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Coyote had taken over a fifty-dollar per month house with his blondhaired Louisiana woman, Sam, and a whole lot of other people. Emmett drove there alone because Natural Suzanne had finally become sick and tired of their loveless relationship and was making up for what her old man had been unable to give her. The last thing he said to her when she was forced to split to save the youth and vitality of her less than nineteen years was, "Have a nice life, Natural Suzanne. Have a nice life." And he meant it with all the sincerity he could ever mean about anything.

Coyote's ranch was a stone heavy spread where only heavyweight men and women came from the city to do nothing that wasn't them. Some rode in on choppers, others in cars and trucks. A few walked the mile from the front gate to the house. Nobody ever tiptoed, and no one was a stranger. Everything was always going on, and it was a free-for-all. A man silhouetted against the falling sun, churning up the earth on the side of a hill with the rat-tat-tat 4s-caliber bursts from his Thompson submachine gun. A woman giving birth in the green, high grass reflected in a hundred watching eyes and in the sound of a child's first liberated cry. Musicians who made millions playing for ears that paid to hear, and musicians who never made anything at all, jammed their hard, mellow souls together and filled the place with the sound of whatever points they were trying to get across in the music that never stopped.

The ranch was a bayou of heartaches and good times, where people overworked each other in a devil dance that made their bones beg for another chance before they gave in. It was a sunup-tosundown refusal to guard the truth and a shifting center where no one's imagination would leave them alone. A place where anyone who knew the address could come to live or die, get married, find each other or themselves, or, like Emmett, kick a habit and return to finish what he started out to do. It was called Olema, and it's not there anymore, and Richard Brautigan didn't have to mention it in the poem he wrote about how Emmett Grogan left his habit there.


for Emmett



Death is a beautiful car parked only to be stolen on a street lined with trees whose branches are like the intestines of an emerald. [end page 468]


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