There are so many shot girls, she tells us, that she’s quitting. More shot girls than there are bartenders. Three dollar shots if you want one. She puts one end into her mouth, places the other to my lips and presses her palms on my shoulder. Down. Mom tells me the danger of hepatitis. Herpes. These things happen all the time. A girl stumbles home between two friends at dawn. Crying. You don’t need him, they say. Teenage drifters chained to dogs dogs dogs. Both youth and animal mangy and smelly, sexed and carefree. A harnessed cat, precariously tip-toed on backpack, lapping water from cupped palms. They all sleep under the freeway and in compressed corners. Underneath mold watermarks from Katrina. Asking for change which they use to buy five-dollar-whiskey and cigarettes. Ask for the bottom-of-the-glass strawberry daiquiri in my hand and Budweiser.
Spend hours collecting driftwood to spell FUCK YOU on the banks of the Mississippi River. The bars lay out sawdust over the vomit. The streets are washed every morning.
2. Santiago de Compostela
Dogs dogs dogs, tied to ropes, tied to Spanish Rastas and boys with curled pony hair. Sleeping under gothic archways. Slipping into the cathedral on Sundays for latin mass, the smell of incense nestled in their clothes. They play the bagpipes. The fiddle. They don’t play an instrument and they don’t say a word to you. They laugh and sell silver bracelets in front of a window where pulpo, bulbous and bruised, has suctioned itself to the glass. Leather faced women kneel in front of the supermercados, holding up images of children not their own, clipped from magazines. I give her change anyway; I only have a bottle of vodka in my plastic bag. Their voice, hardly a whisper, eyes not meeting yours, a pleading mantra. You always think, at least it isn’t cold out. But the rain is enough. They wash the streets every morning.
Kristin Dawn is an MFA graduate from the University of British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada. Her work usually explores the sticky topics of the abject, and the taboo in a family setting: everyday monsters. She currently lives just outside of Seoul, South Korea.