By Contributing Editor, Alpine, Mark Glover

“Rain leads you there. Why? Why ask why? Hell, if the rain stops we’ll have something to talk about. In the meantime, however, though, whatever, we talk about diaphragms. Being a medical doctor, I usually explain how their fitted between the uterus and the fallopian. Anyway, it’s still raining and the wind is blowing. I like the smell. Whatever. Got a match? OK so you don’t believe I’m a medical doctor. What is it? My dialogue – too rough? You ever been to Chicago. ER. I worked at St John’s for five years. You see everything. Some mongrel next to a half eaten corpse wants to spoil the beans on what happened. I got to calm’em down. Whatever. Sometimes it aint nice. Where’s the match? OK- bueno, I love cigarettes. My dad smoked ‘til he was 85. Its DNA more than anything – resistant molecules. Big word but what it means is that I can smoke without dying of lung cancer, whereas you probably can’t. OK bueno – I’m flying in a Piper, low wing up in Alaska, over Deadman’s Glacier and the engine dies. The ceiling is 6000 feet, the peak is 5800 feet – not much room, comprendes? I see in the distance Cook’s Inlet – wide, white caps, but this aint a sea-plane. I need terra-firma to land, flat preferable. I check the gauges everything looks fine, except no fuel pressure. Solid white below, then I see it, halfway jammed in the cowling, a seagull – bird got sucked up.

The way you look at me bothers me. You got a problem? You don’t think I can fly? You don’t think I’m a doctor? Who are you anyway? Tell me a little about yourself.”

“Beto. Dammit Beto – you leave that man alone. I told you to go down to Mesa Street. Work those bridge people. You stay there, hear? How much money you got in that can? Damn boy what you been doing? Now get your ass down there.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Beto. When you get four hundred dollars, I want you to come home, hear? I’m going to buy you something nice. Some new pants. A nice pair of shoes. Got a beautiful shirt already picked out for you. Red and green – gonna look good on you.”

“I flipped the truck.”

“Get out here boy, quit making up those stories. Get down there and do your best to look pitiful and hungry and innocent. Damn boy I didn’t raise you to be some sucka.”

“Senor? Can you spare a quarter or a fat fifty dollar bill?”

“I’m a funny man sir. I’m hilarious. I use to work the Purple Onion in Vegas. No kidding. They booked me up and down the west coast. How’d I get here? Well what do you think? I told a bad joke. One little bad joke, sent me home. You gotta keep people laughing, sir. Like yourself, you laughing now. Thank-you sir, thank-you. Merry Christmas to you too.”