THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG PDF
Houston Chronicle Audacious, controversial, and hilarious, THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG is Edward Abbey's masterpiece -- a big, boisterous and. Email Address Subscribe EDGE EFFECTS RSS Wrenched: Edward Abbey and The Monkey Wrench Gang on the Big Screen RSS - Posts By: Charles Carlin. Earth First! "Earth First! is not an organization, but a movement. There are no ' members' of Earth First!, only Earth First!ers. It is a belief in.
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The anarchist book The Monkey Wrench Gang was written by, now deceased, author. Edward Abbey. In this book the character Hayduke represented the. A motley crew of saboteurs wreak outrageous havoc on the corporations destroying America's Western wilderness in this classic, comic extravaganza. The monkey wrench gang by Edward Abbey; 13 editions; First published in ; Subjects: Accessible book, Environmental protection.
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All the readings of his complicated nervous system indicated trouble. But then they always did. He was happy.
There was a special camp of the Special Forces. There was a special sign that hung, along with the Confederate flags, from the entrance gateway to the special camp. The sign said: If you kill for money you're a mercenary.
If you kill for pleasure you're a sadist. If you do both you're a Green Beret. The mountains of Flagstaff loomed ahead, the high peaks dappled with snow. Smoke from the lumber mills drifted gray-blue across the green coniferous haze of the Coconino National Forest, the great green woodland belt of northern Arizona. Through his open window came the chill clear air, the odor of resin, the smell of woodsmoke. The sky above the mountains was untouched by a single cloud, like the dark blue of infinite desire.
Hayduke smiled, flexing his nostrils isometric yoga , popping the top from another can of Schlitz, cruising into Flag, pop. Unjust arrest, a night in the tank with twenty puking Navajos.
Something festering in one corner of his mind for three years, an unscratched itch. Just for the hell of it, he thought, why not now? He was free. He had nothing better to do. Why not now as ever? He stopped for gas at a self-service station, filled tank, checked oil, then checked a phone book and found the name and address he wanted.
He had no difficulty remembering that name: Evening, the brief Southwestern twilight; streetlights flickered on. He waited for night, watching the front of the house. Waiting, he reviewed procedures, inventoried the weapons in his possession, in the jeep, illegally concealed, available for use: Plus reloading kit, powder, caps, bullets, salvaged casings, the works.
Like so many American men, Hayduke loved guns, the touch of oil, the acrid smell of burnt powder, the taste of brass, bright copper alloys, good cutlery, all things well made and deadly. Though still a lover of chipmunks, robins and girls, he had also learned like others to acquire a taste for methodical, comprehensive and precisely gauged destruction.
Coupled in his case with a passion for equity statistically rare , and the conservative instinct to keep things not as they are but as they should be even rarer ; to keep it like it was.
Who gives a shit about girls; you ought to see my gun collection! Sitting in the dark, waiting, Hayduke proposed and discarded a number of options. First, no murder; the punishment shall fit the crime.
The crime, in this case, was injustice. The officer, Hall by name, had arrested and booked him for public drunkenness, which constituted false arrest; Hayduke had not been drunk. What he had done, at three o'clock in the morning one block from his hotel, was stop to watch Hall the cop and a nonuniformed companion interrogate a passing Indian.
Hall, not accustomed to being overseen by an unknown civilian, came charging across the street, annoyed, nervous, agitated, demanding instant identification. His manner got Hayduke's back up at once. Hall's hand had trembled on the butt of his gun; he was a young, neurotic, insecure policeman. The second man waited in the police car, observing, a shotgun held upright between his knees. Hayduke had not failed to notice the shotgun. Reluctantly, he drew his empty hands from his pockets.
Hall grabbed him by the neck, hustled him across the street, slammed him against the patrol car, frisked him, smelled the beer on his breath. Hayduke spent the next twelve hours on a wooden bench in the city drunk tank, the one white man in a groaning chorus of sick Navajos.
Somehow it rankled. Of course I can't kill him, Hayduke thought. All I want to do is punch him around a little, give his orthodontist some work. Dislocate a rib, perhaps. Ruin his evening; nothing drastic or irreparable. The problem is, shall I identify myself? Shall I remind him of our previous and all-too-brief acquaintance? Or leave him lying on the sidewalk wondering who the hell and what the hell was that all about?
