anywhere on this here slope. A wolf will eat you.”
who pissed him off. I didn’t do anything to him.”
Yesterday, we walked over to the river and saw a pack of wolves. It was cool. They hung their heads low and seemed big and they were mostly black but at least two were grey. They kept their distance from us. It was a nice day; twenty-five below and almost no wind. The sun never came up but here was three hours of twilight. I wrote down fifteen and a half hours on my timecard.
“You know Joe, he can piss anyone off,” says Gravey as he slides the truck into gear. “Especially a mean-ass oneeyed mechanic from Texas, who was just cut off from his nightly fifth of cheap bourbon. It sounds like he better not mess with you.”
“Ssschween—knee---relax, I need a break. I’m shagged from working so hard. Let’s drive over and gets some coffee and donuts.” Rearranging his mittens into line with his goggles, liner gloves, neck gator, water bottle, he continues his rant. “Schweenie, let me tell you about this here slope. I never said it was going to be a cake walk.” Chuckling, he stands up and inspects his new boots lying beside the heater. They are Northern Outfitter’s revolutionary new foam and plastic arctic boots. He seems to be feeling them for dryness. I lay my mittens on the electric heater that lines the far wall and grab a chair, turning it to face Garvey. Garvey’s a bull, strutting around the room scratching his nuts and nervously tugging at his long johns. “Let me tell you about this slope, that one-eyed mechanic is totally fucking with me,” I cry. “And I almost died walking over here. If we’re not going to the break shack anytime soon, I’m taking off my gear. With that I kick off my boots. I can’t stand the lethargic pace of the slope and Garv is the slowest cog in the machinery. “Hold your horses Tonto, I’m coming,” Garvey says while inspecting the seams on his farmer john arctic bibs. “Let’s go tell the one-eyed mechanic we are from the Earth First division of the Sierra Club and we aren’t taking any of his bullshit.” It takes Garvey twenty minutes to get his clothes on so we can walk the twenty-five feet to the Ford truck idling behind the building. Then it takes Garv five minutes to organize his gear once we are inside his truck. He’s scratching his head and I’m getting impatient. “Gar---vee, you have more baggage than your ex-wife and you’re looking a little stoved up. You’ll need some prune juice when we get to the break shack. How did I ever get myself this job? If that mechanic comes at me, I’m going to throw hot coffee at him. I’ll throw donut trays, pop machines and chairs at that asshole. It was Joe
The Ford crew cab diesel truck sits high off the ground. The wall of white pellets and the dark arctic blossoming aurora split my gaze. If I hold my head high, it is if I was looking through a periscope on a flat sea of white spots. For now I only focus on the mesmerizing sight. A wavering clear line separates an underworld of streaming white particles and dark arctic clarity. When I shift my gaze to the ground, I see nothing but a world of white dots that seemed to have quit moving. This is a dream and I am hypnotized by this white speckled insanity. I hear Garvey’s wicked Boston brogue but it takes me a moment to register. “Ssssssssssssssschweenie, wake up. Earth to Schweenie.” I extract myself from the madness. Garvey circles the drill rig as we take the long way back to camp. The cab of the truck is our safe haven from what’s outside. I keep my eyes on the clear dark sky above the white dots, though I will admit the draw of the underworld is intoxicating. In the clear arctic night above this madness, lustrous, blue and green auroral curtains ripple across the sky. The pad is completely deserted except for a single truck that idles next to the drill rig, but fifteen crew-cab trucks are running as we roll into a spot down from the front door of the camp. My heart beats fast as we race from the truck to the camp. I don’t want to deal with the goon. Hustling up the steps, I open the outer door. Once inside I turn to the left, I see the one-eyed mechanic. Screw it, I tell myself, opening the door with Garvey right behind me. We can take anybody. I step to the side and throw back my hood, slip off my balaclava. Looking around I realize there are even more rednecks smoking now, than before. I ignore the question, “Hey communication hippie, when are we going to get a phone?” I use my plastic coffee cup for a combination of lemonade and water. Garvey makes a show of organizing his gear at the only available table. We’re way different than
A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim