West of Here by Jonathon Evison
West of Here a man in a moth-eaten suit dreams of damming the mighty Elwha and electrifying a town,
a pregnant journalist sniffs out dam financing scandals, and clam gatherers watch foreign know-it-alls build atop their clamming grounds, kill off their salmon runs, and chop down their cedars.
West of Here flea-bitten men prod emaciated mules into an uncharted wilderness, an adventurer prods his men on a doomed course, and an ex-con tramps into the flea-bitten men’s mythic country with Snickers bars and stolen library books.
West of Here a clam-gatherer gives birth to a mute prophet, a mortally wounded census taker claims his silent son, and a mute son speaks hope to his battered people.
West of Here a baby girl falls into the river, forever changing her muck-raking mother and big-dreaming father.
West of Here a battered people chant the sacred sounds of a Wal-Mart’s doors opening and closing: Doon-doon. Doon-doon.
West of Here salmon runs deplete, clamming beds expire, and fish-packing plants go bust.
West of Here a fish packer clings to her drunken abuser, a fish packer’s son snorts aerosols and plots a big box’s demise, and a fish-packing plant manager, full-time bigfoot proselytizer, and ex-high school basketball star tosses his championship ring into the river.
West of Here fire explodes at a Wal-Mart and a fishpacker’s badly burned son whispers Doon-doon doon-doon.
West of Here a fishpacker slams her abuser’s head with a frying pan, a parole officer sets out into the wilderness with two quarts of eggnog and six cans of Campbell’s Chunky,
and a shrimpy, wizened, brown-skinned sage in a white three-piece suit and ten-gallon hat talks to dead Doon-doon-chanting clam gatherers.
West of Here an ex-con rescues his Campbell’s Chunky-carrying parole officer, a fish packer’s son regains his speech, and a full-time bigfoot proselytizer resigns from the fish-packing plant and becomes a basketball coach in a town even further west.
And West of Here? A town celebrates its dam’s dismantling.