RL: Thoreau Rubber Band
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Thoreau Rubber Band

by Richard Brautigan

Life is as simple as driving through New Mexico in a borrowed Jeep, sitting next to a girl who is so pretty that every time I look at her I just feel good all over. It's been snowing a lot and we've had to drive a hundred and fifty miles out of our way because the snow like an hourglass has closed the road that we needed.

Actually, I'm very excited because we are driving into the little town of Thoreau, New Mexico, to see if Highway 56 is open to Chaco Canyon. We want to see the Indian ruins there.

The ground is covered with snow so heavy that it looks as if it has just received its Government pension and is looking forward to a long and cheerful retirement.

We see a cafe resting in the snow's leisure. I get out of the Jeep and leave the girl sitting there while I go into the cafe to find out about the road.

The waitress is middle-aged. She looks at me as if I am a foreign movie that has just come in out of the snow starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve. The cafe smells like a fifty-foot-long breakfast. Two Indians are sitting at it, eating ham and eggs.

They are quiet and curious about me. They look at me sideways. I ask the waitress about the road and she tells me that it's closed. She says it in one quick final sentence. Well, that takes care of that.

I start out the door but one of the Indians turns and says sideways to me, "The road's open. I went over it this morning."

"Is it open all the way to Highway 44: the road over to Cuba?" I ask him.


The waitress suddenly turns her attention to the coffee. The coffee needs taking care of right now and that is what she is doing for the benefit of all the generations of coffee drinkers to come. Without her dedication, coffee might become extinct in Thoreau, New Mexico.

Richard Brautigan
Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970