides to haul some water up from the river in Baby Blue Ram and smooth out the "floor" a bit. Everybody is able to work successfully on that project. Before noon, she is in eminent danger of heat exhaustion, and sends everyone home.

As she walks wearily back to the oven-like hovel, she thinks, That Nancy is a gem. Even though the proffered desks and the blackboard have not arrived yet, she gets a warm glow just thinking about them. Truth to tell, there's no ground level enough to receive them even with the hard work we did to the area today.

After a restless night, Despina arises at five a.m. She decides to focus on Alberto, Cu's youngest, and teach him whatever it is that the class does not know. Nobody expects a four year old to know anything, so that should work.

And for motivation, why, nothing could possibly work as well as a trip to the local library for some hands-on excitement.

Satisfied, she sets out on her walk to the facilities at the hospital. Almost at once, she hears running feet behind her. Turning, she sees Alberto, as if the act of deciding to focus on him has conjured him up in person. “Where did you come from?” wondering if Adriana, his caregiver, is searching for him.

"Vengo de la casa de Adriana. Quiero ir con Ud., por favor."

She offers him her hand, and they proceed together.

One convert to the "flush" part of the club Jacques requested, anyway.

The class is assigned to photograph/illustrate/draw the 30 letters of the Spanish alphabet. Nobody is very enthusiastic, but no open rebellion greets her suggestion.

She busies herself teaching them a marching song to the letters of the alphabet. She calls out the letters, which they then repeat. The tune rambles in and out of key. Well, I wasn't hired to perform a concert. Music aids memory; that's all that is important. The song slowly morphs into something resembling a tribal chant she dimly remembers hearing the night before.

The school still has no roof or walls. In an as yet furnitureless classroom, the organized marching activity works well. No pesky desks to dodge, to adopt a Pollyana viewpoint.

Part way through the morning, a group of Indian workers show up. Using the stake Cu set in the middle of her classroom, then measuring to the scuff mark that represents one side of the door jam, they start a hole. The alphabet holds little attraction compared to the antics of the workers. Almost immediately, they hit earth too hard to jobber through.

A pick-up shows up, filled with buckets of river water. The hole is filled, then they focus on the other side of the door jam. They diligently measure from the center stake and start holes every eight feet around the circular chalked outlines, doggedly dodging marching students to get the post holes centered every eight feet on the proscribed line.

With the arrival of a pick-up emblazoned with the emblem of the local lumber yard full of huge "telephone" style poles and heavy sacks, Despina decides that a nature walk seems in order. She lines up her charges in the time-honored mother duck/duckling fashion universally used in elementary schools everywhere and heads desert-ward as the men continue jobbering door jam and support post holes.

Once out of sight of the workmen, Despina spies the sideways track of a snake. "What letter does this track look like?" she asks hopefully, tracing an Slike section with the tip of one finger. "Snakes hissssss," she hints.

"Ese,"shouts Alberto, jumping up and down excitedly.

"Excelente, Alberto," she praises. "Can anyone spot any other letters?"

Branches and leaves on bushes provide B, D, g. T. Rocks contribute O, C and Q. Guillermo and Miguel begin to sketch the various finds. A patch of bent over grass produces a K. Water rippling past rocks creates a W. The road's two lane track resembles both the l and the ll. A bird's print in the mud is a dotted i.

Before long, they have wandered into an area with a short waterfall, tall cliffs and a pool of water that invites hot bodies. Juan soon broaches the subject of going for a swim. Tempted, but feeling too guilty about encouraging them to play hooky to give in, she shoos everyone back to the road and home for lunch.

That afternoon, as she wearily trudges back to the oven of a hovel, Cu appears. "Después de la siesta, todos vienen a una reunión." After delivering this cryptic message, he disappears.

"What's that all about?" she asks Paul Peter.


"La reunión."

"Oh. Every night, after sundown, the White Eyesall gather at the campfire, joined by whatever Indians feel so inclined, for a social hour. This place can get downright lively once the heat lifts."

