He saw my dog waiting for me in the cab of my truck. He may have noted the New Mexico plates too, but I am grateful for whatever encouraged him to come into the bar and have a beer with me. It’s late, I am out here on Spring break making images: so far just the Canadian River canyon and a revival tent over in Logan flapping in the high winds–at its entrance a ghostly cross studded with lamp bulbs, most of them burned out.
You and your dog are welcome at my ranchito. I’ve got two husbands but you can sleep alone if you want. My folk are from New Mexico. You a brujo?
Mondays and Tuesdays are his drinking days. Would I care to join him during his long peda? The youngest husband has left the trailer already. Didn’t want to be around. Too jealous. Doesn’t drink. Henpecks. Uses a whole bottle of glass spray to clean the table. Is nelly too. My host doesn’t know why he’s so attached to the young one. He’s cute, he guesses. He says the older husband is cool. They met in jail 17 years ago.
It’s about as dry and cold as can be this time of year. I follow his truck North in the blackness, the High Plains break up into shallow washes, mesquite and yucca forests. Down a sandy arroyo lined with what look to be Cadillacs, Camaros and Monte Carlos.
His trailer is two single-wides connected end-to-end, their caterpillar silhouette draped over a little mesa. Four horses gaze at us and two Great Dane mixes loom up out of the dark. The dogs meet, tails wag.
They’ll be fine.
Dark oak paneling on the inside. A gray parrot shuffles in its cage. Nearby are finches, parakeets and some quail. Those are Pharoah Quail and shouldn’t be indoors he says.
The trailer is like a stable with a long hall lined with cuartitos. In the living room is the photo his mom had enlarged, he on his black gelding and ornate Mexican saddle, doffing his black felt hat and looking for all the world like the Tech mascot. I meet the older husband who’s resting in a little room watching the TV. I attempt to be disinterested without being rude.
A Meadowlark wakes me up, the dog warming my feet on the couch as he does at home. Outside is the Caprock and the yellow sandy dust that gives the place its name. Coronado came this far looking for Antilia almost 500 years ago. Reaching his tolerance for bitter loneliness of this vast space, he headed back to the Rio Grande Valley.
My hosts are still asleep. And so I return to the couch.
When I awake again, the kitchen table has been cleaned and a place has been set for me with a quarter and a shot glass. Two cases of beer have been stacked near the fridge. The three of us aim quarters at the glass and designate shots until the beer is gone. The conversation is relaxed and ribald. Miraculously I don’t get sick. My dog sleeps happily underneath the table throughout the afternoon.
© Tasso 2002