A Novel

Chapter 28: Turbo Tuned Gash Wound

After seeing Ellen at the service station » Thursday, September 3, 1987 » Camden called her the very next day » Friday, September 4. He didn't give a fuck if it made him seem desperate. Summer was almost over, and summer was supposed to culminate in something, to end with a head rush and a free-fall plunge into autumn. I can't believe we did that! Well here goes nothing... But summer was almost over, and maybe he was desperate, but maybe she was too.

They made a date for next Monday / the following Monday / a week from Monday → Monday, September 21. For Christ's sake, nobody ever knew what you meant, and nobody ever knew what you were going through.

He couldn't get her out of his mind, out of his body: his muscles, his blood, his nerves, his bones. She was like a pulse behind his breathing, a dream inside his sleeping. Love → love → love, it felt so good. Young love → first love; young love → first / second / third / fourth love. Just one kiss from her lips would erase one, two, and three. He could start all over: Young love, our lovewe share with deep emotion. Emotion meant feeling, didn't it? And he was feeling it for sure: jerking off to the thought of her, every single night and every single morning and sometimes at work too.

Plus, he hadn't gotten laid since breaking up with Trish.

Plus, he knew Ellen would put out.

Plus, he found it difficult to think of anything but Ellen's beauty—not her beauty, but her sexiness, which was something altogether different, something far more potent than bloodless beauty. Her sexiness made him feel alive again, goddammit! Made him feel an adrenaline-rush vitality he hadn't felt since high school, since the moments after coach's locker room pep talk, while the team waited for its cue to charge the field, straight past the line of high-kicking cheerleaders shaking their pom-pons while fans went wild in the bleachers.

Epic was the word.

He felt alive like that again, alive with deep emotion.

It was easy to understand why Harry called her the "Blonde Bombshell". She was a bombshell all right. Sure as hell. A goddamned bombshell. A sap charge. A motherfucking heat seeker.

And this bombshell would demand nothing of him, nothing but that he physically satisfy her, which was to say that she would demand nothing of him but what he wanted most desperately to give her. He needed her body; he would give himself to it, bury himself in it, along with all his anger and frustration and humiliation. She could take it all, require nothing else, and give him nothing in return. Nothing. A bombshell is a leveler. Goddamn if that wasn't what he wanted: to be leveled, relieved of it all, left with nothing. Absolute peace. Nothing but peace: no anger, no frustration, no humiliation.

Camden and Ellen lived at opposite ends of the county: Kasbeer in the township farthest to the north, Tiskilwa in the township farthest south. They agreed to meet at the Ranch House, in Bureau Junction, which would be a longer drive for her, but a shorter drive back to his bedroom. Also, at the Ranch House, he could get served, and he could put everything on his tab.

His tab = his grandfather's tab, but Ellen wouldn't know that.

Priority number one: he must impress Ellen. Video poker. Oh yeah. Unlike Trish, Ellen would appreciate video poker. He became excited just thinking about Ellen watching him, watching his breakneck betting and high-stakes brinkmanship. He liked being watched. He liked to imagine what the watcher was thinking.

But he needed money—always money. And, as usual, he was short on money—never enough money → no choice, really, but to ask Todd for more money.

He still hadn't paid the balance on his most recent loan, and he didn't like asking for more. It didn't feel very...manly. But he had to have money. He had to show Ellen he was more than just a service station attendant.

Todd lent Camden a thousand dollars. Todd expressed displeasure. Todd was dismissive. Todd demanded repayment in seven days, instead of the usual two week term. Todd threatened, the way a thunderstorm threatens: without words or gestures, but with existence and presence, with approach and implication, with questions that have no answers. Camden looked at him, scared, seeking some sign of friendliness or goodwill. Instead, Todd went, "What?". How the fuck do you answer that question? Something had changed with Todd. Camden was unnerved by it. But with just a little luck, Camden could double the money in one night. And it was worth the risk to impress Ellen. Any risk was worth that. What was even the point of living if you couldn't have the one girl that actually made you feel alive?

When Camden arrived at the Ranch House on the evening of their date » Monday, September 21, 1987 » Ellen was already there, in the parking lot, sitting on the hood of her car, a Chevy Impala. She looked good on the hood of her car. She wore daisy dukes, a lacy white blouse, and sandals. She waved, and jumped down from the car.

