Sample N16 from Ralph J. Salisbury, "On the Old Santa Fe Trail to Siberia," Northwest Review, 4: 2 (Spring, 1961), 52-56 A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,031 words 258 (12.7%) quotes 1 symbolN16

Used by permission of Northwest Review. 0010-1840

Ralph J. Salisbury, "On the Old Santa Fe Trail to Siberia," Northwest Review, 4: 2 (Spring, 1961), 52-56

Typographical Errors: Single close quote missing [0680]though [for thought] [1030]

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Over the rattling of fenders , humming of tires and chattering of gears there was a charming melody of whispers and tiny giggles . Cool air moving slowly through the open or smashed-out side windows hinted of blooming roadside vegetation , and occasionally a faint fragrance of perfume swirled from the back seat .

`` Moriarty '' , my driver suddenly exclaimed with something so definite , so final in his tone I once more repeated the absurdity , mustering all my latent powers of hypocrisy to sound convinced .

We were coming to an intersection , turning right , chuffing to a stop .

Forced to realize that this was the end of a very short line I scanned a road marker and discovered what the end of a slightly longer line would be for the old Mexican : Moriarty , New Mexico .

`` Gracias . Adios '' , I said , exhausting my Spanish vocabulary on my host and exchanging one of a scarcely-tapped store of smiles with my host's daughters . I waved with discretion and moderation to the vague golden faces fading through rising dust and the distortions of the back window glass . Then I saw the father's head slightly turn ; ; gauche rainbow shapes replaced the poignant ovals of gold .

Autos whizzed past . White-shirted and conservatively-cravated drivers stared conspicuously toward the eastern horizon and past my supplicating and accusing gaze .

Suddenly a treble auto horn tootley-toot-tootled , and , thumbing hopefully , I saw emergent in windshield flash : red lips , streaming silk of blonde hair and -- ah , trembling confusion of hope , apprehension , despair -- the leering face of old Herry .

`` Mor-ee-air-teeeee '' , he shrieked , his white teeth grossly counterpointing those of the glittering blonde .

Over the rapidly-diminishing outline of a jump seat piled high with luggage Herry's black brushcut was just discernible , near , or enviably near that spot where -- hidden -- more delicately-textured , most beautifully tinted hair must still be streaming back in cool , oh cool wind sweetly perfumed with sagebrush and yucca flowers and engine fumes .

Damn his luck . I would have foregone my romantic chances rather than leave a friend sweltering and dusty and -- Well , at least I wouldn't have shouted back a taunt .

Still nursing anger I listlessly thumbed a car that was slowly approaching , its pre-war chrome nearly blinding me . It was stopping .

Just as I straightened up with my duffel bag , I heard : `` Sahjunt Yoorick , meet Mrs. Major J. A. Roebuck '' . The voice was that of Johnson , tail gunner off another crew .

Squeezing a look between Johnson's fat jowls and the car frame a handsome and still darkhaired lady inquired `` Y'all drahve '' ? ?

I nodded .

`` Onleh one thiihng '' , Mrs. Roebuck continued . `` Ahm goin nawth t'jawn mah husbun in Sante Fe , an y'all maht prefuh the suhthuhn rewt . But Corporal Johnson has alreadeh said it didn make no diffrunce t'hi-im '' .

I said that it didn't make any difference to me either , as far as I knew .

How far I knew will shortly become apparent . Let me pass over the trip to Sante Fe with something of the same speed which made Mrs. Roebuck `` wonduh if the wahtahm speed limit '' ( 35 m.p.h. ) `` is still in ee-faket '' .

I let up on the accelerator , only to gradually reach again the 60 m.p.h. which would , I hoped , overhaul Herry and the blonde , and as there were cars whose drivers apparently had something more important to catch than had I , Mrs. Major Roebuck settled down to practicing on Corporal Johnson the kittenish wiles she would need when making her duty call on Colonel and Mrs. Somebody in Sante Fe .