"Did they do a chant type song last night?"

"A? Try an hours' worth. It was a regular sing along."

"And I am expected to put in an appearance, even if I can't hold my head up?"

"Well, your absence was commented upon the last two nights. Everyone stopped in for a spell to meet you, only the guest of honor never showed up."

"Since nobody bothered to inform me of this custom, you can hardly use THAT tone."

"If anyone had seen you Sunday evening, or yesterday any time after noon, they would have. You just disappeared. Until about 5 a.m. this morning, so I am told."

"Now I know how a fish in an aquarium must feel when everyone can see right in and watch every move it makes. Where is this marvelous campground?"

"Just stand on the road and look toward the mountains, then walk toward the fire."

"Good directions. I know just what mountains you mean; the ones on the north, no, the west, or is it the south? Never mind. I bet Alberto can show me the exact spot and fine a few letters en route."

"Letters? Nobody writes letters around here much, nor would they strew them like a trail of breadcrumbs through the forest. Wrong legends."

"Letters of the alphabet. We found them on a nature hike today. He's very good at it. The waterfall has a rock sticking out part way up, making the water look like an upside down 'Y'."

"Sounds like playing hooky to me. Swimming on school time."

"I did NOT let them swim," she responds with considerable heat.

"Bad move, Teach. Heat stroke, and all, you know," he quips, moving off to collect his smokes, laughing gleefully.

How could I ever have found him fascinating? For Pete's sake, indeed! She enters her hovel in a huff.

That evening, she finds Alberto, who takes her hand without prompting and leads the way to the campfire. Look for the fire, indeed! All that's here is a ring of fire-blackened rocks. They'd show up well after dark, I'm sure.

A pile of dried sagebrush soon appears, and a roaring fire springs to life as the natural light dies. People drift by in groups of two or three, chatting animatedly in Spanish or Náhuatl, an Aztec tongue whose ancient roots are in central México according to Jacques. She meets the two German engineers, taking an instant liking to Bruno, the older, quite dignified gentleman who teaches science, and just as instantly a dislike to Horst, the younger one who teaches the math classes. A well-formed blue-eyed blond Hitler would have been proud of, his genial smile is marred by his words. Shortly after talking about their wives in Germany, he invites her to warm his bed during the cold desert nights rather than doing something as distasteful as consorting with the "Indians".

After she explains about Miquel drawing the letters they'd found, she continues, "Each student is supposed to find two examples of letters that they can bring back to the school."

"Where will you display them?" pipes up Paul Peter. "Have you given any thought at all to the storage problem? When it rains, adobe gets pretty soggy. Maybe you could store them in that cave we visited on the way out."

Ignoring him, she turns toward Bruno, who had started to talk until Paul Peter cut him off.

Bruno offers the use of his digital camera to capture the various naturally occurring phenomenon without disturbing them, in keeping with Indian philosophy. Biology is his specialty, and he really warms to her project.

Delighted, she takes him up on the use of the camera, while her mind frantically searches for a solution to the very real problem Paul Peter has raised.

Necessity, the mother of invention. "I thought about going to the hardware store in town once I get the rest of my stuff out of the back of Baby Blue Ram and begging some of those discarded refrigerators we saw. I want to make a trip to the library to get some real books into their hands, and we can keep them on the shelves."

"Rusty refrigerators. Just what every school needs."

"We can sand and paint them, too," she ad libs hastily.

It is soon settled. The English class will load derelict refrigerators with intact doors into tribal pick-ups while the elementary roam through the local library. One benefit is that it absents the children while the rest of the posts get set, effectively removing the temptation of wet cement.

Last updated 2/25/02.
  • Current Music
    Simon and Garfunkle, Bridge Over Troubled Waters
  • Tags

The Water Pitcher, Part I

The door opens, revealing that full night has arrived. Through it steps the man of her dreams, literally.

Despina gasps, "The 'no cigar store Indian!'" She is riveted.