Camden said, "Totally sorry I'm late."

"I didn't even notice. So pretty up here anyway, I just love it."

They walked side-by-side, a little awkwardly, toward the motel entrance. He wanted to hold her hand, but thought that might be too forward. Have some drinks first: you do, at some point, have to move things forward if you want to fuck.

Don't cum in your pants. Small talk now. Lay the groundwork. He asked, "Have you ever eaten here before?"

"No. I hadn't even heard of it."

"It's pretty good. You live in Kasbeer?" He knew she lived in Kasbeer. Small talk always made you sound so idiotic. Don't cum in your pants. Lay the groundwork.

"Outside Kasbeer, really, on a farm. Or in a farmhouse at least."

"I don't think I really even know where Kasbeer is. It's north. I guess that's all I know about it."

"There isn't much more to know." She laughed—her gorgeous laughter. "It's about fifteen minutes north of Elmville, I guess."

"Wow, that must make a long drive to the Marina."

"Yeah, but I like it. Especially in the summer, and especially on the drive home; it's so peaceful late at night. The stars and the sky is like a giant dome over everything. I like to imagine it's a giant sparkling dome. It's like when they have the 'Moonlight Couples Only' skate, at Skate-o-Rama, when they light up the mirrored ball. I just love that. On clear nights. The air feels so pure. Sometimes I feel like I'm in space." She giggled, but it wasn't a ditzy giggle; it was completely charming.

"I hope you didn't mind the drive down here, but I bet you'll like it. The restaurant I mean. But their poker lounge is rad too, and the jukebox is boss. You guys got a good one at the Marina too, but there's way too much top-forty on it. I mean, top-forty's okay, but when you're drinking and, all the sudden you're hearing like, Mariah Carey, and I'm like, seriously?"

She laughed.

He laughed.

"No, I know what you mean," she said. "The customers must like it. Hey, I just work there."

The restaurant was busy. The hostess seated them by a window overlooking Lake Rawson.

Ellen was impressed by the view. She was far less sophisticated, more simple, than Camden had expected. Simple, but not plain.

They ordered red wine. Camden said, "It must be great working on the excursion cruises."

"It's okay. Actually I spend most of my time, like, waiting tables at the Marina and stuff like that." She was staring at her finger nails—pink polished—as if suddenly she didn't want to look at Camden. "The excursions only go out three times a week at most." She looked back up. "But Todd finds stuff for me to do the other nights."

Camden almost winced when she mentioned Todd's name. He hated thinking of Todd and Ellen even being in the same room together. He wondered if she knew about the loans. For the first time in a long while he felt grateful to his grandfather, grateful that it was his grandfather's money, and not Todd's, that would be paying for dinner. Still, it pissed him off, knowing that he didn't have any money of his own. Todd's money and not his own. Todd: goddamned wolf. If Ellen knew it was Todd's money—that would be a humiliation he could never get over. He would never be able to love her if that happened.

He started to feel anxious, uncool. He wanted to smoke some weed. He had smoked a joint on the drive over, but he wished he could smoke a little more. He needed to chill. He might go to the bathroom, say he was going to the bathroom but actually step outside and smoke. He vetoed the idea. He said, "Harry's super-cool. I can't imagine a more fun person to work with than him. You guys must have so much fun."

"Oh sure," she said, somewhat unenthusiastically. "Harry is," she hesitated, "Harry's great."

Surprised by her tentative tone, Camden asked, "What—what were you ging to say?"

"Nothing; it was nothing."

"Come on, you can tell me."

She smiled—sweet, innocent, sincere smile—and said, "You know, it's funny, but I feel like that's true, even though I hardly know you."

"You feel like what is true?"

"That I can trust you."

The waitress returned with their wine, and took their dinner order. After the waitress left, Camden asked, "So what were you going to say?"

"Oh, I don't know. Harry is fun and charming and everything you probably think he is. But, well, like, he's not from here. He doesn't really care about the people. He can be really cruel. Like when he found out where I'm from—that I grew up on a farm—he was all like, 'Oh you're such a hick. Oh I'm gonna call you Ma Kettle'. At first I thought he was just a jerk." She paused to sip her wine. "But when I'm around him, I sort-of fall under his spell. He makes me do things, I sometimes later regret. Sometimes he makes me not even know when I'm lying and when I'm telling the truth, what's true and what's a lie. I don't know—it's weird."

