"Fuck, I'm tired."
"Me too." Leigh replied as she put her arm round Sam, "Let's go home and eat."
That evening, arm in arm they told each other more of their past lives. Leigh told about the pressures of being a Professor, of self-important Old Dick who was forever courting prizes, of Adam who was so much in his head he didn't see anyone he encountered on campus, of her previous soul mate and colleague Reg, with whom she had studied and worked. Sam told how she photographed fires and crashes with the Fire Department, how she worked with the press - always freelance. She had never worked for anyone. There were plenty of characters, like Julie, so particular even her shit didn't stink, asshole Paul always dumpster diving, Harley bitch, and Sharon, who was a blow-jobby type.
After freezing and burnin up in turn, Sam settled to play poker on her Palm and Leigh began Travelers' Tales of Grand Canyon, an anthology of essays by authors who love the place. But it wasn't long before they were ready for bed. Sam held Leigh close.
"Your eyes are like turds floating in a liquid cesspool," she crooned, and they fell over laughing on the bed. Sam had always been fascinated by Leigh's eyes, which were yellowish green with brown spots. "Get me a picture of them eyeballs," she had insisted a few months earlier. This night, when the tears of laughter finally dried, she kissed each eye and Leigh ran her hand through Sam's black crew cut and over her suntanned face.
"I grub you Bub."
"I grubs you too Babe."
With Bailey, jackets, fishing gear and cooler, they raced full throttle in a rented power- boat out across the bay and towards the dam. Sam's eyes shone with the love of water and speed as they raced along, the remnants of Glen Canyon towering above.
Sam smiled at Leigh and said slowly, "Fuuck."
Leigh thought briefly and said, "Why fuck?"
"Is good fuck," she laughed. "You s' cute."
They slowed in the narrows of Antelope Canyon. Sam had the fishing poles, hooks, plastic worms, lures, flies, plastic jerk baits, and most important, frozen anchovies. Ignoring Leigh, who, with her ignorance of fishing felt that real bait was needed, she left the anchovies untouched all morning. Leigh talked of hydroelectric projects, of the flooding of Glen Canyon.
"Cant be symposius when I'm trying to fish Babe." Then, at last, "Let's try them albatross Babe."
And while she worked one pole with lures, she attached an anchovy to the other and left it against the stern while Bailey and Leigh dozed on the floor of the boat.
"Shit, Babe, look at that albatross pole." It was bending at the tip and she dropped the other pole, grabbed the busy one, took in the slack, yanked it skywards and reeled it in.
"Shit, I got one, Oh, Babe, loook! Son of a bitch, look at er, get the net, hurry."
Two feet of fighting silver dangled above the glittering water, and Leigh rushed to get the net and secure the fish.
"Sons of bitches, without that net we'd a lost er, see how the hook is nearly through er lip? Look at er Babe, look at the lovely striper, it's made my day, what a birthday, thank you Babe, quick take my picture with er. I so happy Babe. I love that sucker. Now for another striper, Babe."
Leigh watched in admiration, then peeled an orange as she dreamed. She wore a long-sleeved shirt and wide brimmed hat. Not wanting to interrupt Sam she talked instead to Bailey: "How's my Bailey-boo? You my big baby? Come on you wuss."
"Hey Bub, you want some orange?" she called to Sam.
"No orange Babe, that's how I keep my body swelft."
They both laughed, Leigh thinking of Sam's love of chocolate.
In the end there were many stripers, and later, Sam took the fish and a sharp knife to the fish-cleaning station where several men were busy with their catches.
"No one spoke down there," she told me, "I copied how them guys did the fish but it was weird how they worked without a word. Should've seen the shit loads of fish."
"Bub," Leigh replied, "I am just so happy you caught our dinner on your birthday."
"Babe, there's not that much, they ain't got much meat, them suckers. Sons of bitches. And them guys went on and on cleanin."
Leigh didn't argue, but made Sam cook, because she knew it needed to be done Texas style. Sam washed the filets, coated them in corn meal and lowered them into the hot oil for just a few minutes. And the white flesh was succulent, delicate and wonderful.
"Marvelous flavor Bub."
"Them ass holes with all those fish!"
Next day, as they drove past the picnic area: "Look at those sumbitches."
Leigh knew there was nothing she could say, but she laughed and put her arm around Sam's shoulder, who laughed back, fine white teeth flashing, left hand on the wheel and right hand mussing her lover's hair.
Powell had been wonderful, and Sam's love of water, boats and fishing
made it special. They had looked at rows of luxury of houseboats and
Sam's thoughts were on the possibility of holidays in one of them,
the impossibility of having money enough. Leigh though, didn't share
her obsession with water, and in summer, Lake Powell would be roaring
with boats; she would not enjoy the noise, or bumps over wakes of other
powerboats. She was ready for more of nature and canyons, less of people
At Bryce Canyon campsite Sam and Leigh sat among the ponderosa pines, watching Clark's nutcrackers eagerly foraging for dog food chips, and Sam took the camera out as Leigh sat writing, happy with the temporary simplicity of her life with an improbable love. Sam was just happy for Leigh to be there, with a love that often astounded with its intensity. And she loved it that one of the stories would be about her.
Sam said, "I sit with the stenographer and she write down all my symposium."
Later that morning, she was out of sorts. There was a back problem, a booboo on her chin, a sore toe. She said, "We should of went to Zion."
With some impatience Leigh said, "Maybe I need some time alone."
"You have no symphony for me. Usually you so gratuitous and grateful with your time and I always in your despair."
Leigh smiled, and mollified, Sam set up the tripod and sat with a little more patience than usual for the great picture. "Look Babe, quick, come `ere."
"Can't you see that sucker?"
"Where?" So quick to see, she beats Leigh at spotting birds, and had seen the little mountain chickadee that Leigh missed. But Leigh had the patience to wait whereas Sam gave up after a short period of inactivity, and by midday she was ready see the great cities of towering rocks that make up the spectacle of Bryce Canyon.
"Come look at this tiny flower - in the family Asteraceae," Leigh beckoned on the rim path.