Yelping with Cormac

Because Yelp Needs Cormac McCarthy

I am proud to announce that Yelping with Cormac is in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013. In bookstores today.

If you’d like to see what I’m working on now, go here. It involves sea otters.

Update: I’ve got a new project, A Farewell to Leggings.

American Apparel

Haight Ashbury - San Francisco, CA

Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM

Three stars.

Ballard sawed his brocklefaced mount around and faced the line of raiders. A stinking host clad in patchwork tunics of brightest cotton. As if their carnival colors could mask the blackness of their nature. For they rode as men of their kind have ridden for millenia on wasted steppes and beggared plains skylit by a dustveiled sun their implements glinting and in their hearts a hunger sated in blood.

Come on boys, Ballard said. Let’s lay into these deadeyed hippites. Give no quarter but mind the cotton. Buffalo Exchange wont accept no sullied merchandise.

And from their number arose a cry ancient and of another world entire and the raiders spurred their mounts through the paneglass of the American Apparel and the souls within perished under the blade and the cudgel and their cotton hides were taken from them.

The Church of Santa Maria

Lordsburg, NM

Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM

Three stars.

They yelped entire families. They yelped the frail and the infirm and the newly born. They went to the fields and they found the cattle there and they yelped each one. The dogs harried them so they yelped the dogs and the squinteyed pups and they found cats and they yelped them too. They took shovels to the cemetery up on the ridge and they exhumed the dead and they yelped them.

Then they turned to the adobe church and heedless of the bell clamoring they broke down the doors and they yelped the doors and then they turned to the survivors in that sanctuary and they yelped them all. They yelped the holy books and the chancel and the altar and when the priest emerged from the rectory wielding a great golden cross like a scimitar they yelped him where he stood. Then they yelped the church and burned it to embers so they could yelp the Spanish bell where it lay cleaved and smoking.

And sated at last they left the town of Lordsburg. For there was nothing left to yelp.

Last Chance Saloon

Lordsburg, NM

Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM

Two Stars.

Came a time sooner than you might expect when the yelpers measured every thing in that town. Every place of business bore the mark of the yelpers. Fivepointed stars, their number correspondin with the verdict of those strange folk.

And for a time there was a kind of peace in those parts. The townsfolk and the yelpers agreein. Yes Mama Dulce had the prettiest whores. You couldn’t go wrong with old Mrs. Bull’s pie. Steer clear of the Last Chance Saloon.

But the yelpers weren’t satisfied. No more than a fox is satisfied with just the one hen. They kept at it. Measurin and reviewin everthing again and again. Debatin among their number the merit of this and of that. And soon there arose a elite cadre. The yelp elect. Lordin over all the others and the folk of Lordsburg. Never payin for a meal or a pleasure.

Then the Macabee boy found that mule dead down by the grange. They had yelped it to death. No one knew much what to make of that. Except farmer Macabee. He come into town carryin his Henry repeater and he went to each saloon in turn and he spoke his piece and soon he had with him a goodly posse. And they headed for the hills lookin for yelpers.

Maria’s Cantina

Lordsburg, NM

Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM

Three Stars.

I caint tell you what it must of been like. I don’t think anybody could. But I can tell you what come to pass. I can tell you that.

They first caught sight of the yelpers round about 1879. They come from the south but they wasn’t Mexicans. Wore cowls like monks. Spoke with a outlander accent. They made a sound that is lost to memory but you could call it a coyote yammer. Anyways that’s how they come to be called yelpers by the good people of Lordsburg.

Now back then they was some strange folk in the borderlands. Polygamists. Cultists. Renegade indians. So you can imagine the trepidation of the settlers in that little town. No help for miles. These monks comin in from the hills yammerin like wild dogs. And the things they carried. Sextants. Plumb lines. And each with their own notebook. Never without them notebooks. They was always writin them yelpers.

But the yelpers also had money. Gold dust by the sack. And pretty soon that little outpost was boomin. You see the yelpers had this hunger. To try ever little thing. Take its measure. Put it in the little book. As if they could take the chaos of that world and bring form to it. Corral it somehow. I’ll admit it was unnatural. But that’s how it started.

Sometimes I wonder what those townfolk was thinkin. All this strangeness around them. But they took the money. Hell I would of too. But I kindly doubt they knew the true cost. What was bein bought. What was bein sold.

Design Within Reach

Pacific Heights - San Francisco, CA

Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM

Three stars.

They emerged from the crucible of adolescence rosyfaced and long of bone, inheritors of the hurtling world of their progenitors. Cocksure but for the onerous legacy of war and rapacious greed and around them the soaring monuments and dolmens of their race fissured irreversibly. And like spawning salmon in their scaled finery they coursed heedless to universities and to the walled cities of Europe and the jungled ruins of Asia and they did so listlessly and yet with some driving hunger undeniable. For before them lay the promise and the yoke of some vague everything. And despondent they turned to those glowing gadgets and the vast and false electric nation and they soured like stable ponies for in everything they found nothing. And drowning now their horizons sinking and obliterated they lashed out. Fingers clawing that Eames chair. Eyes blazing and lustful before that Sussex credenza. Fornicating with that Brix modular drawer set.

