We left the bay, and lost the salt, sad, sweet, fishy smell of the tidelands out of our nostrils. We headed north again. It was darker now. The ground mist lay heavier on the fields, and in the dips of the road the mist frayed out over the slab and blunted the headlights. Now and then a pair of eyes would burn at us out of the dark ahead. I knew that they were the eyes of a cow-a poor dear stoic old cow with a cud, standing on the highway shoulder, for there wasn’t any stock law- but her eyes burned at us out of the dark as though her skull were full of blazing molten metal like blood and we could see inside the skull into that bloody hot brightness in that moment when the reflection was right before we picked up her shape, which is so perfectly formed to be pelted with clods, and knew what she was and knew that inside that unlovely knotty head there wasn’t anything but a handful of coldly coagulated gray mess in which something slow happened as we went by. We were something slow happening inside the cold brain of a cow. That’s what the cow would say if she were a brass-bound Idealist like little Jackie Burden.
The Boss said, “Well, Jackie, it looks like you got a job cut out for you.”
And I said, “Callahan?”
And he said, “Nope, Irwin.”
And I said, “I don’t reckon you will find anything on Irwin.”
And he said, “You find it.”
We bored on into the dark for another twenty miles and eighteen minutes. The ectoplasmic fingers of the mist reached out of the swamp, threading out from the blackness of the cypresses, to snag us, but didn’t have any luck. A possum came out of the swamp, threading out from the blackness of the cypresses, to snag us, but didn’t have any luck. A possum came out of the swamp and started across the road and might have made it, too, if Sugar-Boy hadn’t been too quick for him. Sugar-Boy just shaded the steering wheel delicately to the left, just a fraction. There wasn’t even a jounce or...