TITLE: Beyond The River
GENRE: Literary Fiction
Dean is the novel's antagonist. Here, the summer before college, he is working on a crew that fixes gas leaks. Clyde, his supervisor, used to work with Dean’s father, Ralph "Sas" Romanuski. Clyde tells Dean stories about his father. A T-bar is used to locate gas lines.
“So, what about him getting fried?” Dean asked.
“Your Pa couldn’t find the shut off for the mall. After trying, too, I said, ‘Piss on it, they ain’t gonna dig here anyway.’ But he blind-probed a short bar and when he couldn’t find nothing, he pulled out the six-footer. Down deep, he came up against something. He pulled up and pushed down. ‘Tree root,’ he said. Didn’t sound right to me, but I kept my mouth shut. No use arguing with him about his predictions.
“Next thing I know, he jumps and all his weight come down on that bar. Then came a loud-a** boom.” Clyde waved Dean off the cooler. He squatted and sat. “First I see the t-bar swaying back and forth like it’s alive. Then I see Sas, fifteen feet away, flat on his back. Next thing I know I’m radioing dispatch, screaming, ‘Send an ambulance; Romanuski done hit electric!’”
“Holy s***,” Dean said. His father, the enigma. Tragedy, the kind that might bond a family, the kind that might produce compassion and elicit understanding, hadn’t been shared or examined. His father never said a word about any of this.
“When the ambulance finally pulled up, the medic asked, ‘Where’s the body?’ figuring all the voltage had done him in. I pointed to the back of the truck. Sas sat there on the bumper, calm as could be, sucking a cigarette. His eyes were bloodshot and I couldn’t tell whether the smoke around his head was from the cigarette or his hair.”