When I was twenty years old I worked for the city road department. Tony and I drove around all day in a dump truck full of asphalt, looking for potholes to fill. Tony was a chain-smoking dropout with a buzz cut. He was a hard bastard, mean, poor, living alone off our crap pay. He knew how to get by with almost nothing, renting the cheap apartments with crooked landlords and eating lousy food. He always had money for cigarettes and beer, though. And he laughed at me when I said I wanted to go to college. He didn’t need that, he said; he’d been to the School of Hard Knocks. I thought about it but I couldn’t see the use. Tony gritted his teeth and bitched a lot but he never talked about leaving the Road Department. He just sat there and took it and called himself tough. And I thought, hell, if that’s tough, you can have it.
David Bassano is a History professor at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. He is a human rights activist, an author of academic and literary works, and an avid hiker and cyclist. Trevelyan’s Wager, published by Harvard Square Editions, is his first novel. You may learn more about him and his work at: https://www.facebook.com/davidbassanoauthor/