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The Appalachia Issue

Snow Patrol

I was four when my father got me my first snow scooter. I can't remember any of it, but it must have been something special because here I am, and all I can think about is driving my scooter all year round.
Κείμενο Magnus

was four when my father got me my first snow scooter. I can’t remember any of it, but it must have been something special because here I am, and all I can think about is driving my scooter all year round. You, people from outside, you look at this and you see a shit hole. A wretched little shit hole. You don’t know anything about what we have here. There was this girl I talked to on MSN, and she asked me if there are polar bears here and if we live in teepees. People are so ignorant. I watched this arts show on TV and there was a guy who bought some little thing for a shameless amount of money. And then someone said, “Well, the intelligence peters out the further north you go in this country.” Dumb fuck. How can you say something like that? If I had met him I would have broken his arm at the elbow. Then he wouldn’t be able to stand there and point because his fingers would hang like a rag from his hand. Sometimes I forget how great things are here too, so a while back I took my scooter and I went to the foot of the mountain and just stood there and tried to take it all in, all the beauty. It’s beyond belief. It’s more beautiful than you can comprehend. More magnificence then you can even try to get into your head, and it’s right out there. There’s a guy that lives across the street. He’s two days older than me, but one year older than me. I was born on January 2 and he was born on New Year’s Eve. He’s my oldest friend. We have known each other our whole lives. Those are the kind of friends you make here. Everyone knows each other. That will also make it harder if something happens to anyone. We lost a guy two years ago. My age. He should have been in his early twenties now. That was a really bad period to get through. I think it’s even harder for us around here, because it’s so tiny. We’re just closer to each other. He fell from a fifth story balcony. He was sitting on the railing lighting a cigarette, and then he fell backwards and smashed the left side of his head in. When Laisvall flourished there were apartment buildings along this whole street and the hotel over there, that was a real hotel. The hotel today used to be a lodging house for guest workers. Right across from the snow scooter store there used to be a gas station and a grocery store and everything. But now all that is gone. The best thing would be if I could take over the scooter store, but you never know what’s going to happen now. I don’t even know if there’ll be any people left here in a few years. But during Easter this place gets crowded. The Norwegians all come over for Easter. They bought their houses right after the mine closed, when they were cheap. Over the holiday, there are three cars outside of every house. All the old Laisvallians come back home during Easter too. We meet up here and make sure to get good and drunk really fast, and then we go down the hill and meet up with everyone. Sure it’s cold, but you don’t think about that. You’re drunk, and you’ve grown up with the cold too. And I can tell you this, I have partied in Stockholm, in Arjeplog, and in Piteå, but there is no place as good for a party as here. No place. On a regular night, if we weren’t out partying like this, we would have been playing ice hockey at the rink. It’s indoors but it’s abandoned, so we flood it ourselves, and then we play in there. Laisvall used to have a good hockey team. I used to play. The coach told me I should pursue it because I had talent. I even made the cut for the big youth tournament. I was supposed to go down to Stockholm and all. But then I never went. I can’t even remember why I didn’t go. It didn’t seem as important at the time. I guess I regret that a bit now. I can’t help thinking what could have happened instead, if I had gone to the selection. This scar on my finger is from when I crashed my moped. I was driving home one morning and had an immense hangover. I got on the moped and drove off, and then I hit a turn and skidded off the road. I had hit my knee, but it was just a scratch. The pants had ripped, but the knee was fine. A bunch of people came running up to me saying, “Are you OK, are you OK?” I said I was fine, but then they said, “You’re bleeding.” I couldn’t understand what they were on about, I checked the knee again, but it really was OK. Then I realised the blood was dripping from my hand. So I checked to see if there were any broken bones in it. I wiggled my fingers. When I did that I saw the white tendon in there moving back and forth. It looked really gross. So I jumped on the moped and went home to mum and told her I probably needed some stitches. I showed her the tendon moving all in the open when I wiggled my fingers, but she was all, “Eh, that’s just some small piece of fat mobbing around, just put that hand under the tap.” So I flushed it out and showed it to her again. It was clean then, and it was really only the tendon moving back and forth, and then she said, “Well, it might need some stitches after all.” So we went to the hospital and they pulled the skin back together and put my fingers in one of those metal splints so I wouldn’t be able to move them around and tear the skin open again. I was supposed to wear it for a certain amount of time, and I was sitting at home getting more and more bored. The snow had fallen and I wanted to get out there on my scooter. I finally couldn’t stand it any longer, so I bent the metal splinter into a C, hooked it on to the handlebar and took off. When I went to get rid of the stitching they told me it didn’t look too good. It eventually healed anyways, but the tendon has merged with the skin. Oh well. Right now my job is to drive the dumper. If you imagine a truck built like a tractor, that’s what the dumper looks like. I help move the debris from the old mining pit. I worked there when we were supposed to blow up the mining tower. When it didn’t go down the whole thing turned into a big hullabaloo. The story was in all the newspapers and on the radio too. It was everywhere. I didn’t get all the commotion. “Biggest demolition project in Northern Europe,” that’s what they called it. It was me, Johan and Marcus and… Well, you picture machines and work teams everywhere, but it was only me and a bunch of boys. MAGNUS