An Abundance of Katherines

Page 54

“You’re sure this is it?”
“It’s the address you found,” Lindsey answered.
They walked into a small office with a receptionist’s desk, which contained no receptionist, so then they left and made their way around the side of the warehouse.
It was a hot day but windy enough to feel mild. Colin heard a rumbling, looked up, and saw a bulldozer out in a dirt field behind the warehouse. The only two guys in sight were the guy driving the bulldozer and the fellow behind him, who was driving a forklift. The forklift contained three massive cardboard boxes. Colin frowned.
“D’you see Hollis anywhere?” Lindsey whispered.
“No. ”
“Go ask those guys if they’ve ever heard of Gutshot Textiles,” Lindsey said. Colin didn’t particularly enjoy talking to strangers driving forklifts, but he silently started to walk out into the field.
The bulldozer hauled up a final mound of dirt and then puttered away to make room for the forklift. And as it approached the hole, Colin did too. He was spitting distance79 from the hole when the forklift came to a stop and the guy came around, reached up, and toppled the first box into the ground. It landed with a thud. Colin kept walking.
“How you?” asked the man, a short black guy with white hair at his temples.
“Okay,” said Colin. “Do you work for Gutshot Textiles?”
“Yup. ”
“Whatcha throwing in the hole?”
“Don’t know that it’s any of your business, on account of how you don’t own the hole. ”
Colin didn’t really have a response to that—it wasn’t his hole. The wind picked up then, and the dry dirt whipped up from the ground and passed over them in a cloud. Colin turned 180 degrees to put his back to the dust, and then he saw Hassan and Lindsey walking briskly toward him. Colin heard the crash of another box, but he didn’t want to turn around. He didn’t want that dust in his eyes.
But then he did turn, because it wasn’t only dust flying. The second box had cracked open, and thousands of finely braided tampon strings were whipping past him, and past Hassan and Lindsey—blowing around and over them. And he looked up and watched the strings rush by as he became immersed in a cloud of them. They looked like garfish or brilliant white light. Colin thought of Einstein. A certifiable genius (who was definitely never a prodigy), Einstein had figured out that light can act, in a seeming paradox, both as a discreet particle and as a wave. Colin had never understood this before, but now thousands of strings were fluttering over and around and past him, and they were both tiny broken beams of light and endless, undulating waves.
He reached up to grab one and came down with several, and they kept coming, washing over him, floating all around him. Never have tampon strings seemed so beautiful as they rolled up and down with the wind, landing on the ground and then twirling and floating up again, falling and rising and falling and rising.
“Shit,” said the man. “Ain’t that pretty, though?”
“It sure is,” said Lindsey, suddenly beside Colin, the back of her hand touching the back of his. A few straggling strings were still blowing up from the box, but most of the army of unleashed tampon strings were fading into the distance.
“You look just like your momma,” the man said to her.
“I wish you wouldn’t say that,” said Lindsey. “Who are you, by the way?”
“I’m Roy,” he said. “I’m the director of operations for Gutshot Textiles. Your mom’ll be here soon. Best let her talk to you. Y’all come in with me and get a drink. ” They’d wanted to spy on Hollis, not beat her to the warehouse, but Colin figured the element of secrecy was now more or less totally lost.
Roy pushed the last box into the hole, and that one held together. Then he reached his thumb and finger into his mouth, issued a piercing whistle, and motioned to the bulldozer, which lumbered to life.
They walked back to the unair-conditioned warehouse. Roy told them to sit tight, and then returned to the field.
“She’s gone nuts,” Lindsey said. “Her ‘Director of Operations’ is some guy I’ve never seen and she’s telling him to bury our damned product out behind the warehouse? She’s bonkers. What does she want, to run the town into the ground?”
“I don’t think so,” said Colin. “I mean, I do think she’s bonkers. But I don’t think she wants to run the—”
“Baby,” Colin heard from behind him, and he wheeled around and saw Hollis Wells in her trademark Thursday pink pantsuit. “What are you doing here?” Hollis asked, not sounding very angry.
“What the hell’s wrong with you, Hollis? Have you gone nuts? Who the hell is Roy? And why are you burying everything?”
“Lindsey, baby, the company ain’t doing so well. ”
“Jesus, Hollis, do you stay up all night every night trying to figure out how to ruin my life? Sell the land, put the factory out of business, and then the town will die and then I’ll for sure have to leave?”
Hollis scrunched her face up. “What? Lindsey Lee Wells, no. No! There’s no one to buy them, Lindsey. We have one client—StaSure, and they buy a quarter of what we can produce. We’ve lost everything else to companies overseas. Everything. ”