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The trucker who lives next door is seldom home.
He’s a long-haul trucker, he’s over-the-road. He earns good money and does not spend. There’s something ascetic about him. He’s forty-five. His hair is long. He wears jeans and combat boots. Sallow and haggard, his face is handsome nevertheless. His willowy wife does not ride with him but stays at home. They have no children. The wife is solitary, long-legged and tan. She has a ponytail of sandy-brown. She smokes Marlboros. They do not rent but own. The wife spends hours in her garden, or she reads in her backyard. Her eyes are pensive. She waves to us but rarely speaks.
The trucker who lives next door arrives at unexpected hours, on unexpected days. Emerging from his rig, he has the leanness of a desert prophet about him. I imagine him eating very little while he’s out on the road. He transports the goods from north-to-south. He hauls the freight from coast-to-coast. He kisses his wife in the driveway. They hold hands and enter their tidy cottage together. They shut the door behind.
Sometimes, on holidays, his rig will sit for three or four consecutive nights along this residential side street. It sits gleaming in the dark. The trucker loves his rig. It is his home away from home. Once, in the middle of the night, I heard a gentle noise outside and crept up to the window. The trucker who lives next door was polishing his semi in the moonlight. The semi is midnight blue and chrome.
Here on the ragged edge of this desert town where the ancient railroad tracks lie rusting in the grass, the frontiers begin. These are the frontiers the trucker crosses and recrosses year-round. Our town is like many western towns, with its looping river and cauliflower clouds, its one Masonic lodge and the hard clean skies above, and in the distance, fields of clay where woolly mammoth and dinosaur once knelt down in the soft earth to die, and a billion bison bones fossilize in the ground.
Beyond the backyards, the interstate curves off into the intricate horizon, and the distant cars make very little sound.