"You look like a deer caught in the headlights of a Mac truck. You are going to be bowled over if you insist on wearing your heart on your sleeve like that."

Bradley cackles. "He's harmless. She's White. He's strictly Indian property."

The Indian has been carefully and methodically scanning the room. The thoroughness and intentness with which he does this is intimidating.

Before Despina has a chance to gather her wits about her, a small Hispanic man approaches.

"Con su permiso," he says, addressing Bradley as if he were her father or chaperon. He is diffident, excessively timid, even, and she finds herself dancing with him without even being able to remember his name, although he gave it.

As he turns her around on the dance floor, her eyes are constantly drawn to the large Indian figure, still standing just barely inside the door. She feels an electric jolt on one circle when their eyes meet. Soon the dance ends, and her polite escort returns her to Brad.

The Indian is suddenly there beside Bradley, replacing her former escort.

"Con su permiso," he mimics, giving a courtly half bow to Bradley, then holding out his hand to her, eyes locked on hers.

Hypnotized, she rises, and once on the dance floor, fails to keep her customary distance between their bodies. With a contented sigh, she leans her head against his chest. "A mi cuerpo le gusta muchísimo su cuerpo," she murmurs.

They edge toward the back entrance, and move into the darkened area where some old coats hang.

Part way through the second song, she is startled out of her trance by a rough tapping on her shoulder.

"You want to dance with HIM?" Despina inquires waspishly. Swaying slightly, Paul Peter cuts in, replacing the Indian. He leans heavily on her, but it is for balance, not in imitation of her dance style with the Indian.

"Are you out of your mind?" he hisses in her ear. "The way you were dancing with him is positively INDECENT."

Exasperated, Despina explodes. "I have been unfailingly polite to everyone. I have danced all night with all comers, no matter who they were. The only folks I have not toured the dance floor with are the two on duty, the sheriff and the bar tender. What is your problem? Surely you can't be jealous. Anything between us is LONG over."

He hisses in frustration. "Are you trying to get him lynched?" Grasping her hand roughly as the song ends, he angrily leads the way back to the table, clearly proclaiming her "his property."

Things become quite dicey after she dances the first time with the unknown Indian. Obviously, she has broken some unspoken taboo, but she has no idea what. Pointedly ignoring Paul Peter's high handed ways, she feels lost. Brad is nowhere in sight.

I don't even know who he was. We never exchanged names -- the only time all night that happened.

Looking around for the tall Indian, she spies him by the door to the men's room talking to another "real" Indian (as opposed to those whom she is unable to distinguish from Indians, but who take offense at that appellation).

He abruptly departs in great haste, trailed more slowly by his companion.

Bradley, who exits the men's room about the time their animated whispering begins, follows the direction her eyes take. Upon reaching his chair, he proves not to be quite as deaf as some people assume.

Closing his bad eye in a horrid parody of a conspiratorial wink, he announces, "Brother trouble. Must be on another drunken rampage."

Men who were polite and deferential before now become obnoxious. Finally, she refuses to dance with anyone any more, not trusting who will be gentle and who mean.

Surely this is just because they are more inebriated.

Tex approaches. Putting her hands behind her back, Despina says firmly, "No!"

Reproachfully, Tex eyes her. "I haven't even said anything yet."

"You don't listen."

Pulling up a chair and positioning it between Despina and Bradley, he sits. "Okay, I'm listening."

Paul Peter rolls his eyes. His look clearly says, "Let's see you talk your way out of this one." He is enjoying himself immensely.

Taking a deep breath, Despina wades in. "One can get drunk, anyone can get drunk," she corrects. "But most outgrow the need." She smiles triumphantly at Paul Peter, who wrinkles his nose in disgust. "It's not fun to be around someone who is drunk. Your WIFE is probably disgusted by it. That is probably part of the problem you are having at home."

"What problem?"

"You are here. Your wife is NOT."

"Look around. How many other unaccompanied White women do you see?"

