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Big Blackfoot

BY John Blase Journal Short Stories
BY Cameron Avery

A continuation of the short story September. The final installment for this series.

Bill wound his way down US-2 to Kalispell, then jogged over to US-93 so as to hit the Tamarack Brewing Company in Lakeside. A good friend of his had a work assignment in Somers months back and said, “Make the drive. Order the huckleberry salmon and a Bear Bottom Blonde. You won’t regret it.” Bill had no interest in regretting anything these days, so the Tamarack it was. 

There were only a handful of people in the Tamarack, so the waitress struck up conversation beyond the menu presentation. “What brings you to Lakeside? Your face isn’t familiar.” Bill started to respond but she jumped back in, “Oh, sorry. My name is Iris.” High set cheekbones, a trucker cap, and a flannel shirt that’d seen better days were Bill’s first impressions of her. Iris couldn’t have been much older than his daughters.  

“I’m Bill. Nice to meet you, Iris. First visit to Montana. I’ve been up in the Yaak, now off to see the Big Blackfoot.” 

Iris’s pupils grew wide. “First time? Welcome to paradise, Bill.”

“You’ve been here awhile?”

“All my life. I’ve had the opportunity to travel a little, see the world, and there’s no place like Montana. It’s home.”

“Home - that’s one of my favorite words. But even paradise has a serpent, right?”

Iris smiled. Her first impressions of Bill were veiny hands, lonely eyes, and good posture. “The winter months can be unforgiving, and at times you can feel pretty small beneath such a big sky. If you stay, you stay humble. So, it’s hard, but beautiful, and that’s the deal. Tell me, what would you like for lunch?”

“I’ll have the huckleberry salmon and a Bear Bottom Blonde. Please.”

Iris smiled again. “A winning combination, Bill. You’ll need something hearty in your system to prepare you for the beauty that is the Blackfoot. It’s magic.”

With that word - magic - Iris turned toward the kitchen to get his order started. Bill’s phone buzzed with a text message from his daughters: Hope you’re okay, Dad. Let us know. Love you. Bill thought for a moment, then replied: I feel freer and fresher and more daring, more hopeful than I can ever remember feeling. Love, Dad.

Read the first installation of this series, The Bright Side.

Read the second installation of this series, September.


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