Toward the end of the meal she also said car because under Guardian Saints 207

Toward the end of the meal she also said car because

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Toward the end of the meal she also said “car,” because under- Guardian Saints 207
neath all the food the plates had pictures of old-timey cars on them. After the others went to bed I stayed up with Irene, who was expecting her husband in from Ponca City after midnight. We sat on high stools behind the desk in the bright front office, looking out through the plate glass at the highway and the long, flat plain behind it. She told me she missed Mrs. Hoge something fierce. “Oh, I know she wasn’t kind, ” Irene said, her thinned-down bosom heaving with a long, sad sigh. “It was always ‘Here’s my daughter-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 would go straight to the sanctuary church, which was a little to the east of Oklahoma City, or we could all stay together for another day. 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 was going to find in the way of Turtle’s relatives. I admitted to them that I could use the moral support, but on the other hand I would understand if they didn’t want to risk being on the road any more than they had to be. Without hesitation, they said they 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 hours before joining back up with the main highway. I could remember hardly 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 Woman Museum. I remembered that. We found a two-lane road that I was pretty sure was the right one. As soon as we left the interstate, trading the fast out-of-state tourist cars for the companionship of station wagons and pickup trucks packed with families, we were on the Cherokee Nation. 208 T H E B E A N T R E E S
You could feel it. We began to understand that Oklahoma had been 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 in the 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 of them looked perfectly content: “Madonna and Child with Pink Sunglasses.” Nobody, not even a Mayan, could say they weren’t.

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