“Look, Phelps,” I said, delighted at the late-morning sun sparkling off the puffs of white. “It looks like Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting Sky Above the Clouds*—only upside down.”
Sharon glanced over, then focused back on the road. “Wind turbines. The newest form of energy.” “There sure are a bunch of them,” I said frowning, looking west and noticing dozens of them as a far as I could see. “When did those go up?”
“A few years ago. But wait a couple of minutes because just up the road, on the other side of Sweetwater, you’ll be amazed.”
Sure enough, as we crested a large hill several miles further west, I was indeed amazed, and when a few miles after that we turned north onto Highway 84, I was dumbfounded. Dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of the enormous white wind turbines dotted the landscape in every direction. They were nothing more than tall tapered metal poles seemingly growing straight up out of cement ground-collars, with a motor at the top sporting three long, thin, slightly twisted blades, most of them turning. At least they looked twisted, from my perspective. I squinted to look closer. Maybe they were just tapered, but they did come to a smaller curved point.
“Not a lot. We must be too high up on the Caprock or something. They don’t blot the landscape like here. I think there are some at the southeast edge of town near a cotton mill, though, and I know there’s one on campus out at the Tech Wind Museum. Don’t know if the museum is actually pulling power from that one, but it turns when the wind blows, so probably. We’ll have to go check it out once you’re settled.”
“Old Red? He was great, wasn’t he? Carol was always so artsy-craftsy, even though her major was pre-law. Should’ve had her make Red out of plywood instead of cardboard so he’d still be around! He was a great guy-magnet at pep rallies and outside the dorm for homecoming. That’s how I met Gerald,” she said with a heavy sigh.
“Oh, right! I remember now. What was the ransom demand? Dates or phone numbers or something?”
“Dates, I think. Just freshmen guys wanting to meet freshmen girls. Luckily, Carol and I stole him back before we had to pay up. Why didn’t you go with us that night?”
“No, I think she and Robert are booked up for the rest of the year. They both work too hard. But we’ll definitely plan for next winter. This year, I’m just thrilled to have you here with me. It’s like we’ll have a lifelong girls’ weekend!”
The window was halfway down, so I knew he’d be able to hear me. “Hello? Are you awake?” I called out. “We’ve called for help. Hello?” I thought he moved a little and was rewarded with a groan. The young man’s eyes fluttered but closed again with another moan.
“Phelps!” I yelled up the embankment. Sharon’s head appeared. “There’s just the one that I can see and he’s alive but hurt. Get that wool blanket from the back of the car ... it’s wrapped around the big mirror, and throw it down to me. How soon before they get here?”
“Hey, son. You’ve been in a car accident and help is on the way. It’s really best if you don’t try to move. Do you hurt anywhere?”
Moving his eyes around again, he said weakly, “My head, my left arm. I think that’s all.”
“No. We’re fine. There’s only one guy and he’s awake. You need to flag down the troopers. Throw the blanket to me.” I caught it and moved part of the way back up the ravine to the side – now the top of the car – and made my way to the passenger’s door. Pulling on the handle as I squatted on the embankment, I was amazed it opened. Carefully moving it up and out of the way, I tried not to kick dirt inside on the young man.
“Still with you, Ma’am. Thanks for the blanket. Josh. I’m Josh,” he said refocusing on my face.
“About Jim? His accident?” she asked gently.
“Hard not to. Just wish someone had been there for him at the end.”