49 04’ 55” N, 106 21’ 46” W

49 04′ 55″ N, 106 21′ 46″ W


Kenneth Burchfiel


Hello. Is this the support line?

Good. I’m sorry. For a second there, I thought the number would bounce back. Different country and all, you know.

Bryson, Dale.

See, that’s the thing. I’m not sure. I just thought… well, I had the customer support number on my phone. But I didn’t think you operated over here.

Well, the car’s another story, and I know your company is going to charge me by the minute. And that’s not good, because my wallet’s in the car, and—

Of course. I understand. But there’s not much information I can give you.

    Not even that. Let’s see. Is there a sign? No, not from where I’m standing. But I can say that I’m on Route 2, and it curves a little bit in front of me. There’s some grass to my left, and a field to my right. Already harvested.

    Of course. First name Dale, last name B-R-Y-S-O-N. I rented a little coupe.

    Tulsa? So you can pull up my account information. No, Tulsa was five days ago. That was when we left the airport.

    Well, that’s something of a private question.

    Don’t be concerned about the car. She—I mean, it’s in safe hands. It should be back in Tulsa by the 16th, unless she changed her plans.

    Can’t you guess who I’m talking about?


    You could try her cell, but she told me that she would have her number switched by 4. And I would trust her; she’s very resourceful. You wouldn’t believe how she got me into this.

    Look—I would give you the story, but I really am worried about the charge. They pay you folks fortunes for calls like these; I know it.

    Yes, we did sign up for the Premium Service. 10th anniversary, after all.

    Thank goodness. Fine. Well, the car’s somewhere north of me. I’m not sure just where, but she’s still on Route 2, for all I know.

    It terminates in Prince Albert? That’s—what, 200, 300 miles north of here? Well, we refilled it in Bismarck, so that’s probably where she’d end up, anyway .

    Yes, I realize the contract limited us to the Midwest. But she was the one driving, not me.

    So we were at our anniversary dinner the night before St. Paul, and one of us said something about the other’s clothing.

    Yes, it was me.

    Well, it comes back to the car. Trust me. So she says this will be the second anniversary I’ve ruined in a row, and starts shouting about one thing or another. So I shout back. It’s in my blood. The next thing you know, both of our drinks are staining the table and the waiter’s rushing to get my attention.

    Of course I was drunk. What do they teach you at the call center?

    No, really. It’s nice to have someone to talk to. At any rate, I slumped into the back seat and she rammed the car into gear. That was the last thing I remembered: the transmission shifting to “Reverse.” And you really do sell nice cars on the Premium Service.

    Not at all.

Eleven glasses of wine.

    St. Paul? No, we never made it there. When I woke up, there wasn’t a building to see. We had crossed into Montana.

    Well, I’m a heavy sleeper, and she’s a fast driver.

    Yes, pleaded with her. If it weren’t for the seatbelt, I would’ve been on my knees.

    I’m telling you, it used to be a happy marriage.

    She finally did open her mouth. But that was only to say, “No Items to Declare.” And that was to someone wearing the Red Serge.

    Right. We’re driving up Route 2, and all of a sudden, the car stops. She unlocks the side door and throws it open with her hand.

    Used to play basketball. I think that’s what gave her the flexibility.

    How could I have? She didn’t unlock the trunk.

    My arms are a little numb, but other than that, I’m hanging in.

    No, no. The sun set some time ago.

    That was my hope, at least. I’d be happy to pay the fee.

    You could get someone here from Lewistown? How far is that?

    3 hours? That’s fine. Might be a little chilly, but I’ll manage.

    Just past the Canadian border. I’ll be on the left side of Route ;2 if you see me laying down, just honk. I’ve been up for quite a while.

    Thank you so much.







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