“There are days when my soul drifts away
To the thought of staying in place
But when I do, will I be loyal and true
With a love that begs me to stay?
But until then
Oh honey until thennnnnnnnnnn ...
Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh.
I'm wandering, yea I'm wandering’”
-- David Ramirez
They told my father to bring me to the old Provine Service Station on what used to be Route 66, to be there at three. Everything in Hydro was what used to be, there was nothing that still was except people like us, turning to lizards skittering through the tumble weeds. There was a hyproponic tomato farm that brought my father, and then my mother, to Hydro, and then the wells went dry. They never talked about where they came from but I gathered it was some place even worse off, and far away. I never had much interest in where they came from, still don’t. I can’t remember not thinking about where else I could be going to. My mother died of something and my father couldn’t move on. My oldest sister left one day, didn’t say where, and we never heard again from her, and my next oldest sister went off with the Indians when she was sixteen and we hardly saw her after that. Once in a while, in what was left of winter, she and her people would ride their little horses through Hydro, feathers tied up in her nappy hair and paint on her face, like she thought she’d cancelled out a couple centuries of bad history and the world was new again. Maybe it was, for her, though I never had much interest in mounting up and riding with her. By the time I was six years old I felt responsible for my father, who was working his way through what had been left when the owners had walked away from the liquor warehouse. He was judicious, my father, a steady sipper, but by the time we got to the Provine Service Station there wasn’t much left but Japanese plum wine. There was brown grass straggling through the broken pavement on old 66, but the gas station looked like it had been build yesterday, blistering white in the midday sun. We sat under cover on a wooden bench near where the gas tanks had been and waited. I was a specialist at waiting, but not so expert as my father, who had devoted his whole life to waiting. His black skin was dry as a snake’s hide, and there was nothing but bones underneath that I could see. He gave off his own heat in the day, and was cold as a bare rock when the sun went down. It was snake’s life, without the sudden rush of the kill to break the monotony. We were sitting there at the Provine Service Station waiting for the Genotype International mobile unit to appear because they had offered my father a certain large amount of money to volunteer me for a study. I was, according to the representative of Genotype International who rode his silent motorcycle into Hydro one day, potentially a very interesting case, which they knew from having examined the genetic record of my mother and father from when they first came to farm the hydroponics. Potentially a fascinating case. They would not do anything to harm me. It was only a study. My father didn’t know anything about what a study might be, and neither did I. We didn’t even know what we might do with all the money the Genotype International representative, in his white jumpsuit, had promised for my participation in the study. There wasn’t much left in Hydro to buy. I didn’t give it much thought, being only nine or ten and not used to thinking about what adults other than my father might be up to. I guess I didn’t even give much thought to what my father was up to. That’s what happens when a boy turns into a lizard.