He felt certain that Hall would not be able to recall his identity. How could a cop who picked up a dozen drunks, vagrants and loiterers every night possibly remember short, swart, obscure and undistinguished George Hayduke, who had, besides, changed considerable in the meanwhile, grown heavier, bigger and hairier?
A patrol car, Flagstaff City Police, approached slowly, lights dimmed, and stopped in front of Hall's house. One man in the car. Very good. The man got out. He wore plain clothes, not the uniform. Hayduke watched him through the gloom from half a block away, uncertain. The man walked to the door of the house and entered without pausing to knock.
Got to be Hall. Or else a one-man raid. More lights went on inside the house. Hayduke put his revolver into his belt, got out of the jeep, put on a coat to conceal the gun and walked past Hall's house. Curtains drawn and blinds down; he could see nothing of the interior. The motor of the patrol car was running.
Hayduke tried the car door: He walked around the corner of the block, under the trees and streetlights, and down a graveled alleyway that led behind the row of houses.
Dogs barked among the garbage cans, clothesline poles, children's play swings. Counting doors, he saw, through a kitchen window, the man he was looking for.
Still young, quite handsome, all Irish, Hall the cop was drinking a cup of coffee with one hand and patting his wife's rump with the other. She looked pleased; he looked distracted. Typical domestic scene. Hayduke's iron heart melted slightly, around the edges. There was little time. He found an unfenced yard between houses and hurried back to the street. The patrol car was still there, motor running.
At any moment Hall would put down that cup of coffee and come out, the malingering bastard. Hayduke slipped behind the wheel of the car and without turning on the headlights eased it quietly down the street toward the first corner. The single green eye of the police Motorola glowed from the dark under the dashboard, the speaker conveying a steady traffic of calm male voices discussing blood, wreckage, disaster.
Head-on collision on Mountain Street. All the better for Hayduke; the routine tragedy gave him perhaps another minute before Hall could spread the alarm.
Turning the corner and bearing south for Main and the tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad, he braced for the assault. Hall would certainly have a police radio transmitter in his home. Meanwhile Hayduke made his plans. Things not to do tonight.
He decided first not to attempt to crash the patrol car into the lobby of City Hall. He passed a police car going in the opposite direction. The officer at the wheel gave him a wave; Hayduke waved back. A few pedestrians on the street watched him go by.
He glanced at the rearview mirror. The other police car had stopped at an intersection, waiting for a red light. There was a pause in the radio traffic. Then Hall's voice: All units, Car Twelve, , Car Twelve, Acknowledge, please. KB remote. How could he forget that voice? That Irish cool controlled hysteria. Good God but he hates me now! Hates somebody, anyway. There was a clash of static on the radio as several voices attempted to answer at once.
All went silent. One voice came through loud and clear. All mobile units except Car Four proceed to downtown area immediately; , , Car Twelve. KB, KB They're calling Hall. Now he's on the spot. Answer please. Just having a little fun in your little two-bit town, okay? KB, over. There was a pause. Still headed south. Prepare to intercept. Of course it was all being recorded on tape at the police base station.
He thought for a moment of something called voice prints, the audible analogue to fingerprints. Maybe he would hear his broadcasts, later, after all. In an Arizona courtroom. With solemn jury joining. God damn their eyes. The radio voice: Fuck you, too, Flagstaff fuzz.
I piss on you all from a considerable height. There was none. Then he realized that he was still clutching the mike, squeezing the transmitter button, and that as long as he did so he was shutting down the entire channel. He dropped the microphone and concentrated on his driving.
The radio traffic resumed, the steady exchange of calm, tough, laconic masculine voices. Tell you what, he thought, let's drive it up the tracks.
Santa Fe Railroad only a block ahead. Sirens behind, destruction ahead. Red lights blinked at the crossing. The warning bell clanged. Hayduke slowed the car. Train approaching. The wooden barricades were swinging down. He passed beneath the near one and jammed on the power brakes, stopping the car dead in the middle of the crossing. He looked both ways and saw through the roaring dark the brilliant rotating light of an advancing locomotive, felt the thunder of the iron wheels, heard the bray of the diesel's air horn.
