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12.05.2011

Life, On the Other Side

Sometimes, it takes a long time for a story to take a breath. Many years ago, I was driving into Pendleton with some friends after an evening of playing hoops out at Mission. It was cold and dark, and we were on one of those hundreds of winding country roads that cut through the wheat fields on their way into town.

I was with a couple of friends, and we were chatting and laughing and having a great old time until we came around a sharp curve and had to slam on the breaks.

There had been an accident--it looked like some un-fenced livestock had wandered into the road. There was an overturned truck and what looked like some ravaged carcasses there. An ambulance was just arriving, and a visibly shaken law enforcement officer held us distant from the accident site.

"You'll have to find another way into town," he told us. "This way's closed. You'll have to turn around and find another way in."

We did as we were told, covering the last few miles in somber quiet.

More years have passed since that winter day than I'd lived up to that point in my life. That's a strange reality for me, since I can still so clearly see the interaction in my mind.

Time is a thief, to be sure...

But something else happened that day, and it happened almost instantly. Even as we were heading back into town, I began mulling over the different postulates on why Pendleton might be cut off. I had already begun writing (although I didn't know it then, and wouldn't realize it until a good fifteen years later) "Life, On the Other Side."

I would like to thank the good people at Weber: The Contemporary West for publishing my story. The first readers and editors Michael Wutz and Kristin Jackson offered some great suggestions on making this piece stronger.

If you'd like to read it, scroll down on the PDF to page 52...

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