When Johnson ejaculated `` Howsabout my buying us all a nice cold Co-cola , Ma'am '' ? ? Mrs. Roebuck smilingly declined and began suddenly to go on about her son , who was `` onleh a little younguh than you bawhs '' .

Johnson never would have believed she had a son that age . Mrs. Roebuck thought Johnson was a `` sweet bawh t'lah lahk thet '' , but her Herman was getting to be a man , there was no getting around it . `` Just befoh he left foh his academeh we wuh hevin dack-rihs on the vuhranduh , Major Roebuck an Ah , an Huhmun says ' May Ah hev one too ' ? ? Just as p'lite an -- an cohnfidunt , an Ah says ' Uh coahse you cain't ' , but he says ' Whah nawt , you ah hevin one ' ? ? An Ah coudn ansuh him an so Ah said ' Aw right , Ah gay-ess , an his fathuh didn uttuh one wohd an aftuh Huhmun was gone , the majuh laughed an tole me thet he an the bawh had been hevin an occasional drink t'gethuh f'ovuh a yeah , onleh an occasional one , but just the same it was behahn mah back , an Ah doan think thet's nahce at all , d'you '' ? ?

`` No , I don't '' , Johnson said . `` I'm a good Baptist , and drinking ''

Mrs. Roebuck very kindly let me drive through Sante Fe to a road which would , she said , lead us to Taos and then Raton and `` eventshahleh '' out of New Mexico . How lightly her `` eventshah-leh '' passed into the crannies where I was storing dialect material for some vaguely dreamed opus , and how the word would echo . And re-echo .

Hardly had Mrs. Roebuck driven off when a rusty pick-up truck , father or grandfather of Senor `` Moriarty's '' Ford sedan , came screeching to a dust-swirling stop , and a brown face appeared , its nose threatened by shards of what had once been the side window .

`` Get in , buddies . Get in '' . The straight , black hair flopped in a vigorous nod , the slender nose plunged toward glass teeth and drew safely back .

Johnson unwired the right hand door , whose window was , like the left one , merely loosely-taped fragments of glass , and Johnson wadded himself into a narrow seat made still more narrow by three cases of beer .

`` In back , buddy '' , the driver said to me .

Quickly but carefully lowering my duffel bag over the low side-rack , I stepped on the running board ; ; it flopped down , sprang back up and gouged my shin . The truck was hurtling forward . I seized the rack and made a western-style flying-mount just in time , one of my knees mercifully landing on my duffel bag -- and merely wrecking my camera , I was to discover later -- my other knee landing on the slivery truck floor boards and -- but this is no medical report .

I was again in motion and at a speed which belied the truck's similarity to Senor X's Ford turtle . Maybe I would beat old Herry to Siberia after all . Whatever satisfaction that might offer .

Something pulled my leg .

I drew back , drawing back my foot for a kick . But it was only Johnson reaching around the wire chicken fencing , which half covered the truck cab's glassless rear window . The way his red rubber lips were stretched across his pearly little teeth I thought he was only having a little joke , but , no , he wanted me to bend down from the roar of wind so he could roar something into my ear .

`` Wanna beer '' ? ?

`` Hell , yes '' , I roared back between dusty lips . Did I want a beer ? ? Did an anteater want ants ? ?

`` Bueno , amigo . Gracias '' , I hollered , my first long swallow filling me with confidence and immediately doubling the size of my Spanish vocabulary .

At once my ears were drowned by a flow of what I took to be Spanish , but -- the driver's white teeth flashing at me , the road wildly veering beyond his glistening hair , beyond his gesticulating bottle -- it could have been the purest Oxford English I was half hearing ; ; I wouldn't have known the difference .

Johnson was trying to grab the wheel , though the swerve of the truck was throwing him away from it . White teeth suddenly vanishing , the driver slammed the side of his bottle against Johnson's ear .