At the same moment he heard the howl of sirens, saw the blue flasher lights racing toward him, less than two blocks away, in his rear. Hayduke abandoned Hall's car there in the crux of the crossing. Before leaving, however, he grabbed a shotgun, a riot helmet and a six-battened flashlight, carrying them off into the night. As he hustled away from the scene of his crime, arms full and heart beating with joy, he heard -beneath the screech of brakes, the bellow of klaxons -- one solid metallic crash, deeply satisfying, richly prolonged.
He looked over his shoulder. The head locomotive, air brakes groaning, backed up by three extra power units and the weight and momentum of a car freight train, rolled down the rails, pushing at its iron nose the hulk of the patrol car, grinding iron on steel in a shower of sparks. Clutching his prizes, Hayduke jogged through inky alleyways, outflanking the iron, the law, the police cars shrieking through the city like maddened hornets, reached the safety of his jeep and drove away, out of the city into the velvet dark, untouched.
He slept well that night, out in the piney woods near Sunset Crater, twenty miles to the northeast, snug in his broad-shouldered mummy bag, his goosedown sack, light as a feather, warm as the womb. Under the diamond blaze of Orion, the shimmer of the Seven Sisters, while shooting stars trailed languid flames through the troposphere.
The sweetness of it. The satisfaction of a job well done. He dreamt of home. Wherever that is. Of silken thighs. Wherever they may lead. Of a tree greener than thought in a canyon red as iron. Rising before the sun, in the silver-blue dawn, he made coffee on his tiny Primus stove. I need chemicals! Through the lonesome pines he saw an orb of plasmic hydrogen, too bright to face, come up suddenly over the wrinkled ridges of the Painted Desert.
A cool flute music floated out of nowhere: Hit the road, George. Down from the sacred mountain into the rosy dawn he rolled, into the basin of the Little Colorado River, the pastel pink and chocolate brown and umbrous buff of the Painted Desert. Land of the petrified log. Land of the glaucomous Indian. Land of handwoven vegetable-dyed rugs, sand-cast silver concho belts and overloaded welfare case loads. Land of the former dinosaur. Land of the modern dinosaur.
Land of the power-line pylon marching league on league in lockstep like foot outer-space monsters across the desert plains. Hayduke frowning as he opens the first official six-pack of the day one and a half to Lee's Ferry. He hadn't remembered so many power lines. They stride across the horizon in multicolumn grandeur, looped together by the swoop and gleam of high-voltage cables charged with energy from Glen Canyon Dam, from the Navajo Power Plant, from the Four Corners and Shiprock plants, bound south and westward to the burgeoning Southwest and California.
The blazing cities feed on the defenseless interior. Tossing his empty beer can out the window, Hayduke races north, through the Indian country. A blighted land, crisscrossed with new power lines, sky smudged with smoke from power plants, the mountains strip-mined, the range grazed to death, eroding away.
Slum villages of cinder-block huts and tarpaper shacks line the highway -- the tribe is spreading, fruitful as a culture bouillon: Sweet wine and suicide, of thee we sing. The real trouble with the goddamned Indians, reflected Hayduke, is that they are no better than the rest of us. The real trouble is that the Indians are just as stupid and greedy and cowardly and dull as us white folks.
Thinking this, he opens his second beer. Gray Mountain Trading Post comes into view, tired Indians resting against the sunny side of the wall. A squaw in traditional velveteen blouse squats by the men, lifting her long and voluminous skirts to piss upon the dust. She is grinning, the men laughing. Approaching Grand Canyon Junction.
Traffic obstructs his impatient advance. In front of him a little lady with blue hair peers through her steering wheel at the highway, her head barely showing above the dashboard. What's she doing here? Little old man beside her. Indiana plates on their Oldsmobile. Mom and Pop out seeing the country. Driving at safe and prudent 45 mph.
Hayduke snarls. Move it, lady, or get it the fuck off the road. My God, makes you wonder how they ever got the thing backed out of the garage and pointed west.
Junction Trading Post two miles ahead. Stopping there once for a beer, he'd overheard the manager confide to a clerk, as he showed him a handwoven Navajo blanket, "Paid forty dollars for this.
Squaw was going to a Sing and wanted some money right away; we'll sell it for two hundred and fifty. From seven thousand feet at the summit of the pass to three thousand at the river. He glanced at the altimeter mounted on his dash. The instrument agreed. Here's the turnoff to South Rim, Grand Canyon.
