photo of red cowboy boots with gold sparkles on the toes

My Old Pal by Paul Luikart

My old pal Bill wears cowboy boots and says he’s a cowboy. His horse is a dinged-up shopping cart he stole from Food City. At night he hunkers down in a big hacienda under the tracks. He’s a lucky hombre. Last month they beat his kemosabe to death for fifteen bucks. My old pal was out walking the range at the time, a maze of half-lit alleys strewn with busted glass. Now he says he’s getting too old for this shit. He’d like to find a little spread and settle down. But I know Bill. “Vengeance is mine. I shall strike like heaven’s lightning.” Then he’ll find a sunset in the embers of a burn barrel, in the scratch on a matchbook, in the shooting star above the broke-down pool hall.

Paul Luikart‘s work has appeared in Barrelhouse, Hobart, New World Writing, and Word Riot among others. His MFA is from Seattle Pacific University. He lives with his family in Tennessee.

Lead image: “Where have all the (rhinestone) cowboys gone?” (via Flickr user darwin Bell)