(Axel Boer) #1


Fish Eyes

My brother Tony had taken out a loan to buy his own rig—a semi and trailer
—but in order to make the payments, he had to keep the truck on the road, so
that’s where he was living, on the road. Until his wife got sick and the doctor
she consulted (she had consulted a doctor) put her on bed rest. Tony called
Shawn and asked if he could run the rig for a week or two.
Shawn hated trucking long-haul, but he said he’d do it if I came along. Dad
didn’t need me in the junkyard, and Randy could spare me for a few days, so
we set off, heading down to Las Vegas, then east to Albuquerque, west to Los
Angeles, then up to Washington State. I’d thought I would see the cities, but
mostly I saw truck stops and interstate. The windshield was enormous and
elevated like a cockpit, which made the cars below seem like toys. The
sleeper cab, where the bunks were, was musty and dark as a cave, littered
with bags of Doritos and trail mix.
Shawn drove for days with little sleep, navigating our fifty-foot trailer as if
it were his own arm. He doctored the books whenever we crossed a
checkpoint, to make it seem he was getting more sleep than he was. Every
other day we stopped to shower and eat a meal that wasn’t dried fruit and
Near Albuquerque, the Walmart warehouse was backed up and couldn’t
unload us for two days. We were outside the city—there was nothing but a
truck stop and red sand stretching out in all directions—so we ate Cheetos
and played Mario Kart in the sleeper. By sunset on the second day, our
bodies ached from sitting, and Shawn said he should teach me martial arts.
We had our first lesson at dusk in the parking lot.
“If you know what you’re doing,” he said, “you can incapacitate a man
with minimal effort. You can control someone’s whole body with two
fingers. It’s about knowing where the weak points are, and how to exploit
them.” He grabbed my wrist and folded it, bending my fingers downward so

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