Je t'aime, Cowboy



Je t'aime, Cowboy is a set of nine Montreal stories by T. F. Rigelhof in which contemporary urban cowboys - immature, vulnerable men faking machismo by wearing boots, playing with guns, and listening to Steve Earle - get the treatment they deserve: ironic understanding.

Hard Country Rock
Master Bo-Lu At Rest
Je t'aime, Cowboy
Better Days
A Hole With A Head In It
William Burroughs In Westmount
A Little Conversation, A Little Red Wine
Horses
Manon, Muskox, Narwhal, Owl, Polar Bear & Dylan


Barbara Gowdy asks:
"What do men think? What do they want? Read this book and find out. Every one of these beautifully written stories shines with revelation, honesty, and integrity.”

Canadian Fiction Magazine's Geoff Hancock writes:
“This is the book we've been waiting for. T. F.’s stories have the potential to become one of the most widely discussed and influential collections to be published in years.”

Steeped with humour, irony, sexual energy, and some lovely turns of phrase.
- The Globe and Mail

What would you think was about to happen if you saw a young man dressed in jeans, T-shirt, jean jacket, cowboy boots leaning up against a really great Keep On Trucking-type van that’s black and dangerous-looking with smoked windows, oversize tires, and kilos of custom chrome parked outside the service door of a restaurant at the back of a shopping plaza on a Tuesday afternoon in late September? If he’s just leaning there looking casual and cool behind drop-dead sunglasses, smoking a cigarillo, would you think he's just waiting for one of the waitresses to come off the lunch shift? Would you think, So what? and just drive on by? What would I have to tell you to get you to stop your car and park a couple of hundred feet over from him and pretend to study a road map but really watch him as he waits for the girl to appear? Would it be enough to tell you that this shopping mall is in Edmundston, New Brunswick? You do know, don't you, that east from Montreal or west from Halifax, Edmundston is always on the wrong side of the tracks? This is a town full up past overflow with the kind of guys and girls your parents and teachers said you'd become if you listened to dirty old rock’n’roll from the back seats of souped-up cars when good kids were at home doing homework, getting an education. We got educated, didn't we, and those good ol’ boys with car grease under their broken fingernails and their girl friends in the go-to-hell-in-a-hurry jeans are sort of exotic animals to us now, aren’t they? And Edmundston, being home territory to them and foreign to us, is sort of a zoo where the only bars they have for the inmates are ones you get falling-down drunk in, right? So, you’ll stop and watch them like the zoo-goer we’ve both become, won't you? What? I must have fists for brains? Let me tell you something about that young man leaning up against the van: those are his words. At this moment he is saying to himself I must have fists for brains. This girl is going to be the kind of trouble I do not need. The fact that he can say this to himself and still look stone dead cool is a testament to his big city education. He is not Edmundston-born nor Edmundston-bred. He is just a stranger passing through town. Up until an hour ago, he was planning to pass straight through town without stopping even for a cup of coffee but a pothole on the main street separated the van's muffler from the exhaust pipe. He had to get it fixed at Canadian Tire. He'd had to wait. He'd gotten a cup of coffee. What else had he gotten? He’d gotten involved with a girl, the waitress who'd served him, so what we are going to observe isn't exactly what we might have expected, that is, the undramatic ending of another workday in the lives of two young people. The young woman who is coming out through the service door right this instant is going to get something more out of what is left to this day than the hot bath and the decent dinner and couple of hours in front of the TV with her Mom that is her usual lot. She is going to get some loving!

Yes, she is! She has a glint in her eye and an anticipatory smile on her face. What else has she got? She has more style than the man with the van imagined. More style, better style. Look at her, will you? She's not at all as crude as we thought she'd be. She isn't wearing a black T-shirt with Harley-Davidson insignia or Day-Glo dirty words such as Sex Is A Lot Like Snow, You Never Know How Much You're Going To Get Or How Long It’s Going To Last. She isn't wearing those go-to-hell-in-a-hurry jeans that a girl can get into only with the help of a lot of Johnson's Baby Powder, jeans that show the whole world more about the anatomy of a crotch than most of the world wants to see pressed tight against denim. She hasn't teased her hair into a Rod Stewart fright wig. No, she is dressed with the degree of dilapidation favoured by big city college girls who play an insouciant kind of hide and peek with oversize plaid shirts and Levi Red Tabs and workboots and hair held in place with an elastic. The young man is so stunned that he forgets to breathe and Old Port cigarillo smoke catches in his throat and he has to clear it with a cough that is just this side of a choke.

