SmokeLong Quarterly

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Be Excellent to One Another

Story by Megan Giddings (Read author interview) June 25, 2013

art by Paul Bilger

A bronco can kill a man in less than eight seconds.

Popcorn, manure, White Diamonds perfume, and rain scent in the distance make you nostalgic. You have to strain to remember the first time you saw his ass, but at command, you can remember the first time you saw his ass.

You watch for him while pretending to read your program. He’s not out there with all the other lean, cowboy-booted men.

Even when you’re in your office, there’s a part of your heart that feels the shape and contours of all the ten-gallons he gave you. You looked stupid in the brown, elderly in the white, and more attractive than ever in the black.

In the past whenever you would call out, “Be careful,” he would only respond, “Party on, Dude.”

When he arrives, it feels like the whole audience unites in desire. He’s wearing jeans and a matching shirt. You used to call it his Canadian Tuxedo. He never responded to that; he had no concept or use for Canada then.

The last time you saw him ride, he slipped from the horse. You didn’t see him slip, you blinked and he was prone on the ground, the crowd howling in united fear.

You swore you could hear the crunch of the horse’s hoof against his slender bones.

You wonder how it feels to have so many eyes on your shoulders. So many breaths held, knees squeezed in worry in your honor. You wonder if he can feel your eyes on the back of his head and then remind yourself you haven’t spoken in two years.

As his name is announced, you count all the ambulances waiting outside the ring.

You definitely didn’t hear the break, but you felt it in your teeth.

About the Author

Megan Giddings will be attending Indiana University’s MFA in the fall. She has most recently been published in the Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review and Knee-Jerk.

About the Artist

Paul Bilger’s photography has appeared at Qarrtsiluni, Brevity, and Kompresja. His work has also been featured on music releases by Dead Voices on Air and Autistici. When not taking pictures, he is a lecturer in philosophy and film theory at Chatham University. He is the art director at SmokeLong Quarterly. 

This story appeared in Issue Forty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty

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