We're here because it's the end of Texas. Along Reloj's gaze is the desert behind Juarez, and the hills of Chihuahua in the distance. It's a dim picture, like memory.
If you go north, you're in New Mexico, and west is over the Rio Bravo, and south would mean that desolate country Travis staggered out of to open the film Paris, Texas. If we go east, we're eventually back in the flatlands.
Borders are funny that way. Once I attended a funeral. My granny had died. We were walking across the grounds of Willow Wild. We were painstakingly proper. I was in the front row, solemn, and one or two others strode abreast, and more somber folks followed.
We paused as the hearse and the funeral home limo passed on the gravel road that traced through the cemetery. There was a line of curbing, not a curb but a mark of ground, as for plots.
We stood there at that line. It did not mean anything to us. But none of us moved, for a count of five, or ten. We stood surreally in place, heads bowed. We knew we had to proceed, because the graveside services would begin shortly. It was all right we go forth. There was nothing holding us back. It's just an inconsequential line of concrete, probably no longer with any meaning whatsoever, and certainly not to us.
So why do we still only stand there? We stood there because no one took the first step. Each on the front rank awaited the other, and was confirmed in his inertia by the other's stasis. (Every moment is allegory for your early childhood development.) The second and later files could say, it was because the pious fools at our head held us up. But why did we only stand there? I have no idea.
It was something out of Camus.
We drove in the direction Reloj is gazing on another Sunday to see the greyhounds run. I never saw anything so quick through a quarter mile. We ventured bets, and were encouraged by our returns. Hey, maybe this will work for us, we said.
The racing forms for the next weekend come to the 7-11s in El Paso on Wednesdays, and we were there for ours. We intended much study this time. Just look what we'd done as mere amateurs.
First lesson we learned is: the form we'd followed at the track, we'd read it upside down. We thought the study of the races of the various contestants read top to bottom in chronology, like a book, but it was the other way around. Just wait until this weekend, we said.
Our income was, forty five a week from post-military Unemployment, mine. I had not worked since discharge, and didn't intend to anytime soon. Reloj was an excellent drummer, and he picked up ten bucks every Sunday in a jam session at Lynette's Lounge, a strip mall beer joint. Our rental was in a cinderblock apartment haven for seventy five a month. Those were the days.
We'd come out to El Paso because there was no hope at home, and because our older brother Joey lived out here. But Joey and especially his wife Rose were somehow not too glad to see a couple of impecunious freeloaders that season. At the time, we pretended not to understand.
We lost everything we had at the track that next Sunday, which wasn't much, but that cured us of greyhound racing.
That's the way it went that year. Eventually we left.