Lebron James and the In­fi­nite Melan­choly

The Iowa Review - - CONTENTS - Stephen Markley

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.

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