Veronica is 21, like Tom, when they meet at a rodeo outside Reno. She is a cocktail waitress in one of the casinos and has come to the rodeo with a friend and co-worker who knows a girl who is (barrel racing?). She takes note of Tom when he rides the bronc bareback and wins a silver belt buckle. They hit it off, hook up in Carson City, have a drunken fight the next day at Lake Tahoe, go separate ways, never see each other again.
Veronica finds out she is pregnant - used a diaphragm, 94% success rate - but can't find Tom to tell him. All she knows is that Tom Walker:
1. Did some occassional stuntman work in the movies, horseback chase scenes in westerns, and then wrangling after he'd had a bad fall and got too busted up to insure.
Was at the rodeo 'cause he was feeling better and could use the prize money. (Tom will tell Carson that he was feeling better because he was "chewin' pain pills like m and m's and washin' 'em back with beers.)
2. Grew up in Texas and had a twin sister Ruth, "orphaned early."
(This allows Tom to - why has this taken so long to come around to as Obviously? - offer us his own life history, condensed version, tell us himself oral history style, the night after their day in Ruidoso, the night before the dawn he expires.
And to footnote that Ruthie was born 18 minutes before he was.)
3. Drank a little. (Tom will correct to "drank a lot.")
4. Could dance. (Tom will remember as if brand new the western dancing he and Veronica did in Reno the night they met. And will have already seen in his self-guided tour the photo booth-style sepia-tone vertical four-frame of them - Tom in cowboy hat and bolo tie, Veronica sporting bouffaint (sp?) and cleavage - smiling back at the camera that night.)
5: had a scar on his back.
T: Wonder if I told her how I come to gettit.
C: You did. You said a bull got me. But that was it.
T: Well. It was a bull, back when I was a kid. I was brand new to fifteen years old. Not that you asked to hear the story.
C: Please continue.
T: Thought I'd celebrate by gettin' up on a bull they called Hombre Loco.
C: This was a rodeo?
T: No, this was on a ranch down in Mexico, maybe an hour south of Laredo. We was down lookin' at horses but that's a whole nuther story.
C Maybe later.
T You say go.