“But I do have to say, your descriptions aren’t too bad. You seem to connect with your audience and really, that’s worth something,” said Bat Boy.
“Do you deliver rejection papers often?”
“No, I was coming to see Texas for myself. I actually have some bags and a pile of iffy stories to read. Where’s your pickup truck?”
“Uh….I have a Toyota. It’s a car.”
“Guess you don’t know any cowboys either? Does your Toyota have horns on the front of it?”
“No,” I shook my head.
“Oil wells? Is anything in Azalea Rain realistic at all?”
“Umm…..it’s really just fiction.”
Thurston stood as tall as possible in his skinny pants, and Cowboy’s cap. He seemed to be squinting trying to make those large round eyes smaller.
“Let’s go sit in your office,” he said tossing me his Texas Rangers backpack.
Inside, he was happy to notice that the newspaper had a large cowboy hat on the wall and there was also a horse sculpture in the courtyard.
“Are you staying ?”
“Yes, I think maybe. I will be opening a string of sandwich shops, plus I wanted some distance between me and Hillary.”
“You mean, The Hillary?”
“Yeah, you know, those blasted tabloids. When she’s done adopting aliens, then it will probably return to me.”
“Well, I’m meaning no disrespect, but you’ve really been out of the tabloid headlines since the nineties.”
He looked at me and seemed a bit perturbed. He said that it was true, he had not garnered much publicity since then, but that he really just preferred now to blend in with the hipster crowd. Down the hall we went, Thurston meticulously observing the litany of framed MSU football highlights, high school football tackles, and the glorious Dallas Cowboy star plaque from when they trained here.
“Your hair,” he said. “It’s a bit flat. Don’t you really need some volume spray or something?”
“Unh?….” I really couldn’t believe he could be so blunt.
“I expected big hair and lots of it.”
“Well, Mama still rats her hair,” I offered.
“I suggest a new photo for your writer portfolio. Try professionally done next time.”
I frowned. I had met Bat Boy, and he was mean and arrogant. But what can you expect from a Literary Journal Editor?
“So Thurston, what have you written?”
“Oh, I don’t write. I try to find people with imagination to do that. Then I edit what they write. Period. Your imagination might use a bit polishing.”
“I’m aware of that now, thank you. I still can’t believe you came here from…where did you come here from?”
“A cave. In West Virginia. You know, Mountain Mama?”
“Oh, I see. Is this perhaps a reality series you are working on, Know Your Rednecks?”
Thurston looked surprised that I could dish it out too.
“Well, I never said I was from there. I said I came from there. Difference.”
At that point, I wasn’t even caring about where the bat cave might be.
“What about your dreams, do you have any?” he asked. He seemed genuine.
“I had one once. After I saw St. Elmo’s Fire, I always thought I would marry Billy Hicks and we would live on Rainbow Street. But that was the eighties, you know.”
“That’s a lofty dream, St. Elmo’s Fire wasn’t all that. Personally, I’m more of a Jules fan.”
I gave Thurston a full tour of the news office. Then he asked if I could drop him at the RV park so as to not attract so much attention on the bus. I asked if he considered hiring any young guys who were basically players for his new sandwich shop empire, and he said since it was my nephew, and because he was starting to like me, that he just might.
After dropping him off at the park, I took my ink-soaked story to examine my lackluster plot and complete imagination disaster. When I got up the next morning, Mama was digging through her boxes of old tabloid magazines.
“What are these?” I asked.
“Well, I’m finally gonna throw them away. I saw a show the other day about hoarding, and I don’t want to get mixed up in that,” she said.
I turned the top one over and sure thing, there was Bat Boy with the caption:
Bat Boy Evades FBI.
“Isn’t he an interesting critter?” she asked.
I was going to pick Thurston up to take him out for barbecue and we could sit in a dark, corner booth so as not to attract attention. He also wanted to see if he could sneak into Boot Barn for some cowboy boots and a shiny, large belt buckle. When I got to his camper, there was a note on the door.
Dear Eliza, so sorry to run out on y’all. I really wanted to meet your mother and Cade, but I read a story from my pile by a Michigan author. There was actually nothing wrong with it. I headed out early because I think I can actually do something with this one. Take care, and please do work on your writing…..
Bat Boy had already departed. He went on to write that the Michigan story was far and beyond anything he ever read before, even though Michigan is the Texas of the north. At least The Material Girl came from there. He could do things with a story like that. Maybe make it into a movie. He said I should write closer to what I know, that I should dream big and embellish bigger, then maybe submit to the Cavern Review again at a later date. There was even a P.S.: The sandwich shops were definitely a go, and he would send my looser nephew an application. I got back into my Toyota. I decided to go ahead and go eat the barbecue because that is one thing that definitely ain’t no lie. After that, I could go sit among the sage and the coyote trails waiting for a drugstore cowboy to meander by wearing a big Stetson, boots, and a belt buckle big enough to blind my sorrows.
What I really needed was someone with chops like Gus McCrae stepping out of Lonesome Dove. Instead, the only thing I could think to write about was a rude literary hipster with a bat face and enough criticism to fill a rodeo ticket. I headed into the Branding Iron for lunch, reminding myself to stop by and get that volume hairspray.
If you missed part one: https://broussardlana.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/the-day-i-met-bat-boy-story-excerpt/