by Steven J. McDermott
Parked under the power pole I still wonder what I did wrong. Why the fuck was the transformer hot? I used to come here only on the anniversary of Jess's death. Now, it's becoming addictive.
Even with the klieg lights blazing night to day his wire cutters had glowed, then went molten, melting his gloves, before his flannel shirt flamed, burning up from the cuff, while he jittered--no harder than if he'd been running a jackhammer, really--until the transformer blew, all arcing wires and shrapnel, including the biggest chunk, which was Jess, launched from the cherry picker to bounce from the truck's roof to the pavement while the snapping wires tossed sparks.
CPR? Yeah, right. Ever burnt a piece of toast?
For years I'd dodged up side roads to avoid passing this stretch of highway, but three years ago I started returning to the power pole more frequently, every couple of months at least. Another rookie linesman had joined our crew; the first FNG they'd trusted us with since Jess's death. Chris, who'd been in Nam like me, chided the rookie continuously about being a Fucking New Guy, but I couldn't; Jess had been the last FNG, the guy I'd crispy-crittered by . . . how the fuck I don't know.
Six nights running now I've parked here, ticking down to the decade since Jess died, and I am so fucking scared. Of what I'll do, and what I won't.
[Steven J. McDermott is the editor of Storyglossia.]