50. The Radio Rodeo

I want to go to Radio City and participate in the Radio Rodeo. I want to strap on my cyber-chaps, climb to the top of that horse, and let it buck. I know that I would win the Radio Rodeo, and be the envy of everyone and everything that is influenced by electromagnetic radiation.

The only question is, what would I do with my newfound power and influence? Would I have streets named after me? Would I tell her that she was pretty again? Would I reveal too much personal information? Would I have a public, painful, alcohol-fueled meltdown? Would I sit at the end of the bar and drink quietly to myself, and deny when people asked that I was the winner of the Radio Rodeo? Would I sit by the jukebox and drop electronic dimes to play the same song over and over again forever?

No one would complain, as I played the song for the twentieth time that hour. “He won the Radio Rodeo,” they would say to each other, and this would serve as adequate explanation.

The only thing that is bothering me is, what song would I play? And, having decided, what if I discovered that the jukebox in question did not have that song?

You know the answer as well as I do: full-scale universal shutdown.

This is why, when I climb to the top of that horse, I feel something is wrong. I can’t put my finger on it, though, and then the gate opens. The second I am out, the saddle ejects, my horse explodes, and I am disqualified.

Later that night, I am dejected, sitting at the end of the bar drinking quietly to myself. The jukebox sits sullenly silent behind me. A woman slides into the stool next to mine. She is wearing sunglasses. I don’t tell her she is pretty. When I spare her a conversational glance, she says, “Hey, don’t take it so hard, cowboy.”

I shake my head. “I had plans, you know.”

“It’s for the best,” she says, laying a hand gently on my arm.

I shake it off. “What do you know about it?” I growl.

“This jukebox doesn’t have ‘Pompton Turnpike,’ ” she says quietly.

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