Six blocks further down the dirt road they finally saw their first human. An old Indian in blue jeans and a buttoned up flannel shirt sat in the shade of an otherwise desolate house. He was sitting on a wooden rocking chair, motionless. Watching them.
Will stopped the Range Rover in front of the house of the old Indian.
"Iíll get directions from him, babe," Will said.
But as he opened the driverís side door, the old Indian rose from his chair, turning away. Will stepped down to the dirt.
"Excuse me," Will called to him.
The old Indian, his back turned, started walking toward the house.
The old Indian opened the front door and disappeared into the house.
"Excuse me, sir!" Will cried.
The door shut. It didnít slam. It just shut.
"What do you make of that?" Will said as they drove away from the house. His tone was more curious than angry.
"I donít know," she said. "He did look kind of old, you know."
"Uh, huh," Will said, agreeing.
But something didnít seem right. When Will had first stopped and briefly connected gazes with the Indian, he saw wisdom in those old eyes. Nothing that even hinted the wandering mind of a senile. Indeed, looking into the eyes of the old Indian had revealed to Will that he knows. The old Indian knows.
He just knows.
Will realized now that he hadnít just been ignored by the old Indian. It was more as if heíd been dismissed. The old Indian had refused to acknowledge Willís existence.
You are not alive to me those eyes had said.
"If we donít see anyone else soon," Will said, "weíre turning around. Thereís just no sense in looking for something thatís probably closed down."
"Itís just so weird,Ē observed his wife. ďWhere is everybody? I doubt they just abandoned the area. I mean, why would that Indian be the only one here?Ē
Four small children, their clothing worn and soiled, came running from around the side of a house as if at play. They stopped suddenly when they saw the slow passing vehicle. Their faces went blank. They just stared.
Will grunted. "I bet I know where their parents are," he said. "Theyíre probably passed out somewhere, the way these Indians are always drinking."
"Will!Ē his wife said and shook her head.
The last of the houses fell behind as they continued along the dirt road which now opened out into the dusty plains. A low cloud of dust hundreds of yards away arose from the ground before them, as if whipped up by a crossing of breezes. They kept driving. The dust cloud didnít drop back to the ground. Will rubbed his eyes. When he reopened them, it looked like the cloud had grown bigger - wider. It extended over the dead grass alongside the roadway. Either they were moving closer to it, or it was moving closer to them.