102

Zak
We Called it Emptiness
they were devils, that their red blinking lights were unholy eyes going on and off, on and off throughout the night.
People were good at being blind, but even the dim-eyed could see how wind was free. Those turbines made energy from something that blew most days.
Bill didn’t know what CREZ meant. He didn’t know why there were patterns of different lines spanning the state. He stood with six or eight other men, their jaws agape as they touched the laminate.
It was a series of proposals. There were three main lines that crossed the county, and each had alternate branches. The plastic was smooth on his finger as he traced a line through Junction, dipping down to his farm.
His farm was covered in tape. Bill took out a pocketknife, peeled the tape back, and saw not his farm, his house, the yellow fields and old mesquites, but a thin black line. It could have been drawn with a pen, it was so faint. He stepped closer, squinting his eyes as he followed the line slowly through his farm and across the highway into another farmer’s land.
Power lines set to carry renewable energy. Bill no longer wondered what CREZ meant. Competitive Renewable Energy Zones—he could spell out the acronym. He didn’t quite understand zones. He thought they were more like lines, lines someone was competing to use though he didn’t know whom. And he had heard they weren’t just going to run
wind power, no, coal plants could use the CREZ lines too. Bill knew acronyms helped the people who made them and tipped his hat because nothing about CREZ sounded like black marks he’d seen on the map. Nothing told about the transmission lines set to run through his porch, where he sat, rocking in the red light of Andy’s tape recorder.
A week later, Bill held his straw cowboy hat as he walked into Plumey’s Pecans. Since the open house, his neighbors had started meeting once a week, a few at first, but more gathered until every chair was taken, and people packed themselves against the walls.
That night, they hung out of the doorways. Bill listened with one cowboy boot propped on the wall. They talked in low voices. They spread maps on tables under the iridescent flicker of yellow light, and as they traced the CREZ lines from San Angelo to Comfort, a few said the route didn’t make sense. They pointed to I-10 and asked why the LCRA didn’t run their wires on those roads instead. It made a crooked, longer line, but the blacktop was already poured, the mesquites and grasses bulldozed to clear space. Bill squinted at I-10 and then the CREZ line route as some shook their heads. They said the LCRA was just drawing routes with a ruler.

*

In Lubbock that spring, dead tumbleweeds heaped under the

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