The Car That Loved Water

We all ended up keeping vigil, sitting in our lawn chairs roasting hot dogs on sticks and eating Indian tacos and drinking Budweiser and waiting for Wilbur’s wind to blow. It was so cold the chairs squealed, and I said, If it’s too cold for a K-Mart lawn chair, what are we doing here?

Big-K, Gerald Fire Thunder said, and after a while of thinking on this, Jake No Heart said, Huh? and Gerald said, They changed their name. It’s Big-K now, not K-Mart.

When’d they do that? Jake asked.

Oh, maybe a year now.

Hadn’t noticed.

Don’t much matter. Write a check out to K-Mart, they still take it.

I took the last sip from my Bud and set the can down and was reaching for another when a gust of wind, but not Wilbur’s, came up, and that can and others, and Tostitos and paper plates and plastic cups went whirling out over the frozen lake toward the Continental. Wilbur Goes in Center looked at his watch—the only time in his life Wilbur ever cared about time—and then he looked at his Big Chief tablet where he’d written down all the guesses, and he drew a line with a pencil, then looked across the fire at Myrna Little Thunder. She nodded, accepting it, and gazed out at the lake like she was making sure the car was still there and Wilbur wasn’t seeing wrong.

Mighty cold St. Patrick’s Day, I said.

Gonna warm up, Wilbur replied.

The sun was a big orange ball on the horizon hazy through the ground blizzard.

Usually does after the sun sets, I said.

Wilbur just looked into the fire and settled deeper into his Big-K chair. You’ll see, he said. Warm wind gonna come up. One a them Chinooks.

You’re thinking the Black Hills, Wilbur, I said. Chinooks don’t get way out here.

Big-K, huh? Jake said. You sure? They changed the sign and everything?

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