"I don't get what you mean. Do what things?"

"Oh, nothing, really. I don't really know what I'm saying. Before he came up here, he was working in Peoria. I remember once, when he was blasted, he told me that he worked for a syndicate down there. I never even heard the word before. Only reason I remembered it is because of syndicated talk shows. I asked someone what it meant. I guess it just means organized crime. You know, like the mob. So another night, when he was really blasted again, I asked him about the syndicate, and he was all like, 'Oh, that's nothing. They're everywhere, just invisible to most people.' He said—I remember this—that they 'just rationalize certain forms of business, through organization, like the farm bureau.' He actually said that! 'Like the farm bureau'. I would have laughed if I weren't partly afraid of him. Then he said, 'What do you think Todd is?'. I don't believe that. I know Todd's not completely on the up-and-up, not by a long shot. In fact he's pretty shady, but he's not what Harry describes. At least I don't think. Todd's been so great to me, to Harry too. I just don't see how he can say stuff like that. That's the sort of thing I mean. He's colder than he seems. He's very cynical." She shook her head, as if to dismiss the whole topic, "Oh, I'm probably just being stupid and unfair. Just talking nonsense. I think it's a suspicion of outsiders that my dad drilled into my head when I was growing up. And for my dad, an outsider meant anybody not from Kasbeer, which is pretty strange, when you think about it, for a traveling salesman! But my dad especially hates anyone from Elmville. At least Harry's not that," she laughed, "From Elmville, I mean. My dad's a little strange that way—he has this weird fixation on Elmville. He hates it!"

"Oh, I don't know, that's not so strange. I think everyone in the county sort of feels that way—everyone not from Elmville anyway."

"I suppose that's true. With my dad, though, it's beyond normal. For him it all goes back to two particular people. It's a long, boring story. I don't want to bore you with it. Listen to me, oh my god, I'm just babbling on, first talking about Harry and then my dad."

"No no no, I'm interested. What happened with your dad?"

"Well—oh my god! I can't believe I'm actually gonna tell you this! Okay, so, his father, my dad's father, my grandpa—he was a tenant farmer in Kasbeer. The landlord lived in Elmville. Raymond Carlson was his name. My dad felt that grandpa practically slaved for Carlson, so he never liked the man to begin with. But then one day, out of the blue, Carlson decided not to renew my grandpa's lease; he wanted to sell the land to a neighboring farmer who was looking to expand."

Her tits looked incredible under that blouse. Don't cum in your pants.

"For my grandpa, that meant not only losing his job, but also having his family evicted from their home, because they lived on the farm. So my grandpa, he lost everything. You probably know this, but a tenant farmer who loses his lease doesn't have many options: you can either try to lease a different farm, or become a hired hand on somebody else's farm. He couldn't afford a new lease, and hired hands don't make much—usually just enough to support themselves, not themselves and a family too. Grandpa had no way to support his family, and they moved into the basement of their church in Kasbeer."

Seriously, those tits. He wanted to get his hands on them. He wanted to get his mouth on them. He wanted to so bad.

"Grandpa had a life insurance policy. You can probably guess where this is headed. One morning grandpa went out hunting, and shot himself dead. He tried to make it look like an accident. He left a note for my grandma explaining what he had done, that he hoped she would get the money from his life insurance policy. The insurance company somehow had the death declared a suicide. I don't know how they found out, or how they proved it, or if they even had to prove it; I don't really understand any of that. But the long-and-the-short of it was that grandma didn't get the money from grandpa's life insurance policy."

"God, that's terrible."

"My dad was fifteen when the insurance agent from Elmville drove out to Kasbeer to share his deepest sympathies, along with the news that the insurance company wouldn't be paying the life insurance benefit."

"Who was the insurance agent?"

"Glenn Young. I only remember the name because my dad told me this story so many times. He's still alive, actually. Glenn Young I mean. Still living in Elmville. His son, Seth Glenn Young, took over the insurance business, but made a mess of it. The agency closed."

"I know Seth Young. He works at Harper-Wyman."

"I'm surprised you know him—he must be a lot older than you. I've met him. He's not a very nice man. How do you know him?"

Camden regretted the admission, because he knew Seth from when he ran with Jared Rone's crowd, not a crowd he wanted Ellen to associate him with. He said, "I don't really know him; I think I met him once. The name just sounds familiar."

