I was in my cabin with a friend a rare instance of real social interaction in the Alaskan Wild.
In the throes of my leisure, Chinese Operatives were preparing to carry out a siege. It would constitute the greatest act of terror ever committed on American soil to me, specifically.
The bold and expanding superpower of China: Who else would dare be the sole financial providers of life in Alaska, and destroyers of my dreams, the interlopers of my peaceful state?
Chinese Dream Destroyers
“Okay.” Several Chinese agents whisper to one another, nodding dutifully. They are about 1200 meters away from the lodge in Fairbanks. It’s close to midnight.
“Let’s make the call.”
Everything was in place. Seven highly trained actors. Four adults, three children, all the Chrysler Van a stage. They had been planted by the Chinese Government in yet another skirmish to weaken American morale, targeting strategic load-bearing humans. They knew this. I knew this. But diplomacy means we only smile at one another.
My phone rang like a snake. I knew it was a snake, but I still touched it.
“Mike. It’s [the owner of the lodge]. Are you awake?”
“I mean, yes, kind of, obviously.”
“There is a group of Chinese. They are stuck on Love Road. I can’t. I can’t go. Can you go and tow them, or pick them up, or move their car, or something?” The lodge owner is typically brimming with directionless anxiety and nervous energy. When tasks present themselves that threatens to cause her to breakdown (for example: everything ever) I am assigned to the job. I am the surrogate owner.
In her racked state she began to walk me through all 19 permutations of possible plan-of-actions before I stumbled to my feet, telling her, okay, thank you, okay, thank you, I’ll figure it out.
In the quiet of Quonset in which I lived, I turned to my friend pleadingly. Perhaps she would validate my feelings that my life is so hard and isn’t everything just the worst? She was new to being American and had not yet learned that the indomitable American Spirit is actually a delicate flower and can burst into flames at any time, sending the Bald Eagle crashing into the hillside, a pile of feathers and smoke. She did not waste time moaning or doing an emotional scan of how the situation made her feel, she just began getting gloves and coats.
China had already won. I was suiting up to leave the orange healing light of the cabin in favor of the icy night of demoralizing air temperatures.
In my friend’s Durango, which was new and purchased from a Native guy (for a price that was uncomfortably low for her), we set out into the night on it’s inaugural rescue mission. America: First Responders.
The Eagles Hunt (At 15 Miles Per Gallon)
As we cast our eyes about the unlit and snowy country roads seeking signs of the distress call, we saw a Chinese man standing on one side-road.
“No, that’s probably not him.” I suggested. “That could just be any ol’ Chinese man who wants to stand on the side of a remote country road and wave at cars with a helpless look on his face. Let’s keep going.”
But after some insistence on her part, we pulled over to him. He was indeed China’s chosen leader for this attack on American well-being and rest, and he guided us skillfully into the trap.
“We are stuck just down the road. Thank you for helping.”
We gave our obligatory “everything is okay now you poor little lamb” statements and drove a bit further down the road where we saw a 7-passenger Chrysler Van idling in the middle of a very steep road that descending into darkness past where headlights reach. It could ascend no farther.
We pulled over and walked to the van. It was full of Chinese saboteurs, some of them children. How far had China descended into the shadows that they were using child soldiers?
“Everything is okay now!” I shouted, slowly. “Please remain calm.”
We swiftly ejected the three children from the van and into the safety of the Durango, which is, of course, American made. They stood sleepily blinking in the cold night air before their “parents” directed them into the other car.
Returning to the van, I suggested we all roll up our sleeves, embody our collective eagles and dragons and try and push the van up the hill. They all seemed very hesitant and said something about how it’s not safe.
I quickly silenced them with a wave of the hand.
“The time for action is now.”
With one American behind the wheel and five bodies pushing (four of which were pretending to push anyway, so they could continue to keep me from sleep) we gave it our best, but could not wrest the van free from the slick winter road. This had now jumped up a rung from quick mission to a full-fledged operation.
My friend pulled me aside. She suggested we some of them back to the lodge in the Durango, we’d find a tow-strap and then come back. A tow-strap is a basic necessity of living in Alaska and must be purchased prior to being granted residency.
“Your plan is sound.” I confirmed. We high-fived, American style, causing the nearby trees to shed their snow from the impact.
We loaded all the women and children into the Durango and sped off into the night to the lodge where I quickly dumped the first batch of Chinese guests off. The women carried the small, useless children into the lodge, and my friend and I set about the task of finding a tow strap. After 10 minutes, I remembered that this lodge is ill-equipped in just about every way one can imagine, and we’d never find one, ever.
My partner suggested we drive to the gas-station just up the road and see if they could sell us one. It was almost midnight, but we had no other options.
We arrived at Hot-Springs Gas just as a man was turning a key to lock the door for the night. I ran up to the door, flashing my winning smile and my official badge of American Hero on duty, and he dutifully opened the door again.
“Do you sell tow-straps?” I asked. “We’ve got some stuck travelers nearby.”
“Nope…’fraid we don’t.” he said, obviously (and rightly) ashamed of himself.
“Well do you have one I can borrow?” I asked. I reminded him that this was the land of the free and the home of the brave, not the land of cowardly and weak babies.
An Eagle quietly hatched in his heart.
He explained he was off in 15 minutes and he lived very close to where the Chrysler was. He would come in his Ford with a chain and he could tow them up the hill.
“America.” I said to him, nodding and shaking his hand, fiercely.
“America.” He agreed.
Liberty And Justice For All
We returned to find the remaining three Chinese agents sitting in their van, pretending to brain-storm other ways to get the van free.
“There is no need, friends.” I told them. “Help is on the way, just remain here until I give you the signal. Then, the time for action will come.”
They nodded, seeming to understand the depth and mastery of what action we were executing in this crisis. I had either left them speechless through my display physical and emotional fortitude, or they really didn’t speak English very well.
In a few minutes time, the gas-station clerk arrived, hefting 30-pound chain from the back of his sky-blue pick-up. Like all pick-ups in Alaska, it was mottled with rust and came from somewhere around 1991.
We attached one end of the chain to the underside of the van, and then to the ball on his rear bumper and he began to pull. The chain went tight as motion was born. The Chrysler edged forward, pulled by the American-made strength of the pick-up. The Chinese men cheered, experiencing joy for the ending of their mission and shock and disappointment for how swiftly a ragtag team of American were able to make America great again.
My friend and I thanked our unknown comrade, just another nameless hero, just another Alaskan with justice in his veins as he drove off. We got back in the Durango and guided the men to the lodge where we proceeded to help them move their bags inside.
It was now almost 1:00 AM, and as began to retire for the night, we saw overhead, a beautiful dancing aurora display. As though the universe was applauding our work on this night, it presented us with a show I hadn’t seen in months.
In a final act of duty, (and at my friend’s prodding) I ran back to the lodge, alerting the travelers to the celestial performance. Under the furious and elegant dancing green aurora, they were in a sort of ecstatic trance.
Who were these people?
and what was this country?
What boundaries on a map could hold this place?
Citizens emerge from the dead of night to deliver those in need from harm,
Beneath a forever sky containing a boundless green dancer.
(Just kidding, China seems neat, and people are cool, but given the current socio-political climate, I cannot publicly award them points.)