« From Hunger | Main | The Return of Staughton Lynd »

The Drop Edge of Yonder

By Rudolph Wurlitzer

Rudolph Wurlitzer's novels have moved a generation of writers and rockers. He's carried his themes and dreams along the "celluoid trail," writing screenplays for memorable movies such as "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," "Little Buddha," "Walker" and "Candy Mountain." His latest novel, "The Drop Edge of Yonder," is a book (as per Patti Smith) "you watch as you read, cast the film as you reread, and create a sequel as you sleep." Scott Spencer has wondered at "Yonder" too: "I have never read anything like it. Every page transports the reader from the cerebral to the visceral and back again, until you start to feel that in the end there is no difference between the two." Take the following chapters from Wurlitzer's soulful trip as an invite to get "Yonder" http://www.twodollarradio.com/books-dropedge.htm .

The Winter that Zebulon set his traps along the Gila River had been colder and longer than any he had experienced, leaving him with two frostbitten toes, an arrow wound in his shoulder from a Crow war party, and, to top it all off, the unexpected arrival of two frozen figues stumbling more dead than alive into his cabin in the middle of a spring blizzard.

Rather than waking him, the cold blast of wind from the open door became part of a recurrent dream: a long endless fall through an empty sky towards a storm-tossed sea...Come closer, the towering waves howled....

He opened his eyes, not sure for a moment if the man and woman staring back at him weren't hungry ghosts. Frost clung to their eyebrows and nostrils, and their swollen faces were raw and crimson from the tree-cracking cold. The man wore a hard-brimmed top hat tied under his bearded chin with a long red scarf, along with a buffalo robe coated with slivers of ice. The woman appeared to be a Shoshoni half-breed. She was wrapped inside a huge army overcoat distinguished by sergeant stripes at the shoulders and, at the chest, two bullet holes, one over the other.

The man sank to his knees, swearing and choking from the smoke pouring out of the cabin's leaky fireplace and the overpowering stench of a nearby slop bucket. He spoke in a rasping whisper, as if his larynx had been smashed.

"I figure we be dead meat until the breed told me you was camped on the Gila. She knows things that ain't available to other mortals."

The man was Lobo Bill, an old trapper and horse thief, known for his wide range of windy tales and maniacal rages, that Zebulon had run into and away from in various saloons and hideouts from Tularosa to Cheyenne. When he removed his top hat, he exposed a face sliced on one side from cheek to jawbone, as if neatly quartered by a butcher's knife.

Lobo Bill nodded towards the breed, who was standing with her back to the wall, staring at Zebulon with huge, empty eyes. "She ain't one for words, but when she does open her flap, she packs a punch you don't want to know about. Even so, I owe her. She saved my bacon when a wolverine took after me. Axed it into quarters and sliced me up as well. I won her in Alamosa from a horse trader. A straight flush to his full house. A hand for the ages. She's half Shoshoni, half Irish. 'Not Here Not There' is what I call her, and I'm favored to have her, things bein' what they is these days, or ain't, depending on which way the wind blow, and even if it don't.

Lobo Bill and Not Here Not There took off their clothes. After their bodies thawed out, they collapsed on a pile of bearskins near the fireplace.

Zebulon spent the rest of the night stoking the fire and drinking from one of his last bottles of Taos White Lightning, pondering memories of Lobo Bill and all the other mountain lunatics he had known, and what he and they used to be, or not, and what he was meant to do, or be, depending on his view from the valley or mountaintop. It wasn't so much that the old mountain ways were played out, although that day was surely coming. There was something that Lobo Bill and his breed had brought in with them, a mysterious presence or shadow that he was unable to define. Or maybe it was just the sight of two stange and lost figures snoring on his bed.

It was dawn when the wind died, along with most of his premonitions, enough anyway, to let him pass out next to his guests.


When he woke, a hard brittle light was splattering against the cabin wall. There was no sign of Lobo Bill. When he questioned Not Here Not There, she shook her head and rolled her eyes back and forth, which made him think that Lobo Bill had either gone off to find his mules and traps, or he had decided to skip out all altogether. Around him the cabin had been swept clean. The slop bucket had been emptied, his stock of flour, tobacco, whiskey, coffee, and dried jerky were stacked neatly in one corner, and split logs were piled up on either side of the fireplace.

The extreme tidiness of the cabin, together with Not Here Not There's sullen silence, made him uneasy, as if she were harboring secret thoughts or maybe, god help him, some ill-intentioned plan. Never mind, he thought. Whatever was meant to come would come, ready or not.

