ONE FOR THE ROAD
It was quarter past ten and Herb Tooklander was thinking of closing for the night when the man in the
fancy overcoat and the white, staring face burst into Tookey's Bar, which lies in the northern part of
Falmouth. It was the tenth of January, just about the time most folks are learning to live comfortably
with all the New Year's resolutions they broke, and there was one hell of a north-easter blowing outside.
Six inches had come down before dark and it had been going hard and heavy since then. Twice we had
seen Billy Larribee go by high in the cab of the town plough, and the second time Tookey ran him out a
beer - an act of pure charity my mother would have called it, and my God knows she put down enough
of Tookey's beer in her time. Billy told him they were keeping ahead of it on the main road, but the
side ones were closed and apt to stay that way until next morning. The radio in Portland was
forecasting another foot and a forty-mile-an-hour wind to pile up the drifts.
There was just Tookey and me in the bar, listening to the wind howl around the eaves and watching it
dance the fire around on the hearth. 'Have one for the road, Booth,' Tookey says, 'I'm gonna shut her
He poured me one and himself one and that's when the door cracked open and this stranger staggered in,
snow up to his shoulders and in his hair, like he had rolled around in confectioner's sugar. The wind
billowed a sand-fine sheet of snow in after him.
'Close the door!' Tookey roars at him. 'Was you born in a barn?'
I've never seen a man who looked that scared. He was like a horse that's spent an afternoon eating fire
nettles. His eyes rolled towards Tookey and he said, 'My wife - my daughter -' and he collapsed on the
floor in a dead faint.
'Holy Joe,' Tookey says. 'Close the door, Booth, would you?'
I went and shut it, and pushing it against the wind was something of a chore. Tookey was down on one
knee holding the fellow's head up and patting his cheeks. I got over to him and saw right off that it was
nasty. His face was fiery red, but there were grey blotches here and there, and when you've lived