Riding the Trough

Sheriff Maxwell and I sat on either side of his old, cast-off military desk. He had laughed heartily when I had inquired, nervously, about whether he was related to Agent Maxwell of the Department of Immigration.

“You’re supposed to be the anthropologist and you can’t tell the difference between an Aleut and a Yupik?” he had scolded me.

I knew Agent Maxwell was not of visible Eskimo heritage, and I said so. The conversation had died there, with no real answer to my question, although I did not sense the kind of layered deep anger, which would have existed if the two men had been blood relatives. His next question moved us beyond small talk.