There was David. On a horse. In Polo.
Polo, with the embroidered and honestly chunky giant Polo logo on front, big fake number on the side, what is it, an eight or something. Avert mine eyes. And there we are. He sidles up and there I am being obliquely appalled. I am not a particularly fierce human being. Emily, by contrast, is as fierce as you can get — hot, redheaded, muscular in the way a girl who exhausts her depression might be when she runs five miles or so.
There’s an ‘ouch factor’ that needs to be explained. Here’s a girl and a guy that could work together, as well as anything, as well as anything works, right? You stand back on this particular evening when the clouds are sort of very huddled, they’re standing out like you’re on a particular stoop in a particular town and everyone has established their own brand of cigarettes (sort of) and, well, there’s a limited amount of work you can do to steer her away from him, and vice versa. You understand that you’re sort of a trap door or caveat for the time when the collision that they’re playing out slowly winds up limiting stuff unduly. You’re swarthy-ish, and this is getting big, now, or bigger. ‘What the schnikies.’ This is a phrase you’ve tossed out, experimentally, to questionable effect. Nobody buys substitute swear words. But nobody neither wants to hear something they just as easily could’ve imagined before. There is an endless supply of people like you who could’ve said something you-like in a context you can’t make yourself belong to.
But we’re not on top of the warehouse shooting the video, are we? We’re not clinging onto David in his capacity as Svengali or Guru or whatever the crap. We’re on horses.
There’s no way to stop David from being on horses ‘with us’, and one’s rather boxed in, as much as that’s possible being a horse-riding doob out in some backcountry hill-land an hour and a half from The City, David riding, characteristically, as if this is another incident in a long string of incidents. A friend of mine knows various horse riders and I have no choice but to adopt the kind of technique that I imagine these people adopting in a moment of romantic extremity, feet-balls down hard in the stirrups and this chugging animal chafing hard on your knees and shins, on the inside part, where unused muscles are abruptly shuddering, heels hiking up in what seems like an incredibly hunchbacked way, gallump, gallump, gallump….
There’s a point at which we crest over this hillish promontory (this is the way, terminally, that I think of things, like the dream where the werewolf sank its teeth in me, ‘cause I tripped on ‘something’) and I’m galloping next to Em, way out of my depth, assbones slamming down on the saddle, watching her move, following the tightness in her cheekbones tensing up out of her temples, down that line from eye to chin, prematurely old, throwaway in the way everything might be, this is a girl I’ve finished a fifth of tequila with and David is back there for a second but I know, and’ll have to reckon with, his ability to push forward, push through, sideline, and the last image that I carry into the night — whatever that might hold — is David’s shallow-looking neck, caved-in where you’d expect a fit person’s neck to cave in. It’s almost perverse in its tendons and tensions and when I dismount I’m sweating and trying not to glare at Em, who isn’t paying attention to the way I’m looking at David, who also isn’t paying much attention to that.