Take a Virtual, Interactive Tour 
6 Min Read

UAT Student Work Feature: Untitled

Cows aren’t out west anymore, so all the boys have to go home. They call it glassballing. They wrap the cow up in a glass ball and set it rolling east. They just roll on and on like big marbles, plants and poles and parlors like pachinko pegs.

            The town’s like someone dropped a bag full of saloons and fences and forgot to pick it up; the balls come through every evening. Cowboy (out of work) gets there just in time to see them on the horizon. Bandit (out of work) tips his hat. He’s big on decency despite being below board.

            Bandit robbed trains in the past, but all the trains went home, so now he has to rob smaller things. Money isn’t out west either, just dirt and mud, so he steals the dirt and mud instead.  They had to flatten out the whole frontier to make sure the balls would keep rolling – Bandit took up hole-digging as a fresh indulgence in crime and public inconvenience. Last year he dug a hole so big Sheriff had to get involved.

            The whole stampede rolls forward, slowly, bubbling like a beer head atop the barren land. Bandit chooses one ball from the outskirts of the herd and Cowboy agrees.

            They saddle their horses and ride around to flank. They take position on the side of the town – the target is a bit further back in the pack, so they wait patiently. The balls indifferently flood the street and bounce feebly off the buildings. A few folks take seats on their porches to watch.

            Cowboy readies his rifle. Since they’re glass it should only take one bullet. Bandit warns him not to hit the cow which is idly chewing on the feed in its ball. It’s the new fast-grass – that’s why there’s no more gardeners out west.

Cowboy takes aim but hears a shout behind him. Sheriff (out of work) swaggers over, airing out his lungs and brandishing a revolver. He says there’s no way they’re trying to rob cows. “Bad news,” says Bandit, “I need to rob and Cowboy needs cows.”

            Cowboy huffs. He doesn’t like working with varmints but Bandit has the right of it. Without cows he’s just Boy. Sheriff’s known Cowboy a long time so he offers a western debate to decide.

            Cowboy and Sheriff put their backs together. They walk one, two, six spaces apart. A bead of sweat drips from Cowboy’s forehead. Ten. Cowboy whips around like a snake and squeezes the trigger but sees Sheriff’s barrel already pointed at him. He thinks he’s dead, but a moment passes and neither of them fall over.

            “That’s right,” remembers Sheriff. “There’s no more bullets out west.”

            Out east they’ve been running out of activities, so they started taking up racing bets. They look at the sights from the satellites on the televisions. They put forward a few chips and quips and watch the western frontier roll. Marbles and tumbleweeds.