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Fischer, Joan (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 49, Number 3 (Summer 2003)

Walsh, Timothy
The sweet smell of gasoline,   pp. 18-21


Page 18

BY TIMOTHY WALSH I~bUVUĀ±51: 
OME GIRLS JUST LOVE GAS STATIONS. You'd think they'd be put off by all the
grease and grunge, but 
you'd be surprised. Plenty of times they've come on to me at work. The way
they look at you sometimes 
when you're doing the windshield, you'd think you were undressing them. That's
the way Roberta was. 
Roberta was Columbia's girl, and she was really something-but I'm already
getting way ahead of myself. This is 
supposed to be Eddie's story. 
Eddie has worked here off and on for 
maybe 15 years. Like me, he loves the 
smell of gasoline. You probably like it, 
too, even though you might not realize 
it. Next time you pull into a station, take 
a whiff and see if you don't think it's 
about the best smell there is. 
Eddie smokes more or less constantly, 
and seeing him handling the pumps with 
a butt dangling from his mouth makes 
some people nervous. But he's never 
had an accident. You see, it's the fumes 
that are explosive, not the liquid gaso- 
line. Once Eddie showed me. He took 
one of the pumps and squirted a pint or 
so onto the concrete. Then he threw his 
lighted cigarette onto the gasoline. 
Nothing happened. He threw a match 
onto the spot, and still nothing hap- 
pened. It was a windy day, so maybe 
that was part of it. 
Some days the wind off the river is 
enough to make you want to stay inside, 
even though the air in the garage is 
pretty rancid. The whole place smells of 
piss and sweat and engine gunk. 
Outside, even when the wind is up, 
there's always a hint of gasoline in the 
air. There are pines along the cliffs 
above the river. The pine smell goes well 
with the gasoline. 
The parkway cops sometimes have to 
go looking in the pine woods for people 
who leave their cars on the shoulder 
and walk out to the cliffs for a view of 
the city. You can see Yonkers and the 
Bronx and a chunk of Manhattan. The 
George Washington Bridge is only a mile 
downriver, riding high above the water. 
Sometimes people leave their cars 
along the parkway not for the view but to 
jump. It's about a 300-foot drop from the 
top of the Palisades. Usually there's a 
note or something in the car. When there 
18  SUMMER  2003  WISCONSIN  ACADEMY  REVIEW 
f ; -% + ; -% " 
F IL R.I S T, 


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