Even now, in May, the tourist traffic seemed heavy: My way, he thought, they're going my way; they can't do that. Gotta remove that bridge. Them bridges. All of them. They're driving their tin cars into the holy land. They can't do that; it ain't legal. There's a law against it.
A higher law. Well you're doing it too, he reminded himself. Yeah, but I'm on important business. Besides, I'm an elitist. Anyway, the road's here now, might as well use it. I paid my taxes too; I'd be a fool to get out and walk and let all them other tourists blow their foul exhaust gases in my face, wouldn't I? Wouldn't I? Yes I would. But if I wanted to walk -- and I will when the time comes -- why, I'd walk all the way from here to Hudson Bay and back. And will. Hayduke forged straight ahead at maximum cruising speed, in high range, hubs free, bearing steadily north-northwest past The Gap and Cedar Ridge gaining altitude again toward the Echo Cliffs, Shinumo Altar, Marble Canyon, the Vermilion Cliffs and the river.
The Colorado. The river. Until, topping a long and final grade, he gained a view -- at last -- of the country he was headed for, the heartland of his heart, spread out before and beyond him exactly as he'd dreamed it all, for three years, lost in the jungle war. He proceeded almost cautiously for him down the long and winding grade toward the river, twenty miles by road and four thousand feet of descent.
Had to live at least one more hour. Marble Canyon gaped below, a black crevasse like an earthquake's yawn zigzagging across the dun-colored desert. The Echo Cliffs ranged northeastward toward a dark notch in the sandstone monolith where the Colorado rolled out from the depths of the plateau. North and west of the notch rose the Paria Plateau, little known, where nobody lives, and the thirty-mile-long Vermilion Cliffs.
Hayduke, rejoicing, scarfing up more beer, concluding his Flagstaff six-pack, wheels down to the river on the narrow road at a safe and sane 70 per, bellowing some incoherent song into the face of the wind. He was indeed a menace to other drivers but justified himself in this way: If you don't drink, don't drive. If you drink, drive like hell. Because freedom, not safety, is the highest good. Because the public roads should be wide open to all -- children on tricycles, little old ladies in Eisenhower Plymouths, homicidal lesbians driving forty-ton Mack tractor-trailers.
Let us have no favorites, no licenses, no goddamn rules for the road. Let every freeway be a free-for-all. Happy as a pig in shit, that's Hayduke coming home. Hairpin curves at the bridge approach: Tires squealing like cats in rut, he hangs a four-wheel drift around the first curve. Scream of rubber, stink of hot brake drums. The bridge appears. He brakes hard, gearing down, doing the heel-and-toe dance on brake, clutch, gas pedal.
He stops in the middle of the bridge. Shuts off engine. Listens for a moment to the silence, to the sigh from four hundred feet below of the rolling river.
Hayduke climbs out of the jeep, walks to the rail of the bridge and peers down. The Colorado, third longest river in America, murmurs past its sandy shores, swirls around fallen rocks, streams seaward under the limestone walls of Marble Canyon. Upstream, beyond the bend, lies the site of Lee's Ferry, rendered obsolete by the bridge on which Hayduke stands.
Downstream, fifty miles away by water, is the river entrance to the Grand Canyon. On his left, north and west, the Vermilion Cliffs shine pink as watermelon in the light of the setting sun, headland after headland of perpendicular sandstone; each rock profile wears a mysterious, solemn, inhuman nobility. The bladder aches. The highway is silent and deserted. Maybe the world has already ended. Time to tap a kidney, release that beverage.
Hayduke unzips and sends a four-hundred-foot arc of filtered Schlitz pouring down through space to the master stream below. No sacrilege -- only a quiet jubilation.
Bats flicker in the shadows of the canyon. A great blue heron flaps upriver. You're among friends now, George. Forgetting to rezip and leaving the jeep in the empty roadway, he walks to the end of the bridge and climbs a knoll on the canyon rim, a high point overlooking the desert.
He goes down on his knees and takes up a pinch of red sand. Eats it. Good for the craw.
Rich in iron. Good for the gizzard. Standing again he faces the river, the soaring cliffs, the sky, the flaming mass of the sun going down like a ship beyond a shoal of clouds. Hayduke's cock, limp, wrinkled, forgotten, dangles from his open fly, leaking a little. He spreads his legs solidly on the rock and lifts his arms wide to the sky, palms up. A great and solemn joy flows through bone, blood, nerve and tissue, through every cell of his body.
