The Ausherman Storiesby
He dressed like a villain, all in black. Some say he was Liberace's evil twin. And some might say he catered to criminals, way he played for them at that Tennessee prison. Thieves, murderers, rapists, he glorified them all, made each and every one of them sexier than Cool Hand Luke.
He sang like a psychopath, especially when he sang about shooting up cocaine and shooting down his woman. He sang that in "Cocaine Blues" and the audience cheered. Then he sang about shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die. And in his song about Delia, the woman he wanted to marry, he sang about tying her to a chair and shooting her with a machine gun.
But I'm here to tell you none of that matters, because he's dead now. And what's more, he died for your sins. Your sins, my sins, all our damn sins.
I know because I saw the sign. Out on Highway 491, what used to be Highway 666, about halfway between Cortez and Shiprock, there's a sign nailed to a stump of what used to be a utility pole. There's a sign there on Indian land and it says: JC DIED FOR YOUR SINS.
And lord knows, everybody knows, highway signs on Indian land don't tell lies.
I aimed my rifle at the globe and fired a round into Sacramento. The exit wound destroyed France. I fired again, this time into Dallas. The bullet took out Israel and with it a good chunk of Egypt. I know it's a matter of simple geometry, a straight line intersecting a sphere, but I'm thinking now maybe I'll postpone my plans for digging a hole to China.
We were wrong about Santa Fe. First, it was wrong to tell your children that the adobe bricks in their homes are actually the enlarged livers of the alcoholic pioneers who settled this land with the sole intention of legally wedding their nieces. Adobe bricks are made of mud. Everybody knows that.
Santa Fe has much to contribute to the world of art. We recognize that now, and freely admit your artists often employ more than coyote stencils and turquoise beads when creating their crafts. And no, retarded adolescents with sparkles and macaroni and paste couldn't necessarily make anything more valuable than the work displayed in Santa Fe's chic galleries.
We also relish in the nouveau fusion cuisine of Santa Fe, your sashimi paninis with loads of cilantro, and your gorgonzola burritos with hollandaise sauce. To say they taste like something extracted from a Frenchman's ass was quite an exaggeration. And your bastardized Eastern Philosophies, packaged and resold as New Age Religion, it's all good. We're not saying we're ready to convert, just that we understand the appeal. Crystals are pretty, as are names like Starlight and Moonbeam and Gyra, and even Stone Eagle.
It was wrong to refer to your fair city as Santa Fea, the ugly saint. In truth, it's no uglier than, say, Disney's Frontierland or Taco Bell.
Pancho Villa is dead. There, we said it. We accept that now. And we admit he never instructed us to take up machetes and clear out the Palace of the Governors. In fact, if he could talk to us today, he'd probably tell us to buy an SUV, in particular the Hyundai Santa Fe. No one should ever suggest it's a car for men who lost their testicles in a quilting accident. Hyundai's Santa Fe is for anyone, regardless of how they lost their balls.
And so we withdraw our petition to relocate Santa Fe all its good citizens to the Peruvian Andes, where the strong can survive on the frozen carcasses of the weak. Upon reflection, that seems unreasonable.
Stephen Ausherman is the author of the award-winning novel, Typical Pigs, and a collection of travel stories, Restless Tribes. Visit the House of Ausherman