By the glow of the headlights, Reney counted again. A calf was gone. A bawling cow trotting ruts into the fence line confirmed Reney’s count. She shoved her work gloves into the back pocket of a pair of Wes’s greasy coveralls. She’d slipped them on over her underwear and a Dairy Queen polo, and now static electricity popped as she climbed into the idling diesel to get the shotgun.

With new babies dropping by the day, neither the feral hogs nor the coyotes would be far off. The hogs had pretty much planted a flag and declared the rooted-up land around the river their own,
and the coyotes had grown brazen in the drought, killing two neighbor dogs and countless goats down the road. Still, she didn’t think it was hogs or coyotes. Her mule, Rosalee, was gone, too.

Shotgun cradled in the crook of her arm, Reney whistled, squinting toward the pale sliver of sunrise, hoping to see her mule’s big ears come bobbing over the hill. Wes’s sweet but useless stock dog, Rowdy Rotty, munched on a dried piece of cow shit.

甚至韦斯对ule子也有很小的赞赏,因为他听说过m子的故事保护牛免受掠食者的侵害,并亲自看到了罗莎莉(Rosalee)如何把狗屎踢出一只邻居狗,而邻居狗已经离犊牛太近了。他一次又一次地说,犊牛是唯一使它们脱离疾病的事情。雷尼(Reney)多年来一直在攻读学位,但没有一定的学位才能看到韦斯(Wes)充满了狗屎。她在晚上进行了文书工作,并将支票写给了原料和兽医。牛的所作所为甚至是破裂。但是,这笔钱留下了一个稳定的trick流,陷入了碎片,而韦斯(Wes)尽管他的温柔,但他已经成为一个喜欢大部分钱的人,或者至少是这样的外观。

When Rosalee didn’t come after a few sharp whistles, Reney killed the truck’s chugging idle and left the shotgun barrel to the floorboard. She took out the cattle prod and lead shank and started walking the fence. “Where are they, girl?” Reney said to the dog, who gave her quick lick. Reney hung wide around the momma cow in her manic vigil, all swinging udders and mournful cries, and nearly lost her boots in the mud suck crossing what was supposed to be the creek.

大多数每年春天河水吞噬大量of sandy loam. Scrub oaks crashed into the water like imploded high-rises. One good thing to come of the drought—they wouldn’t lose any more worthless land to the river. But less rain meant more feed bills—their leased thirty acres were grazed to the root—and that meant more beery moping out of Wes.

雷尼在第二排铁丝网上平衡,再次吹口哨。没有。他们来自Metroplex的兼职邻居有四十英亩的烤肉和蓝色,除了几个鹿喂食器外,空无一人,而韦斯(Wes)的越野车越野摩托车则免费进入了这片土地。一整天的工作,在他们的溅射农场主上磨损,更不用说燃料的成本,两箱啤酒和一些老式的达拉斯后篮板。她扫描了空旷的地方,爬了过去。

The first time Rosalee took a calf, Reney had been scrubbing green scum from a water trough when the mule’s slow, purposeful movement caught her eye. Reney stopped what she was doing and smiled at the silly creature, who made her way over to a baby calf napping in the sun. Suddenly, Rosalee snorted two times in the direction of the grazing momma cow. Before the cow could get over there, head lowered and bellowing, Rosalee took the calf into her mouth by the nape of the neck. Then Rosalee turned and ran across the pasture, baby calf a clenched ball. Reney never would have believed it if she hadn’t seen it.

罗莎莉(Rosalee)跳下了小溪,小牛像离子节拍器一样挥舞着,开始低谷。到雷尼(Reney)遇到的时候,罗莎莉(Rosalee)到达了牧场的东北角,小牛塞在铁丝网上。罗莎莉的耳朵下垂。她发出了奇怪的声音,并舔了舔小腿,从头部开始,然后慢慢地沿着它的小身体往下行动。她把后腿踢到了足以关闭的任何愚蠢的东西上,甚至雷尼。

It took Reney all morning to coax Rosalee away from the calf. She had to call in to work and sweet-talk Jack to keep him from cutting her shift. Luckily, Wes had been on his two-week hitch, and she’d mentioned the story only in passing when he got home, laughing about the calf accepting its fate as half donkey and trying to nurse. Wes didn’t see the humor. Though he’d not even been able to bring himself to dock his rottweiler’s tail, he promised that if the mule ever tried the stunt again he’d shoot her himself and sell her for dog food. Reney had hoped that, like so many other things with Wes, was bluster.

