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Toward the end of the meal she also said “car,” because under-Guardian Saints207
neath all the food the plates had pictures of old-timey cars onthem.After the others went to bed I stayed up with Irene, who wasexpecting her husband in from Ponca City after midnight. We saton high stools behind the desk in the bright front office, lookingout through the plate glass at the highway and the long, flat plainbehind it. She told me she missed Mrs. Hoge something fierce.“Oh, I know she wasn’t kind,” Irene said, her thinned-downbosom heaving with a long, sad sigh. “It was always ‘Here’s mydaughter-in-law Irene that can’t make up a bed with hospital cor-ners and is proud of it.’ But really I think she meant well.”The next morning we had to make a decision. Either we wouldgo straight to the sanctuary church, which was a little to theeast of Oklahoma City, or we could all stay together for anotherday. They could come with me to the bar where I’d been pre-sented with Turtle, to help me look for whatever I thought I wasgoing to find in the way of Turtle’s relatives. I admitted to themthat I could use the moral support, but on the other hand Iwould understand if they didn’t want to risk being on the roadany more than they had to be. Without hesitation, they saidthey wanted to go with me.Retracing my original route became a little more complicated.I had left the interstate when my steering column set itself free,that much I knew, and I’d stayed on a side road for several hoursbefore joining back up with the main highway. I could rememberhardly any exact details from that night, in the way of landmarks,and of course there were precious few there to begin with.The clue that tipped me off was a sign to the Pioneer WomanMuseum. I remembered that. We found a two-lane road that Iwas pretty sure was the right one.As soon as we left the interstate, trading the fast out-of-statetourist cars for the companionship of station wagons and pickuptrucks packed with families, we were on the Cherokee Nation.208TH EBE A NTR E E S
You could feel it. We began to understand that Oklahoma hadbeen a good choice: Estevan and Esperanza could blend in here.Practically half the people we saw were Indians.“Do Cherokees look like Mayans?” I asked Estevan.“No,” he said.“Would a white person know that?”“No.”After a little bit I asked him, “Would a Cherokee?”“Maybe, maybe not.” He was smiling his perfect smile.I asked Turtle if anything looked familiar. When I looked inthe rear-view mirror I caught sight of her on Esperanza’s lap, play-ing with Esperanza’s hair and trying on Esperanza’s sunglasses.Later I saw them playing a clapping-hands game. The two ofthem looked perfectly content: “Madonna and Child with PinkSunglasses.” Nobody, not even a Mayan, could say they weren’t.