"My point exactly. You and your cohorts have created an atmosphere here in this bar, the only air conditioned place in the area, that no decent woman would be caught dead alone in. Why?"

"MY wife would not like to come to ANY bar, with ANY atmosphere. She is a true LADY."

"I'm sure she is. Why are you not in a legion hall, civic center, or some other SUITABLE air conditioned facility with your WIFE? You are one of the leaders of this community. Why does such a place NOT exist here?"

"What have you got against Óscar? He's a very hard-working individual who has sunk his life savings into this fine establishment, taking up a collection for a long time to help buy that air conditioning unit."

"Óscar strikes me as a very competent, caring person. I'm sure, if he had the choice, he would make a superior proprietor of a civic center or legion hall, where men's wives would feel comfortable, and even their children could come to hear live music and play good, wholesome games under benign adult supervision."

"Well, if we ever have enough to cover such an interesting enterprise, I'll remember what you said and bring it up. Have we talked enough now to dance?"

Despina tries once more, "Only on the condition that you promise to conform to the dictates of good manners."

Raising his hand in the "Scout's Honor" sign, he pledges, "I promise."

Still feeling trapped, she yields to those good manners and rises, heading toward the dance floor before he can grab her.

Winking broadly at Paul Peter, Tex follows, very much in the role of the "conquering hero".

Last updated 1/20/02.
  • Current Music
    Ein Heldenleben (a Hero's Life), Richard Strauss

Refrigerator Art, Set-up

On her early morning ramble, Despina realizes that she misses Alberto's exuberant company. He was probably exhausted. He just couldn't stand missing a single piece of action. she thinks as she remembers how faithfully he stayed at her side, introducing the various visitors with pride. He probably stayed up way too late to be his normal, energetic self, she thinks, shuddering with a twinge of guilt as she reflects on her role in the events. I really did try to keep him beside me to smooth the way. Everyone seems to like him, and tolerate his excesses.

Restless after returning, Despina decides to high tail it into town before class to set up the refrigerator deal.

Once she is en route to town, she reflects that the hardware store is surely still closed this early, and she does not know the proprietor. Heading toward the now-familiar sheriff's office, she disturbs Tony at a nap. Rapping loudly on the door, she smiles her most charming smile.

"Ya kin save the high wattage. The sheriff ain't in, yet."

"Actually, I think you ought to be able to help me."

"The bath room's empty. It ain't moved none. Ya ain't gotta wake a man for help with THAT every second day!" he groused.

Laughing merrily, Despina continues as if he hadn't interrupted, "I need to talk to the owner of those old refrigerators. I might be able to help him remove them with no expense or effort on his part. Might he be interested in a good deal like that, which would save him some time and effort bringing them up to code? I'd sure hate to see him fined for not removing the doors. All it would take would be for some town child to be trapped inside one of them and suffocate..." she trails off, leaving the horrid fate to work on Tony's protector instincts.

"That would be Cyril McDougall. He lives in the big white house jist two doors past the store, right on the corner. Ya kin't miss it. He already got one warnin' 'bout not removin' the m nasty chemicals, so he just might be int'rested."

"How much them Injuns willing to pay apiece for 'em?"

"Pay? For discards? Nothing. However, they will remove the ugly eyesores from your property for free, with no labor required on your part."

"What them Injuns want with old motor-less refrigerators whose doors work, anyway?"

"Actually, it's not the Native Americans at all,``` directly. I want to set them up outside my new classroom as storage units to keep the books dry."

"Where'd they get books?"

"Well, there actually aren't any at present, but I want to take the kids to the library and check out some, but first, we need a clean, dry place to store them safely."

"Fat chance Alice'd let a bunch o' Injun brats run off with her precious books. We're s'ppozeta remove the doors."

"Guess I lack imagination, or maybe I have too much."

"Yeah, well, we're runnin' a bit behind."

"You do have the freon removed, though, surely?"

"Ah, not exactly."