He raises his head, takes a deep breath -The heron in the canyon, a bighorn ram on the cliff above, one lean coyote on the rim across the river hear the sound of a howl, the song of a wolf, rise in the twilight stillness and spread through the emptiness of the desert evening. One long and prolonged, deep and dangerous, wild archaic howl, rising and rising and rising on the quiet air.
He was a jack Mormon. A jack Mormon is to a decent Mormon what a jackrabbit is to a cottontail. His connections to the founding father of his church can be traced in the world's biggest genealogical library in Salt Lake City. Like some of his forebears Smith practiced plural marriage. His legal name was Joseph Fielding Smith after a nephew of the martyred founder , but his wives had given him the name Seldom Seen, which carried. En route he stopped at a warehouse in Kanab to pick up his equipment for a float trip through Grand Canyon: He learned that his boatman had already taken off, apparently, for the launching point at Lee's Ferry.
Smith also needed a driver, somebody to shuttle his truck from Lee's Ferry to Temple Bar on Lake Mead, where the canyon trip would end. He found her, by prearrangement, among the other river groupies hanging around the warehouse of Grand Canyon Expeditions. Loading everything but the girl into the back of his truck, he went on, bound for Lee's Ferry by way of Page. They drove eastward through the standard Utah tableau of perfect sky, mountains, red-rock mesas, white-rock plateaus and old volcanic extrusions -- Mollie's Nipple, for example, visible from the highway thirty miles east of Kanab.
Very few have stood on the tip of Mollie's Nipple: That blue dome in the southeast, fifty miles away by line of sight, is Navajo Mountain. One of earth's holy places, God's navel, om and omphalos, sacred to shamans, witches, wizards, sun-crazed crackpots from mystic shrines like Keet Seel, Dot Klish, Tuba City and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Between Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizona, a distance of seventy miles, there is no town, no human habitation whatsoever, except one ramshackle assemblage of tarpaper shacks and cinder-block containers called Glen Canyon City. Glen Canyon City is built on hope and fantasy: Nobody pauses at Glen Canyon City. Someday it may become, as its founders hope and its inhabitants dream, a hive of industry and avarice, but at present one must report the facts: Many pass but no one pauses.
Smith and girl friend shot by like bees in flight, honey-bound. He looked in the mirror. Miles away down the long slope of sand, slickrock, blackbrush, Indian ricegrass and prickly pear they could see a cluster of buildings, a house-trailer compound, roads, docks and clusters of boats on the blue bay of the lake. Lake Powell, Jewel of the Colorado, miles of reservoir walled in by bare rock. The blue death, Smith called it.
Like Hayduke his heart was full of a healthy hatred. Because Smith remembered something different. He remembered the golden river flowing to the sea. He remembered canyons called Hidden Passage and Salvation and Last Chance and Forbidden and Twilight and many many more, some that never had a name.
He remembered the strange great amphitheaters called Music Temple and Cathedral in the Desert. All these things now lay beneath the dead water of the reservoir, slowly disappearing under layers of descending silt. How could he forget? He had seen too much.
Now they came, amidst an increasing flow of automobile and truck traffic, to the bridge and Glen Canyon Dam. He and his friend got out and walked along the rail to the center of the bridge. Seven hundred feet below streamed what was left of the original river, the greenish waters that emerged, through intake, penstock, turbine and tunnel, from the powerhouse at the base of the dam.
Thickets of power cables, each strand as big around as a man's arm, climbed the canyon walls on steel towers, merged in a maze of transformer stations, then splayed out toward the south and west -- toward Albuquerque, Babylon, Phoenix, Gomorrah, Los Angeles, Sodom, Las Vegas, Nineveh, Tucson, the cities of the plain. They stared at it. The dam demanded attention.
It was a magnificent mass of cement. Vital statistics: Four years in the making, prime contractor Morrison-Knudsen, Inc. Bureau of Reclamation, courtesy U. But there's got to be a way. That topside, wide enough for four Euclid trucks, was the narrowest part of the dam.
From the top it widened downward, forming an inverted wedge to block the Colorado. Behind the dam the blue waters gleamed, reflecting the blank sky, the fiery eye of day, and scores of powerboats sped round and round, dragging water skiers. Far-off whine of motors, shouts of joy. Let's pray for a little pre-cision earthquake right here. At least his lips were moving. Praying, in broad daylight, with the tourists driving by and walking about taking photographs.
