Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Mill rolls her chair under the desk and turns out the light.

The phone rings: Carlisle.

Mill answers in the dusk.

“I talked to your mother,” Carlisle says.

“She’s in Eau Claire,” Mill says, not bothering to turn on the light.

“She’s back,” Carlisle says. “I asked her why you left Texas, and she said, ‘Truck.’”

“She’s flirting with you,” Mill says. “I told you she is a modern.”

“What is ‘truck’ in her lexicon?” Carlisle says.

Mill turns on the light and budges the mouse. “'Keep on trucking’,” Mill says, “‘to carry on with work or life in a cheerful and relaxed way, in spite of problems (informal)'.”

“Your mother is a contemporary of Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter, and The Grateful Dead,” Carlisle says.

“Truck that hauls or carries,” Mill says.

“I get the idea you didn’t ‘fall off the turnip truck,’” Carlisle says. “Or the ‘Swedish carrot’ truck to be German about it," he adds, referring to last week’s discussion of "rutabaga."

“‘Truck’ is archaic for barter,” Mill says. “That is probably the sense she means.”

“What sort of truck was it in Texas?” Carlisle says.

“Small as truck goes,” Mill says. “Smaller than a full-size pick-up.”

“If full-size pick-up means you killed someone?” Carlisle says.

“No, if eighteen-wheeler means someone else did,” Mill says. “It wasn’t my truck.”

“Whose truck was it?”

“Dean’s,” Mill says.

“Go on,” Carlisle says.

“Dean is my former boyfriend,” Mill says.

“Dean is his last name?” Carlisle says.

“Dean is his middle name,” Mill says.

“Did he hurt you?” Carlisle asks.

“If by hurt, you mean dismayed, disappointed, or chagrined, yes,” Mill says.

“I mean ‘hit,’” Carlisle says. “Did he hit you?”

“He hit the wall next to my bed,” Mill says.

“Are you still in love with him?” Carlisle says.

“It was last century," Mill says. "I’m in love with The Doctor as I told you.”

“Whose doctor?” Carlisle says. “Your doctor?”

The Doctor,” Mill says, “my cat.”

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