short from my first published collection

A rodeo in Harrisburg

The spring day was warm and clear and lovely, with that good old feeling of the road moving up to meet you, just relishing the feel of motion for motion’s sake and enjoying the roadside greening of Pennsylvania’s deciduous forests.

I took a short side trip into a Lancaster (Lankster they pronounce it back here) shopping mall to get a cleaning cloth for my sunglasses. I asked at the cash register for the quickest way back to the highway toward Harrisburg.

I went to Harrisburg once, the sales girl said. Somebody else drove. To tell you the truth, I didn’t pay attention to how to get there. We were going to the rodeo.

She said Harrisburg like you might say Amarillo or Pendleton, or some other far away and fabled home of the rodeo. Wide-brimmed Stetsons, bulls raging out of the chutes trying to kill their riders, bucking broncos! Rodeo! In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania? But that’s what she said.