Someone aimed a camera at Smith. A park rangerette in uniform turned her head his way, frowning. The earth is gonna start buckin' any second now. You remember the river, how fat and golden it was in June, when the big runoff come down from the Rockies? Remember the deer on the sandbars and the blue herons in the willows and the catfish so big and tasty and how they'd bite on spoiled salami? Remember that crick that come down through Bridge Canyon and Forbidden Canyon, how green and cool and clear it was?
God, it's enough to make a man sick. Say, you recall old Woody Edgell up at Hite and the old ferry he used to run across the river?
That crazy contraption of his hangin' on cables; remember that damn thing? Remember the cataracts in Forty-Mile Canyon? Well, they flooded out about half of them too.
Listen, are you listenin' to me? There's somethin' you can do for me, God. How about a little old pre-cision-type earthquake right under this dam? Any time. Right now for instance would suit me fine. The rangerette, looking unhappy, was coming toward them. Well, all right, suit yourself, you're the boss, but we ain't got a hell of a lot of time. Make it pretty soon, goddammit. This is a public place. Do they have a Paiute church?
A pie-eyed Paiute. A few miles to the southeast stood the eight-hundred-foot smokestacks of the coal-burning Navajo Power Plant, named in honor of the Indians whose lungs the plant was treating with sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, sulfuric acid, fly ash and other forms of particulate matter.
He had to buy food for himself, his boatman and four customers for fourteen days. Seldom Seen Smith was in the river-running business. The back-country business. He was a professional guide, wilderness outfitter, boatman and packer. His capital equipment consisted basically of such items as rubber boats, kayaks, life jackets, mountain tents, outboard motors, pack saddles, topographic maps, waterproof duffel bags, signal mirrors, climbing ropes, snakebite kits, proof rum, fly rods and sleeping bags.
Smith, Prop. Twenty fathoms under in a milky green light the spectral cabins, the skeleton cottonwoods, the ghostly gas pumps of Hite, Utah, glow dimly through the underwater mist, outlines and edges softened by the cumulative blur of slowly settling silt.
Hite has been submerged by Lake Powell for many years now, but Smith will not grant recognition to alien powers. The tangible assets were incidental. His basic capital was stored in head and nerves, a substantial body of special knowledge, special skills and special attitudes.
Ask Smith, he'll tell you: Hite, Utah, will rise again. Hardly adequate for an honest jack Mormon, his three wives, three households and five children. Poverty level. But they managed. Smith thought he lived a good life. His only complaint was that the U. Government, the Utah State Highway Department and a consortium of oil companies, mining companies and public utilities were trying to destroy his livelihood, put him out of business and obstruct the view.
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And the wind blows, the dust clouds darken the desert blue, pale sand and red dust drift across the asphalt trails and tumbleweeds fill the arroyos. Good-bye, come again. The road curves through a dynamited notch in the Echo Cliffs and from there down twelve hundred feet to the junction at Bitter Springs. Smith paused as he always did at the summit of the pass to get out of the truck and contemplate the world beyond and below. He had gazed upon this scene a hundred times in his life so far; he knew that he might have only a hundred more.
The girl came and stood beside him. He slipped an arm around her. They pressed together side by side, staring out and down at the hazy grandeur. Smith was a lanky man, lean as a rake, awkward to handle. His arms were long and wiry, his hands large, his feet big, flat and solid.
He had a nose like a beak, a big Adam's apple, ears like the handles on a jug, sun-bleached hair like a rat's nest, and a wide and generous grin. Despite his thirty-five years he still managed to look, much of the time, like an adolescent. The steady eyes, though, revealed a man inside.
They went down into the lower desert, turned north at Bitter Springs and followed Hayduke spoor and Hayduke sign empty beer cans on the shoulder of the road to the gorge, around a jeep parked on the bridge and on toward Lee's Ferry.
They stopped at a turnoff for a look at the river and what was left of the old crossing. Not much. The riverside campgrounds had been obliterated by a gravel quarry. In order to administrate, protect and make the charm, beauty and history of Lee's Ferry easily accessible to the motorized public, the Park Service had established not only a new paved road and the gravel quarry but also a ranger station, a paved campground, a hundred-foot-high pink water tower, a power line, a paved picnic area, a motor pool with cyclone fence, an official garbage dump and a boat-launching ramp covered with steel matting.
