LOGICALLY THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN UNITED, NOT ONLY BY THE common bond of oil that had kept them in clothes for sixty years, but by the bonds of loneliness. As your car fought its way across West Texas along Interstate 20 in the blistering heat and it felt as though you had been in the state for a week and had another week to go before you saw any sign of human life, they suddenly rose out of the emptiness like territorial forts.
There was Midland with its improbably tall buildings, glassy and shimmering in the sun like misplaced tanning reflectors. Fifteen miles to the west there was Odessa, sprawling and oozing, its most striking feature the fenced-off fields with row after row of oil field equipment that looked like rusting military weapons from a once-great war.
It seemed natural that they needed each other, as all good sister cities should, but instead they had spent most of their histories trying to prove just the opposite.
Midland was the fair-haired, goody-goody one, always doing the right thing, never a spot on that pleated dress, always staying up late to do her homework and prepare for the future. Odessa was the naughty one, the sassy one, the one who didn't stay at home but sat at a bar with a cigarette in one hand and the thin neck of a bottle of Coors in the other humming the tune of some country and western song about why it was silly to worry about tomorrow when you might get flattened by a