Tuesday, November 16, 2010


269 words – cowboy
Sarah Van Name

At eight years old, Sergei wanted nothing more than to be a cowboy. He didn’t like the Western-inspired movies that were the standard in the Soviet Union at the time, but preferred the American ones smuggled in by his father. This troubled his mother, who feared that he’d sneak his toy gun into school and pretend to be shooting Indians, who in Soviet-made films were the protagonists. But she needn’t have worried. Sergei was a quiet, well-behaved child who understood and accepted the rules of the society he had been born into.

After school let out he would come home and lie in front of the TV to let The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly flicker across his pale face, his chin propped in his hands. At 6:30 his father got home and looked in on him, at which point the movie would be almost over. The man would look at his son, give a greeting which was usually responded to with an absent wave, and sigh as he left the room, wondering if he had done the wrong thing by bringing the outside world into his country and house and always concluding yes. The movie was done by dinner, which was placed on the table at 6:45 precisely.

Before bed, while he played checkers with his parents, Sergei would try to recreate the stories in his head with himself as the main character. Above all he was excited to learn how to ride a horse. As he fell asleep, Sergei imagined himself growing up to be like Clint Eastwood: brave, square-jawed, and a little faded by dust.

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