The Salsa Cowboy

Here I sit at the keyboard with my coffee cup filled with some Costa Rican brew and my head like IHOP scrambled eggs, wet and unnaturally yellow on a warm white plate that smells like bleach. And my thoughts struggle with one another, colliding planets not knowing which way to spin. Ugh. I hate it when I don’t flow. Too much on the mind and it doesn’t matter, I know. Calm down. Baby. A laundry list of tasks to get done that knocks me down and so I don’t even want to get up. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmation. Life too much. Presses down too hard. I can’t breathe.

Now catching my breath in a booth by the window at some adobe café in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Slow peace and more coffee, cigarette smoke swirls dissected by wobbling ceiling fan blades in the dry heat. Blue ghosts, brown rocks, straw needles on the horizon. I can feel the dirt of the desert in my teeth, the grit, the small pebbles, the heat of it, the gold hidden in there. Taking off stratospheric. Sitting there in this quiet booth with the big window looking out at past lives rumbling through DeadLand holy Hollywood miles down gone. Mind revving now.

I turn the other way, and there’s that woman doing crossword puzzles in the booth on the other side of the tiled floor the color of a mass shooting circus. She stares intently through her glasses, moves her hand slowly as she carefully fills in the squares with letters. She shifts her lips as she thinks. Moves her nose as if something stinks. An answer suddenly comes to her mind, and she begins to scribble: DOGMA. I think her name begins with a J or something like that. She’s hotter than Georgia asphalt in July. But she doesn’t think she is. Man, too beautiful for words. I wonder if she might want to run out to the little white wedding chapel in the desert I know, hook up. Like, forever hook up. The waitress brings her breakfast plate and I call over.

“Hey honey. What you got there to eat for your breakfast?”

She looks over me like I super disturbed her.

“Eggs in a basket,” she says. “With country fried potatoes… And a London fog to sip on.”

“Whooo eee,” I say like a hip cowboy in Kerouac brown chinos. “You from down over?”

“Down over where?”

“Down over there in the South… The other side of the country, baby.”

“I’m from Tennessee.”

“Tennessee!? They got salsa in Tennessee?”

“Yeah. We have salsa. Now if…”

“Don’t mind if I do,” I said, and I was already walking over to her all cool in my crisp white T-shirt and bronze muscles and those brown chinos and eel skin cowboy boots the color of dead blue. I slid into the other side of the booth and just looked into her Sonic Ocean Water blue eyes, and I said, “Is your name Salsa?”

“No.”

“Well, it should be.”

“Really? And why’s that?”

I leaned across the table and looked at her like I was a man dream and I said, “Because you are hot and spicy.”

She motorboated her lips, a scoffing scoff, a laugh. It was a put down. A rejection. I guess she didn’t dig my line.

“If you don’t mind, my breakfast is getting cold.”

“All right, all right,” I said, and I slid out of the booth and stood tall on the floor trying to flex some pecs even though I was a bit soft, and I have small areolas. “You have yourself a nice day, darling.” And I pulled my personal business card out of my wallet, and I handed it to her. “I’m a traveling salesman by day, but an expert on the ways of the female body by night. I’m staying at the Atomic Oasis Motor Lodge if you’re interested.”

She looked the card over as she chewed her food. “You’re a Bible salesman?”

“That’s right.”

“And you’re trying to pick me up with horribly offensive, demeaning, and lame conversation?”

“Right again. I’ve got no shame. I’m just out here on the great American road trying to make a living… And living to the fullest. I figure, why the hell not? Life is too short. Isn’t that what they say?”

“I’m not interested,” she said, and she handed the card back, pushed her plate away, and got up and started walking toward the cashier counter.


“Hold on little lady from Tennessee,” I called after her, fishing some cash out of my wallet. “Let me get that for you as a way to make up for my… Uncouth behavior, I guess you could say.”

“Be my guest,” she eagerly answered, and she opened a pathway to the counter.

I paid her tab and then looked at her looking at me.

“Good luck with selling your Bibles,” she said with a forced smile. “And thanks for the breakfast.”

She walked out the door, that great Tennessee ass all packed tight in those zodiac leggings she was wearing. I wanted to crack her open right down the middle like a juicy Georgia peach.

“Mmm, mmm, mmm. That’s downright sinful there,” I said to myself, aloud to the world though, and the cashier lady heard me.

“Why don’t you leave all these poor women alone,” she said. “It’s harassment.”

I leaned on the glass counter case that sadly displayed cheap Native American souvenirs probably put together in China, and we’re still standing on the throats of the Originals, and I just looked at her there in her pink uniform with the white collar and cuffs and she looked as if she could be a picture on a poster of an old-time diner waitress holding one of those bulbous coffee jugs that sits on a hot plate when she isn’t carrying it around pouring the coffee into chipped white cups.

“You’re just jealous,” I said. “Because I don’t do it with you.”

She scoffed. “Because I’m old, right?”

“And ugly.”

She winced with emotional hurt at that remark. “Did God teach you them manners?”

“No, mam. I learned them all on my own.”

“Why are you selling Bibles of all things? Makes no sense with the way you carry on.”

I kind of retreated within myself and couldn’t really come up with a good answer except, “I’m really off the rails, mam. I lack direction, purpose, procedure. I lack love in my life.”

“It’s no wonder with the way you carry on with all these poor girls. Like I said before.”

I straightened myself right and I asked her to pull the little Native American drum out of the display case because I wanted to buy it and go beat at it in the desert and think about the world and my bent place in it. She set it up on the counter and I looked at it. It was a little drum, real colorful and with feathers stuck to it, maybe about the size of a cat sitting upright on its hind legs, and it had a round, white rubber skin stretched across the top of it, the part you beat on, and then there was this little red mallet that came with it that you used to do the beating. I looked on the underside of it and sure enough, it said: MADE IN CHINA.

“This world don’t make no sense,” I said to her, and I asked for my bill, and I paid it and walked outside into the blinding forest of sun upon sun, so it seemed because it was so god damn bright and hot like Heaven itself. I started walking toward a big purple mountain in the smoky distance, my eel skin cowboy boots the color of dead blue kicking up the dust of the desert like magical golden mist, and I just kept on walking until I melted into one of those vibrating heat mirages you might see flowing off hot asphalt in another dream and time and I was dead gone.

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