Holiday Gas Station (Corner of Fourth and Higgins), Missoula, Montana

There are views here, sure. This is Missoula, Montana. Out my kitchen window is the white “M” on the hillside rising up from the university. From my window at work, the same “M,” different angle, so you can see a storm rolling in from Hell Gate Canyon, a rainbow arcing over Mount Sentinel, a pack of coeds in bikinis pumping up inner tubes at the gas station to take to the river. Inside the station, a frizzy-haired woman never complains. She works eight hours at the register, then eight more cleaning somewhere overnight. She’s fifty, and you’d guess forty. You look closer at her face. There are lines there, sure. Around her eyes, in the corners, where the laughs add up. A man comes in for scratch ’n wins. Blue jeans, acne scars, mitts for hands. You can bet his truck is older than his marriage, bigger than his house. In the parking lot, four ’80s-era Fords: two baby blue, two brown, one set of Big Sky mud flaps, six dogs. This is the view in Missoula. The man has left his truck running. He wins two dollars, which is halfway to a pack of cigs. The woman tells a kid no backpacks in the store. The man drives off, and you think, maybe a truck could last twenty-five years if you never drove over thirty. You think, maybe I do have time to get a dog.

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