Illustrations by Chris Vaughan
The fat man is gazing at the piece of rose quartz that lives on your night table. Your nose is bruised. You stare at his handlebar moustache and listen to him swear, listen to him say it’s “one fucking task after the other.” He knows you will lay beside him like fool’s gold, and believes he can rape the shine out of you.
Your rock reminds you of childhood, its stillness and shininess. The way you can stare at the glitter inside it and see how your love has hardened.
You say, “Desist from trying to talk to me, desist from trying to scare me, desist from trying to win me, desist from dragging me into your ruined dream. Don’t touch me with your fucking lame arm, don’t drag me with your dog-brown eyes, don’t look at me like a juggler who no longer remembers where his balls are.”
Now you feel ready to go, to go out on your own, to establish your own happy “house of ill-repute.”
You’re looking for a piece of property, you’re looking for a house for your motherless girls, and you’re hoping to stand up to the world inside the bunker of this house, and you’re wanting a house you can walk into ready or not, here you come.
Today, you lift your skirts one last time and leap, lift your dreams and blow on them, blow life into them by falling into the arms of a Charlie in a badly-fitted frock coat.
Your mother once told you that a woman’s luck is never made in bed. But she lied. When a woman is handsome enough, she can smile the luck out of her body and into the body of a man with a hat. A man with a schoolboy’s posture in bed will stare at a woman’s trustworthy eyes and smile at his luck and she’ll pop out those cheekbones and frog her wan face at him and watch him disappear into her sheets like tumbleweed.
Anyway, you’re going to look for that house today, so you walk away from the pudgy prospector who stares at the shadow of such a beautiful dreamer while waiting for someone to help him up from the ground, a man who would happily stop the world for you, he says, if he can only stop grabbing your ass through his problem.
Pictures of Extreme Discomfort
Calamity Jane slouching next to a nose-picking john with very long legs.
Calamity Jane trying not to notice what he does with his nose.
Calamity Jane and a depressed suicidal sister back home who she tries not to think about.
Calamity Jane missing her calamity prone mother.
Calamity Jane festering out her sick early marriage.
Calamity Jane remembering childhood but only when drunk.
Calamity Jane trying to look passive and feminine.
Calamity Jane trying not to pull at the skin of her badly chapped lips.
Calamity Jane standing like a tree at a wedding, not looking at the bride.
Calamity Jane standing next to the other women who look real comfortable in dresses.
Calamity Jane with strange marks on the side of her face.
Calamity Jane bending forward and wincing because her underwear pinches.
Snapshots of the Weird West While Riding Away
a. A man in long johns trying to poke his tooth out with a spatula.
b. I don’t I know why I’m marrying this nice man who looks like Buffalo Bill but farts like a dog. I don’t know my life has never felt like my own. I don’t know why I’m talking to the dead. I don’t know why the only man I could ever love had to be married. I don’t know why my stomach is growing with something like life. I don’t know why the odds have never been in my favor.
c. The marriage that is sad. The marriage that is sober. The marriage attached to a growing stomach. The marriage that looks okay from above. The marriage that makes for a slipped smile. The marriage where “I will” is said too quickly, too resolutely. The marriage where the betrothed tries not to puke. The marriage where the whole town comes out but doesn’t linger. The marriage where everyone jokes about what will happen next.