"But you even knew where he works?"

"I guess I just heard it. You know how it is—you hear all kinds of things hanging around a bar."

She nodded. "Anyway, my grandma was left with nothing. The man who bought the land that grandpa used to farm didn't need the old house, so he offered to sell it to my grandma. Our church helped my grandma raise the money to buy it. So she and my dad moved back into their old house, a tiny lot surrounded by the vast farm they once considered theirs. And it's the house we live in still. That's the story, and I guess that's why my dad hates Elmville, and just about everybody from there."

"And you say your dad's a traveling salesman?"

"Well, I never really knew exactly what he does. He works for a company in Chicago. Private equity something-or-other. He's some kind of traveling salesman, I think. I have no idea what he sells. My mom says not to bother him with questions about it. All I know for sure is that he spends a lot of time on the road."

"That must be hard on you and your mom."

"It's all I've ever known. I think it is hard on my mom. Especially now that I'm older, she gets lonely. Grandma lives with us—it's still her house, really—but she's my dad's mom. My grandma and my mom don't get along so great. But my dad, he brings us stuff from all over the country. It's really exciting when he calls and tells us he's coming back home."


"Speaking of grandfathers, Harry told me something about yours, that he's rich or something."

An unwelcome revelation. "Gosh, that's strange."

"So he's not? Rich I mean?"

"Well...he...I guess some people could say that. That he's rich. He just owns a lot of real estate. But he sure as hell doesn't act like he's rich. Otherwise what am I doing working at a service station!"

She laughed. "Harry's so weird. He thinks everything's a big conspiracy. He said, 'If Todd knew who Camden is, who is grandfather is.' Then he kind of scoffed, and said, 'But Todd doesn't know. As usual.' Naturally I then wanted to know, and it's not that difficult to find out, but I couldn't see what the big deal is. Durney McKusker, I think is his name? Anyway, that must be the grandfather Todd was getting so worked up over. Your other grandfather is dead. But I still couldn't figure out the big deal. I thought about telling Todd—just to annoy Harry. This was before I saw you at the gas station. There was something, I don't know, doomful about the way Harry was talking about it. It gave me the feeling he thought something bad might happen to you if Todd found out. I liked you too much for that, though I don't really think Todd would do anything. Todd's always been so swell to us. And like I said, I don't even see what the big deal is."

"Yeah, it really isn't a big deal. Like I said, I wouldn't be working at a filling station if it were."

She laughed again, "I guess that's probably true."

The sun dipped behind the timber; the lake turned orange. They finished eating, and he said, "Would you like to have a drink in the bar?"

"Yes, let's! I'd love a gin and tonic right now."

"You got it!"

They went to the lounge. She sat at a booth while he ordered their drinks from the bar. He brought the drinks to the table, and slid into the booth.

She sipped her cocktail, and said, "I didn't think you were twenty-one."

He grinned, and admitted, "I'm not."

"I'm surprised you don't get carded." Then, changing the subject, she said, "So I heard there was some big scandal in Tiksilwa this weekend."

"Oh, you mean Senachwine's grave?"

"What happened?"

"Nobody really seems to know. The state had been excavating an Indian grave for over a year—you probably knew that part. About six months ago, they also began building a museum over the site. The museum isn't finished yet, but the state agreed to hold a public viewing of the grave during Pow-Wow days, which was this past weekend. When they opened the grave, there was no body in it. It was empty. Like when they opened Al Capone's vault."

"So somebody stole the body?"

"Maybe. There was a lot of opposition to the museum, and hoards of protesters in town on the day of the opening. But actually I heard it was probably an inside job because all the photographs of the body are gone as well. There's no evidence that the grave ever even had a body in it. Some are even sayin' it never did to begin with. And now there's this half-built, five-hundred-thousand dollar museum on the site, and nobody knows if it will ever be finished, or who would even want to visit it even if it were finished."

Ellen played "Rhythm of the Night" on the jukebox. She said, "I just love this song. I know—it's top forty! But Harry put it on this awesome mix tape he made me. See," she added, "I don't think he's all bad," and laughed. After the song ended, she said, "Everyone here seems to know you."

"Well, I guess I do come here a lot."