今天早上,她宁愿对土狼的小暴力而不是与韦斯打交道,这让她感到震惊。她用粗糙的袖子擦了擦脸。

“他妈的,”她喃喃地说。她再次检查了手表,发现如果她打算完全工作,她就必须走。“一个ule子,”她说,削减了鞭子贫穷的野事合唱,“我光荣的该死的王国为一个m子。”

在她身后,妈妈牛哭了起来。这位可怜的野兽退出了篱笆,而是笨拙地凝视着雷尼(Reney),担心的眼睛。“我知道,”雷尼说。“对不起。”她匆匆朝着该物业的后部,那里的一些灌木丛挤满了岩石露头。每一步,蓝色的蓝色在她下面crack啪作响。韦斯(Wes)下垂的下垂,从三月份的早晨剩下的小小的露水降低,绊倒了她。在她的前口袋里,她仍然有一个苹果从柜台上的碗中取走,以供罗莎莉(Rosalee)的早晨点心。她又看了看手表。最后一次哨声之后,她尽可能地将苹果扔回家。

“我迟到了,韦斯。”雷尼(Reney)打开了迷你盲人,击中了闹钟,使两个白痴盘式骑师Midguffaw沉默。她想起了他们的标题 - “大笔,没有瓦莱!” - 从她妈妈首次结婚并将他们搬到德克萨斯州之后,她与Pitch的妈妈Nina一起观看了一场比赛表演。作为一个女孩,她一直注视着俄克拉荷马州 - 她留下的繁华山丘和深夜教堂的服务,她的曾祖母。As she got older, with the help of MTV and books, she kept her mind on anywhere but Bonita, never for a minute imagining she’d stay and, like her mom, be responsible for holding together a household that, most days, she’d just as soon burn.

她看起来一次拖车的窗口fore dropping the coveralls and sliding into her work pants. She sat in the crook of Wes’s body and pushed his hair back. He was still as handsome as he had been when they met at a party, her in Dr. Martens and flannel, trying too hard to not fit in, and him in standard-issue Wranglers. How quick he’d been to fling the snuff from his lip when she made a crack about it. Now, a can of Copenhagen and a spit cup sat on the bedside table, and she was late for work at the Dairy Queen, worried about a mule. She jostled him.

韦斯滚到他的背上,伸展双臂d legs as long and stiff as they’d go. Turning back into her, he wrapped her up and pulled her toward him. He untucked her shirt, buried his face in her back, and rubbed his chin against her. His goatee was long and he’d not shaved around it in a week, making him look like a billy goat with his big brown eyes. He made gnawing sounds up her ribs, across to her breasts, said, “Big bust, no whammies.”

“Get up. Unless you want to be without the truck,” she said, pulling away. “I’ve got to go to work.”

“也要早上。”

Wes didn’t notice the momma cow’s bawls when he stomped down the metal stairs. He bent to scratch Rowdy’s ears and kiss her head. Then he licked his thumb and wiped at a spot on the truck’s door before climbing in. Reney already sat in the passenger seat.

“Why didn’t you leave it running?” he asked. “Told you it’s hard on the engine.”

雷尼(Reney)等到他们转到高速公路。“您今天要修理后栅栏吗?有些东西会被切断。”

“Got to go over some stuff with Sammy at the Iron.”

该品牌铁的成本是DQ的两倍,尽管它的食物每周两次在同一台Sysco卡车上进行两次。雷尼(Reney)毕业于萨米·博伊德(Sammy Boyd),她不是粉丝。韦斯也从未有过。

But since he’d lost his job, Wes had taken to putting on his good boots and sitting at Sammy’s table as weekday mornings stretched into afternoons. Sammy’s grandpa’s grandpa, or whoever, had made a fortune in oil way back, and, like his father, Sammy had been set up with cattle and hundreds of acres of his own as a teenager. He carried himself accordingly.

She’d made the mistake of walking over one day when she got off early, and there was Wes, kicked back in his chair picking his teeth, hoping some of Sammy’s cowman shine would rub off on him. Reney endured Sammy’s ribbing when she ordered her tea unsweet and felt her face burn at Wes’s talk about his “ranch,” how he was planning to double the herd in the next year. Sammy egged him on, inviting Wes to talk smart. Wes, who’d never felt comfortable on a horse, even mentioned getting a couple of cutting horses before Reney excused herself to study in the truck.

