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Page 7

sun. They belonged to the owner, the cook, and a rancher just off the range for a beer.   

No one stayed at the motel unless their car was broke down or night caught them late. Two or three such people found themselves trapped there each night. Thus the wayfarers from distant civilizations provided a tiny stream of revenue for the local rustics. 

**

The car was a BMW 2002, the one with a thin chrome strip that ran from hood to tail, making it look like a sardine can. Despite its rather boxy look, it was a sweet car, from its powerful engine to the leather bucket seats. Normally everything was quiet and air tight—but not now. As they slowed, the heavy gray steam curled up like fog in front of the windshield, making the driver, Janet Schlest, clamp the steering wheel and pull her chin almost over it, staring wide-eyed.

Janet, a member of Association of Planners and Futurists, was returning from Tucson, where her ride, Stephanie Noble, had presented a new mathematical process called Decision Analysis. No one understood it, least of all Janet, whose master’s degree had come from a budding urban planning program run by radical adherents to the Sal Alinsky school of social transformation. Attend class, join a radical action group, and you’ll graduate. Janet had joined Environmental Activists and had helped organize the first Earth Day.

Janet had a certain sense of entitlement, arising from her childhood of divorced parents competing for her approval. Along with Janet’s sense of self worth, she had an animosity for Stephanie Smartass. This sprouted during Steph’s presentation on probabilities, an act of shear arrogance and ignorance, thought Janet, since Stephanie didn’t even have a degree in planning. Surely, by now, anyone, with any sense, knew that the future was about change, not numbers. Janet even remembered Alinsky calling it “the calculus of change”, meaning that the creeping, ever divisive spirit of activism, pushed all before it, like a glacier, and that was all the math anyone needed to know.

With the car trouble, Janet’s animosity matured into full hostility. In her mind the cause of the problem was Stephanie, a connection which she couldn’t justify, but held all the same. As the car nosed toward the backwater service station, the two weren’t speaking, each wondering why she had agreed to the road trip with the other—except Stephanie did remember.

  

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