Slim had an idea about touching the earth with their sorrow, marking their loss in the form of an offering to nature. Something stoic, something with dust and stone and silence. He didn't mention it to Angel because when he tried the words clenched up in his jaw and a flush ran over him.
Angel convalesced for two days in a free clinic on the edge of southeast side of Natchitoches. It was hot in there. She watched fat flys bang their heads against the loose screened in windows.
"Why'd they open the windows, Slim? They've got air conditioning! It's as if they enjoy this heat!"
"Maybe to them it's just it not hot. "
But the folks there were friendly. When Esther, a large and slow moving woman the color of Red River silt, found Angel doubled over at the foot of the bed, she took her in her thick arms and held her until both their tears drew dry. And Gaff ( they called him Gaff cause he was always ready for a good laugh), had the good sense to point out to Slim, in a most serpentine fashion, how sorrow and anger look a lot like the same kind of pain if you aren't mindful of the tangle we let drag behind us.
"What tangle?" Asked Slim.
"My mama called them 'yesterday's knots'. She said, 'Ain't no past, there's simply no stuff there - just yesterday's knots in our heads.'
We all look back to yesterday to get a look at what tomorrow may have in store, but all of us see the same yesterday differently - that's knots, long ropes of our lives, tangled again and again. Makes now difficult to read unless you get out the shears. Makes tomorrow livin-hell."
"Why of course there's a yesterday," exclaimed Slim . "See this scar on my forehead?! Chainsaw got me! That's yesterday! Brother, that yesterday hurt enough for tomorrow!"
"That's your's to do with," said Gaff.
The wind pulled through Natchitoches as it pleased. The aroma of pecans and rain, Cane River musk and the low burning sulfur pitch from the fish hatcheries wove distraction into Angel and Slim's slow shuffle to the pickup. Angel's release was quick and quiet. Slim poked a finger into dangling roadmap.
"We follow this here, river to river. Cane River to Little River to Red River. Why, with all that winding, maybe we unwind this sorrowful knot we got tied to us.