Tuesday, February 26, 2013
“Sit up in the saddle son.”
Landry looked up at Pop with the sun in his eyes.
“This is going to be hard for you. But Pa beat it in to me and I’ll beat it in to you. It’s the story of our family, Lan.”
Pop rode off after a few head that had wandered off into the brush. Landry looked down at the reins in his hands. The herd was grazing there in the southeast pasture. They hadn’t the money to keep up the rights on the northern pasture. Sometimes he still snuck in at dusk, after supper, to throw rocks in the tank. The herd was thinner than last year. The season’d been dry and the feed lot wouldn’t give the good feed on account of the Perse outfit buying up the stock. But the southern pasture still had good grass and the river still had enough to get them through. That’s what Pop had said. He had to pee bad put Pop was still in the brush and he couldn’t get up on Jam’s horse without a leg up. Besides, Pop had said
“A man doesn’t leave his herd. We got a job here- and that job’ll be done.”
The sun was getting up in the afternoon and the cattle started down beneath the cottonwood trees. One of the sickly calves trailed behind the rest and Lan tried to help it along but it had come in to the world sick and would never catch up. Pop had had a mind to put him down but Lan had cried and begged him not to. Pop had beat him bad for that. But he hadn’t put him down. They needed every head they had he’d said and mother had always preached showing kindness to the sick. Lan and the calf were trailing the herd by a distance when Pop rode up behind him with the strays.
“What did I say about staying with the herd? A man’s gotta be dependable, Lan. You stay with the calf, I’m going to get these four down to the trees and come back for you.”
Lan watched Pop ride on ahead.
The calf swayed and fell. It turned and looked at Lan with a pleadingly barren look. The cottonwood trees blinked at them in the dirt breeze. Lan got his leg over the horse, stood on one of the stirrups before falling back, landing in a cloud of dust beside the calf. The dust stained his face in messy streaks of tears and child’s sweat. The calf bleats as he holds his breath, trying to stop the crying before pop gets back. He stands up, slaps his hat against his leg like Pop a hundred times before and takes his rope down from the saddle. Tying a tightening knot around the calf’s neck, Lan sits behind the prostrate youngster and leans back, pulling the rope tight with his boots pushing the calf’s head down. The weak calf struggles once, trying desperately to regain its footing but Lan tries again. The calf’s blinks slow. Pop slowly rides up to the pair. With tears muddying his streaked face Lan screams
“I’m putting him down, Pop!”
Pop gets down from his horse, removing the rifle from its scabbard, whispering
“It’s ok son, you’re hurting him.”
Pop takes the rope from Lan’s hands and loosens the knot from the dying calf’s neck. Lan sits Indian style in the dirt as Pop shoots the calf, returns the rifle to its scabbard, mounts his house, and turns to mind the herd.
That old guitar was the only thing that gave her pleasure now. Her voice is gone, lost in the cracks of her Palmal's. The ashtray holds her life in it- old coins, tokens, lighters, picks, stubs. The memories overflow onto the coffee table, sticking to the spilled, dried whiskey.
Not lookin for a handout, not a handup either, just leave me be. I don't mind the company, just be quiet a while. I just want to sit under this willow tree with the candle flicker leaves and the strangling roots. I want to sit between them and grind my cigarette butts into forts in the dirt- outposts in the shade.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Monday, February 18, 2013
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Nigel hadn’t slept in a week. Literally hadn’t slept in a week. Not a nap, a wink, not a damn bit. Rubbing the sides of his head with his palms makes the light affect his eyes less. His eyes started getting sore on day three. It’s day eight and the sore grows by exponents with each. Time is slowing down for him and he’s feeling oddly powerful in his delerium. The peacefulness in his power delerium makes him warm and his skin feel like it’s being rubbed with balloons for static electricity.
“I almost don’t want to sleep anymore.”
Sucking back the dribbling saliva from his dangling mouth, he realizes there’s no one else in the convenience store. He likes his job-plenty of time to scribble in his notebooks. He likes drawing dragon heads best. The teeth always have to have the baby blood on them. They’re never complete without the baby blood. He’d probably drawn a thousand baby blooded fanged dragon heads on this stool in the Happy Home Deli. His sister wouldn’t be there to pick him up for a few hours. She always drives too fast and takes the wrong way home. Nigel always liked it better when their neighbor would drive him. Mrs. Lanner would always drive slow by the shopping center so he could see Kevin in the comic book store. Kevin was his friend because Kevin also likes drawing dragon heads. Sometimes they would meet up at the park, down past the end of the walking path where the ravine lives. Nigel had lots of pencils. Different sizes, shapes, and colors. He liked drawing with the green ones the best. Not the light green ones, those didn’t have enough dragon scales in them. The darker ones had all the good scales.
