The Queer Riveter: From THE TRUE STORY OF COWBOY HAT AND INGÉNUE by Maria Jastrzębska

Can I offer you a Slow Comfortable Screw up Against the Wall?
 Someone in creaking leathers and jangling belt chains
 has slid onto the bar stool beside Ingénue. Oh take no notice
 of Stud. Stud’s harmless, a second voice on her other side
 purrs. Stud’s exploring the dominant discourse. Thinks I’m
 wearing the trappings of submission to the hegemony but I
 could care less. Angel, by the way, a lace glove is removed
 and a hand held out. Dame Blanche leans across the bar:
 If these two get any more ironic, they’ll iron themselves out. All
 the same, Stud grumbles, I hate to see a woman as – Stud
 pauses – electrifying yet autonomous on her own, if I had a
 woman half as beautiful I’d never leave her side. 

 At closing time, disregarding all their protests, Dame
 Blanche swings Ingénue, fireman’s lift style, over one
 shoulder and sets off across the fields. There’s something
 I’ve been meaning to say, Dame Blanche begins under the
 starry sky once they’re out of earshot of the small groups
 still round campfires. She stops, hearing Ingénue’s snores
 louder now than a buffalo’s. 
 
The first thing Claribel had done, after they left her face down
 in the sand, was kill the mule. They had shot it many
 times, deliberately avoiding the head or heart so that it lay
 whimpering and twitching on its side. They had done this
 to terrify her but kept her alive for sport. There was a small
 knife tucked into a pocket of her saddlebag, which they
 hadn’t noticed when they tipped the contents out. They’d
 taken her water and her money. What did you ever do to
 anybody? she said, raising the animal’s head onto her thigh
 before she cut its throat.

By Maria Jastrzębska

From THE TRUE STORY OF COWBOY HAT AND INGÉNUE (Liquorice Fish Books, 2018)


Maria Jastrzębska was co-editor of Queer in Brighton (New Writing South 2014) and co-founded Queer Writing South. She translated Justyna Bargielska’s The Great Plan B (Smokestack 2017). Her most recent collection is The True Story of Cowboy Hat and Ingénue (Cinnamon Press/Liquorice Fish 2018). She lives in Brighton.

Photo of Maria Jastrzębska by Deborah Price

Category: June 2019 - The Queer RiveterThe Riveter

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