The area had been turned over to the administration of the National Park Service in order to protect it from vandalism and commercial exploitation. What happens to all the people here? It'd take the water an hour to get here. Suppose everybody at the dam is killed and there isn't anybody left alive up there to give warning. Then what? The cliffs towered above.
The silent evening flowed around them. Below, hidden deep in its dark gorge, the brawling river moved among rocks in complicated ways toward its climax in the Grand Canyon.
There ain't supposed to be no wolves in these parts anymore. They ain't supposed to be here. Only the river sounded now, down below. They drove on, past the ranger station, past the pink water tower, across the Paria River to the launching ramp on the muddy banks of the Colorado.
Here Smith parked his truck, tailgate toward the river, and began unloading his boats. The girl helped him. They dragged the three inflatable boats from the truck bed, unfolded them and spread them out on the sand. Smith took a socket wrench from his toolbox, removed a spark plug from the engine block and screwed in an adapter on the head of an air hose. He started the motor, which inflated the boats. He and the girl pulled the boats into the water, leaving the bows resting on the shore, and tied them on long lines to the nearest willow tree.
The sun went down. Sloshing about in cutoff jeans, they shivered a little when a cool breeze began to come down the canyon, off the cold green river. He found his target. Adjusting the focus, he made out, a mile away through the haze of twilight, the shape of a blue jeep half concealed beneath a pedestal rock. He saw the flicker of a small campfire. A thing moved at the edge of the field.
He turned the glasses slightly and saw the figure of a man, short and hairy and broad and naked. The naked man held a can of beer in one hand; with the other hand he held field glasses to his eyes, just like Smith.
He was looking directly at Smith. The two men studied each other for a while through 7 x 35 binocular lenses, which do not blink. Smith raised his hand in a cautious wave. The other man raised his can of beer as an answering salute. She looked. Where'd we put that goddanged Coleman stove?
Now sit down here and let's see what we can find to eat in this mess. The Colorado River rolled past. From downstream came the steady roar of the rapids where a tributary stream, the Paria, has been unloading its rocks for a number of centuries in the path of the river.
There was a smell of mud on the air, of fish, of willow and cottonwood. Good smells, rotten and rank, down through the heart of the desert. They were not alone. Occasional motor traffic buzzed by on the road a hundred yards away: The small and solitary campfire on the far-off headland to the west had flickered out. In the gloom that way Smith could see no sign of friend or enemy. He retreated into the bushes to urinate, staring at the gleam of the darkened river, thinking of nothing much.
His mind was still. Tonight he and his friend would sleep on the shore by the boats and gear. Tomorrow morning, while he rigged the boats for the voyage down the river, the girl would drive back to Page to pick up the paying passengers scheduled to arrive by air, from Albuquerque, at eleven. New customers for Back of Beyond. Alexander K.
And one Miss -- or Mrs.? Abbzug No relation to the Senator, she always said. Which was mostly true. Her first name was Bonnie and she came from the Bronx, not Brooklyn. Furthermore, she was half Wasp white anglo sexy Protestant ; her mother's maiden name was McComb. That strain perhaps accounted for the copper glints in Ms. Abbzug's long, rich, molasses-colored hair, draped in glossy splendor from crown of head to swell of rump.
Abbzug was twenty-eight years old. A dancer by training, she had first come to the Southwest seven years earlier, member of a college troupe.
She fell in love -- at first sight -- with mountains and desert, deserted her troupe in Albuquerque and continued at the university there, graduating with honors and distinction into the world of unemployment offices, food stamps and basement apartments. She worked as a waitress, as a teller trainee in a bank, as a go-go dancer, as a receptionist in doctors' offices.
First for a psychiatrist named Evilsizer, then for a urologist named Glasscock, then for a general surgeon named Sarvis. Sarvis was the best of a sorry lot.
The Angel Gang
She had stayed with him and after three years was still with him in the multiple capacities of office clerk, nurse-aide and chauffeur he was incapable of driving a car in city traffic, though perfectly at home with scalpel and forceps slashing about in another man's gallbladder or excising a chalazion from someone's inner eyelid.
