"No," I said. "Nothing's happened."
"They didn't get back together?" Glad asked.
"I don't think so. Why?"
"Did he ever mention anyone named Lucinda
Olson?" I asked.
"Jim and the mythical Lucinda." Now Beulah
smiled. "Where did you hear about our local Lorelei?"
"Did Jim talk about her?"
"He did," Beulah said, nodding. "Now that
you mention it. Abstractly. He said she was a remote symbol. A projection
of all a man wanted and would never have, she embodied both perfect
love and the conquest of death."
"Jim sounds like a Renaissance man--inventor,
Platonic philosopher, lover."
"He was, in his way. With Jim, everything
was a little abstract, interesting but abstract. But somehow personal.
He was touching."
studied my hands, thinking, then spoke, half to myself:
Jim was smart, he built things, he stayed to himself, he thought about
Lucinda Olson, his pretty girlfriend Sally broke up with him, each
night on the news he hears her announce the day's atrocities, the
latest bulletin on the cattle thefts and mutilations, the Night Slayer
knows Frankie Two Shoes and bought Frankie's father's plans for a
robotic cow. Sheriff Blair says wealthy rancher Web Olson is death
to rustlers, lonely and reads Dante, Jim is lonely too and probably
upset, like Olson he's a book lover.
"One sad day Jim rediscovers the story of
the Trojan Horse--in an updated version at the barbershop, Sergeant
Rock and his Howling Commandos--about Helen of Troy, the captive
queen who never loved Paris and is held against her will, waiting
for Ulysses to save her--"
"Like I said," Glad said. Last night he had
picked up the tall tale in a bar and driven with Pete to the isolated