We were off the road , gleaming barbed wire pulling taut . I ducked just as the first strand broke somewhere down the line and came whipping over the sideboards . We were in a field , in a tight , screeching turn . Prairie dogs were popping up and popping down . When I fell on my back , I saw a vulture hovering .

Just as I got to my knees , there was again the sound of the fence stretching , and I had time only to start taking my kneeling posture seriously . This time no wire came whipping into the truck .

We were back on the road . I regained my squatting position behind the truck cab's rear window . Johnson's left hand was pressed against the side of his head , red cheeks whitening beneath his fingers .

`` Tee-wah '' , the driver cackled , his black eyes glittering behind dull silver chicken fencing . `` That was Tee-wah I was talking . You thought I was a Mexican , didn't you , buddy '' ? ?

I nodded .

`` Hell , that's all right , buddy '' , the Indian ( I now guessed ) said . `` Drink your beer '' .

Miraculously , the bottle was still in my hand , foam still geysering over my ( luckily ) waterproof watch . No sooner had I started drinking than the driver started zigzagging the truck . The beer foamed furiously . I drank furiously . A long time . Emptied the bottle .

Teeth again flashing back at me , the driver released a deluge of Spanish in which `` amigo '' appeared every so often like an island in the stormy waves of surrounding sound . I bobbed my head each time it appeared .

Suddenly the Spanish became an English in which only one word emerged with clarity and precision , `` son of a bitch '' , sometimes hyphenated by vicious jabs of a beer bottle into Johnson's quivering ribs .

A big car was approaching , its chrome teeth grinning . Beyond it the gray road stretched a long , long way . The car was just about to us , its driver's fat , solemn face intent on the road ahead , on business , on a family in Sante Fe -- on anything but an old pick-up truck in which two human beings desperately needed rescue .

I tossed the bottle . High , so it would only bounce harmlessly but loudly off the car's steel roof . Too high . On unoccupied roadway the bottle shattered into a small amber flash .

`` Aye-yah-ah-ah '' ! !

The Indian was again raising his bottle , but to my astonished relief -- probably only a fraction of Johnson's -- the bottle this time went to the Indian's lips .

Another car was coming , a tiny , dark shape on a far hill . I started looking on the splintery truck bed for a piece of board , a dirt clod -- anything I could throw and with better aim than I had thrown the beer bottle .

We were slowing . In the ditch sand was white and soft-looking , only an occasional pebble discernible , faintly gleaming . But Johnson couldn't quickly unwire the truck door , and if I escaped , he might suffer .

The car was approaching fast . On the truck bed there was nothing smaller than a piece of rusty machinery ; ; with more time I could have loosened a small burr or cotter pin --

Suddenly and not a second too soon I thought of the coins in my pocket . There was no time to pick out a penny ; ; I got a coin between my thumb and forefinger , leaned my elbows in a very natural and casual manner on top of the truck cab and flipped my little missile .

There was a blur just under my focus of vision , a crash ; ; the car's far windshield panel turned into a silver web with a dark hole in the center .

I heard the screech of brakes behind me , an insane burst of laughter beneath me . Looking back I saw a gray-haired man getting out of his halted car and trying to read our license number .

`` S-s-sahjunt '' . Johnson's fat hand , another bottle were protruding from the truck cab , and that self-proclaimed Baptist teetotaler , had a bottle at his own lips .

Two cars came over a crest , their chrome and glass flashing . The Indian's arm whipped sidewise -- there was a flash of amber and froth , the crash of the bottle shattering against the side of the first car .

Brakes shrieked behind us . I saw Johnson's bottle snatched from his hand , saw it go in a swirl of foam just behind the second car . This time there was no sound of brakes but the shrieking of women . I looked back at pale ovals framed in the elongated oval of the car's rear window .

`` Drink , you son of a bitch '' ! ! I quickly turned around and began to drink . But the Indian was jabbing another bottle toward Johnson .