The New American Hero

(A quick look) by Noga Sklar Can you see the handsome young man sitting by my side, driving through the forest behind the wheel of his decrepit truck? Yes. I would trust him with my life. Sip of vodka. We left Alan behind at home, sleeping. Have any of you ever “driven through the forest” along narrow, temporary roads,  barely visible, fated to be swallowed eventually by the “temperate rain forest”? Excessive quotation marks in a strange, unfriendly world. I wonder if my stepson collects guns, but I’ve never asked. I wasn’t ready to discuss the answer. Plus, I’m too ignorant of firearms or calibers to engage in a conversation. He seems ready to face anything, ranging from a bear emerging from the woods to the Chinese invading the United States. That’s how Alan explains to me the impressive number of water bottles under the sink in Erik’s prefab home. Attack. Invasion. I found out it is just a routine emergency measure, in case the water freezes inside the pipes in the morning cold. What a great kid (sip of vodka). What a great soldier (there’s good proof of that). What a great lover (I can only imagine). He is 25, and this is the first significant amount of time we’ve spent together. When I first met him five years ago, we were total strangers, but now, for some reason, we are mother and son. I’m his “madre,” half-Mexican perhaps (shot of vodka). I cook for him; we venture together into the forest; he gives me a kiss on the cheek when he leaves for work. It’s great. Suddenly, I share a deep love with my American son, stepson. Neither of us seems to care that he did not grow inside my womb. Exaggeration. Poetic license. The next moment I...