at play in the fields

For twenty years, Marc worked in the same plywood mill as my grandparents, my uncle, and my father (though my father only worked there briefly, when he was much younger than even I am now). The mill shut down nearly ten years ago. Now, for the second year in a row, Marc joins me in Alaska for dock-standing duties.

We’re both early enough to help set up those docks, a process that involves, at some stages, the use of a forklift. Our benevolently neglectful boss asks if anyone can run one, and Marc says he did, back in the mill, ten years ago. For my part, I’ve moved the occasional warehouse palette.

The boss says: use the small one, call if you have any trouble.

“The small one” is three times the size of any one I’ve ever driven, and has a front end with nuances that trouble Marc even more than they do me. Of course, we have to use it first thing. Of course, it’s the worst possible Hyster to become reacquainted with the things on. Forty-five minutes into the process, sick of trying to figure out why his forks keep catching and levering up and shoving the second of three concrete blocks out of place, he leaves the seat in disgust and tells me I’d better take over.

I say: wha?

He talks me through the beast and I try to treat it gentle. Gentle isn’t effective. I try to feather the throttle and it roars indignant through 40 motionless degrees then, suddenly, lurch; Marc says, see how it is? Later, when he’s back in the seat it refuses to back up the minuscule incline of the recessed, narrow-gauge train tracks that run down on the dock. He has to pull forward again, to get a bit of a run at them.

Somehow, at some point, we finish. Almost.

Marc told me he met a man on the ferry, coming up, a trumpet player from Cour de’laine, Idaho. He’s looking for a job and, for some reason known only to him, chose to hit Skagway before anything further south, and before May had even begun (we don’t get our first ship until the 5th, and it takes a few weeks for things to pick up). With no prospects, and no place to stay, he stumbled off the ferry last week. The other day, Marc saw him again, wandering down the sidewalk, a pizza balanced in one hand almost as poorly as he was balanced on both legs. Marc asked: found anything yet?

He said, I found a bar.

A while ago, Marc spoke about The Road and No Country For Old Men. He didn’t think highly of them, nor did he much enjoy the film of the latter. I said: I hate you.

I mentioned Blood Meridian. I said: see the child then killing and killing and scalping and more killing. I said: based on actual events. This got him; the period covered is one he’s interested in.

He went to the library to find it. They had everything McCarthy had published, but it. The librarian had a copy at home, though, and said she would bring it in for him.

Small towns.

Marc asked if she recommended it. She told him: I don’t know, I’ve never read it.


~ by ironcupshrug on 05/03/2010.

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