Alaska Shorts: Sigh, by Frank Scalero

Sitting next to Sigh, driving north
on Highway 1 out of Homer, Alaska in a rusty red Toyota pickup truck, I was
scared.  Just hours before, my dreams
were dashed of buying that 1973, orange VW Microbus with a sink, bed, curtains,
and fine cabinetry when during the test drive, 4th gear proved
stubborn and had to be persuaded to stay put with a strong right hand.  I figured I’d get all cramped up holding on
to that stubborn phallic gear stick and end up puttering up and down the
Canadian Rockies with just three gears. 
Thirty miles per hour is no speed at which an individual ought to travel
all the way from the 49th state to Chicago.

Reluctantly resigned to a trip by air, I ventured back to
Anchorage with an airborne thumb along Highway 1.  Just as sogginess was setting in and daylight
waned, Sigh pulled up and I hopped in. 
Pleasantly assaulted, my senses swooned as I drank that 12ounce blessing
of a Budweiser gifted to me by my travel guide with a name denoting a bodily
function as his Toyota
blew hot air all over my damp shivering hide.
After an hour of road, and conversation resembling a man prying
open a manhole cover with a popsicle stick, Sigh revealed the reason behind his
Homeric voyage.  That’s the thing that
made me scared.
He leaned over, heavily, popped open the glove box, slammed
it on my knees, and showed me the 9mm tool of persuasion which ended up unneeded
due to his superior verbal skills applied towards resolving conflict in remote
Alaska towns.  The crazy thing is that I
wasn’t scared of being shot, raped, assaulted or otherwise having my feelings
hurt, I was scared of my desire.  I
wanted that gun, real bad!  Thievery’s
door opened and desire raged when Sigh pulled off Highway 1 at the next bar for
some more 12oz Budweisers to fuel us along. 
Not the bar on the left side of the road where Sigh could get the
waitress to show her milkers for a kind word, but the one on the right side, 10
miles further on.
I planned to snatch that gun, free it from its plastic nest
as soon as Sigh stumbled into the bar. 
I’d fly into the woods, become a fugitive, a forager, maybe hungry.  Sigh belched, opened his door, swung out onto
the gravel, took two steps toward the unstained plank entrance of the bar….and
stopped.  He reached into the Coleman
cooler sitting in the bed of his truck – and jumped back into the cab with a
fresh six pack.  My desire shriveled, and
I live to tell this story.
Frank Scalero says he grew up
unincorporated with rural dreams and an urban future.  Uncle George, a
Vietnam veteran- Wisconsin farmer -2nd father, captured his youthful
imagination, relegating his mind to vacillate between suburban realities and
back-woods fantasies.  Most days, however, he spends in a classroom, trying
to pry border-urban youth roots up out of some pretty thin soil.
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