A Gunslinger's Origin in the Dark of Hyper-K by Ray Ogar

>>> COPYRIGHT 2006

sara is the only gunslinger i know.
she hangs out on tuesdays and thursdays behind the local 7eleven.
her hands are usually more tattered than her trick skirt. and her hands look like beetles with the occasional wing ripped off.

i think...no, i know this is a consequence of her job. she is a gunslinger. that is, she is a girl that builds illegal sexual devices for young men. “gunslinger” means her job is competitive and sometimes she has to fight it out with others of her kind for status and street credibility. i look back to her hands and the beetles, their claws, seem less invigorated with life than usual. perhaps they have simply built too much in their short time? her hands are black, almost chitinous looking. like most gunslingers she wears gloves to conceal the scars from the practice of making devices. in sara’s case she wears black lacy veils that wrap her fingers more like cocoons around larvae than gloves to conceal wound. i think she is perhaps proud of her gunslinger hands, proud to show off the gashes and nicks that relegate her to an elite cadre of illegal forces that fend for themselves in the abandoned back streets of my local suburb.

i first met sara when i was taking photographs of the abandoned HyperKmart on I45 south. I had snuck into the big box easy enough. up the back of the building, onto a ladder near the unloading dock. across a roof that was plastered in white from bird shit and somehow, years and years of newspapers. finally towards the store facade and to the point where the big K was removed. i shimmied down and into the dark space where the mega letter once perched. this was the only way into the building—where they removed the brand, where Kmart’s identity was theft. so i squeezed in to the negative space of K and down the wall. luckily the front glass of the building was painted black so noone could see me. yes, it was daytime. but i smeared away a star shape of paint so some light scattered into the dead space. when i turned to face the store interior all i saw was hundreds of shelves pushed to one side and an enormous emptiness eating away the rest of the store.

i took a roll of pictures, documenting the interior arrangement. but i wanted something more. so i headed towards the receiving room area. or where i thought it was. the darkness thickened like foam around my face despite the star of light i opened at the front of the store. but this didn’t bother me as much as the fact that i heard a tiny noise. pause. the sound is music. and i try to walk lightly. the music is a song from the movie soundtrack of “Xanadu”. i cringe at the irony of the situation because though i cannot even remotely recall the name of the track, i do remember that it is the song playing when Sonny breaks into the old boxing match warehouse that will someday become Xanadu. In the movie the song plays in the background while Sonny moves from various crates and boxed-up equipment strewn across the rink floor. he hears the sound of plastic on wood, which soon, we, the audience, discover to be Kira (aka Olivia Newton John), one of Zeus’ nine muse daughters come to earth to strike inspiration into Sonny. except here, in the hyper-K i don’t see Kira, and i don’t have any prospects or desires to resurrect this building into a disco rink. but what i do see, for the first time, is sara gunslinging. her hands are slick and furious with speed. i close in quietly behind her, at the same time trying not to block the small light to my back. and i see her hands, the machine she is toying with, how it fights back, how it teases her and tempts her fingers into its various holes and around its lattice of blades. this being the first time i ever see such an activity. i thought she was playing a game. so it looked. but as i watched i began to notice the rhythm of her application. how sustained her pressure was. the degree she impressed her will upon the thing between her hands. it was magical. or perhaps it was simply magic in itself. and i knew then she was a gunslinger. had only heard about such people. been told by my mother about such crippled lovers of the dusk. as a kid i was never let know the sexual side of the gunslinger’s trade. the stories always ran more like urban legends. girls, always virgins, pent up and ghostly. building pleasure toys for young men. these girls supposedly were so obsessive to maintain their virginity, yet so desirous to perform the sexual act, that their personalities sheave into a state of chaotic grace. they build boxes, pleasure cores, that model their own beautiful interiors. these they sell to young men, hopefully to young men searching for a spiritual release as much as a literal one. the catch is that the boxes can only be used once. the second catch is that the box determines the purity of the user, ultimately delivering one of two outcomes. a one time only, infinite pleasure or a permanent end to manhood. either way, the user—the young man—the pleasure seeker, is most likely doomed. even if the young man managed to survive the experience intact and move on to find other gunslingers, even if he manages to lie and scream and cajole another core from a girl—he is guaranteed the input and resultant ecstasy will not be of the same height, width or breadth as before. it is a hit that from the first go will only depress ever afterward.

sara was working her core, building it, slickening it, but i noticed something sicker to her gist. after a few more minutes in the dark corner of the hyper-K her movements began to lock and rattle. she never noticed me until it was too late for herself. when her eyes met mine all i knew was that she must have taken a hit of advil9. perhaps a bad dose. her eyes were red with the claws of a sinus infection driving across her brow like a alien moss. she must have taken the superdrug in an attempt to quickly kill the infection. except the drug was backfiring. she was in the middle of casting a pleasure box AND fighting the fever of a deadly infection. i understood that this was her only livelihood, obvious because she had secreted herself away in this dire architecture with a mote of light pressed through the cracks of black paint. i reached for her, scared for myself but scared of seeing another person suffer. i grabbed for her and she flailed, dropping the pleasure box—it, rattling like a windup watch, finally exploded under the guise of a cuckoo clock greased too well.
sara coughed.

her infection simply fed off her purity, the bug trying to compromise her profession as much as her reason to live. i had no clue though. never did i know less what to do. but i continued to grab her and i ran for the windows at the front of the hyper-K. near the black wall of light i kicked away the glass. with sara in my arms i managed to bust the paint and glass away with one leg as best i could. i kicked until something like a shard broke from the window, allowing the rest to follow in a cascade of angled slivers and dust. i made it through. sara in the car, buckled, my equipment in the backseat, flung more than set. what was i to do? my cellphone was dead and i simply needed help. this was originally a road trip for me to a part of town long abandoned and unknown. my unfamiliarity with the area gave me only one option and that was to drive as fast as i could back the direction i came and hope to find a gas station or something and then call for an ambulance.

that was two months ago. that was the first time i met sara. now though she is merely a bitchy glance i seek out on occasion. she is my own supplier. not in a box of pleasure but in the darker narratives she can supply. she has made her money as a gunslinger and will continue to do so, now though she plies her trade as a vigilante. tweaking her boxes into a new range of utility. the purity they seek is one tainted with malevolence. her contraption seeks a man that desires only harm. it could be a lone individual or a gang of tightly woven angst. either way since the moment i helped sara i have thrown myself into her life from time to time to conspire as much as collaborate in documenting her new choice of personal narrative. tonight she waits lank and dry behind the 7eleven. me in the shadow, recording. she waits for the foe she received a text message from an hour ago. tonight the expectation for sara is a pleasure of her own. lace and scar abide her wrist. the box is her gun. the risk is hers to ply.