“Brindled Pit Bull”
Long Time Ago Good is a collection of stories set mostly in Austin, a city I lived in for 25 or so years, stories written as a way to help me understand where I was and why I was there. “Brindled Pit Bull” is the opening story in the collection, and what’s it about? Loss and awakening, I suppose. Marla is a high-tech worker in Austin who gets laid off her job. She begins thinking that the Austin she lives in is perhaps not what she thought it was….
Later, going home in the free cabs, taking long trips to their homes in the far Southwest or far Northwest sides of town, everyone would be laughing and making calls on their cell phones, gossiping about work, telling each other how wonderful Austin was, with restaurants and Sixth Street and music and all the cool people at work, but how weird and crude and out of it the rest of Texas was—Texas they had seen only from car windows as they drove in from San Diego or wherever, or gazed down on from a mile up in the air as they flew in from Seattle or Boston—and the cab would speed by neighborhoods where the locals lived, the ones they saw on the TV news for winning chili cook-offs, or going on killing sprees, or getting in car wrecks, all those would-be cowboys sitting in the night in their camped little houses drinking beer and cleaning their guns and admiring their Confederate flags while their girlfriends snorted crank and their kids rolled around squalling in dirty diapers—a whole class of left-behind losers that no one would ever take seriously. The cab driver if he was cool would laugh along with them, knowing he was getting a good fare and a good tip, and it had all been such childlike, endless fun, one long party, it was never going to stop, the jobs would get better and better, and pay more and more and more—but, no, now it had ended. It had stopped.
The story is also about desire and recognition, about someone who finally breaks through to see the world truly—though, since Marla is a very flawed person, her honest vision of the world might very well be incorrect.
So, for listening: “Everything is Broken,” a Bob Dylan song performed by R. L. Burnside.
Hard Road, by True Believers