The Next Sound You Hear

Letter From Texas

We’ve crammed the Suburban with about as many people as it can carry, driving the fence line on a section of land not far from Meridian, Texas, on a cool Sunday afternoon during deer season.  My brother left a message even before we made it home from church, asking us to come with his family to check out this piece of property.  I didn’t bother to change, as we are to meet the seller in a couple of hours, and I look a little incongruous in my Sunday best next to my brother, who is wearing a black Stetson and boots, and the seller, wearing a cap dressed up as the Lone Star flag of my native state and a plaid, pearl-buttoned shirt.

All I can hear is the kids’ breathing in my ear and the soft murmuring of the Suburban’s motor.  We are waiting for the flock of turkeys to crest the rise in front of us.  My brother pushes back the Stetson from his forehead, quietly making a count of the flock.

He counts 25 before something alarms them and they take off into the brush, bordered by a stand of live oaks and pecan trees, near the driver’s side of the lumbering SUV.  We never heard the sound that spooked them—or maybe it was movement.

My brother shifts the Suburban into four-wheel drive, and we crest the steep rise and head for the big tank in the center of the property.  I roll the window down and try to block out the voices and the sound of the motor’s...

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