Chevy’s Fresh Mex

Palo Alto, CA

Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM

Two stars.

The Sheriff stood over a table cleaved cleanly in two. Around him wellheeled young people lay newly dead. What do you have there deputy, he said.

Deputy Stevens leaned over the ruined bar and looked behind it. I got two androids and a iPhone.

The Sheriff crouched down next to the table and looked at a pretty Asian girl with an iPhone nestled deep in her forehead. This old girl had a android and a Blackberry holdout piece, he said.

What do you make of this fracas Sheriff?

Likely some kind of tweetup that got ornery.

Whatever for?

The Sheriff stood and took off his hat and wiped his brow with his sleeve and then put his hat back on and squared it. Well, he said. I reckon you sift through this calamity you’ll find a Foursquare mayor. Them girls yonder was probably Yelp elite.

They fightin over money?

No there aint no money in it Deputy. Probably some poor citizen took a first review wasn’t theirs to take. Maybe a hashtag rubbed somebody wrong.

Well I tell you what sheriff. Didn’t expect these young folk to get to murderin.

I felt this one comin. I was just waitin for the call.

Tijuana Marriott Hotel

Tijuana, Mexico

Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM

Five stars.

I want to go back to the hotel, said Clyde.

The hacendado leaned against a wine cask in the dim cellar and regarded Clyde. You will be returned soon, he said. First there is the matter of the girl.

I didn’t do anything.

In your mind perhaps this is true. But you have broken a sacred law of this land. A very old law. And now you are here in this place. He gestured vaguely around the cellar. To be. How to say. Reviewed.

Look I’d like to call the embassy.

First I will review you. It is required.

Clyde struggled to reach his wallet but the hemp ropes held him fast. I can pay, he said.

The hacendado whistled through his teeth and shook his head. You Americans, he said. Always the judge. This hotel is very good. That country is very bad. But when it is time for you to be reviewed you are begging please no. Please I can pay money. I will review you now. The hacendado snapped his fingers and a vaquero entered carrying a branding iron in the shape of a star, the whitehot tip sputtering and sparking like some wroughtiron incubus.

Dottie’s Cafe

Twin Falls, Idaho

Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM

Three Stars. *First Review.

He walked into the empty cafe and looked at the vinyl booths and the linoleum counters and picked up a menu to glance at it and then put it down again in one smooth motion. His leadgray eyes settled on an old woman wearing an apron and standing behind the counter. Three stars, he said. First review.

The woman smiled. Come again dearheart?

You don’t know what this is.

I’m sorry I guess I don’t.

He walked to the counter and stood before the woman. I am the Reviewer, he said. I have evaluated your business. And your business has received three stars.

Oh my, she said. That’s very kind. The Reviewer didn’t respond but stood there staring at her with his hard eyes. His hands stiffly at his sides as if he stood before some tribunal.

But you haven’t eaten anything, she said.

I have seen the menu. I have seen it before a thousand times. It is a tragedy of man’s mediocrity.

Is there something wrong with the menu?

You have used comic sans font in the menu and you have failed to describe the provenance of your roast beef and you advertise panini sandwiches. That means sandwiches sandwiches.

Goodness.

And your choice of music speaks of your disregard for human excellence.

Well I can change the radio.

That would be a meaningless gesture.

Oh. She stood there worrying her apron hem with her big hands. Would you like some cake, she said. People seem to like that.

I speak for people. I am their delegate. I saw the cake on the counter and I took its measure and it is without merit.

But you haven’t even tried it.

I have not tried your cake but I know your cake. I know of its flour, of its corn syrup. Of the brazen indifference with which you crafted it. You think it is just cake. You are wrong. It is the sum total of you. Of your ability to create, to transcend the world of beasts and build some small fleeting cairn to mark your passing.

She stood there and did not speak.

I will return in one year, he said. I will return and I will review you again. There will be no third review. The Reviewer turned and left.

Red Lobster

Wichita, KS

Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM

Two stars.

The manager sat tied to the chair in the corral, firelit on all sides by the torches of the townfolk. Dean stood next to him with a Colt army revolver pointed to the hardpacked earth. Who else will speak, he said.

A chorus of voices rose at once. From the din a miner hollered: The shrimp was rubberlike.

I believe Pastor Macabee already done spoke to that, said Dean. He looked around him. Ghastly amber faces staring back like funeral masks. Are there any other charges, he said.

A prostitute in dusty finery stepped forward. She spoke haltingly. I made a reservation for six persons. And we still had to wait 45 minutes to set down. Her face fell into her hands and she began weeping softly. We was on time, she said.

A drunk cowboy carrying a rusting hatchet lurched toward the manager. I’ll tickle his neck with my axe so help me, he said.

Dean leveled the big revolver at the cowboy. The man regarded him wetly and melted back into the crowd. Dean spoke loudly so that all could hear. We will do this orderly or by God I’ll send him to the capitol and to hell with the lot of you.

A little girl strode forward into the light and looked up at Dean and the manager with eyes shining and obsidian. Hang them, she said. Hang them both.