Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Three today


Here in New England we leapt straight from a wintery rainy season into today's close to 90 degree sunshine only tapping one toe on the lilly pad of Spring as we flew over. Of course, there might well be a blizzard still out there waiting for me to relax and drop my guard. Just like in other places, the sun here brings out beautiful women in large numbers very suddenly - a lot like mosquitoes, now that I think about it. That's New England, for each seasonal plague there is a tonic. It won't cure you, but it might be just enough to keep you interested. In a moment, I'll take a stroll through the courtyard - squinting, pale as a grub, grinning.

Fairbanks Taxi

I arrived on the train in late September, which was already winter, and the 40 below zero temperatures were close at hand. I had about two grand saved from working in the salmon processing plant, so I rented a room by the week in the linked-up trailers that formed Noah's Rainbow Inn and went down to City Hall and bought myself a chauffer's license for a hundred bucks. The clerk there tried to get me to apply for the local police instead. Inside of a week I was driving 12 hour night shifts for Fairbanks Taxi - 6 pm to 6 am. It was dark most of the time and the bars almost never closed. Fairbanks, even under the Northern Lights, can be a mighty lonely, dangerous place for a clean-shaven white man from nowhere suddenly showing up in the thick of it.


You find yourself right in the thick of it whether you want to know about it or not. I just wanted to pay the lease and gas and hopefully go home with a hundred in the morning. The preferred mode of transit for both sides of the cocaine trade was the 24-7 fleet of cabs, and certain high traffic addresses started to stand out to me. It began in the form of probing jokes, "what are you, FBI or something?" But cocaine and paranoia careen along hand in hand, and the most active imaginations among them couldn't explain a young guy living in a rooming house, driving a cab in a town in the middle of nowhere at 40 below. White man's got to be a narc, there's no other explanation, and that fixed belief very nearly cost me my life.

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