When the doctor's wife died in a meaningless accident -- plane crash during takeoff from O'Hare Field -she watched him stumble like a sleepwalker through office, ward and eight days until he turned to her with a question.
In his eyes. He was twenty-one years older than she. His children were grown up and gone. Abbzug offered him what consolation she could, which was much, but refused the offer of marriage that followed a year after the accident. She preferred she said the relative independence she thought of female bachelorhood. Though she often stayed with the doctor in his home and accompanied him on his travels, she also retained her own quarters, in a humbler part of Albuquerque.
Her "quarters" was a hemisphere of petrified polyurethane supported by a geodetic frame of cheap aluminum, the whole resting like an overgrown and pallid fungus on a lot with tomato patch in the wrong or southwestern sector of the city.
The interior of Abbzug's dome glittered like the heart of a geode, with dangling silvery mobiles and electric lanterns made of multi-perforated No.
On sunny days the translucent single wall admitted a general glow, filling her inner space with pleasure. Beside her princess-size water bed stood a bookshelf loaded with the teenybopper intellectual's standard library of the period: Spiders crawled upon the wisdom of Fritz Perls and Prof.
Lonesome earwigs explored the irrational knots of R. Silverfish ate their way through the cold sludge of R. Buckminster Fuller. She never opened any of them anymore. The brightest thing in Abbzug's dome was a brain. She was too wise to linger long with any fad, though she tested them all. With an intelligence too fine to be violated by ideas, she had learned that she was searching not for self-transformation she liked herself but for something good to do. Sarvis detested geodesic domes.
Too much of the American countryside, he thought, was being encysted with these giant sunken golf balls. He despised them as fungoid, abstract, alien and inorganic structures, symptom and symbol of the Plastic Plague, the Age of Junk. But he loved Bonnie Abbzug despite her dome. The loose and partial relationship which was all she would give him he accepted with gratitude. Not only was it much better than nothing but in many ways it was much better than everything. Likewise, she thought.
The fabric, she said, of our social structure is being unraveled by too many desperately interdependent people. Agreed, said Dr. Sarvis; our only hope is catastrophe. So they lingered together, the small dark arrogant slip of a girl and the huge pink paunchy bear of a man, for weeks, months, a year. Periodically he repeated his marriage proposal, as much for form's sake as out of love. Is one more important than the other? And regularly she turned him down, firmly and tenderly, with open arms, with prolonged kisses, with her mild and moderate love.
Love me little, love me long. Other men were such obscene idiots. The doctor was an aging adolescent but he was kind and generous and he needed her and when he was with her he was really there, with her.
Most of the time. It seemed to her that he withheld nothing. When he was with her. For two years she had lived and loved, off and on, with Dr. There was this tendency simply to drift. Millions were doing it. It irritated Abbzug a bit that she, with her degree in French, her good healthy strong young body, her restless and irritable mind, was fulfilling no function more demanding than that of office flunky and lonely widower's part-time mistress.
And yet, when she thought about it, what did she really want to do? Or be? She had given up dancing -- the dance -- because it was too demanding, because it required an almost total devotion which she was unwilling to give. The crudest art. She could certainly never go back to the night world of the cabaret, where all those vice squad detectives, claims adjusters and fraternity boys sat in the murk with their blues, their beers, their limp lusts, straining their eyeballs, ruining their eyesight for a glimpse of her crotch.
What then? The maternal instinct seemed to be failing to function so far as she was concerned, except for her role as mother to the doctor. Playing mother to a man old enough to be her father. The generation gap, or vice versa? The cradle robber? Who's a cradle robber?
I'm the cradle robber; he's in his second childhood. She had built most of the dome herself, buying assistance only for the plumbing and wiring. The night before she moved into the thing she held a ceremony, a consecration of the house, a "chant. They twisted their long, awkward American legs into overhand knots -- the lotus posture. Then the six middle-class college-educated Americans sitting under an inflated twenty-first-century marshmallow of plastic foam intoned a series of antique Oriental chants which had long ago been abandoned by educated people in the nations of their origin.Climactic moment.
Lakes Mead and Powell are drying up. No humans live in that pink wasteland. She was a tough piece out of the Bronx but could be sweet as apfelstrudel when necessary. The worm. It was something to do. Let us have no favorites, no licenses, no goddamn rules for the road. Five thousand people yawning in their cars, intimidated by the cops and bored to acedia by the chant of the politicians.