Content to sit idly on a backroad
T. or C. and Magdalena, Dusty has the same inexplicable feeling of
niceness that comes from a red caboose. Dusty is self-effacing. Under
words "Dusty, NM" on the one and only road sign in town, someone
has stenciled the mileages to Socorro and Albuquerque. Dusty knows
just passing through. There are no hard feelings.
Yet as I drove past Dusty, I
the feeling that there was more here than met the eye. Little
of dust rose up occasionally before me like dancers on the desert. The
cows I saw were all in groups of three (Andrews Sisters, anyone?) And
distant melody of Pennsylvania 6-5000 echoed in the back of my head. I
half expected a Cigarette Girl to knock on my window and ask if I
a pack of Lucky Strikes.
Dusty had a swinging, jazz-like
feel to it.
Maybe it's the power in improvisation. Consider the note in a
musical passage, held an extra second longer than written -- stretching
across the time signature into the next measure where it doesn't
belong. That momentary suspension of inertia is what Dusty felt like.
seemed improvised, as though if I were to go back today it would look
different than before, and the next day so different from today that I
would hardly recognize the place.
Was it just a feeling or had I
something? Maybe Dusty saw me coming, packed up its clarinets and
trombones, reordered its houses, took down the streamers, and sat
while I passed. Then, when my rising dust trail left the horizon,
it broke everything out again and started the party over. Maybe those
mileages weren't just a navigational aid, but encouragement for people
to pass by quickly, so the beguine could begin again without much delay.
I saw nothing unusual from my
that would confirm my suspicions. Dusty passed into the distance as
as it had appeared. Maybe the cows were just cows, and the dust storms
just dust storms, and the nightingales were still singing in Berkley