The Hundredth Meridian

Love Thy Neighbor

Ben Lummis was not in a mood to write this morning.  He wanted to be outdoors, and, because he was an outdoor writer, being outdoors was as legitimate a part of his job as writing about having been outdoors was after he’d been there.  His work had two stages, outdoor and indoor, and in the case of the story he was presently involved with, the outdoor stage was completed and the indoor one only beginning.  If, instead of writing, he left the house and did what he really wanted to do today, the result would be that, coming home, he would have two stories that needed writing rather than one.  Ben sighed, leaned forward over his desk, and placed his elbows in the polished corners of the manual office typewriter he used to compose the first drafts of his stories.

With the swamp cooler shut down and the windows up around the small adobe house, the cross-breeze through the screens came pleasantly cool, carrying the scent of the false orange trees beside the driveway and the odor of the crimson bougainvillea growing along the Spanish-style iron fence.  Before the heat of late June and the start of the monsoon season in early July was a good time to be camped on the desert in a sidewall tent, flying his falcons and enjoying the company of his dogs.  Ben covered his face with his hands like a man who has just received devastating news and sat absolutely still in his chair, waiting for his first sentence to...

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