- Buck's Bar
The sign is nailed to a two-by-four, part of a raw wood skeleton built around the door. In the last few minutes the snow has brightened, and the barbed wire fencing and the trees on the horizon scrawl out messages—mainly that any notions I might've had are wrong here. I walk past a dog in the bed of a blue Chevy. I've never been to a bar in a trailer before.
One woman stands by a bottle of cinnamon whiskey. Others, in red, white, and blue bikinis, stand or squat by cars, motorcycles, ATVs, and bottles of beer. The pool table is Christmas bright, a more ethereal blue coming from behind a row of liquor. The bartender looks at me, as do six men on stools who've twisted their bodies to stare.
Another resident told me she goes to the bars and just nurses one bottle all night. Cold sober, she scrawls notes in the bathroom. But I'm not here to report on anything or observe.
"Is Scotty here?"
The bartender is my father's age. He's not fully listening. He's a gray blur turning away as I wait, hands on the bar.
"Scotty?" I think I hear him say.
The two men closest to me are wearing hunting, not ranching, gear. It's different. You're allowed a bright color or two for ranching, because the animals already know you're there. I eat meat; I'm not against ranching. Least of all ranching in this state, where the cows seem to have a fairly decent life. That is, until slaughter.
If I say what I think, I'll eventually have no friends. If I say what I think, it'll be like whittling a stick to a point or still further.
One of the men takes kindly to me. "Scotty took off ten, twenty minutes back."
The men come in two types. Long and wiry, economically built, like a coyote. Or the balloon men. This one is a coyote.
"Take a load off. He'll be back soon."
"I can't. There's a problem." [End Page 127]
"What's your problem, little missy?" asks the man next to him, leaning forward.
I'm crawling on my hands and knees. Fine tall daisies and black-eyed Susans bend and separate under my palms. I know it must hurt but I don't feel it hurting. Grasses swish on my hips and tickle my feet. The sun is a storm. I feel the proximity of shade, know that shade is possible. It's just a game I'm playing here.
Let's start with Mac Gilgamesh. A composite of all the boyfriends I've ever had. That I think this is probably disadvantageous for him. And yet, I do believe, he is new and rare. And this, too, is probably disadvantageous for him.
It was a big surprise to even have a boyfriend. I hadn't gotten over the surprise of that.
We met at a work function. Toward the end of the event, we were both standing at the buffet, sliding bagels into our bags: options for lunch or dinner.
"Isn't that—the legend of Gilgamesh?" I said, looking at his nametag.
"Indeed," he said. "It's my legend and I'll cry if I want to."
He stared soullessly at me. He was slim and had sad posture. His black shirt was so old it had turned blue, shiny along the edges, as if he'd been dipped in silver.
I wondered how much food was in his bike messenger bag.
We sat outside on a wall and talked and watched people.
"I'm a writer, I guess," I said. At times, my day job as a proofreader dampened conviction. Or at least made me feel like I didn't have the right to say things.
He threw a bit of bagel to a pigeon. "I'm a writer too."
He laughed half-heartedly. Maybe the planet was filled with writers.
Maybe the coincidence of being writers was a cliché at this point.
We talked about the...