Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chris Rasmusson

An off-blog exchange on lighting made me think of Chris.

In The Grove, the little town where I grew up, we had one gas station which was a general hangout - guys sitting on broken stools and stacked oil cases smoking Chesterfields, drinking Coca-Cola from 6 ounce bottles, swearing and spitting, telling lies about their lives and lovers. Chris was an employee. A really old employee. He did not own the gas station, he came with the business when Ev bought it, along with the old brown dog that laid by the door in the sunshine.

Every time Chris turned on the lights at dusk, every damned time, he said, "Let der be light, *click*, and der wuss." I think he'd been doing it for so long, for him it was part of turning on a lightswitch. One morning when the first customer, Wyman Hanson pulled up, Chris didn't come out to pump the gas, check the oil and wash the windshield. Now Chris was old and not one to hurry, but eventually Wyman became impatient and went in the see what the hell the hold up was. Chris was sitting there alone, sleeping, slumped in his chair behind the counter. Looking closer, Wyman noticed the cigarette had burned all the way down between his fingers. Old Chris, deader than a Danish mackerel. 

If I happen to have a guest that knew Chris, I still tend to quote Genesis when I flick the light switch. "And der wuss."

(Jeez, it's been so long, now I'm not certain it was "Rasmusson".)

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