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“There was just no talking the guy out of it,” Gallien remembers. “He was determined. Real gung ho. The word that comes to mind is excited. He couldn’t wait to head out there and get started.”
“He used to sit right there at the end of the bar and tell us these amazing stories of his travels. He could talk for hours. A lot of folks
here in town got pretty attached to old Alex. Kind of a strange deal what happened to him.”
He was the hardest worker I’ve ever seen. Didn’t matter what it was, he’d do it: hard physical labor, mucking rotten grain and dead rats out of the bottom of the hole—jobs where you’d get so damn dirty you couldn’t even tell what you looked like at the end of the day. And he never quit in the middle of something. If he started a job, he’d finish it. It was almost like a moral thing for him. He was what you’d call extremely ethical. He set pretty high standards for himself.
“We got to talking. He was a nice kid. Said his name was Alex. And he was big-time hungry. Hungry, hungry, hungry. But real happy. Said he’d been surviving on edible plants he identified from the book. Like he was real proud of it. Said he was tramping around the country, having a big old adventure. He told us about abandoning his car, about burning all his money. I said, ‘Why would you want to do that?’ Claimed he didn’t need money. I have a son about the same age Alex was, and we’ve been estranged for a few years now. So I said to Bob, ‘Man, we got to take this kid with us. You need to school him about some things.’
Into the Wild