“Don’t,” I said.
I had no more to say. Both sides could argue over the boulder, quibble, parse words, make up stories, write contracts, argue about fifty feet
of whatever they wanted or didn’t want. And ordinarily, all those words
would stand up in court and all parties had to accept the verdict. But
this was not an ordinary circumstance. This was about a piece of rock
that had appeared, inviolate and uncompromised, from somewhere not
all that deep under the earth’s surface. This pure piece of stone asked
for, didn’t demand, that we men honor its presence with the same purity
that created it, that we do justice in its disposition and place it where it
belonged with the righteousness and dignity and straightforwardness of
which we were capable.
No, no, no! I was wrong! The boulder did demand something of me.
It demanded that I stand there in fealty to its dolomite solidity, acknowledging that I and it were together a part of creation that no other man
could tarnish. I was proud to be its pal.
My hands crept across it; it was cool to the touch and comforting.
There was a murmur of voices. One of them said, “Don’t.” Then I heard
the ignitions of half-a-dozen trucks start. The dozer blade backed away
from me, its huge headlights swinging petulantly clockwise as the beast
headed south again.
Lopat touched my shoulder from behind. “Good job,” he said.
“Yeah,” said O’Malley. “Let’s get out of here. We’re done.”
And they left. I stayed where I was, half a mile south of Voukon’s
old driveway, enjoying the darkness, the sweet night air. I was not con-
vinced that Brown & Lambrecht would not come back. If they did, I
would be waiting. Actually, Lopat left but came back with a cup of coffee
from a 7-Eleven up on Belmont Road. I thanked him and swallowed it
in deep gulps. Then, being on Brown & Lambrecht subgrade, I opened
my fly and urinated on their dirt, being careful not to let any of my piss
defile the boulder with which I shared this turf. I stayed there till dawn,
when Junior Palumbo came. Morning brought the bright glimmer and
excitement of Johnny Iannatone’s paving spread, all shouting and giddy
to be placing a thousand-plus yards of concrete.
Truck drivers, laborers, operators, and finishers all clamored in unison as the first load showed up and the radio crackled with instructions
for Huey, back at the plant. Junior Palumbo paused once to get in my
truck beside me. He had a cup of coffee and something I’d never heard