"Just what is entailed in safely removing and storing that? They may want some compensation if it is very time-consuming. I just assumed that all the legal stuff had been taken care of properly. Aren't those fines pretty stiff?"

"I got a storage drum at the back o' the shop. Ain't nothin' to puttin' a hose into the line and drainin' it into the drum."

"You will supply the hose, I assume?"

"I reckon."

"Good. We should be back into town sometime this morning."

Last updated 1/22/02.
  • Current Music
    Still Ein Heldenleben

Refrigerator Art, Part II (Some Assembly Required)

Rushing back to the reservation, Despina thinks, "I surely hit every pothole in that entire stretch of road."

But she arrives before the start of school. Spying Paul Peter as she passes, she hails him as he climbs into his jeep to head for Mound.

"There's a slight hitch."


Bruno walks over, listening intently.

"The doors are still on, but the freon's still in, too."

"And the motors?"

"Presumably. And the piping, as well."

Rubbing his jaw reflectively, Bruno offers, "Sound like need more hands, tools, and how you say? Assembly line?"

Turning briskly, he sets off toward his hovel, where he houses a first-class tool chest.

"Spoken like a true engineer," Paul Peter says as he fires up the jeep and heads over to facilitate the loading process.

As long as he doesn't have to dirty his hands.

Last updateed 11/9/01.
  • Current Music
    the tail end of Ein Heldenleben

Under Construction -- The Recurring Dream

Sunday, October 28th, 2001 2:00 pm (pandemo)

Under Construction -- The Recurring Dream

Why not walk in the aura of magic that gives to the small things of life their uniqueness and importance? Why not befriend a toad today?
    -- Germaine Greer, (b. 1939), Australian feminist, writer. The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause, ch. 16 (1991).

As the sun sets her third night on the Stone Circles Reservation, Despina dutifully shows up at the campfire sans escort. Parking in the dirt by a rotting log, she addresses the recumbent Paul Peter.

"Do you remember the night I arrived?"

"I can assure you, I will NEVER forget it."

"Were you sober enough to remember the trip out here?"

"Parts of it... It's hard to think about," he admits, in a rare bout of honesty.

"What did you see in the cave?"

"You mean, the two old women?"

"Yes. Anything else?"

"Well, the fire."


"Lots of plants."

"She was a medicine woman."

"Maybe. They could have been that kind of plant." He pauses. "Cu's mother was the medicine woman. She died about three-four years ago. Supposedly quite a powerful person. She couldn't live with his father, so I've heard."

"Yes. She was Cu's mother. She talked to me that night."

"Yeah. Kinda cryptic, though."

"No, not in the cave. On the road. She guided me when I lost track of Cu's tail lights."

"Yeah, right."

"Did you ever go back and look at where we drove in the daylight?"

"No, can't say that I did. I had more pressing matters to sleep off."

"Cu did."

Switching tacks, she says, "Did you ever contemplate dreams as teaching techniques for how to or not to behave in certain circumstances?"

"No, can't say I ever have." Affecting disinterest in topics that are getting onto shaky ground, he rolls over and nods off.

Recognizing his sham, and accepting the reason behind it as a given, she still tries one more time to engage him. "I dreamed Cu for the past three years before I met him last weekend."


"I dreamed that his mom was dead, but that I meet her with a fellow teacher. Before you had ever worked here. Before I did. Two years before I knew you worked with Indian children during the summer last year."


"I wrote some of the dreams in this journal." She holds out a tattered, stained green journal, open to a page near the front.

Giving up, Paul Peter rolls over and takes the journal, leaning up on one elbow to read, spilling the fire light over the page. He starts with a date over three years old.

"He drives the jeep over the top of the mountain, following her directions, ending up stalling out on a steep slope. They disembark on the mountain side, grabbing a small, stunted tree to hold themselves on the mountainside. 'It's a bit steeper than I expected,' he said. She, too, grabs the tree, which bends under their combined weight, revealing a small opening. "Look, a cave." Both go in, and can see everything, the hearth with the fire burning, the medicine woman's accouterments in a natural niche in the stone wall."

