High on the Plains: Torn apart by vicious coyotes


Chad Christensen

As I pull up to the bar, I scan the license plates in the parking lot looking for the usual villains. Most of them are here. Country bars are a nice place to get lost— lifetimes have slipped away from these people here. The general consensus has always been who the hell cares.

Inside, I take a seat at the bar ordering the steak sandwich with chili. It’s the noon special for Monday. Five dollars. Six dollars with a beer.

Nothing is happening here— that much I knew, which, in a lot of ways, is really everything.

If you’re a regular here, you can still smoke in the bar even though it’s been banned by the state. You just have to know to put it out if someone new comes in— which, of course, never happens.

At the end of the bar, the TV is on the game show channel. People jumping and screaming for very little money. It’s painful to watch but for some reason I can’t stop.

I want Patricia, the overweight white woman from Kentucky wearing the red blouse, to win. I need her to win. If she doesn’t win the brand new 37 foot class A Palazzo motorhome I’m not sure if I can go on with this life.

Patricia has worked too hard these last twenty minutes to lose everything now. But of course these game show hosts are cruel and evil bastards and inevitability she lost it all in the end. Her blubbering tears are almost unbearable to watch.

It was as though I was witnessing a mother cow bawling as her half-dead calf was being torn apart by vicious coyotes. I had seen something similar to this as a child and it didn’t work out well for them either.

Patricia is now grabbing a hold of the game show host and you can see that even he is uncomfortable with all of this. Patricia is not your typical loser. She has failed all her life, a true professional. But this— this was far too much even for her.

The whole scene is unnerving, so I turn away from the TV and focus intently on the beer in front of me.

Cathy, the bartender, said it best: “Screw em.” I nod and then raise my beer. Cathy is the daughter of Bill who owns this bar. She’s been here since the beginning and has kept the place alive. Truly a great woman—especially when she’s pouring free drinks. I have two more shots of Makers before finally stepping outside the bar.

What was the point of all this?

I start walking slowly to my car, hunched over like an old man, stopping occasionally to look at things with great interest. In the window of the bar is a flyer for a lost dog named “Champ”. The flyer is extremely faded suggesting it’s at least a couple years old. The picture is of a golden retriever with two young boys in hunting outfits next to it. The word “lost” is emphasized.