Enjoy an Excerpt from Richard Krause's "Crawl Space& Other Stories of Limited Maneuverability"
WHO CAN IMAGINE being in the saddle? Its soft leather contours, the supportive rump, the smooth horn you can hold onto. The vast security that almost contrasts with the random stains to white cotton, as if you’d been splashing through mud, or battling branches and upsetting the yolks of newly laid eggs with the reinforced supports.
That the underwear lets you breathe is the claim, and so you imagine riding breakneck on an unshorn heath, but once in the woods air is trapped.
And the hemorrhoids the underwear absorbs with a double thickness of cotton at the crotch almost allows you to bleed with freedom and no longer worry about your clothing. You are naturally sedentary, so being up in the saddle should be natural.
The mount beneath you takes all this in stride. You pull the reins on her when you feel too much bleeding, as if the bit in her mouth, the bridle, acts as a ligation on your own backside that hugs the saddle as you squat rounding the bend.
And your other body processes are squeezed off as you get deeper into the heat of the race. In fact, you forget the staining and imagine instead the prize. The beautiful girl at the end with her horseshoe of roses to drape round you in the winner’s circle.
You feel beads of sweat forming as the elastic band hugs your waist. You bend lower on her, hug her neck, clasp her belly with your thighs, spur her on to keep up with the rest.
So proud of her are you, the blond mane blowing in your face, the rich chestnuts, the stainless white teeth when she whinnies, pleased at her morning sugar cube she noses for in your pocket. You try not to notice the green bubbles, the alfalfa stains, and concentrate on the pink beauty of her lips and the gray of her velvety nostrils, those hot air vents that raise the temperature all around her.
In fact, you are even half-attracted to the comforting warmth of her manure as the steam rises in the peaceful atmosphere of the stable. It makes you think of your white underwear, and her teeth playfully pulling at them, pacifying the fears you have about yourself. You always marveled at the continent types who could wear white pants. Though you’d have to admit you never got a close look at them, since the brightness always kept you away.
How the whitest teeth and underwear come together always bemused you as you hug her. But the next moment you are being passed on the outside!
“No one is going to pass us, girl!”
She’s the prettiest, the fastest, you think, ever since you began wearing Jockey underwear, ever since you’ve starved yourself to settle atop of her, light as a feather, as if no one were there, only someone light-boned, barely attaining puberty, a wisp of a lad to give her all the added power she needs to keep up with the rest and surpass them down the stretch.
She is being passed on the turn and you “giddyup” for all you are worth, lean into her, become one with her powerful withers, her haunches. Like the most beautiful suspension bridge her vertebrae enables you finally to travel to yourself. You don’t want to use your switch, but know she likes it from time to time to show that you are the master.
She’s being passed and so you, bloody hemorrhoids aside, yellow stains aside, embrace her and kick her, dig down into her fur, putting out of your mind all thoughts of alfalfa gasses; your rowels prick her distended belly, her forelegs kick faster and her haunches pound the track numbing her to the pain in her sides. You don’t know if you are getting through to her, for she’s not yet making headway. Both horses for a moment seem at a standstill.
The horse on the outside is now nosing further ahead. You kick her for dear life. You can feel the skin being scraped raw, breaking, the fissures deepening. The blood in your own backside is oozing through the cotton shorts. You can feel the stain spreading. Your shoes seem slippery, your legs wet with her body fluids. She too must be bleeding, yet you keep kicking her, hugging her closer.
“Come on, girl, come on!” burying your face in her mane, like a tight fistful of lice you cling to her, hug her neck, her belly, until you are one magnificent galloping unit.
“Flee, girl, flee,” you yell to her, champing down through her fur to her skin to draw blood. Love bites that’ll get you both to the finish line pop into mind! You’ll be embarrassed for her neck.
Suddenly the strain, the tension atop her causes you to start to bleed faster, staining beyond your underwear. You imagine the saddle darkening, a pool of blood.
She must only be a filly, so why are you putting her through all of this? Why does she have to win each time, why do you have to hug her so for your personal victory? What’s won? Why a jockey anyway? For another day of imaginary protection in soft white underwear?
There is something lost about you in this underwear business, like Magritte and his jockey miles from a track racing through the woods. Why do you always have to end up with people cheering, nosing out the competition? Why can’t there be something grazing about wearing stainless white underwear? Something boll weevil, at least. Or a flower print instead of sordid stains on pure white, the fascist yellows, browns, reds that plague most all of us throughout the day with an unspeakable authority all their own.
But the alternative travels in your blood and has you going into training, hidden in a camp in the Catskills in upstate New York with a whole entourage just when you are walking around on the street alone. You clench your fists over it, think of the lost protection of Jockey underwear. You are already sparring, worrying about the freedom between the legs, the dangling between jabs and uppercuts, the enormous vulnerability to low blows, not to mention the escaping body fluids. Where will they go when they trickle unhindered down your legs and are not absorbed by the soft cotton from Egypt? There will be no leather saddle to hide in for support, no belly to hug or kick to stabilize your own bloody backside. You will be alone on your own two feet before all those people. Not on a race track, but in a ring having to rely on your clenched fists and the lard on your chin, cheeks, and forehead to deflect blows, on the desperate whisperings of your trainer.
At least you won’t be sitting, except for spells between rounds, and so the strain of bleeding should not affect you. The cuts on the opponent’s face will draw attention away from the stains. But you know the tight fists can’t be good. The sphincters will suffer after all, and you’ll have to relax eventually, continue the leaking yellow incontinence you’ve had all your life, the bubbly gases that escape from the foods you’ve eaten, so demonstrably visible underwater. In the end you prefer the saddle, even if Jockey underwear doesn’t let your anatomy breathe.
Boxer shorts you fear will give you entirely too much freedom, not to mention the added strain from always having to duck to avoid punches.
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