"Oh, God, we've found it. Did you see it? Hey, Fausto, go back...."
It was past before they really saw it, before they could seal it in their minds: the stark white walls latticed by the weak sunlight descending through the jungle cover. Cramped in the tunnel under the canopy of trees, its great whirling blades slapping at the foliage, the helicopter followed the river.
"Hey, set this damn thing down!"
"Did you see the openings? The windows? Geezuss. We gotta go back."
"Hey, Fausto, can you turn around?"
"Not here, there is no room. We must go farther and find a place on the river."
They knew to trust Fausto Padillo. From above, there had been no river at all, only an intermittent silver ribbon, crimping and curling in the deep green. The jungle concealed the river for long stretches, but Padillo, his sensitive gloved hand working the stick, had brought the helicopter down below the crown of foliage, and maneuvered it, mile after mile, as if it were on flanged wheels, holding to the river in the eerie light.
Now he nosed the helicopter through the shrunken passage, letting it flow with the river, watching for a spot to set down. And with each beat of the rotor the image grew inside Jim Woodman and Bill Spohrer. They babbled like children. Had they found it? The lost city? Ciudad Blanca? The white walls, the doorway, the monkey god? Their shared obsession?