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datatime: 2022-12-04 06:17:49 Author:rQLnmnXR

"The flight to Portland leaving in twenty minutes," Jim said. "Is it full up?" The clerk checked the computer. "You're in luck, sir. We have three open seats."

While the clerk processed the credit card and issued the ticket, Jim noticed the guy had pierced ears. He wasn't wearing earrings on the job but the holes in his lobes were visible enough to indicate that he wore then regularly when he was off duty and that he preferred heavy jewelry.

All the way to the boarding gate, Jim wondered what subculture the clerk swam in after he shed his uniform at the end of the work day and put on street clothes. He had a hunch the guy was nothing as mundane as biker punk.

The plane took off to the south, with the merciless glare of the sun at the windows on Jim's side. Then it swung to the west and turned north over the ocean, and he could see the sun only as a reflection in the sea below where its blazing image seemed to transform the water into a vast churning mass of magma erupting from beneath the planet's crust.

The plane took off to the south, with the merciless glare of the sun at the windows on Jim's side. Then it swung to the west and turned north over the ocean, and he could see the sun only as a reflection in the sea below where its blazing image seemed to transform the water into a vast churning mass of magma erupting from beneath the planet's crust.

"The flight to Portland leaving in twenty minutes," Jim said. "Is it full up?" The clerk checked the computer. "You're in luck, sir. We have three open seats."

Nevertheless Holly intended to write an uncritical piece. Over the years she had known far too many reporters who, because of envy or bitterness or a misguided sense of moral superiority, got a kick out of slanting and coloring a story to make their subjects look foolish.

Holly Thorne was at a private elementary school on the west side of Portland to interview a teacher, Louise Tarvohl, who had sold a book of poetry to a major New York publisher, not an easy feat in an age when most people's knowledge of poetry was limited to the lyrics of pop songs and occasional rhyming television ads for dog food, underarm deodorant, or steel-belted radial tires. Only a few summer classes were under way.

They sat at a redwood picnic table on the playground, after Holly checked the bench to be sure there was no dirt on it that might stain her white cotton dress. A jungle gym was to their left, a swing set to their right. The day was pleasantly warm, and a breeze stirred an agreeable fragrance from some nearby Douglas firs.

Jim realized he was clenching his teeth. He looked down at the armrests of his seat, where his hands were tightly hooked like the talons of an eagle to the rock of a precarious roost.

In the main terminal at the airport, travelers streamed to and from their boarding gates. The multi-racial crowd belied the lingering myth that Orange County was culturally bland and populated solely by white AngloSaxon Protestants. On his way to the bank of TV monitors that displayed a list of arriving and departing flights, Jim heard four languages besides English.

Holly had been given an advance copy of the book, Soughing Cypress and Other Poems, when Tom Corvey, the editor of the Press's entertainment section, assigned her to the story. She had wanted to like it. She enjoyed seeing people succeed-perhaps because she had not achieved much in her own career as a journalist and needed to be reminded now and then that success was attainable. Unfortunately the poems were jejune, dismally sentimental celebrations of the natural world that read like something written by a Robert Frost manque, then filtered through the sensibilities of a Hallmark editor in charge of developing saccarine cards for Grandma's birthday.

"Smell the air!" Louise took a deep button-popping breath. "You can sure tell we're on the edge of five thousand acres of parkland, huh? So little in of humanity in the air."

, Jim switched on a bedside lamp.

In the main terminal at the airport, travelers streamed to and from their boarding gates. The multi-racial crowd belied the lingering myth that Orange County was culturally bland and populated solely by white AngloSaxon Protestants. On his way to the bank of TV monitors that displayed a list of arriving and departing flights, Jim heard four languages besides English.

Then he 'd, "Gotta fly," and he knew.

He didn't know he was going to pack for travel until he found himself taking a suitcase from his closet. He gathered up his shaving gear and toiletries first. He didn't know his destination or how long he would be gone, but he included two changes of clothes. These jobs-adventures missions, whatever in God's name they were-usually didn't require him to be away more than two or three days. He hesitated, worried that he had not packed enough. But these trips were dangerous; each could be his last, in which case it didn't matter whether he packed too much or too little.

He read the destinations from top to bottom on the monitor. The next to t city-Portland, Oregon-struck a spark of inspiration in him, and he went straight to the ticket counter.

Then he 'd, "Gotta fly," and he knew.

All the way to the boarding gate, Jim wondered what subculture the clerk swam in after he shed his uniform at the end of the work day and put on street clothes. He had a hunch the guy was nothing as mundane as biker punk.

In the main terminal at the airport, travelers streamed to and from their boarding gates. The multi-racial crowd belied the lingering myth that Orange County was culturally bland and populated solely by white AngloSaxon Protestants. On his way to the bank of TV monitors that displayed a list of arriving and departing flights, Jim heard four languages besides English.

The plane took off to the south, with the merciless glare of the sun at the windows on Jim's side. Then it swung to the west and turned north over the ocean, and he could see the sun only as a reflection in the sea below where its blazing image seemed to transform the water into a vast churning mass of magma erupting from beneath the planet's crust.

The clerk who served him was a clean-cut young man, as straight-arrow as a Disneyland employee-at first glance.

Voices in the dirt? Holly thought, and almost laughed.

Initially he did not know where he was going. Then he had a vague feeling that he should return home. Rapidly the feeling became a strong hunch, the hunch became a conviction, and the conviction became a compulsion. He absolutely had to get home.

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