by Willa Okati
Twins Heath and Vanner travel the rodeo circuit together, Heath
watching while Vanner does the hard riding. Heath loves to watch his
twin ride, loves Vanner like no one else. He doesn't dare tell anyone,
least of all Heath, about his secret love, though, knowing things could
go very bad if he did, not just for the two of them, but for their
mentally disabled sister Marybeth as well.
Whoo! Look at him go!
Heath whoops quietly and whips the hat off his head, waving enthusiastically, before he settles back down. He frowns at the old brown felt, shaking his head. It's gone and popped a new hole, be damned.
His hat is a sorry sight indeed, bent six ways to Sunday and all worn out of shape. The old felt creation probably dates back twenty years and wouldn't have been too high quality in the first place; donated to the Salvation Army by who-knew-who and bundled together with a buckle that likely originated at a Wal-Mart.
He didn't really think, not at the time, just bought the whole package for ten dollars plus tax. The buckle found a new home in a trash can. He kept the hat. Vanner had laughed his ass off at Heath -- after ripping him a new hole for spending money on trash when they could have bought food -- but Heath still can't regret his impulse buy.
A man needs a good hat. Better it belong to him, even in poor shape, than ending up as part of a weekend cowboy costume. Heath knows that type of man all too well. They gussy themselves up in leather and suede on a Friday night and head for some fancy bar, the kind of place no self-respecting bull rider would come close to thinking about wanting to visit. That kind of place would be crammed to the gills with bottles of cheap wine with delusions of grandeur and cocktail ingredients and syrupy liquids fit to candy your molars.
And while he was in there, perched on a stool to display his ass in his painted-on jeans, the weekend cowboy would let himself be mauled by his female equivalents in things their mamas would be ashamed to see them wearing. Hell, that would have been his whole point.
What the fuck is this way of life coming to?