While they both waited for Lobo Bill to appear. Zebulon hunted for small game and prepared for the annual spring rendezvous by taking down and sorting the hundreds of muskrat and beaver pelts he had stashed in the crooks of several trees.

After three days Lobo Bill still hadn't returned. Most of the time Not Here Not There sat on the bench outside the cabin, staring at the river and the dark blue ice that had begun to splinter into large moving cracks. In the evening she avoided looking at him as she cooked one of the rabbits he had shot.

After they ate dinner, instead of retreating in the corner she had chosen to sleep in, she joined him near the fire. Looking at him with a sly grin, she took his bottle of Taos White Lightning from him and drained the rest of it, then swayed back to her place across the room.

That night he was woken by her long nails scratching lines of blood down his stomach and across his groin, a violent gesture which she repeated even as she pulled him inside her, locking her legs around his waist as if she wanted to break him in two.

For the rest of the night she dictated their furious passion in her own insatiable terms. in the morning she left the cabin without looking at him or saying a word.

Two days later she returned in the middle of a thunderstorm. Standing before him, she looked into his eyes as he removed her clothes and positioned her over the table, pinning her arms abover her head.

When the door opened, he was plunging on inside her as if they had never been apart. When he became aware that Lobo Bill was standing above them with a raised hatchet, he decided he might as well go out in the same way that he had been conceived. Part of him enjoyed the prospect, and he was dammed if he was going to give Lobo Bill the satisfaction of an apology. He continued to thrust himself inside her with even more abandon, letting out a long mountain yell: "Waaaaaaaaaagh!"

His fury broke the table, sending them both to the floor. Lobo Bill's hatchet missed Zebulon's skull by an inch and sliced a large hole in the middle of Not Here Not There's stomach.

Before Lobo Bill could react, Zebulon reached for a pistol inside Lobo Bill's belt and shot him between the eyes.

Unable to move or speak, he sat on the floor, watching Not Here Not There stagger through the door.

When he finally went after her, she was standing naked on a slab of ice halfway into the river, her hands trying to hold back the blood oozing from her stomach.

"You killed the only man that ever cared for me," she aaid. "And now you've killed me."

They were the first words that he had heard her speak.

As the ice sank lower, carrying her downstream, and the black freezing water rose over her legs and hips, she called out to him again. "From now on, you wil drift like a blind man btween the worlds, not knowing if you're dead or alive, or if the unseen world exists, or if you're dreaming. Three times you will disappear to yourself and all that you know, and three times you will - "

She said something more, but he was unable to hear the words as she slowly sank beneath the ice.

From February, 2010

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Drop Edge of Yonder:

» vakantie in egypte from vakantie in egypte
De mooiste vakantie aanbiedingen voor egypte [Read More]

Tracked on May 4, 2010 02:15 AM

» kortingscode from kortingscode
Veel kortingscodes op bespaarcodes.nl [Read More]

Tracked on September 5, 2011 07:05 PM

» ροχαλητο from ροχαλητο
Major thankies for the blog article.Much thanks again. Want more. [Read More]

Tracked on January 29, 2012 03:17 PM

» lastminute vakantie from lastminute vakantie
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on November 11, 2012 10:03 PM

» last minutes vakantie boeken from last minutes vakantie boeken
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on November 12, 2012 09:15 PM

» Goedkope last minute vakantie from Goedkope last minute vakantie
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on November 18, 2012 04:47 AM

» no deposit bingo sites from no deposit bingo sites
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on April 30, 2013 01:45 PM

» solar panels kits for homes from solar panels kits for homes
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on June 4, 2013 12:44 AM

» http://pinterest.com/ from http://pinterest.com/
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on June 10, 2013 08:15 PM

» louis vuitton official outlet website from louis vuitton official outlet website
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on July 29, 2013 11:37 AM

» online forex trading from online forex trading
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on October 2, 2013 12:08 PM

» Parchet Triplu Stratificat from Parchet Triplu Stratificat
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on May 16, 2014 04:59 AM

» Parchet Triplu Stratificat from Parchet Triplu Stratificat
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on May 16, 2014 04:59 AM

» ทัวร์เกาหลี สถานที่ท่องเที่ยว from ทัวร์เกาหลี สถานที่ท่องเที่ยว
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on May 18, 2014 03:45 AM

» meridia from meridia
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on July 2, 2014 10:27 AM

» cheap jordan shoes from cheap jordan shoes
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on August 5, 2014 03:58 AM

» hydrocodone from hydrocodone
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on August 20, 2014 01:43 AM

» red bottom heel from red bottom heel
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on September 23, 2014 06:17 AM