Hanksville, Utah, is in the middle of a country of reefs, buttes and sand dunes. We stopped at the store there for sodas. Inside, eating pizza, were two teenage girls. Makeup: lots of blush, lots of eye makeup, like people used to wear to go clubbing in the 80s. One of them had large sunglasses on, the other had perched a pair of rabbit ears on her head. She wore a tank top over a shirt, then a kind of stomacher and under that a polka-dot skirt. Mismatched stocking socks, one red, one blue. The other one was more or less the same: sort of a parody of high style, or fashion. I nodded at them (in places like Hanksville, you say hi to everybody) and they looked up but didn't say anything. It was the middle of the week, the end of the day, quarter to five, cloudy, in a place that doesn't get much rain. The girl behind the counter was dressed in a Hollister t-shirt. When we left the store we saw them walking along the main street. One of them stuck out her thumb, as if she wanted to hitch a ride from the pickup truck behind us.
It had once been an roadside cafe, back in the 50s or 60s. There was still a sign, Ben's Cafe * Steaks * Dining Room, and above the sign was a three-dimensional star, with some of the bulbs missing. Now it was La Veracruzana. It still had the long luncheonette counter and green vinyl stools, although the new owners had put up fake wooden shutters on the walls, to imply Mexico. We were the only customers for a few minutes, and then another group came in, a man in a cowboy hat, some middle-aged women. They began to talk to the waitress. She was going back to college in a few weeks, right? And was she still thinking about law school? Did she still want to specialize in immigration? A younger man and woman joined the group, and the topic shifted to cattle rustling. Someone last spring had lost 26 calves. Those calves would be worth $60,000 now.