The advertisement was for an alternative energy company called Uku-Weber. The picture, which was most of the ad, was divided into thirds–the same scene across the entire picture.
The first third showed thick gray clouds, jagged lightning and prairie grass flattened by lashing rain. The second third was all ice and blowing snow, the sky leached gray-white. The final third was gentle in contrast, soft-focus sun, brilliant green prairie grass, leafy green trees. In the center was a long, low building which looked both modern and classical with open columns, large windows and a courtyard filled with painstakingly chaotic wildflower gardens. Beyond the building were windmills, a millwheel and a long row of slanting solar panels.
Underneath, it read, “Harnessing the weather for a better future. Uku-Weber. West Prairie City. South Dakota.”
“Everything all right?”
A man in a blue TSA uniform with thin, slicked-back hair along a receding hairline approached her from the security area. She realized she’d been staring at the Uku-Weber ad for several minutes.
She cleared her throat. “Yeah. I thought–you know this Uku-Weber?” She jerked a thumb toward the ad as if that had been the point all along.
The guy shrugged, watching the few remaining people from Hallie’s flight struggle past them.
“Ad just went up three days ago,” he said. “Someone told me it’s a local Rapid City fella. Some guy who left, made a fortune or something and came back. Paper said last week he’ll be hiring two–three hundred people when it’s all up and running.” He shrugged again. “West Prairie City’s, I dunno, like the middle of nowhere. You’d think he could have started that company right here.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and tipped back on his heels. “You looking for a job, are you?” he asked, taking in her boots, her rumpled fatigues, her short-cropped hair.
“I–no, not really,” Hallie said. Eddie’s ghost hovered off her right shoulder, radiating cold no one but Hallie could feel. “I thought the name sounded familiar,” she said.
“Hmm,” the man said with a brief tilt of the head. He turned back to his station as a clattering group of men in cowboy hats and blue jeans approached the screening area.
They reminded Hallie of every rancher she’d ever known–including the women–checkered shirts, hats with signs of wear along the brim and at the crown, denim jeans that fit like they’d been washed a thousand times, the entire security procedure an object of confusion and disdain though each of them had probably been through it a dozen times before.
Oh, yeah, even if this was not how she’d imagined it–never imagined Dell being dead, never imagined ghosts–she was definitely home.
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