Lebron James and the Infinite Melancholy
After about fifteen minutes of Harlan calling out on the radio, it finally erupted in response. “Emergency, this is Plow Nineteen, go ahead.” Harlan proceeded to radio the plow driver their situation, leaning forward over the steering wheel and gripping the receiver with white knuckles, not knowing it then, but looking back and realizing just how much adrenaline was coursing through his system. The plow driver radioed back that he was going to relay to 9-1-1, for them to stand by. Twenty minutes passed, and Harlan tried radioing back but couldn’t get through again. Then Grace sat forward and reached across Colton to touch Harlan’s hand, holding the receiver and resting on the dash, which surprised him. He was so busy calling out their emergency every thirty seconds, he’d almost forgotten that she was still there on the other side of the cab. “I’ve been afraid of this day my whole life. And now it’s finally here,” she said. Harlan didn’t know what to say to that. “Seems like this might be my cue to mosey on my way,” said Colton, and when neither Harlan nor Grace responded, he continued. “Look, there’s going to be a police cruiser that comes along with this ambulance, and they’re going to want to know who the hell I am. What are we going to say? I’m serious now, let me out.” Harlan opened his door and stepped out into the snow. Colton followed. He grabbed his backpack out of the bed and slung it over his shoulder. “All right, I’ll see you later,” said Colton. “Hold it, there. You’re going to give me a hug,” said Grace, sitting with her legs dangling out of the open cab. Colton stepped toward Grace and received her embrace. “She’s right over these mountains. You’re almost there,” said Grace. “Yeah, okay,” said Colton, giving no indication whether he intended to make it to Aspen or not. Grace let go of Colton, and Colton turned to Harlan—the moment had come to say their goodbye. But nothing made sense. Not so long, see you later or take care, good luck. Not no hard feelings or vaya con díos. Harlan outstretched his hand, and Colton obliged him with a limp shake and a blank face, maybe waiting for Harlan to sum up their uneven encounter with a few words, but Harlan had none. Colton took in a deep breath and slowly let it out, seeming to say that that was fine by him. He looked up at the falling snow, the cold purity that surrounded them. “Okay,” he said and unceremoniously trudged past Harlan. Harlan watched him walk the whole way across the parking lot and enter the rest stop building, wanting to see with his own
eyes Colton finding some shelter from the storm. The words that were written on the back of his jacket were hidden under his pack, but Harlan could still see them in his mind’s eye. He went to Grace, and she took his hands, him standing next to the open door of the truck and her sitting behind the wheel, the snow coming down all around them. They looked at each other and then out at the darkness, the lake, and the mountains, listening to the wind, waiting for the sirens to emerge out of the distance. The lights—red, white, blue, and orange—would spin onto the scene any minute now. And Harlan thought how easily it could have been him forsaken on the side of a mountain pass, lying down to sleep on a cold floor, but somehow it was not. And there was no reason why.