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Git Home!

Summer ’99 contents


Lip stick and a slow moving buzzard.

© 1999 Lin Sutherland. Illustration by John Bardwell.

Photo ©John Bardwell

Illustration ©John Bardwell
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It was exactly this month several years ago that I was taking a road trip to El Paso. Anyone who’s driven to El Paso knows that after Johnson City and the Hill Country, the highway levels out and, in fact, becomes a straight, endless line for the next seven hours. You cross that thing known as West Texas, and that’s when you put the pedal to the metal ’cause you can see for about 100 miles. You cruise at about 80, if you’ve got the Road Hog to do it in.

I did. I had bought an old yellow station wagon that had a great V-8 and new tires at the Highway Department auction. Only thing that didn’t work was the rear tailgate window. It was stuck open, but that was okay. I was cruising down the highway, the wind blowing my hair, listening to the radio and enjoying the vast openness of my favorite state. Just about that time I noticed I was awfully low on gas. I spied a gas station about three miles up the road. I decided I’d freshen up a little and began putting on my lipstick in the rearview mirror, but about that time I saw the buzzards up ahead in the middle of the road, dining on road kill.

Now, everyone knows buzzards wait till the last minute to get out of the way, and as you’re whizzing up on them, they laboriously flap their huge wings and in slow-motion soar inches away from your speeding car. That’s why I didn’t let up on the speed?any Texas buzzard worth his weight would be able to escape two tons of metal flying at him at 80 mph. Easy.

Well, as I roared up on them I saw two of them flap off, but this one buzzard kind of hesitated on the takeoff and suddenly I was on him. He was inches from me in front of the windshield, and then WHOOSH!, sucked over the station wagon and into my open rear window. Suddenly I had a 50-pound buzzard drooling week-old armadillo guts on my neck and, in shock, I shoved the lipstick, which had frozen in front of my lips, up my nose.

Panicked, I wheeled into the filling station and leapt out with that buzzard still in my back seat. There was an old geezer leaning against the wall of the old shack waiting for something to happen in his life. I looked at him, eyes wild with panic, and then back at the car. I gasped for breath and then remembered to grab the lipstick out of my nose. He took the whole thing in without moving a muscle or batting an eye.

“You must be from Austin,” he drawled.

*  *  *

Lin Sutherland lives on her family horse ranch on Onion Creek, Texas.


Git Home! | Summer ’99 contents

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