It was clear now where they were going. Jo had been the one to point it out, and the old man hadn’t agreed or disagreed—he just kept giving one direction at a time—but Jack knew she was right. And he knew the stories, the myth of the great peak. It was a place of beginnings. They circled closer to the foot of the range, moving into the foothills, rising and falling with the rippled land. It was growing darker quickly. Jack filled his lungs with air and held his breath, wondering what it would be like to be unable to do so.
“You’re lucky,” Che said.
Jack looked back and the man’s eyes were now open. He was smiling. His breathing was still shallow, but he seemed to be out of danger.
“Glad you made it,” Jack said. “It was pretty close there for a while, I think.”
Che reached out to Jo, but said nothing.
“I’m sorry about the dust at Border Run! Hell, I’m sorry about Border Run! itself.”
Che shook his head. “Nonsense,” he said, “The revolution needs more men like you.”
Jack was surprised by how this made him feel. Or that it made him feel. If the revolution needed men like him, he wondered what kind of man he was. The next turn took them off the road, and they slowed to a crawl as the car negotiated the rough earth and wove between small trees and large rocks. The old man, having been silent for most of the trip, now turned back and said something undecipherable to Che Guevara, who nodded his assent. Then he spoke to Jack.
“What he has told you is correct.”
“We’ve been waiting for you, too,” he said.
Jack looked at Jo quickly in the rearview mirror, then outside at the darkening land. Anything to avoid the old man’s eyes. Che, too, was looking at him, expecting a response. But what reasonable thing could he give them? It was entirely possible that they were both crazy. Or if not crazy, then simply faithful enough to keep the odds at bay. He felt a strange chill, but it left of its own accord. He thought of his son.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you,” Jack said.
Che coughed out a laugh and slapped Jack on the shoulder.
Then Jack stopped.
“I can’t go any further,” he said.
This was true. They all got out of the car, and looked at the abrupt vertical lift they’d come to. It was sheer rock, defiantly rising a couple hundred feet above them. Above that, Baboquivari stretched up into the dusty red sky. Jack walked to it and laid his hand against the cool smooth surface. There was a serenity to the stone that ran deeper than its ancient composition. Border Run! seemed almost unimaginable here, he thought. He wondered, momentarily, whether Larry would take over if he didn’t return. And what of Angel? Or Archie? What of Paco? Who or what would be waiting when he came back?
“Thank you,” the old man said. He embraced Jo and shook Jack’s hand. “We will continue on from here alone.”
Che saluted them both, then stood by the Indian’s side.
Jack put his arm around Jo’s shoulder, and they watched the two men, one old and the other infirm, disappear around a bend in the cliff.
“There goes the revolution,” Jack said.
“This is insane,” Jo said.
“I know.” Jack felt almost giddy. “Do you want to see what’s behind that corner?” Jo said nothing, leaned closer.
It was growing cold.
The short whistles of a nearby screeching owl ended in a long, ecstatic trill. The day was over.
In a moment they’d drive back to Arivaca together where, Jack supposed, Jo would continue on alone. She’d head back west, back to Alex, returning to the new life she’d made for herself, a life not perfect, perhaps, but free at least from the embarrassment this one had clearly caused her. The loneliness.
The desert, thought Jack, is not for everyone. Sometimes he wasn’t even sure it was for him. But somehow, between the mirage and the naked fact of it, between the danger and the frank desire, between the border and Baboquivari—between, finally, his father, himself, and his son—it was inevitable.