Overpass photograph by David Friedman.
Exit Ramp Cowboys and Overpass Indians
by Raul Clement
When I went to Billy’s trailer, his Dad was in the living room watching some game show on TV. It wasn’t really a living room, just a couch separated from the bedroom by a curtain. Billy lifted this curtain and told me he’d be out. On the TV, a fat woman in a Hawaiian skirt was dancing and singing screechy-like.
In a minute, Billy came out with a backpack.
“Me and Dave are going,” he said.
Billy’s dad leaned forward and yelled at the TV. His gut jiggled a little. “Give that bitch the gong!”
We left him still yelling and walked across the trailer park. At the edge of the weedy lot, we squeezed through a hole in the fence and crawled down a concrete embankment covered with graffiti. The highway had been under construction for the last year or so and there was no traffic. Billy unzipped his backpack and took out the arrows. They were real shiny and looked expensive.
“Won’t your dad be pissed?” I asked.
“Screw him,” Billy said, wiping his mouth. “You bring what I told you?”
I gave him the rifle. We took our stations behind all kinds of equipment—machines for painting lines, spotlights, and big orange traffic barrels. Mine was at the curved mouth of an exit ramp. I slipped on my headdress and streaked the black across my cheeks. I could see Billy on the overpass shouldering the rifle. Exit Ramp Indians and Overpass Cowboys—we’d been playing it all this summer. For some reason, I was always the Indian. My knees hurt in my crouched position, but I told myself, Wait. You’ll be a Cowboy real soon.
Billy lifted his gun. The sky went dark and cold and electric behind him and a funnel came down like a black knotty rope trying to choke him. I stood up, not caring if I blew my cover. I pointed and said real quiet, or maybe it was my imagination, “Look.”