Sun, Saddles, & Days
He walked into the diner with a limp from a long ago break. The horse that threw him was completely wild. His crop dew that was low over his eyes kept folks from seeing the mischief in ‘em I reckon…
He sat down and ordered a cup. Asked if I’d like one, I declined. He then got taters & onions & hash browns. His mustache covered a pout set into place from years of sun, saddles, and days under a desert sun—he reached for a smoke & fired er’ up. He chuckled, drank his cup down, and gnawed at his jerky. He paid the pretty lil’ lady with the million dollar smile and made his way to the pick-up he said his brother restored last year. A sweet ‘65 Ford F-100—black & pearl gray. It sat shimmering under the twilight glow of the moon. He climbed in and turned the key. Turned onto the highway and drove. He hated the reasons for his desperation but liked the paycheck that’d come at the end.
Another piece of jerky always calmed the nerves. So he had one. He began to smell the dirt and shit and fear as he closed in on the arena . . . another eight second ride was all he was hoping for.
Another eight seconds of agony. He hurt. He always hurt. His body and his mind were broken and rattled too much. The ride was a thrill—a hated need that grew inside of a desire to be free from the other thing he wanted to hide from. So here he was again on his knees asking again for the invisible to protect his physical before he climbed on to that wild beast who’d try to kill him. He inhaled the musky, acrid, sweet smells that invaded all his senses . . . the thrill was now crawling up his spine as he heard himself once more say, “yeah,” and he was gone.
As evening settled into another star-lit twilight, the D.J. plugged in another classic country song and the soothin’, cigarette and whisky-burst voice of ol’ Merle “the Squirrel '' Haggard echoed thru the old speakers of his much loved, faded green Ford pickup truck. Another long night to spend in another hotel parkin’ lot. Paid by another unwanted client to get some photos for another shyster lawyer, who’ll happily break up another unhappy home.
As he reached into another flavor-filled plastic bag of jerked beef, he wondered if the cow inside had a happy life, or even had a life at all? The similitudes of his present place in a rundown, nondescript parkin’ lot plucked at another deeper-seated reality of his own past.
The humidity of this deep southern night collected in rivulets where the windows intersected the truck’s rubber seals and dripped into the darkness forgotten and out of sight, just like him. Hell, ”he prefers it that way.”
His profession was one where bein’ unknown, unseen and unheard was paramount. Hell, it was the only way to do business. Another similitude perhaps to his own form of serenity—he heard his granny's voice reading the Proverbs 24:23-28 or 2:4-5. He hoped peace would come, as the Good Book says, through wisdom, and wisdom comes from trials. It’s the questions though, those always confuse him. “Why do people always seem bent on hurt and hate? Maybe it’s some broken need we have? A need to create a warped need for mercy and forgiveness.”
It seems that instead of just lettin’ go, we are born broke down and hell-bent on hurt. And so we hire those who are broke down enough to sit outside in seedy parkin’ lots to dig up dirt for us. A continuous, fucked-up cycle in a beautifully, fucked-up existence.
This piece was written by Blayde Grayson