His arrival had only just begun: getting off the plane, making his way through customs, dodging through loose crowds to get to baggage, and leaving the airport, when he is intercepted by Hal Goesch. It is so sudden: Hal approaching him with hand outstretched, speaking so much English all at once, and then taking Sito’s bag while seemingly waving off any payment. Sito is slowly corralled by Hal, like a sheep away from the herd by a sheep dog, over to a very strange looking automobile. Hal tells him, “Yes sir, it was clear right away from your garb and your poise that I must put myself in your service. I am a premiere tour guide of Portland, top notch, one of the best. A better time cannot be had in our fine City of Bridges—why, some of us call this Rip City—and that’s just fine by me, I say. Yes, indeed if Rip City means enjoying your pants off, well then who am I to say different, sir?” For the briefest of moments, Hal looks to his newfound patron and sees that most of what he has said has not at all registered at all.

By this time they arrive at the strange red truck? Hal puts Sito’s suitcase in the rear door (which complains loudly) and then guides Sito by the elbow to the passenger door, which he opens with a deferential bow. This, Sito understands and he bows somewhat less back and then get in the truck? Once secure in the driver’s seat, Hal indicates that Sito should put his seatbelt on. Sito does so and Hal starts the truck?—which grinds to life as Hal shoves the shift stick into first. “Now, good sir, where shall we be going first?”

Sito smiles.

Hal contemplates alternative words. “Destination?”

Sito smiles.


Sito gasps gladly and reaches into his Columbia windbreaker to retrieve a stack of index cards. He shuffles through them and then hands one to Hal.

“I see, sir. That’s quite close. We’ll be there in no time,” and Hal manages to simultaneously let the clutch out and tip his Trilby off his head toward Sito and arch his eyebrows in a manner that said, We are off.

Once they are on the highway, Hal conspiratorially leans over to Sito and says, “The truth is, Portland abounds with true wonders. Yes, luck is with you this trip, good friend, because Old Hal knows all the secrets. I should know. My family lineage goes all the way back. Yes sir, all the way back. Why my family helped to start this town; founded it.” Hal checks with his companion who nods, at least on the surface excited. “Yes, you can trace my lineage all the way back to George Portland himself—founder of this lucious place—an impressive figure of a man taming the Wild West.” At this, Sito hears something and he makes his hands into guns and fires them off. Hal bellows. “That’s right. You’ve got it: the 1800s, the gold days, back when this was all just some wooden buildings carved out of the woods—some of the most beautiful trees ever seen in these United States. Now, as I am sure that you know, trees in Japan are very small.” Hal takes his hands off the wheel to gesture and clarify.

Sito smiles.

“But trees here are larger than anywhere.” Again Hal gestures, his arms out to hug something enormous. Sito visibly agrees with a look of awe. “Of course, tomorrow, when we go to see the sites, we are likely to run into a few Trolls, if you catch my drift. But you’ve nothing at all to worry about, I’ve dealt with those ilk before and you are well-protected with Hal.” With this, Hal winks at Sito who nods in return.