this short story was originally published in Lowestoft Chronicle Issue 23
My town was so small that it didn’t need a name until not that long ago, when a horse wrangler by the name of Diego came through and got himself killed. He was a man of few words who kept his moustache tidy. At the saloon I did notice that his clothes were expensive and not as dirty as they should have been, but I kept to myself and assumed that Diego was on the run from some Mexican trouble I’d be better off not knowing about, anyhow.
Diego spent a few weeks working, drinking with us boys at the saloon and sleeping with the prettier of our two local whores, a gal named Annie, on Tuesdays and ill-fated Thursdays. Miss Annie fancied herself a painter. We knew her art was God-awful but I suppose that on the account of having nothing better to do and generally being dirty old cowboys, we all posed nude for her at one time or another.
Annie had the good sense to hide her paintings from us, but I have an inquisitive nature and peeked at the canvases stacked backwards against the wall whenever she excused herself to powder her nose.
I’m a romantic, and find myself tempted to say here that Annie painted Diego more warmly than the rest of us. I’d rather the awful origin story of my little town have a rosier glow than it does. Truth is, in her paintings Diego looked like a melting pile of horseshit with a moustache.
One Thursday at sunset when Diego was upstairs with Annie, a cavalcade of black stretch limousines with American flags flapping off of the antennas like something out of the Kennedy assassination pulled up outside our two-bit saloon. Out into a cloud of dust emerged two men in suits and sunglasses. They flanked a little blonde pistol of a woman in black with hair sprayed high enough to touch the hand of God.
“Where is the Senator?” demanded one of the secret service agents. After many accusations and clarified misapprehensions we determined that our soft-spoken horse wrangler was one in the same as Arizona Senator Diego Ramos, who was at that very moment upstairs posing in the nude for a painting by a hillbilly whore.
That fancy woman charged up the stairs and knocked down the door, which was only a couple of 2 x 4’s, anyhow.
“You’ve abandoned your family and the people of Arizona to live with whores like a drunken migrant in Texas? This is your retirement dream of living quietly with your goddamn horses?”
Before he could get a word in edgewise two shots rang out and bamboozlin’ Diego and his Annie were as dead as Wednesday.
Mrs. Ramos was a pistol, alright.
That’s how our little town came to be pinned to the map, suddenly in need of a name.
There’s still a nude painting of me hanging in the Jealousy, Texas post office, with a sheet of stamps taped over my privates.
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