"No, but they seem to know you better than that. I've never seen someone so young treated like that. Almost like you're the owner or something. Maybe on account of your rich grandfather!" She smiled.

He didn't want her to know that his grandfather owned the place. He said, "You know gas station attendants—last of the big spenders," and he laughed.

She laughed too.

He said, "I guess I am pretty good at the poker player here. I'm king of the machine. People probably know me for that," he joked.

"You play poker?"

He nodded. He sipped his beer.

"On the machines?"

"Yep. I'm pretty good too."

"Doesn't that get boring? I mean, wouldn't you rather play with friends?"

"Sure, I play with friends too, but if you're good, competitive—well, around here, the video machines are the only real game in town. Have you ever played?"

"No. I never understood the rules."

"Well, if you want, I can show you how to play. It's actually really easy."

"Sure. That would be fun."

At the poker machine, Camden tried hard to explain what was happening, and why he played his hands the way he did. He found it difficult to maintain the commentary—it kept him from fully entering the game. The dip switch combinations were generously set—jacks or better. She didn't need to know that part. Consideration / chance / reward: she didn't need to know about the second or third parts either, any more than she needed to know about the knockoff meter or the route man or the credit reading or the knockoff switch. . .not any of it, really. But the parts she did need to know about, he had trouble explaining. She played a few hands, and lost.

After about an hour, she looked at her watch and said, "Gosh, I guess it's starting to get late."

"Oh no, god, I bored you. I'm really sorry. I thought you were into it."

"No, no, I'm not bored at all," she said. "Just surprised how quickly the time went by."

"Well, in that case—I mean, you must be used to staying up late, aren't you? Why don't you come back to my place and we can maybe have another drink..." He became shy and awkward again. Lay the groundwork. Don't cum in your pants. "I have some weed if you'd like to smoke. I don't live far from here."

She said, "Yes, let's! I want to see your bachelor pad."

"We can take my truck, and then I can drive you back here later."

She agreed, and soon they were cruising toward Tiskilwa at about 75 miles per hour with the windows down. She had her arm out the window, and she said, "God, I just love driving fast, with the windows down, on a summer night."

"The faster the better!"


29 South. A hard right onto the Tiskilwa Bottom Road. Nine miles. The road hugs Big Bureau Creek: back north and then boomeranging back south before straightening out west.

As they approached Tiskilwa, Camden realized that he couldn't take her to his apartment, because Trish still had a key. And it would be just like Trish to show up and cause a scene.

His grandfather owned an unoccupied house where Camden used to throw parties when he was in high school. It was next door to his grandfather's own home, but his grandfather never seemed to notice what went on there. Since graduating from high school and getting his own apartment, he had stopped using the house, but his grandfather still owned it, and Camden still had a key. He decided to take her there.

They coasted into Tiskilwa. Tiskilwa Bottom Road becomes First Street. First Street ends, bends right and becomes Sycamore, then hits Main Street. You know it's Main Street because of the sodium-vapor street lamps burning brightly onto empty streets and empty sidewalks.

Main Street » Galena Street » Brewster Street » Adams Street. There it is: grandpa's house, and grandpa's empty house next door.

He parked his car in the driveway and turned off the ignition. As usual, the front porch light was on. Grandpa always left it on.

Ellen asked, "Is this your apartment? It looks more like a house."

"Well, my apartment is a terrible mess. I'd be too embarrassed for you to see it. My grandparents own this house, but nobody lives in it, so I thought maybe we could just come here." Then, as if to preempt any further small-talk, he leaned over and kissed her. She opened her mouth to his kiss, and he pressed his body against hers, putting his hands behind her back and pulling her beneath him. He said, "God, I've been wanting to do that all night," and they kissed again. He ran his palm over her breast; he felt that he finally had free reign of her body and he didn't know where to begin.

She said, "Maybe we should go inside."

"Good idea." He opened the glove compartment of his car and removed the house key.

On the front porch, they continued kissing, and he placed one hand between her legs, while the other hand fumbled to get the key into the door lock.

Once inside, they continued kissing; she tore at his clothing, while he walked backward towards the bedroom. He let himself fall onto the bed, and she climbed on top with unceasing kisses. He noticed that the bed had no sheets or pillows, which was unusual because his grandmother always kept the bed ready for guests.

He rolled on top of her, and began removing her clothes, slowly, kissing each part of her body as it was revealed to him.

