By Alex Cruse.
I’m positive the winner will be a progeny of the Southwest. A glistening blood machine, her tendons, taut with adrenaline, shudder underneath the blow of the riding crop. I internally wince each time. An ambulance paces her, elevating death from the status of mere romantic metaphor.
After the race her muscles seem to twitch with electrified agony.
She’s just a casualty of our conflation of man’s talent with beast’s; she experiences all the terror of failure and performs all the labor of the sport, carrying an abusive dwarf and getting only a pun for a name. It’s some pretty sick shit.
Everyone here is male and working class and alone. Domestic beer sells for six dollars and the total number of adult teeth in the ticket line is about 30% less than what it should be.
The bartender is dressed like a casino employee; she’s all hollow simulacra of glamour lifted from the mind of a sartorial sadist, and the loudness of her uniform is incongruous with the weird, deliberate silence of the surrounding gambling addicts. She is full-lipped, about 50, and the center of her face seems to have an unnaturally strong gravitational force, which pulls her features inward. I imagine her as a cyborg, vertically bisected by a centrifuge.
She snaps me back to reality. “You here by yourself?”
“Uh, yes. Yes, ma’am.”
She’s sly now, saying, “I’d be careful, it’s this heat…when it gets hot out there these boys get up to no good… .” She glances knowingly at her barfly friend and they share a Marlboro Light-corroded laugh. Huh. Odd commentary, since I’m pretty sure I quite strongly resemble actual human shit right now…feel satisfied with the thought that my imminent sexual harassment is fodder for redneck comedians, of both genders.
I decline a drink offer for the first time in my life, though I am broke. Products are generators of interaction. The product is the currency itself. I won’t let my misanthropy be in congress with someone else’s chronic poverty. Drunk and chivalrous, he raises his bottle in my direction and even this, is too much.
I wander outside, into an aural assault of new language: words from a loudspeaker turn metallic as they ricochet off hot rows of benches. They clash against raw material and time; they double-echo, so that phrases in the future tense coexist with descriptions of the past. Nothing makes sense, denotatively or otherwise.
Later, a hungry cavalry of tractors slowly emerges. They mechanically follow the memory of the horses’ path, smoothing the track’s lunar surface. No bets are placed.
I leave the site, walk towards another cigarette, another structure, another ocean. It has taken longer than maybe it should have, but my mind is finally sloughing off this past entropic winter and inviting solitude whenever possible. Memories are all dwindling, pale as bed sheets, like specters that melt in sunlight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Cruse is a writer, editor, and artist who lives in Oakland, California.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, August 8th, 2011.