No customers come in to the store. The little princess cupcake bell rings as Stacy throws the door open like a linebacker. Her thumping breath and popping gum always mean it’s time to put the dragons away.
“Come one weirdo, I gotta get you home and change before I meet Esther at the Pour House.”
“I can’t leave until Sean gets here.”
“Shut up retard, nobody comes in here anyway. Let’s go. And don’t forget your stupid backpack and coloring books.”
“They’re not coloring books. They’re dragons.”
The dragon bodies were always harder to draw than the heads. The fangs were the funnest because he got to make the sharp corners with the oozy blood. Sometimes he made the blood orange because orange blood looks cooler with the dark green than red.
The cupcake bell rings again as Sean shuffles in to the store.
“I’m tired of that scooter. It barely runs and those football homos are always throwin' stuff at me. How’s the dragons Nige?”
“They’re good. I’m making the blood orange now.”
“Orange huh? That’s cool- it’ll look better with the green. You get any sleep yet?"
"Nothing. Look Nige, I can help you sleep. You gotta sleep bro."
"I don't want to sleep anymore. The dragons are better when I don't sleep."
Nigel carefully puts his pencils back into his dad’s old tin, snaps the hinges closed, and slides his notebook and tin into his backpack under the counter. Sean throws his jacket on the floor where Nigel’s backpack sat, and leans his head back to squirt saline into his eyes. Nigel always thought he lookd a little like a dragon when he blinked his eyes so quick after he put the stuff in his eyes, like a little baby dragon. Nigel thinks the tears would look better orange.
“Hey Stacy. What are you up to tonight- isn’t there a bake sale somewhere you gotta be at?”
“Shut up loser. I’m going out- you can’t come though, they don’t let scooters in the parking lot.”
“You know what they say about scooters and fatties don’t you Stacy?”
“Shut up loser.”
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
I've been writing a lot recently. I haven't posted any writing in a long time. So here they are- first drafts- to see what comes out. Suck it out the tap.
Nick lights his cigarette. The hand rolled always smoke better. He looks down the slope. It’s going to be a long day. The camera hangs off his shoulder as he fiddles with the film in his jacket. He still shoots film.
“I didn’t spend years learning to develop to throw it away.”
The cigarrete hanging from the corner of his mouth, he looks through the viewfinder, focusing on the old subway entrance. He likes shooting entrances. The air is still chilly in gusts and he’s happy to have his sweater. It had been his grandfather’s. A piece of ash catches in the scruff on his jaw and lingers there a long moment before the breeze lifts it- floating in his viewfinder’s line and then up and away. The strap snakes around his wrist, through his hand, over his fingers- welding his hand to the old tool.
“I need a new lens for this guy- he don’t see as good as he did.”
Squinting at the station entrance again, cars pass in front of his vision, breaking his time.
“That last one was shit, but the middle will come out allright.”
Turning, he walks down the hill.
The afternoon heat was tough to take this time of year. It was so hot and dry her hair broke brittle in her face as she leaned over the hood of the car, unfolding the truck stop map. It was hard to read with the sun still beating through the dirt packed hood, still managing to blind her with reflection. It was the first time they had stopped since they’d left last night. The back seat was piled to the head rest with clothes, shoes, a coffee pot, and some old journals. She’d put the guitar in the trunk. It had happened so fast. There hadn’t been time to think about where she was going. And here, 100 miles out side of llano, she hadn’t the faintest idea.
“Cmon Lulu, get back in the car, we gotta go.”
Lulu ripped through the tall grass on the far side of the roadside ditch, peed on the back car tire and sat by the driver’s side door, waiting to take shotgun.
He feels self conscious when she dresses like that. And her broke down boots speak her experience like a tapestry. No, like an indian belt. It's tough work and his hands hurt at the end of the day. He had played the conversation out in his mind a thousand times, each with a different outcome. She was already there when he walked in the door.
"What does sublime mean?"
"In art it was a painting that should the brutality and darkness of nature."
She hates this lipstick, it makes her feel like a whore. Lilly pops her lips together, thrusts the whore stick back into her grandmother's clutch and walks out of the bathroom. Miles had put a fresh whiskey in front of her cigarrettes. Her feet didn't touch the stool's crossbar, but if she sat up and scooched just so, her soles could rest. There was just too much to say.