Mr friend is asking about the horses. Where did we leave them, he says, but what he really means is, Hey, SUNSHINE, what have YOU done with the nags.
In order to give any kind of satisfactory answer, I need to explain that at the time of writing I am sat beneath a flickering light behind the bar, a Budweiser sign or something like it blinking away, perhaps it is a warning, of the ‘Metropolis’ tavern within that great city of the pampas that never ceases to grow. Or am I in the café Buenos Ayres in that other great city of the Russe on the edge of the steppes. That is one of the problems, isn’t it; the indecisions and inaccuraciesp that comes with a scandalous geography at the Walk/Don’t Walk, and other complex questions, intersections of the mythological suburbs of what we have come to call the ‘Western Provinces’ and their opposite, the ‘Eastern Blocks’ ( or ‘Osterns’ if you prefer).
Two weeks ago on a sandy beach besides the Indian Ocean, or was it the Arabian Sea, I thought I had my orientations clear… but no, to be honest, not even then… I was checking out certain words and phrases with Marina (from that famous Argentine Palermo barrio) and Elena (from Kaluga, that town south of Moscow renowned for its ‘red calico’), the two librarians I nave asked to help with cataloguing, who had come to help me on the beach. But they are forever arguing, Resaca, Marina said, Undertow, Otkat, Elena responded, Backwash, Kick-backs. Or Hangover, I suggested weakly, and at least they were both prepared to agree on that, the burning sensation in the head, rushing in the ears, and sucking sensation under the feet.
So, about the horses; in one version of my answer I explain to you that I let them loose to run free over those vast, unfenced plains beyond the city, but in the other version I find myself pointing behind the city abattoir at the row of blackened and malodorous vats bubbling away, Sorry, I say, we (by which obviously is meant “I”) needed the money.
That flickering light, and how I wish Elif was here at this moment, and able to join our caravanserai – I missed her giving her (LRB) talk at the British Museum in February on Double-Entry accounting (her is a flavour of Elif Batuman's style of ‘criticism’ ) – because for the life of me I cannot stop Marina and Elena laughing, As if, they cackle, Any of the versions given here provide an inkling of the true situation concerning our ‘real’ credits and debits.
And were the horses “yours” or “mine” in the first place to sell or give away, I ask. My Argentine and Russian friends are having hysterics, gasping for breath and slapping their sides…
… However, it is possible that, diachronically labouring towards our weekly deadlines here, we have inadvertently struck on a novel Triple-Entry accounting system, since, although we don’t collaborate, and we are not a ‘writer’s collective’, we do actually meet about fortnightly in person, simultaneously and successively reminding each other that we are both agents and victims in this process, as it were, passing the loaded dagger between us.
For instance, it is Census time!
Person ‘1’ – How do you describe your main activity?
Person ‘2’ – I have written “Creative Non-fiction”.
Stop it! Stop it! , my Argentine and Russian friends are crying.