Paul Peter stops. "This is really hard to read. You need to paragraph," he adds, handing it negligently back.

"It's a journal, for goodness sake, not a published work."

Bruno, who has been following the conversation intently, extends his hand. "Please?"

When Despina nods, he turns a few pages, then starts, tipping it toward the light. He reads the date, over two and a half years ago. The ink is faded. "Here one say no school. Incredible! I am here!"

"Yes. So is Horst. Not named. Almost nobody in the journal is named, but you can still recognize them, and the general situation. It's pretty spooky. At first, I just thought it was a weird coincidence, but things are matching up way too well.

"After the campfire last night, I dreamed the part about the school again. Not as it really happened, but as it is written somewhere in there, with one exception. The characters had names this time. Look at the end of the journal."

The date was last night's. The ink was vibrant.

The German read:

Dismayed, she gasped, "That's not a school! That's a bare plot!"

Eyes twinkling, Cu responded in Náhuatl, with Bruno translating, "Yeah, well, we're running a bit behind schedule."

Looking up, he adds, "You me flatter. I speak not the Náhuatl."

He continues reading:

"That seems to be epidemic in this part of the country."

Bruno's impeccably clipped British English sounded strange in these surroundings. "Actually, celebrating nature, being out in the great out-of-doors, is very appropriate for Indian students. Keeping/getting in touch with their heritage, and all that sort of thing."

He again breaks in at mention of himself, "I speak not so good the English. but is ideas I t'ink."

He continues reading:

"That's fine for you to say! You're teaching biology inside a building!"

"¿Qué, qué? ¿Hay un problema?" asked Cu.

"No, no hay problema. Voy a enseñar sin libros, sin escuela, sin materiales, y sin sueldo. No, no hay ningún problema."

Shaking his head, Bruno returns the journal. "He pays. He is honor."

Paul Peter breaks in, "Bruno's right. We get paid once a month, same as in Iowa. I know you have some post holes instead of a school building, but I didn't realize you didn't have books, either. I can see where that would be a problem. It's a good thing we go to the library on Friday."


She returns to her first topic. "After Cu looked at the jeep tracks, he came and got me, taking me to the cave area in daylight. He made me go up and over the top of the mountain, with scary drops all around, and no possible place where a jeep would fit with all the wheels on the ground, yet there were the marks of our passage. Then he wanted me to show him the cave, but I couldn't recognize anything.

"When we got to the tree, all these vines were blocking the entrance. Even though I knew where it was, I couldn't see it in the daylight, couldn't see it at all without her guidance. He ripped the vines out until the opening showed. The hole seemed smaller, tighter, than when PP and I used it. I don't know how someone Cu's size even fit.

"When we got inside, the only footprints were from PP and I, and there obviously had not been a fire in there, or plants, for a long, long time. He was genuinely angered when I told him I followed his mother's directions, that you, PP, and I saw and talked to his mother." She shivers as she finishes her broken narrative.

Paul Peter's muffled voice critiques her story, "You've been to too many Girl Scout Camps where everyone sits around the campfire and tells ghost stories to scare the younger children. This time, you're scaring yourself. So we found an old cave nobody had been in for years. The hills around here are honeycombed with them. Grow up. You're in a place unlike any other you've ever been in. Life is strange. You're coming in contact with people unlike any that you've ever dealt with before. Get used to it. Quit trying to turn it into a cosmic mystery." Standing, he kicks the nearly dead sagebrush fire apart and heads back to the hovels.

Last updated 6/29/03.
  • Current Music
    Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky

The Water Pitcher, Finale

"I own the biggest spread in these parts."

"That's very impressive, I'm sure," Despina says, impressed not one whit. "Rich and influential, yet still a nobody at home. What a shame."

"There you go with that mis-impression of yours. You don't even know my wife."

"No, I don't, but I can tell that you need to rekindle the romance in your relationship. Just look how you act! 'Unhappy at home' is stamped all over your actions."

