Canada’s Highway

Adam showed her his employee card. His full name was Adam Garfield Trash. Lea wrote it on the schedule. She kept an eye out the window for Donald and Daisy, the ducks who lived by the picnic tables on the fifty feet of dead grass between Mr Bowtie’s Drive-Thru Burgers and 16 Avenue North. She hadn’t seen them yet today. Travis mocked her for naming them.

“They’re gonna die. This is no place for wildlife. This is Canada’s highway.”

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I felt the nerves of a first amorous encounter, just as if I was face to face with a stranger I desired intensely, something inconceivable given that our conjugal relationship had just celebrated its first decade. If these feelings took me by surprise, it was not because I was indifferent to my wife’s body, nor that my wife had been ugly before her plastic surgery a few years earlier: her lips, already full, were now perfect, and her slightly aquiline nose now had an ideal shape. Her silicone breasts were finally worthy of my adolescent fantasies, while her shapely body and statuesque legs completed a dream physiognomy which, twinned with a sweet personality—of which, I should point out, she was in possession before all these improvements—has filled me with unparalleled happiness for all these years. But with the passing of time, I admit that I no longer noticed these alterations; so used to them had I become that I barely gave them any thought.

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Autumn: Ansonia, 1962

you’re alright, we wouldn’t want you to go
cross-eyed looking at the film through

the spokes of the steering wheel, between
the long silences that buffered the mystery

of the pillowed darkness in the back seat.
Never once did I look back, but kept my eyes

on James Stewart and John Wayne
in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

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This was before doughnuts were hip. Before college kids and yoga instructors and graphic designers were willing to shell out four bucks for a single hand-crafted, artisan-designed ring of deep-fried dough. I served coffee and mopped the floors, filled the sugar containers and napkin dispensers, and wiped the burnt-orange countertops, emptied the ashtrays. This was in the days when you could smoke in restaurants and the stale smell of cigarettes rose off the yellowed walls in tiny wafts like the whispers of decrepit, bitter men. Mostly, I was there to decorate the doughnuts.

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