Lansing, Iowa – October 8, 2012
I stumbled out from underneath the highway bridge and walked to the gas station in Genoa, but they didn’t have any Heet, not a single yellow bottle to fuel my stove.
Same thing in De Soto, except I landed on a rocky beach and crossed a railroad track to get there. The town had two stores, but only blank stares and a bag of tortilla chips.
Lansing’s hardware store was out too. No Heet, no denatured alcohol, not even a potato chip consolation prize.
A day earlier, the store in Blackhawk Park closed before I got there. A day before that, I got lost in the marshes south of La Crosse and never got close to a gas station.
I walked down the street to Lansing’s second hardware store and opened the door. Past the Halloween decorations, beyond the season’s first artificial Christmas trees, on a lonely shelf near the back wall, I found the last quart of denatured alcohol and scooped it up.
It cost $7 and my excuse to peek into every town along the way, but I’m sure I can find another one of those somewhere.