They get the feeling she’s hiding something.
But at the moment, they don’t care. They’re waist-deep in ripples, the ebb and flow of her body. No polyester or lace on her; no press-on anything. She spangles, sparkles. Not quite gawdy, not quite decent. She’s all glacial smoothness, stallion sheen. Small-town soft. Backlit, she turns slowly, crooning cowboy songs into a mike. Then stepping onto their table, to bend. She makes them want to weep for love of this, her swollen canyons, her hairpin curves. Her smell, like a prairie on fire: wheat grass, yarrow, death root. They would breathe it in if they had the strength. She is the one in control now, mouthing stiletto r’s and plucked s’s, and they think that she could have them forever--but then, she’s always had them--with one touch, one damp palm upon a bearded cheek. They could relax into her hair, her cleavage, her butterfly eyes. They could hike across her for days, feel the spread of her wingspan, scale the contours of her body: mountain after mountain after mountain. They could put their lips to her bottleneck and drink.
Afterwards, swaying drunk outside, they talk about the drive home, the morning. This is how it goes: she is loved in spurts. They wonder, but could never guess, what she does after they’ve fallen into easy sleep. Alone, she empties her face. She removes layers of granite and gold, then strips and strips and strips, until all that is left is herself, exposed and alone, unfolded into long, parallel lines.
“Oregon Convinces Straight Men” is one of a series of short-short stories that experiment with the idea of embodying place. This story is a response to my first visit to the Pacific Northwest, during which I encountered a surprising number of straight men with aggressive facial hair who talked about the place like it was a beautiful woman. I wondered how the place felt about that.