在上班的旅程中,她数着一个死去的负鼠,两个土狼和一只猪,戴着一条蓝色围巾,被猎人,牧场主或醉酒的孩子悬挂在铁丝网上。围栏以外的土地经过冬小麦和几何沿海斑块,上面点缀着牛。尽管世界上的萨米·博伊德(Sammy Boyds)似乎从来没有渴,但干旱并未经历过富人或宠坏的人。如果您有足够的土地来旋转牛,而不是将磨砂30英亩的土地过度放在中国,那么您可以更少喂食,而牛肉价格则上涨,因此每个不需要一毛钱的人都会生产三毛钱。韦斯长大了,不多,以某种方式认为牛一定有魔术。她从来不想知道关于牛的一件事,但很快就会看到,像Pitch的马一样,牛业务比业务更赌博。

When Wes came home after whatever happened on his last Wyoming hitch, he took his garbage bag of greasers from the back of the truck and put them in the fire barrel. Reney stopped short when she came onto the porch to greet him. “We can’t afford new clothes, Wes.”

他说:“他们可以拿出'油田垃圾'并将其粘贴在驴子上。”从那时起,都是牛。他不会听到试图穿另一个衣服的想法。这张照片对他来说很清楚。他只需要更多的牛,还有更多的土地和一个有更好子宫的女人。

她说:“罗莎莉走了。”

“She take a calf?”

雷尼凝视着窗外。

Wes shifted his cap, pulled the brim lower.

“我告诉过你我会开枪。”

“I know.”

“I don’t know why you want a goddamn mule in the first place.”

“We’ve been over it, Wes.”

“She’s taking food from our mouths when she fucks with my calves.” As they approached the stoplight, he shifted down, softened. “Shit. It ain’t always going to be like this, Reney.”

A glass gallon jar at Reney’s feet knocked into the door. The day before, she’d bought half a tank of fuel for Wes’s truck with the tips she’d been saving. It didn’t matter how many shifts Reney picked up or how often she emptied her jar—he acted as if it were his calves that kept the bank at bay.

韦斯变成了奶牛皇后,然后拉到侧门。雷尼(Reney)拿起背包,辞职。她在转向工作之前停了下来。

“Don’t kill my mule.”

“I know, Jack. I’m sorry,” Reney said.

Her boss raised a palm toward the clock.

“Hi, Liza Blue,” she hollered across the room. An old lady facing away from Reney in a red booth raised her hand without turning. “Morning, Ferrell,” she said to Pitch’s daddy. The old cowboy came over and made a big show of taking a red bandanna out of his back pocket and wiping the tobacco juice off his lips before he kissed her cheek. Then he winked at the cigar-store Indian and went back to his talking.

“I think Rosalee took a calf, ” Reney said, tying an apron around her waist.

“Again?” Jack asked.

雷尼(Reney)已经在垃圾桶里撞了旧地面,舔了舔手指以获取新的过滤器,弹出一袋新鲜的咖啡。

“听着,”杰克小声说。他环顾四周,看上去很无聊的青少年在柜台工作,高中时代的孩子,他们出于某种原因或另一个原因没有上学。他将头发折叠在秃头上,并推上棕色的塑料眼镜。“我知道您正在进行中,但是您现在是经理。韦斯早上不能帮忙吗?”

Reney stopped her wiping and turned to him.

“I’ve got class tonight, but I’ll come in early tomorrow if it helps.”

“孩子们。他们说话,你知道。”

她听到他们在窃窃私语,对自己的制作,这不仅仅是他们,她很乐意告诉他们他们是否问。她认为杰克并没有完全鼓励演讲,但她认为他可能也不劝阻它。

“I appreciate you being flexible,” Reney said, her voice sharp. “And I’m sorry, Jack, but I understand you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

雷尼(Reney)抬头看着她的肩膀,一个孩子在登记册上的孩子向后lo着头,打哈欠。不久前,她是那些无聊的高中生之一,但也可能是一生。她没有说她在那里时的大多数员工的表现是大多数员工的三倍。她不必。

“Well, when you get things lined out for lunch, come on to the office so we can go over the schedule.”

The schedule for the next three weeks was set. And she knew that when she got back there, he’d have an unsweetened ice tea with lemon waiting and he’d ask her about her classes and she would lose track of time talking about her instructors and the reading and she would become embarrassed when she realized how much she was enjoying their talk. Last week he’d given her a nice leather-bound day planner with a matching journal and heavy pen.

“想想时间表的好,直到有人打电话说不是。”

Jack frowned. “I was thinking we could look at payroll again, this time in relation to quarterly sales.”

杰克的聚酯裤裤子从臀部挂着,他的短袖着装衬衫总是有咖啡或更糟的景点。她不确定他为什么这么打算他们的会议。She wanted to think he was a little like Pitch—that is to say, a little like a father—if Pitch showed up when he said he would, stammered more, and didn’t have brown, leathered skin from days spent on the back of a horse.