Monday, October 17, 2011

Watch Your Step, Cowboy

Listen carefully: enough with the letters. Fifty love letters in two weeks is too much. Even if you loved me. Which you don’t. Or if I loved you. Which I don’t.

I only saw you off at the train station so I wouldn’t seem rude. After all, you were skipping town, I could afford to be generous. So I waved. “So long, so long,” I called, with all the other flotsam and jetsam hanging around the platform. But inside I was hissing sayonara chump, good-bye and good riddance, bon-voy-jovi-age.
Who knew you were gonna turn out to be such a clinger? A couple hours after your train left town and already — from some God forsaken hamlet in Pennsyltucky — you’re sending me a letter. What did you do, bribe a ticket-seller to mail it for you? Charm some kindly grandma type, who not only mailed it but paid for the stamp and gave you an orange, too? 
Oh excuse me, do I sound bitter? I am trying to maintain a neutral tone here. It’s just that when I said “keep in touch” it was merely a figure of speech. What I really meant was Keep on truckin’, Bud; ride off into that sunset, Shane; Lassie, don’t come home.
I was halfway through repainting my bedroom — it took five coats to wipe out that psychedelic chartreuse you insisted on — when your first letter arrived. I put it down on the radiator. It got a little bit messed up. Ask me if I care. But okay, a couple hours later I broke down. I was wondering what you had to say that was so important you couldn’t even wait until you got to home-on-the-range Montanaville. What was so earth-shattering you had to tell it to me from Pennsylvania, you couldn’t hold out until, I don’t know, Indiana, maybe. So okay, I’ll admit it, I was curious. I opened the envelope, I read your letter.
Can I ask you something? Who taught you how to write? When you were in elementary school getting started with those ABCs somebody should have been a whole lot stricter with you. If I’d known you then I would have slapped you, hard. Now it’s too late, you are so far beyond help. “Illegible” is ten times better than what you produce.
Dear Mushroom? Dear Manhattan? So who are you addressing, sonny boy? Could it possibly be moi? You wish you'd been kinder or you're eating fish for dinner? You’re crying or you’re lying? (Well, I know the answer to that one!) Singularly yours? You wish. 

I wasn’t put on this earth to get eyestrain.  But okay, I figured you were having residual trauma, you know, how even after something is over you don’t quite know it’s over? I was willing to give you a little bit of an allowance for that reason. Even though I already told you, in all three languages you don’t speak, that it was finito between us the second you put your foot on that Amtrak. 
And then came your next letter.
The postmark was smudged but I’m guessing you sent it from Iowa. I’ll never know if the sunsets were lovely from the train or if someone named Samantha was lonely in the rain, and guess what? I don’t care. I let your letter fall on the table under the potato peels. It was an improvement.
By the time I got your twentieth pitiful message of heartbreak (good, let it break, break harder) I was thinking of papering the bathroom wall with letters from you. By the time your 50th arrived, I just had enough.
This is harassment boy-oh. This is terrorist-type behavior. This is a one way ticket to Stop Messing With Me Land. I am not going to allow you to pollute my nest any longer.
So tonight I took your letters over to the corner, you know the place, where the junkies and the winos hang out 24 hours a day by the garbage cans, warming their hands in the gasoline fires, smoking their weed and what-not. I walked right up to the first can and I smiled sweetly at the men and they made their suck-suck-suck noises through their teeth (just imagine how much I enjoyed that) and I said, “Gentlemen, if you would be so kind as to step aside, I am about to fuel your little flame with a pile of unadulterated horseshit.” They went crazy. More suck-suck-sucking. I got offered two swigs and three tokes. 
They wanted to know who was sending me horseshit. I told them “Some dude who goes by the name of Missoula Max.” One of them said “You mean that little runt was always trotting along at your heels?” I thought that was particularly perceptive of him so I gave him a kiss on his smelly old lips. Got me a swig and a toke for my efforts. I’d say the men on the corner had them a mighty fine bonfire tonight. And they think of me as their new best friend.
You still there, Max old friend, old buddy, old got-to-get-back-to-my-roots-and-find-out-who-I-really-am? Hear me now and listen to me always: Send me one more miserable scrawl of a letter, you shitheel, and it will be the last thing you ever do on this planet. The trains still run from east to west, you know, so watch your step, cowboy. I’ve got me a posse now and I’m ready to sic ‘em on you. And believe me, they’re just itching to whup your ass. 

These merry men of mine wouldn’t waste a belch on a man who thinks “luv” spells anything.