Once he had undressed her, he stroked her thighs, then he parted her labia with his tongue. He pushed his tongue into the wet slit, that place inflamed by beauty, for which neither slang nor anatomy furnished an adequate word. There was no word, and none was required. He needed only to do and to experience, to plunge right in and exalt in pure pleasure, to be suspended in it, like swimming underwater in a deep pool, like floating in ether. He licked her clitoris and then pushed his tongue deeper and deeper into her. He heard her gasp. He grasped her tits with his hands, and sucked on them, and sucked and sucked and sucked. Is this what infants do? So wrong, but the more you sucked, the more you wanted. Insatiable appetite. Intolerable thought. He kissed her on the lips before boring down into her pussy with his brutally hardened cock.

Each fresh wave of pleasure—it was blasphemy, but you couldn't help it → you shall see the heavens open, and feel the angels of God ascending and descending upon you. You couldn't control how you felt. You couldn't stop it, and you couldn't continue it, even if you wanted to, and you did want to. You couldn't control how you felt, and you couldn't control what you wanted. Each fresh wave of pleasure: you wanted to keep the waves coming, to continue feeling the angels ascending and descending upon you, even if it was damning blasphemy. He was glowing like an angel, burning up like a battle star falling from the skies, re-entering the earth's atmosphere. Terminal velocity. Atmospheric entry. He ejaculated inside of her. The heavens began to close again. The feeling of pleasure completely consumed him: he was burning up, burning out, disintegrating, like a battle star falling from the skies. It was just as he had imagined it would be: he felt completely emptied, left with nothing: all the anger and frustration and humiliation were gone. She had taken it from him, had absorbed it into herself and left him with peace. A clear blue sky.

He lay next to her, on his back, breathing deeply, breathing in everything good and steadying. She turned onto her side, facing him, and kissed him on the neck. He turned his face towards her and they kissed again. He asked, "Are you happy?"

She nodded.

"Would you like to smoke some weed?"

She nodded again.

He put on his underwear, new white boxers he had purchased especially for this date. He felt clean and pure and new in them. He walked across the room, and turned on a light. Ellen was sitting up in the bed, smiling placidly, head back, eyes closed. She was unselfconscious in her nakedness and she was completely beautiful, flawlessness in a flawed world, a world so flawed it could not even provide a bed worthy of holding her body. The mattress was dirty. As he stared at her, he realized that the mattress was not dirty, but stained, stained with blood, thickly / deeply stained with blood, which surrounded a bullet hole between her thighs, the way dusk surrounds the setting sun. There must have been vast amounts of blood on this mattress for it to stain so deeply; the blood looked almost as if it had flowed from her vagina, her pussy: horrid gash wound / slash wound / blast wound. He remembered: tight fit / clit slit.

He became ill at the thought of what they had done on that mattress. He had fucked her in blood. It was an abomination. It was blasphemy. It made him think of Sunday school. It made him feel disgusted with himself.

Turbo tuned / smash swooned / slash hewned / gash wound / blast wound.

Not wanting her to see the blood, he turned the light back off, and said, "I don't think we'll have time to smoke. It's much later than I thought."


"It's not what you think Ellen."

She left the bed and began dressing in the dark. "It never is."

"It isn't what you think!" He grabbed her by the shoulders, and said, "Look at me. It isn't what you think," and he kissed her.

"It doesn't matter what I think. I didn't have any right to expect better, the way I threw myself at you. You must think I'm such a whore. I guess I am, too."

"You didn't throw yourself at me."

"Whatever it is or isn't, it's not what you think either."


"I'm not angry, really." She had finished dressing. "I'm sorry if I acted that way. I'm the last one with any right to be angry."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Let's just go. Please. Take me back to my car."

"I thought we enjoyed ourselves tonight."

"We did. I did. I don't deserve someone like you, Camden."

"What are you talking about?"

She lit a cigarette, and said "Let's just get back into the truck."

He finished dressing, lit a cigarette for himself, and walked with her back out the front door. Before they descended the concrete steps, he pushed her back against the door, and kissed her hard.

She said, teary-eyed, "Thank you for that."

They climbed into his truck, and drove back towards Bureau Junction. The temperature hit dew point, and the heavily freighted air released its humid burden: condensation and freshness—fresh and fresh and new—all along the valley and clear across the upland fields.