The Wind of Lonely Places


For a short while, by a morbid inversion of values, the news of the death 
at the ski area produced a slight increase in lift-ticket sales.  However, 
by the time the third body had been discovered, business had fallen off 
badly.  While one corpse is apparently an ornament, reflected Buck; 
three are considered in poor taste.
	Buck Lucero stood his post above the Blood Rock with ill-
humor.  For the last month a ski patrolman had been assigned to this 
spot, to keep people away from the area.  The owners wanted no more 
accidents.  He'd been standing here for two hours now without a relief, 
with nothing to do but stare at the cold, tree-shadowed slopes and 
brood about death.  The sky was a frozen blue depth above the tree-
tops, sparsely clotted with cumulus that seemed each one to catch a 
limb of the sun, adding to the chill.
	Buck had been skiing at Santa Fe since childhood, learning 
young how to abandon himself to gravity without fear.  Sensitive to the 
moods of his mountain (as he thought of it), he knew how it regarded 
skiers: sometimes with good-natured condescension, other times with 
amused contempt, most often with remote indifference.  Never before 
had he felt this slow, brooding anger, this sense of malice.  He found it 
	"Shit," he muttered, disturbed by his imaginings.  He swung his 
arms and stamped his feet against the chill, glanced up the catwalk.  
Someone was coming.
	In his three seasons with the ski patrol, Buck had come to know 
most of the regulars by name.  This did not include the tall, quiet fellow 
with the salt-and-peppered hair and beard who now approached.  Buck 
had noticed him first during the Thanksgiving holidays, primarily because 
the man's ski equipment was identical to the model he himself used, 
stuck upright in the snowbank beside him.  Twice today he had skied 
past Buck's post.  They traded nods as he passed, as they had done 
each time before, but now the man stopped at the catwalk's edge, 
staring intently down the slope.
	Buck cleared his throat.  "This area is closed, sir."
	The man glanced at him sidelong, wearing a thin, crooked smile.  
"Is it, now?"
	Buck did not care for the man's mocking tone, but kept his 
voice polite.  "Yes sir," he said.  "We've had some accidents down 
there.  We can't allow anyone through."
	"No one?" the man asked, still smiling .  "Who is that, then."  He 
pointed down the slope.
	Buck looked, saw movement between the trees.  "Son of 
a...HEY!" he yelled.  "HEY YOU!"  He pulled his skis from the snow 
bank, snapped his boots into the bindings.  "How the hell did she get 
down there?" he swore angrily, as he snatched his ski poles and pushed 
himself over the edge.
	The smile slipped from the face of the man on the catwalk as he 
turned away.

	They searched for Buck through the night, but it was nearly 
dawn before they found his body on the reef of stone below the Blood 
Rock, despite having looked there several times.