In the Air Between Us
Ron Gibson, Jr.
On a castaway bookshelf, I find a dirty orange paperback from 1973 titled "Chilkoot Pass: Then And Now" by Archie Satterfield for a dollar.
Inside, bearded men pursue pale yellow in their pans and dredges in the Klondike goldfields. Captured in black and white photographs, the bearded men stare back at the cameraman, never smiling, only peering blankly through the camera lens into you. You see the fever, the privations, the loneliness. A single-file line of mad men, following one another up the ‘Golden Stairs.' Loaded with hundreds and hundreds of pounds of supplies, sub-zero winds cut through their bodies, the pain willing participants into a mass hallucination. When one doubts, they remind him of nuggets the size of hen's eggs on the other side, free for the picking. The thoughts keep them warm, keep them insane. They climb, because the only alternative is to fall.
Outside, in the early afternoon sun, I exit Half-Price Books near Olive Way with my book. Hovering overhead, the Space Needle is painted gold, as if it were 1962, again. It silently says, "The World’s Fair."
As I round the corner, into the parking lot, a young vagrant in a black baseball cap enters the green dumpster, strewn with illegible white graffiti, searching for (I assume) aluminum cans and bottles for quick cash.
He looks at me, and I look at him.
Somewhere in the air between us is the truth, yet neither of us says it like the Space Needle’s old lies.
About the Author: Ron Gibson, Jr. has previously appeared in Pidgeonholes, Maudlin House, The Vignette Review, Ghost City Review, Word Riot, Cease Cows, Spelk Fiction, Unbroken Journal, Ginosko Literary Journal, etc…, forthcoming in Ink In Thirds, been included in various anthologies, and been nominated for two Pushcarts.