Buffalo Jump Brother
_____Sometimes, when a buddy asks a favor, you agree whether you want to or not.
_____One day, your buddy—call him Mackey—says to you and another buddy: If it ever looks like it’s going to happen again, I want you to kill me. You look at Arlo—he’s wiry, ropey, his bullshit-detector running hot, the leader—and he nods: you know why Mackey asks what he asks, and after all that spite and ugliness, you know he means it.
_____Mackey had said it: “I had to marry her so I could divorce her.”
_____A few years later, Arlo brings Mackey to Montana to see you. The old buddies getting together, the Buffalo Jump Collective, catching up, sipping whiskey, telling lies, cutting up, talking music, guitars, cigarettes. But Arlo knows, and you know—and Mackey’s gotta know—that the trip West isn’t just for fun, for old times, because, yes, he’s done it again, and you and Arlo owe him, you made your promise, and Arlo’s at the fridge at 6:00 a.m., sipping a Moose Drool, cracks one for you, and a half-hour later the three of you leave for Glacier, Going to the Sun, and you pull over, and everybody knows how it has to be.
_____Arlo says: “Call it a hike,” and Mackey looking at the clouds says he always liked Montana, says it’s not like Gasoline Lake, that’s for sure, his hometown in the Illinois bottoms along the Mississippi. Oil refineries, superfund sites, depopulating towns, Church of Christ and biker bars, streams with names everybody knows but that don’t appear on maps.
_____Later, the Rangers will say, Where did he come from, from a plane? Christ, how far did this guy fall? Or maybe he’s falling still, your brother, your Buffalo Jump brother.
Brady Harrison’s fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Cardinal Sins, Cerise Press, J Journal, The Long Story, Mattoid, and Serving House Journal, among other literary journals. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and a novella, “The Dying Athabaskan,” won the inaugural Publisher’s Long Story Prize from Twelve Winters Press. Recent poetry appears in the anthology Poems Across the Big Sky II. His most recent book is the co-edited collection Punk Rock Warlord: The Life and Music of Joe Strummer. He lives in Missoula, Montana.