Sputtering, Tex tries to pull her into a tighter embrace, but she manages to stiffen her elbows and keep his advances at bay.

"A real man would honor his vows."

He again tries to dominate her physically.

"A real man would be creative, inventive, keep trying to find something to motivate his wife to love him the way she did in the beginning."

As they dance, Tex, angered, but trying hard not to let her see how she is getting to him, slowly draws her closer, stepping slightly off center to her body.

Try as she might to keep him at arm's length, she is no match for his strength. Also working in his favor is her natural decorum, her dislike of making a scene.

Fighting with the weapon she welds best, words, she says, "There must have been SOMETHING that attracted you once upon a time. A real man would CARE. He'd find a way to show it to her."

Savagely, he forces her closer.

"Call your wife and tell her to get in the mood to assume the position, unless you think the shock would kill her," she urges, battling valiantly to hold him off physically.

She responds to his next inopportune assault with, "Are you man enough to bed your wife, leave her all languishing, or are you so out of practice the hole has probably shriveled up?"

He crushes her mercilessly to his chest.

"Unless it was just a marriage of convenience. Was she, perhaps, rich?"

The final straw reached with the truth of her wild guess, he reaches down and pinches her on the hiney.

Drawing back and slapping his face a resounding crack, she twirls and leaps from the dance floor, storming back to the table, fuming.

In hot pursuit, Tex grabs her by the arm. Reverting to tactics her father taught her "in case of emergency", she fells him adroitly with one well-placed knee.

After rolling around in agony, yet he comes on undaunted as soon as he can manage.

Deciding she means business and is intent on doing bodily harm, Paul Peter contrives to trip him, again sending him crashing to the floor.

When he again begins to rise, heading her way with a gleam in his eye that bodes her no quarter, she grasps the pitcher of ice water, throwing it in his face, then banging him over the head with it for good measure.

"I paid $5.00 for that water! I intended to drink it. Oh, well, it went for a good cause."

Once more, Tex starts to rise, then slowly sinks back, passing out.

"When the chips are down, the buffalo is empty!" Bradly quips, eying Tex's prostrate form.

"He's likely to catch his death, lying right in the path of the air conditioner like that," observes Paul Peter philosophically.

"Oh, for crying out loud! After what he just tried..." she sputters to a dejected stop.

The sheriff, who has reentered in time to catch the tail end of her explosion, eyes her with bemusement. "You could have asked for help."

Stiffening, Despina retorts proudly, "And always have to have a man around to be safe walking alone? I think not. This way, there is NO mistake about it. I can and will defend myself if the need arises."

"I take it then that he's not likely to press assault charges when he awakes?" Sheriff Mickey inquires sagely.

"Harrumph! I should like to see him TRY, with all these witnesses!"

"Actually, all I saw was you slap his face, him try to go after you, you knee him, him try to get up, me trip him, him try to get up, and you try to drown him. I just have your reaction to judge by. He might have a case. Did anyone else SEE or HEAR what upset you so?"

"Paul Peter, that's outrageous, and you well know it!"

Mumbling in the face of her wrath, he never-the-less continues, "Well, it IS still the truth."

"And I thought all the action would happen outside," chimes in Mickey mischievously.

Óscar emerges and examines the fallen form. "Hee is veery wet. Perhaps he is best outside? How much has eet dropped?"

"It's still pretty warm, yet. Take his feet, Paul Peter, if you're steady enough."

At the hint that his motor function might be impaired, Paul Peter's normal disinclination to be helpful retreats, and he lustily grabs the nether end of the huge man, staggering a bit under the weight. With Óscar on one arm, and the sheriff on the other, he is manhandled out the door into the parking lot.

Despina, who has helpfully held open the door, comments, "We can't just lay him down out here. Where does he live?" Spying Paul Peter's open jeep, she points, "Lay him across the back. PP, give me your keys, please."

Last updated 1/5/02..
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