I was living the good life here in Alaska. At least, I thought I was? Me and my old lady lived Off the Grid on the Kenai Peninsula, where I thought we had the best life possible! But now, when I look in my life’s rear-view mirror, I guess, we weren’t exactly on the same wavelength so to say?
I had bought her one of those humorous bumper-stickers, “Anyone From Seattle Junior Can Eat My Dust”, which was to show those city people from Anchorage, how much we prided ourselves, and our lives on the Kenai Peninsula, not needing the glaring lights of the big city to satisfy our needs!
Well, I guess I ended up tasting some of that dust, when she packed her bags one day and roared away in our car, setting her sights on Anchorage and another kind life that she could sink her teeth into! I was left at our house, I used to call our home, wondering what went wrong, and was I really that dense, because I never even saw it coming?
I purchased an older car, whose days were most likely numbered, but beggars can’t be choosers, now can they? Needing supplies, I tooled down the Sterling Highway towards Homer, the only real town of mention on this side of the Kenai Peninsula. I ended up rolling into town on the fumes left in the tank, stopping just short of the first, or last filling station, depending on whether you were coming or going to heaven on earth, or what was that really what folks thought about Homer Alaska?
My extra gas can unfortunately, was bouncing around in the back of my good car, somewhere in Anchorage, while I hoofed it over to the office of the nearby Conoco Gas Station and Car Wash, hoping that someone was there with an extra gas can, and not just a threatening shout, “Leave now or feel the bite of my lead!”
It was a bit on the dark side, but what can you expect on a December day, this side of the winter solstice? I did manage to see the dinosaur on the roof, welcoming me in such a way that I didn’t turn tail and run, not immediately, that is. Inside the office burned a light over in one corner, making me hope that it was warmer inside than the low 20s outside where my thoughts were freezing to ice, and my hands followed suit?
I gave a casual knock on the door, while I waited to run for my life, if needed, when the door opened suddenly, producing a pair of hands that drew me into the darkness and ensuing warmth. “Are you packing heat?” – a question, which made me wonder just what I should “be packing” or if that answer would get me a can of gas, or a one-way trip to the hospital in beautiful downtown Homer?
Apparently, I wasn’t deemed a threat to anyone, but that someone pushed me into a nearby chair and shined a light in my face. “What brings you to the outskirts of civilization?” said a voice which reminded me of flowers in the Alaskan Springtime, just those that had wilted a bit, lacking some TLC and perhaps a bit of, of….Now what was I doing here in the first place, I asked myself, but that wouldn’t be the last time, I’d ask myself that question?
“Just out joyriding, or something?” she asked me, but since I didn’t have a car on or about me, how in the world could she guess that I had one anyway?
I replied, “Ran out of gas over yonder” said while motioning towards the window, in the direction of where I thought I had left the old gal?”
“No sudden movements, got it?”
Well, Actually I did get it, and moving my arm back into its former position, I wrapped my jacket a bit more about me, while I wondered if I would be seeing the sunrise tomorrow, or was that just wishful thinking in December anyway?
“My father left me this filling station” she started to say, while I just nodded in silent acknowledgement.
“Left me here in this God-Forsaken corner of Alaska, while he was chasing his good fortune, somewhere along the Alaskan Pipeline, or was it only because of a woman named Clear, that turned his head as well?”
I just felt the place on my finger, where my ring used to sit, as if it were some sort of consolation, sitting somewhere in that darkened room while an unknown person was talking to me, as if I actually had asked about her life story, as it were?
She looked a bit closer at me and said, “Haven’t you been in Homer before?”asking as if that might not be a good thing to admit to, or was I just being paranoid about it?
“Oh”, I said slowly. “We, I mean I, have been here before, but not since, uh, well…..”
“Uh huh”, she said as she got up and started rummaging around in the refrigerator next to her, then lighting the gas stove with its characteristic blue flame and tempting warmth. “I suggest, while you contemplate just why you stumbled into my life, that we enjoy a meal together, seeing as how you don’t have anyone missing you back, where you’d like to call home!”
She was reading me like a dusty Tourist Guide to Homer Alaska, and without the Spanish translation as well! We sat across from one another while I set the table, and she made something that smelled heavenly on the stove. After a while I tempted fate and took off my jacket, while she lit a candle or two, and actually started to hum a tune or two as she cooked.
“This recipe” she drawled with her lovely Southern Alaskan dialect, “was one of the only things I got from my mother, before she ran off with that conniving Cannabis Grower from Valdez!” I nodded a bit, not knowing just what to add to that statement, but enjoying myself more than I had done so in a month of Sundays!
“Halibut Tacos”, she said upon serving the steaming repast, “Just like Mom used to make!”
I proposed a toast to the memory of her mother, while her eyes sparkled, and glistened like powder snow on Mt Denali!
I ended up sitting next to her on her sofa, while my car had all but giving up hope of seeing me again tonight. The lingering smells of those Tacos, mixed with her perfume, “Denali Blue Mist” were two things that remained in my mind, while we talked about our lives, and how we both ended up in that filling station with the characteristic dinosaur on the roof, while the rest of Alaska took care of itself.
She was about to fall asleep, when it suddenly dawned on me that I still didn’t know her name?
“Lola” she said, while drifting off into dreamland. “Lola Kenai.”
I too took a drive into that same, dream landscape, hoping that I wouldn’t be running out of “Lola-Fuel” anytime soon……..
Not as long as there was that comforting dinosaur on the roof, anyway…..
*……….Alternative Lola Story……….*