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"Recalling Ben Minor" by Jim Meirose

Roaring applause.

Roaring applause.

Roaring applause.

Roaring applause.

Roaring applause.

Roaring As applause.

Roaring As we applause.

Roaring As we all know applause, and need no reminder of, that the man we are here to eulogize today, four-star trucker Ben Minor, was called home to the angels one week ago. And thank God you’ve all seen fit to be here today, in celebration of the man. The will of God manifested for him in the form of a truck crash. Yes. A truck crash. And—as most of you know, his brakes failed, and he crashed. The crash nearly took off his face; Ben swallowed the wheel and dash and windshield and all, I was told. Ended up with half the engine in his lap. Mercifully, his end was a fast one. Downhill, no brakes, quickly and quicker. Bang! Smashed flat his head, they said. God! Eh, you in the first row there; you ever had a bad head injury, sonny? It must have hurt a lot in him before he went unconscious but yes, it must of hurt a lot. You ever had a bad head injury, sonny? You know what it’s like to hurt a lot in the head, in the head—oh I do, do you? I do, but—I got off easy. See, mine was a big assed beamfall from where I ‘sed to work high-iron. Oh yah, I know, I bet from the look of me, you’d never guess I used to work high iron, but, but but, but; I did. Yes. Yes, I really did, but. I was lucky. I got out all ‘live after that beam slipped loose on floor thirty—that was ten levels over me, and just grazed my knob praise God, I was roped in good that day, so it didn’t take me down, but it took down three others that weren’t roped in. They went down twenty levels, not one more, or one less, but. An even twenty. That’s a sign sonny. That’s a sign like they used to say too in the washroom that everyone of us had a number stamped on our soul, that being the number we’d fall from if our time came to go. Not automatically you see, but if we dilly dallied too long on a floor with that number, sooner or later it’d throw us down. I tried to know mine, and yes, God did tell me mine was twenty. I told all the men mine was twenty and God, did they laugh me down, but; God just came by and gave it to me, just like that. Not in a dream, though. Nothing ever really comes to anybody in a dream. That’s just something people claim because they don’t have the answer and are asleep on their feet most of the time anyway, so they never really noticed when whatever it might be came to them. It’s a common thing to say things come in a dream. But now, that might seem a lie if they say that and it didn’t, but not really, Johnson. A lie’s got to be intentional. Like—the prosecutors needed to prove my lie was intentional, that I meant to hurt her when I told her yes take that car down the track full blast with no brakes hooked in, belt latches broke, and all but one loose lug nut holding on each wheel. So, when she passed a hundred twenty, down she pushed, but there was no pedal and I forget exactly what they said stopped her but it must have been solid and hard because she never actually knew what the crash was like; just like those doomed high iron guys the beam smacked off the building—and the beamsmack didn’t kill them—they went down all alive, but, I pray to God they were stunned going down, ‘cause fallin’ twenty levels ‘s a hell of a fall; and, they knew the whole way down it was all over. That the bottom would be—nothing. Fast, quick, and sure. And then nothing. Eh. But after that, then, nothing hurts a bit. You know. That’s why I don’t fear death, man, get it? I don’t fear death the way non-high iron men do. There’s nothing to fear when it’s coming. There’s no choice so let go. Let go let it come ‘cause wasted effort goes against God’s plan. Let go let it come ‘cause fight it or not, there it is; pie in your face. You can’t win at that, Willy; though I know that’s likely not your ‘ctual name. But no matter; regardless, no matter what somebody’s named when they’re talked to, they hear the same thing. I assume its th’ same so for you, and your kind, Willy. But, anyway—sure Ben Minor got to have seen it coming also, because they said his brakes went after he came up over that backdoor crest up Warmseyville. Yah, you know that big crest with that sign saying no trucks over some number of tons? That sign that in summer's swallowed back in the weeds? Those signs ‘re silly anyway, I mean. Nobody ever thinks about how many tons their truck is every day, you know, silly! So, you see that sign there, okay? So what? What; your s’posed to turn around an’ wander half the day for some go around, when you were jus’ five minutes out from your place? Yes, I suppose I could get a ticket for going past, but I always go. And would gladly bet th’t Ben Minor was thinking that same way, too. Now when gone over and down, ‘xperience says, off the gas, on the brake, down the shift, easy easy, ‘cause it’s steep off t’ other side past the sign, and; a mile or two down, there’s a light at a crossroads with the highway going left and right ‘fore your straight the hell down at the light, the highway’s always jam packed, bumper to bumper all racing both ways flat out and full blast, no matter no matter no matter what time no matter what time of day it time of day it day it is, it is, so, buhhhh; sorry! Here; the point’s that you got to slow, slowly, when going down Warmseyville hill. And, I always did it. And Ben Minor too. And every other guy in our trucking pool. Everybody just blows by the sign at the crest and down over, working the pedals and gear et et cetera, hey not to bore ya with petitions, but you get the drift, but; Ben was not safely roped in like us up the high iron, roped in being said figuratively you know, off course, meaning something holding you back from falling, in case anything of any kind of weight at all, like that beam smacked me silly, but, my rope held thank God, but, down that hill, Ben’s beam being the loss of his brakes and his gears and his wheel, which had been his rope so to speak but just failed back snapped dead gone, and when your rope’s gone or snapped there’s no difference, down you go through the air, or down the hill, all that weight will go on wheels too steep too too with that solid wall of moving iron at the red light t’bottom, that’s just as much a solid wall as ye ye yes yes-s as the solid ground, which is just a wall laid down flat on who knows what, under. High iron death, or truck driving death, no no in this instance, there’s totally no difference. The traffic down bottom Ben slammed into at probably over eighty might as well have been a wall. That steepness grabbed him by the seat of his gravity and down he sped seeing it coming; for quite some time too, ‘cause the light’s over a mile down; by the bottom, it’s seventy or eighty for sure; just like those high iron men saw it coming up at them—terrifying! My God, terrifying! But as I said, mercifully, the beam, I pray, brained them, and they were out and saw nothing, or at least there’s some chance ‘o that, but—Ben Minor saw it coming. Wide awake all the way. His world shrank to his cab. As the to be hanged’s world shrinks to the trap door. As the strapped down and needled up’s universe shrinks to the ceiling above the gurney, their last thing to be seen, and they know it; so sure ‘nuff, Ben knew; I bet to the end he pumped down that dead brake and flailed at those dead gears; he might have got saved had he spun the wheel into the ditch through the brush, his last chance, but the same series of mechani’l faults took out his steering gear also. There was nothing left but to watch his end coming, and I, hey, well, here it is. Aren’t we all doing that all the time anyway? Death will come over every one of us. We all know. Like Ben knew. Eh, sort of funny, but—I say, you in the first row there; did you know Ben Minor at all, little Willy? Did you have any knowledge of the true man at all?

Yes, good. You—and everyone here—bow heads for Ben Minor.

Bow heads roaring for Ben Minor.

Bow roaring applause for Ben Minor.

Roaring applause Ben Minor.

Roaring applause Ben.

Roaring applause.

Roaring applause.

Roaring applause.

Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous venues. His novels include "Understanding Franklin Thompson"(JEF), "Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection"(Mannequin Haus), and "No and Maybe - Maybe and No"(Pski's Porch). New novel "Audio Bookies" is forthcoming from J.New Books. Info: @jwmeirose

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