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Rosalie On The Mountain

A mountain-mystery novel-in-progress

Chapter One

A silvery moon so bright it could find shadow on glass, follows Rosalie up the side of the mountain, the roads winding around, switching back and forth, kiss your behind curves, widening then narrowing dark as tar. Lights are random, a handful of stars; houses, old buildings. Rosalie stops and hitches up her stockings, the green of her dress blue in folds where the light fades and then repaints. A cat darts in front of her carrying something struggling.

"Git!" Rosalie says, "Shoo!"

Music curls like smoke coming from chimneys, lifts, filmy, around trees, fence posts, road signs, tumbles like fog across the ground, wide, commodious ghosts: nipple cactus, agava, saguaro. Rosalie walks in the direction it is coming from low and melancholy, a radio station whose antenna bleats red against Mingus Mountain, low and melancholy from Zel's guitar, Zel's fingers picking out the melody inside, holding her guitar like a baby she would rock to sleep.

Everyone is listening; the small houses resting on Mingus Mountain, miners off the twilight shift, wives cooking dinner, sow's back and beans, lard biscuits. Widows, girls on porches wondering about the reflection of far away city lights on clouds, blue and yellow, hurrying as if they stolen.

Rosalie comes into the radio station, sits down and waits for Zel to finish playing.

"Hey, Mama," she whispers, sitting beside Zel when Zel has put down her guitar.

"Hi, Baby," Zel answers, still on the air, and the wives cooking dinner, the sow's back and beans, the lard biscuits, stop what they are doing, the miners off shift stop untying their heavy shoes, the girls turn away from the reflection of the far away cities blue and yellow in the clouds.

Zel clears her throat and pulls the microphone closer.

"I know you'll remember my daughter, Rosalie," she says. "She's been away for awhile but she's back now, and we'd like to sing you something like we used to."

Rosalie moves closer to the microphone as Zel begins to play. "I'd like to dedicate this song to my friend, Layla. She would have been twenty-six years old today. You remember Layla," she says, and a hand barely visible except for the light of the moon, moves, in one of the houses further down the mountain, reaches up and comes down again, the glow from a cigarette tracking its movement, making vaguely apparent the outline of a man lying beside an open window. He laughs a little, noiselessly, the springs of the bed squeaking, the dial from a radio an amber fan suspended in the darkness. Rosalie and Zel's voices wander like vapor through the room and out the window toward the silvery moon.


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