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TEXAS

Things changed quickly after Rawley graduated from the academy when he was accepted at Balcones University in San Antonio.  He heard that the mean temperature in San Antonio was seventy-two degrees.  He was tired of enduring three feet of snow falling three months out of the year in Indiana.  While attending Balcones University, he was elected President of his class.  He was doing well enough to ask Margo to join him there which she agreed to do.  He thought this would be a good time to resume their relationship so Rawley drove to Carolina in his sky blue Ford to get Margo and bring her to Texas.  On the way back from the Carolinas, they stopped at a Stuckey's gift shop somewhere between Mobile and New Orleans to get gas.  Behind the filling station they saw an exotic animal farm called Monkey Jungle.  There were all kinds of tropical creatures like parrots, monkeys, and alligators.  They happened to see a wide-eyed squirrel  monkey clinging to the chain-link fence.  Rawley purchased him for twenty-five dollars.  Margo named him Pepper because of his speckled brown and black furry coat.  He constantly made a high pitched chirping noise and was always nervously rattling the paper bag for more peanuts and he ate everything that Rawley and Margo were willing to share from their fast food drive thru feasts.  He chirped and impatiently sauntered back and forth across the seat sticking out his plump little belly.  Rawley, Margo, and Pepper, finally back on the road to Texas, drove through Houston and headed west toward the hill country.  As they approached San Antonio, Rawley drove with a heightened sense of caution because the road ahead brought with it certain critters crossing their path.  Rawley was careful not to smash the occasional armadillo crossing the road in front of them that would have provided a road kill supper for the omnipresent turkey vultures.  It was easy to get carried away driving too fast in west Texas because there were no cops on those long stretches of semi-desert highway.  For that matter, there were very few homesteaders in this desolate part of the country where the towns were few and far apart.  The dusty and dry hills and the scrubby gullies were covered with jagged and bleached white limestone outcrops.  There was very little vegetation, only cactii and mesquite bushes.  The bleak topography betrayed the identity of the pre-historic ocean floor that covered Texas millions of years ago.  As they rode along the blacktop ribbon, telegraphic flashes of silver streaks streamed down the middle of the road causing a hypnotic trance.  They sped along on rubber tires made from the equatorial blood sap of the South American rain forest rubber trees in a gasoline powered car fueled with oil extracted from the bowels of Mother Earth.  The children of Mother Earth never imagined that those which suckled nature's breast would be attached to the axles of Rawley's sky blue Ford Galaxy 500.

"I think it is incestuous behavior," Rawley said to Margo as they pressed on.  "What is incestuous?" Margo asked.  "Well, human beings rape Mother Earth for raw materials to produce things that make life easier for them but all the while they are destroying the very source of their sustenance not to mention the pollution that results. Do we care?"  Rawley asked. "No, we don't even pause to take a moment's notice to consider what the result might be in the future.  Pepper and his relatives deserve  better than that.  We don't clean-up what we mess up.  Instead of nurturing and cultivating the delicate balance between mankind and Mother Earth, we destroy it," he continued.  "Right!" Margo responded.  "How long can this one sided relationship  continue?" she asked.  Margo went on, " Our moral finiteness seems so pitifully insignificant when compared to the time Mother Earth has been enduring this abuse but remains as the very source of our survival.  The existence of mankind is not even a blip on the cosmic radar." she concluded.  "Mother Earth will produce many more life forms before she grows old.  The planet will continue to spin until that day comes when she too becomes cold and barren like her sisters and then after a time will pass completely out of the present and into the past." Rawley surmised. 

That day, as Rawley, Margo, and Pepper journeyed on across Texas,  desolation became more apparent as they traveled toward the hill country.  The scene of urban sprawl that they had left behind where the buildings were stacked one upon the other in the densely populated American cities was quite a contrast with the wide open spaces of West Texas.  The cities of urban America were wired and networked through information conduits, sending and receiving much more information and misinformation, both intentional and subliminal, factual and fictional, than Big Brother had ever contemplated.  Information funneled itself into the habitations, manipulating thoughts like Pavlovian dogs and controlling the collective soul.  Freedom and justice could be had for those with power and influence and for those who could afford to prove their innocence.  The car stopped at a comfort station as they were surviving on the go.  Rawley and Margo got out with Pepper to stretch their legs and strolled to the base of a nearby knoll.  They climbed to the summit of the hill with Pepper in tow and as they reached the top they could see for miles into the distance.  There was nothing to obstruct their view toward the endless horizon that was framed with a pink hue of unlimited perception in every direction.  This was a picture Rawley had always imagined that he would see in Texas.  As a boy growing up in the Carolinas, he watched the Hollywood western movies on television every Saturday morning and imagined how it must have been.  This was the real thing.  This was the dream that brought Davy Crockett west from Tennesee and Daniel Boone over the Appalachian mountains from the Carolinas over two-hundred years before.  This was the stuff from which dreams were made. Unobstructed views of the edge of the world joined the wide open spaces and the big frontier sky, the American West.  It saddened them to realize that the beauty of Mother Earth was slowly changing.

As Rawley and Margo looked over the blue horizon, they could see a thin darker blue line where the sky touched the Earth and a little higher in the sky they could see a lighter shade of pastel blue.  As they lifted their eyes even farther toward the heavens, they gazed at the pure white fluffy clouds that were so high even the eagles flying overhead could not reach them.  Behind the clouds was a deep transparent azure electric blue at the apex that was so unashamedly beautiful it defied description.  The clouds moved so slowly that it was hard to tell if they were moving at all.  So as not to disturb the peaceful stillness of the moment, Rawley and Margo stood reverently in silent meditation as Pepper tugged at Margo's cuff reminding them that they had left a journey ahead.  They descended the ridge as they looked behind them for one last glance and continued westward as the Earth spun toward the east.