I ask him what the range is between rings, is it big. He goes, “Well,” and moves down toward me on the other side of the jewelry case, “between $10 and $3000.” There’s a note pinned to a sheet over the entrance of the stall next door saying there was a funeral and they’d be back by 3pm. “So, a pretty big range then.”
The hub of this place seems kicked up in the dust surrounding the airport. We bank in low and the yellow, brown and green patchwork spread in soft divisions, there is nothing but the sense of land to spare. Your brain takes what you know and shoves it out to you when prompted and here it is screaming Wyoming, maybe 815 miles off. Pterodactyls hang from the ceiling in the airport. Coming down the escalator the frosted glass doors slide open, shut, open again, half shut, and through the morse pattern gaps I see their teeth flashing for me, careening their necks around as if they could get a better look through the static open space. All the places you’ve already made maps of you haven’t been to, think of them, to go so far as how you’d feel there in the rolling heat or the curbs you’d kick off of. How your lips might part and for who and the grinning wrought spaces your body will make. But the mountains here don’t knock you over the head, they stay out at the flanks of everywhere you look and the sky rolls huge to them, a thundering blue vacuum. We send our friends out like settlers to places like this and picture their wan smiles and the stupid faces they make and draft up an understanding based on what we know them to be able to take. I am not surprised to see them healthy but I am surprised to see them glowing, the lost golden lines of the West coming through them. Standing in the kitchen doorway of one of your best friend’s houses, not understanding what kind of light is hammering through the huge windows at a long ways after nine P.M. Their bare feet slap on the warm wood floors, I’m dazed but accepting of the champagne glass and not being able to see a thing for all the bouncing yellow light. He blurts “Uh-oh” as an accidental toast and it fits better than anything else. It’s the altitude, they will tell me, the sun hangs around low for hours like the last amicable humming drunk to finally leave the bar, here the golden hour lasts for four. With that much light around you are bound to breathe a bit slower.
We’re both in our bathrobes and we take the walkway like they told us, encased in glass going over the main drag. Towers on all sides, every oil company you’d every stored in your head, you could meet with them all in an afternoon and still have time to get down to the river. My face is rosy and his is too, we’ve come out now into a mall, there is no pool here.
Places, cities, like this, seem important intermediaries for specific points of your life. They come in like a third party mediator, flushed, maybe heavy in the flanks a bit, but full of resolve. Man, can they clench a fist around your wrist and jerk your attention, jaw agape, a well of power you’d never pegged them for. You think yourself very lean, with long muscles that will slip out of any trace, but oh they come on you like a snuffling dog and clamp down and lord, do not resist. Take the lesson here. Half the time what’s so tough is you weren’t trying to learn a thing, your resolve was wheeling around the idea that proximity was enough but cities like this sniff you out and hell if it couldn’t have been a more comfortable mark. Lie back on the porch, get a bit heat-spun, feel yourself smiling with something of a drawl at everybody and see how familiar your pulse and blood become when something is staving it, cause the truth is in three hours everything you expected will reverse itself.
He keeps screaming “SoCal!” and you smile because two people will always stand in the same place looking at the same thing and see something different.
Sometime when you are out there in the dark, breathless, with dust being kicked up and your back against a warm brick wall reverb is kicking through, pushed up a metre from the ground, huge hands around both your bare legs covering more ground by just opening splay than all those cross-country races you used to hammer through, sometime in there she texts you: “Score one for the home team!”
The things you feel sure of: how this guy is hollering “MOUWN-TIN!” and the way the light keeps dogging the canines of everybody as they smile back over their shoulders at you. In an 8ft wide featherbed laughing ourselves sick, the three of us whipping cans across the room and all the breath going from you past the red-fleck stars across your vision to maybe you’ll just shatter. Grappling. Your legs as you climb the cut-out bronze horse silhouettes Joe Fafard made, in the middle of the city, as thin as a bathroom mirror once you get to their backs, streets desolate and nothing but her vibrations like a buoy back on the ground. This body in front of you, cutting the light. Bodies that are built to be provisioning, to be blankets and ladders and flashing mirrors, to take from you past where you’re sure. To offer you up grey mornings around the edges of this valley, to offer you up a trip to the garbage dump in their pickup. One last, slow morning circling the dwarfed Calgary Tower looking for gas and slower still once we get back to the hammocks on the porch and you think about their hands and their feet and their breath here, gorged on gold light. You were loving them worse but you’ve never loved each other better.