The Unknown: The Red Line.
  After our reading at The Twig Bookshop in San Antonio, a mute woman smiled and passed us a cryptic note as we signed the anthology three times. A meeting had been arranged.

We found the old man in a shack near the Mexican border working on an old Underwood. When we tapped at the door he squinted through the curtain and knew who we were. He took us to his barn. It was a long walk across the desert. Saguaro cacti bent against the wind-driven sands. He told us: “this is where Pynchon wrote most of Gravity’s Rainbow.” He reached up onto a rafter, causing a lizard to scurry out of hiding, and he brought down a tiny vial. He squeezed a drop of clear liquid onto his hand. Then Dirk’s. Scott said no. Then mine. The vial was crystalline and a shaft of sunlight ricocheted tiny rainbows. I heard a little girl laughing distant yet close by. I observed that the wood was melting. I was laughing and felt tears on my cheeks. We sat in the barn and could not leave because the sunlight outside was too bright. Then I noticed the first tarantula. The old man laughed. His face was like a peanut. He was withered and every line he had written was somewhere etched into his face. It grew dark. There was a squeaking I took to be bats. The old man lit a gas lantern, which whooshed, and he unfolded a starchart. He told us something about Betelgeuse and he took a bottle of whiskey out of a desk drawer and we went out to look up into the Texas night. What we saw there I will never understand or forget.

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