calibrates the instrument. It hums and wiggles. Its big fish-eye tips up
and down. The top half of the device swivels side to side.
Parrish unfolds the record map on the tailgate. He rotates it until
the miniature matches his surroundings and weights it down with a
wrench. Kicking up soil near the property line at the street, he finds
nothing obvious. He drives pieces of lath in the right vicinity and strings
them with green ribbon. For now, he will have to rough in the corners. If
they cannot be found, he will reset them with rebar and his caps and file
a corner record with the county. It’s extra, but he’ll make it work under
his original estimate. His magnetic locator, a fancy metal detector, won’t
be much use; these older subdivisions were set with wooden hubs. Fire
has no regard for such monuments.
The orange angular skull tracks him with mantis precision and finds
him with the rod and the remote control. The robot seems alien in woods
or near water but right at home in this scoured region. Mapping the contours of an empty parcel, he feels like he is surveying a lunar surface. The
concrete pad will be broken up and hauled off; he doesn’t know about
the steel bear box. He shoots them in, just in case.
In Ned Parrish’s home, it is not a girl and her dog. It’s the reverse. The
dog, a yearling when Julie was born, promptly adopted the hairless pup
as her own and merely tolerated the actual parents—acting, over the
years, as guardian, shepherd, pony, and pachyderm. Parrish leans on the
horn again and holds it. All the noise is an affront up here—between the
truck and the hollering and whistling—but the last thing he wants today
or any day is to tell his daughter that Sadie is lost.
They should be in the valley by now. He should have packed up when
the fieldwork was done. He has fieldwork to do elsewhere. Instead he ate
a sandwich in the open air, gave Sadie some dry food, booted his laptop,
and lost himself in preliminary drafting. Sadie had crisscrossed the terrain between her water and the distant trees all morning. He’d had an
eye on her while he shot the topo.
Now he eyes the lowering sun and feels tightness in his shoulders.
After the sun presses into the ridge saddle, it will drop fast behind the
mountain. He shoves his work gloves into a pocket and ties a nylon
windbreaker around his waist. Taking up her lead and collar, a water
bottle, and a flashlight, he locks the truck and heads for the tree line.
He calls her name and cuts the air with sharp whistles. The ground is