Octavio Paz



Goddam west Texas, anyway! Not a damn thing in it, and it went on forever! He'd driven nearly all day long and seen less and less the farther he got from Austin: abandoned shacks (some of adobe), rusty railroad tracks alongside occasional empty cattle pens, a few windmills and oil wells, scraggly barbed wire fences, a couple ranch headquarters, random dispirited cows and goats, sticker bushes out the wholesale, a couple dozen buttes and hills, and no water to speak of anywhere. And here he was inching along through the middle of it. He shook his head--he was a driven man. The lame pun made him smile grimly.

At least there was time to think. Hell, there was so little traffic on the interstate he could even read. He flipped open the binder lying on the passenger seat next to him and glanced at the headline of the newspaper article he had clipped in as page one: "Starchild Lands in West Texas, Remembered by Many Local Citizens." He knew the article and the pictures that went with it almost by heart.

A half dozen photographs showed the "starchild" variously riding a bicycle in front of a group of other cyclists, sprinting down the center lane of a stadium track, and sailing through the air in a variety of attitudes. In one, she was frozen like a bird in flight, arms outspread, three stories over a crystal blue pool, in another, stretched out horizontally over a bar, and in a third, midair in a sitting position with her feet in front of her and arms down, appearing to float over the sand in the long jump pit. All these photos were from the previous Olympic Games in Ireland, and in all of them she was wearing several iterations of skimpy Team Barbados uniforms in blue and yellow.

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