‘Alaska’ by Tom Franklin


From Fifty-Two:

Our aim was this: Alaska.

To abandon Mobile at dawn without telling anybody, not even our girlfriends or our boss at the plant. Bruce knew a bail jumper who got a deckhand job on a crab boat off the Alaskan coast where she made five hundred dollars a day. Bruce was divorced for the third time and I’d never been married, so we planned to sell our cars and Bruce’s house trailer and buy an olive drab Ford four-wheel-drive pickup with a camper, fill it full of those sharp green pinecones hard as hand grenades. Bruce’d heard you could sell those suckers for five bucks apiece in New England.

They’re crazy up there, he said.

Driving through Georgia and Tennessee, we’d look for tent revivals where they had faith healing. If we found a good one we’d stop and visit a service. Bruce would fake heart disease and I’d be an alcoholic—to make it convincing, he said, I’d have to belch and stumble and splash on rum like aftershave. He would grimace, moan, and clutch his left arm, until we had the whole congregation praying for us. When the ushers passed the KFC buckets for donation, we’d shrug and say we were flat broke, just poor travelers. Homeless.

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