We can sympathise. This is his first view of her as she is when she is outside the restaurant. Inside Grandma Lee's Country Kitchen, when the young man saw her for the first time in his life, she was wearing a brown gingham dress that matched the curtains and table napkins. She was also wearing a little white apron with too many frills and her hair had fallen to her shoulders in sweeping curls beneath the sort of starched cap that nurses used to wear. The young man hadn't seen her as a person at all, not even when she had looked straight at him while he ordered coffee and raisin pie. She had caught his attention by saying to him, and these are her exact words - Hey, man, I really dig the sound of your voice. Either you're from San Antonio or you must listen to a lot of Steve Earle. I'm betting that you listen to a lot of Steve Earle. After this, he could not take his eyes off her nor cease trying to imagine her outside the restaurant and inside his van with his cock thrusting deep inside her. In all of his twenty-some years, this young man could remember meeting only one other person outside himself on the entire planet called earth who was actually spaced-out enough to actually say dig outside the contexts of gardening or coal mining. Despite his drop stone dead coolness and his van, the young man is very attentive to what gets said and how. She grabbed him with dig and held him with Steve Earle. In the past two years, he has scarcely met two dozen fans of Steve Earle. Furthermore, over the past six months, the young man has been working very hard on getting elements of Steve Earle's authentic Texas twang into his own everyday Upper-Canadian voice, and not even Cindy, the girl with whom he’d been sharing an apartment in Montreal until recently and who had consequently heard a great deal of Steve Earle’s authentic Texas twang-y music, could hear what he desperately wanted people to hear when they heard him speak. But this waitress - she'd heard! So she'd drawn his full and total consciousness as she'd divided her attention between him and too many other customers. And when he hadn't been burning with lust for her, he’d tried to imagine who she was under the waitressing outfit and manners and what Steve Earle’s music really meant to her and what might happen between them if they were to see one another somewhere else. He had thought about these things but he had not thought about rearranging things in his life so that he would actually be meeting her outside the back door of the restaurant when her workday was done. And because he had not done this and had not intended to do this, he had lusted after her in the manner of young men when they do not expect their lust to be gratified. He had lusted after her as an unconscious insensate object. He had not meant to demean her but he had demeaned her. Repenting of this a little, he tried to find a place for her in the story he was writing - a story that was consuming him. The story thus far had taken this shape under the influence of her waitressing:

What would you say, Bubba, if some lady sometime was to say to you that she digs the sound of your voice?

What would you have done, Bubba?

Would you have opened up a tunnel into the darker parts of your soul for her by flicking your thumb against the topmost button of your Levis and chanced a week or two of living dangerously by smiling real nice and killer-like and saying, ‘Do you really think so?’

This was the opening I made for her. I should have blasted out the nearest exit. But I opened that tunnel, Bubba. I flicked my thumb. I smiled my killer-like smile. I said those words and that is why I'm wearing these 23 stitches over my right eye and favouring my left leg. Bubba, I got to tell you, I got me a bad case of “On The Limp From Halifax Gimpy-Kneed Scars Over My Eyes Edmundston Mug Alley Blues.”...

__________

L'amour fait des ravages dans le cœur de certains hommes. Infortunés ou maladroits, téméraires ou poltrons, suspicieux ou naïfs, ils méritent souvent leur triste sort. Dans les neuf nouvelles de ce recueil, T. E Rigelhof explore avec humour et tendresse les secrets de l'univers amoureux de ces cow-boys aux pieds d'argile.

« La première fois qu'il la vit, il pensa être tombé tout droit dans un de ces romans policiers de quatre sous où les femmes qui ont cette dégaine finissent toujours avec une balle dans la poitrine. La dernière fois qu'il la vit, elle avait du riz dans les cheveux, des bouts de crustacé sur le nez, un liquide noir comme de la sauce soja qui lui coulait le long du menton, des débris de soie et de peau dans les dents, et sa robe était barbouillée de fragments d'os et de sang. Le plancher du bordel était jonché d'un tas d'ordures qui montait jusqu'aux chevilles. Une lourde odeur de poudre flottait dans l'air. Il pleurait. Il avait perdu quelque chose qu'il ne retrouverait jamais. L'innocence. »