“How you doing?” Steam came from my mouth and I remembered the monster’s breath in the dream.

“Throw your stuff in back.”

I dropped my bag in the bed with their camping gear and padded gun cases. Greg was out and held the door as I climbed to the jump seat. There wasn’t much room.

“You make it?”

“Yeah — ” I lifted my boots and slanted my legs across the narrow seat.

“You live in the Elgin?” Bud asked.

I leaned back against the plastic side panel as the truck started forward. I felt closed in.

“Yeah I do.”

“My cousin’s great-uncle worked on the construction crew. A guy fell down the elevator shaft. They say the elevator’s haunted. He rides on the roof, tapping with a hammer. In Morse Code.”

“Bullshit,” said Greg.

“Naw, I heard it from a lot of people.”

I wondered if the ghost was what the elevator operator had meant, when he’d told me not to believe what people might say. Maybe he wasn’t talking about Mr. Gobel and the Indian boys I’d seen later in the lobby, or the Sleeping Child tangled with the bronze key he’d made me show him before he’d take me up to my room.

Bud’s cousin’s uncle had been a riveter and got his picture taken with the governor, for working on the state’s first building with a steel structure. Until the girls’ dormitory in Missoula, the Elgin had been the tallest building in Montana.

“I guess that first step was a lulu,” Greg joked.

We went down the sleepy street past the dark stores and Custer’s and the train station. We didn’t take the overpass to Wes and Joe White Horse’s road to the reservation but got on the freeway for a mile before Bud turned north on Montana 54.

Kootenay and one gray, rounded hill receded in the back window and I tensed as I remembered the monster’s smooth head parting the sheet of water and felt ashamed a child’s nightmare had scared me.

“You a hunter?” Bud asked.

“Not in a while.”

I looked forward at the windshield past their red wool caps.

“You should’ve entered the lottery,” Greg said. “You could’ve come with us.”

“It’s too cold for me,” I said.

“That’s for sure,” Bud said. “Glove weather.”

“Naw, it’s perfect. You’ll see,” Greg said.

Bud said he was worried it might snow, but Greg was certain the cloudy sky would bring the deer out.

“I’ve hunted in weather like this lots of times and had good luck. The deer think it’s nighttime. They’re naturally nocturnal.”

He pulled a silver palm-sized flask from his pocket and handed it to Bud, who took a drink. Greg offered it to me.